In spite of the fact that my left shoulder had been sliced and diced on two weeks ago, I headed down to Wichita Falls yesterday, and this morning I rode the 100 mile route of the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred. This trip is always a blast, the ride down with DJ, camping at the church community center, visiting with everyone there, the bike show at the convention center, the ride to the start early in the morning, and all the rest.
I usually enjoy the ride a lot too, but I can’t say that this year’s ride will be remembered as one of my favorites. The highlight of the ride was definitely the ride through Sheppard Air Force Base. The 100 mile route had never gone through it before this year, and I’d never ridden anything except the 100 mile route, so I’d never been through Sheppard on HHH day. It’s pretty special having all those airmen cheering for you as you ride through.
Overall though, I have to give a thumbs down to the new route. The new turn south at mile 15 takes you to some rolling hills on high ground that really catch the wind (and the south wind was howling today). Then, when you finally turn north and get a great tail wind, the road gets so rough that you can’t take advantage of it. The 100k and 100 mile routes splitting so early broke up the paceline I was in, the remaining riders in it on the 100 mile route soon broke up, and I could never find a paceline that I fit well in after that.
By the time I reached Electra and rejoined the old route, I had stayed out in the wind by myself way too much, and would pay the price for it later. I made a 2 minute stop at mile 60. I took a quick nature break, but the stop was really more to give my aching shoulder and toes a quick break. I really hit the wall at mile 70, plus had GI issues that made my stop there even longer, never recovered very much, and was barely moving by the time I finished. That last 18 miles straight into the wind was brutal. But I did finish. I’m going to call that a victory on this day that I felt more like the bug than the windshield.
I finished in 6:14 (my second slowest time ever at HHH). My on the bike time was 5:52, so I stopped for a total of 22 minutes. That’s much more off the bike time than I usually do at HHH, but it was the only way I thought I could finish today. It looked like lots of riders were struggling in the wind at HHH today, though, so I was in good company.
HHH 100 mile route.