I traveled to Wichita Falls yesterday and rode the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred today. This was the eighth straight year I’ve done the 100 mile route at HHH. I finished the route today, but it wasn’t easy. With the miles I’ve been riding and my fitness level, I had no illusions about being able to challenge my personal best time at HHH, but like always, I did hope to make it around the route in less than six hours. I didn’t accomplish that this year.
I stayed at the Lamar Baptist Church recreation building again this year. As always, the hosts there did a great job for the riders. And I enjoyed my visiting with friends last night, most of whom I hadn’t seen since last year’s HHH or longer. But, just like last year, there were some cancellations by riders, and there weren’t as many recumbent riders as many previous years. The bike show was great fun as always, too. The weather at Wichita Falls was trying to live up to the ride’s name this year. It was 103 degrees this afternoon.
Things didn’t start out smoothly at the ride. A quarter mile after the start, my Garmin quit. Apparently, its battery has reached the age where it won’t hold its charge overnight, and you need to leave it on the charger until right before a ride if you want it to last out the ride. Since I always have it on the charger at home, I had no idea this would happen. I really missed the heart rate monitor. With the extra adrenaline a big ride like this brings, it’s easy to misjudge how much effort you’re expending, and that heart rate monitor is a good way to tell that.
But the first sixty miles of the ride were a blast. I rode with friend DJ Boyd, who I used to travel to HHH with every year, while we only lived five miles apart. Now I only seem to see him at HHH. His riding mileage was down this year, and he wasn’t sure how strong he would finish 100 miles, so we were both trying to draft some, and conserve enough energy to finish strong. At Burkburnett at mile 60, DJ stopped at the rest stop, and just like I had good sense, I rode on.
I don’t know if it was because I had misguaged my early effort from not having my heart rate monitor, or if I rode too hard after turning against the considerable wind later in the ride, but at mile 82, I cratered. I had leg cramps so bad I had to stop, and I was on and off the bike the rest of the way. I don’t have an official time yet from my timing chip, and of course my Garmin didn’t record the time, but I think I finished the 101 miles in something like 6:20. Not good, but like they say, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. I felt very much like the bug today.
Still, it was a fun trip, and for the eighth straight time, I completed the 100 mile route there. No small accomplishment for a lung challenged old f*rt, I’m thinking.
The sea of cyclists at the start.
Friend DJ at the start.
The HHH 100 mile route.
EDIT: Here is my timing chip result. It wasn’t too impressive this year, but I was still 17th in my age group, so I guess that’s something. That time is too low though, again this year. It makes me wonder if the chip ignores the early start we recumbents do.