2015 Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred

For the ninth straight year, I rode the one hundred mile route at the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred today. I was concerned about how many miles I’ve gotten in this year, but my weight was much better than last year, just about where it should be, and I knew that should help. I wanted to finish the ride in less than six hours, and figured I should be able to do that.

I started out trying hard to keep my lizard brain in check, and not ride too fast. Every time I’ve cratered at HHH, it can be blamed on riding too hard early. I tucked in behind some tandems for the first few miles, but ended up all by myself much too early. The group I was with was faster on the hills that start around mile 15, and I knew better than to try and keep up with them. I rode mostly by myself for the next 7 miles.

I finally got behind a group doing a reasonable pace, but they stopped at the Electra rest stop at mile 33, so I was on my own again. By the time I made Electra, the faster pacelines were starting to catch and pass me, so here and there, mostly when it was a flat or downhill, I would join them for a short time. Just past Electra, at mile 36, where the route turns back east, the road has been resurfaced with new boulderseal for 14 miles or so. That stretch was tough. Just like two years ago, it was around mile 47 when I realized that my legs were getting crampy. I had ridden too fast early again.

Nothing to do but ease up the pace, and I did. I had a 19.6 mph average at that point, but it started to fall quickly. I would still tag along with some faster groups for a short downhill stretch, but did lots of miles alone. It was shortly before 10:00 am when I passed Hell’s Gate, still with a 19.1 mph average, but by the time I had ridden up the long hill right after that, it had fallen to 18.9 mph. My legs felt bad enough at that point, that I was certain that I would not see a 19 mph average again, and would keep losing average quickly, and might not make the six hours.

But at mile 62, something happened that had a major effect on the ride’s outcome. A fast group passed me at the top of a hill, so I jumped onto the back of the group, knowing that once the downhill was done, I would need to drop off. But, at the bottom of the hill, they passed a sizable slower group. I moved over and joined the slower group. This group was averaging 19 to 20 mph, and not hammering up the hills at all, exactly the kind of group I needed to be with at that point. I was able to ride with much less effort for the next 15+ miles, and by the time the group stopped at the rest stop just short of mile 78, my average was back up to 19.1, and I felt much better. I knew then that I was going to finish the ride in less than six hours.

I rode on alone when the group stopped. I made two very short stops for my bladder, at mile 47 and at mile 94, and those are the only two stops I made. The last 23 miles of the ride are tough, mostly uphill and against the wind. I watched my average dropping again and rode mostly alone. By the time I finished, my average had dropped to 18.4, still not a bad average for me for a 101 mile ride. It’s better than I thought I had in me.

And once again, the timing chips don’t quite seem to work right for the early starting recumbent riders. My official finishing time was 5:14, when it should have been closer to 5:30. At 64 years old, and 7 1/2 years after I lost half a lung to lung cancer surgery, I’ll be happy with the 5:30, and smile at the 5:14. With the 100.7 miles of the course, and a 4.5 mile ride to and from the church where I stayed, I ended up with a total of 110 miles for the day. My legs are telling me about it, too.

The 100 mile (actually 100.7 mile) route at HHH.

View of the start from the front of the tandem and recumbent section.

Hell’s Gate.

And the finish.

Medal for finishing HHH.

My official timing chip results from Cadence Sports.

90 Mile Ben Wheeler RIde

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode out to Ben Wheeler. I did some extra miles on State Highway 19, and turned the route into 90 miles. I got an early start to avoid the 100+ degree afternoon, but it was still 95 degrees by the time I finished the ride. It’s just hot in Texas right now.

Most of the ride went smoothly, but as I was making my loop through Purtis Creek State Park at around mile 76, I was stung on my leg, through my shorts, by a wasp. I’m used to wasps and such hitting me as I ride, and am very quick about brushing them off of me the instant they hit, but I wasn’t quick enough to stop this one from stinging. Better a sting on my leg than one on my face, I guess.

I got in 30 mile rides on both Wednesday and Thursday this week, so ended up with 150 miles for the week. I was able to do both of those rides in the morning, so today was my only riding in the heat of the day this week.

A 90 mile version of my Ben Wheeler route.

Ben Wheeler 85 Mile Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode my loop out to Been Wheeler. I did a few extra miles in Purtis Creek State Park on the way back, and ended up with 85 miles for the day. I had ridden 40 miles Monday afternoon and 30 miles Tuesday afternoon, so had a total of 155 miles this week.

I was really feeling the heat this week. I rode in the afternoon on both Monday and Tuesday, days that were both 100+ degrees in the afternoon, and worked in two very hot machine shops on Wednesday and Thursday, also 100+ degree days. A cold front came through yesterday, and it only got up to 98 degrees this afternoon (some cold front). Of course, I got an early start today, and was finished with my ride before the hottest part of the day.

My bathroom scale showed my weight as 187 pounds all week this week. That’s only two pounds over my goal, but it’s a false reading, because of dehydration from being in the heat every day this week (I weighed 181 pounds right after today’s ride, a reminder of how much water we lose on a long and hot ride). Still, I believe I’m making progress. And I was stronger on today’s ride, feeling better at the end of today’s ride, even though I had better than a 1 mph higher average speed than on last Saturday’s ride. Hopefully, I’ll gain some more before the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred.

Here it is, August already. I ended up with just under 600 miles for the month of July, not a bad mileage month at all.

Today’s route.