Hotter ’N Hell
August 2006 I did 100K
Wichita Falls Texas
Handlebar Camera Video
The Sunday Oklahoman
Hotter ’N Hell proves a challenging ride
By Don Mecoy, Staff Writer
With 15 miles to go in my inaugural Hotter ’N Hell ride, I was hurting and humbled and nearly hopeless. And my bike was moving slower than sales of the T-shirts congratulating disgraced Tour de France champ Floyd Landis.
In my hour of need I turned not to synthetic testosterone but to pickles to revive my flagging effort. The veggies, along with the moral support of faithful riding partner Randy Thomas, allowed me to complete my 50-mile trek.
A recent cycling convert, I bought a bike on eBay in June and since have been a frequent customer of local bike shops. Nearly every Saturday morning finds me and a few friends turning modestly paced laps around Lake Hefner.
Thomas, a seven-time participant in the Aug. 26 Hotter ’N Hell, persuaded us to enter the nation’s largest sanctioned 100-mile event. Nearly 12,000 cyclists, most from Texas and Oklahoma, covered distances ranging from 10 kilometers to 100 miles at this year’s Hotter ’N Hell, the 25th in Wichita Falls.
“Typically, we have people from 40 to 44 states and about five foreign countries,” said event Treasurer Joe Schaelling.
The Howitzer cannon blast that launched the race at 7:09 a.m. was barely audible from our starting spot several blocks and several thousand bikes back of the official line. Our group walked for about 35 minutes before crossing the line and mounting up.
The extreme heat and humidity prompted the event’s medical director to cut short the rides for many of those seeking to complete a “century.”
As a newbie, I opted for the 50-mile ride, which was all the challenge I could handle.
Despite drinking copious amounts of water, my legs began to cramp after about 35 miles, and I struggled mightily and slowly to make it to the next rest stop near the 40-mile mark. Gracious volunteers plied me with pickles, bananas and oranges and I gulped water, PowerAde and pickle juice. Within 15 minutes, I felt better.
The last 10 miles of the Hotter ’N Hell are the most interesting as the course cuts through Sheppard Air Force Base, including a ride through a flight line featuring an F-16, F-15 and a huge cargo jet.
Everyone in our group completed their ride, with mine taking more than five hours. By Tuesday, I was able to walk without limping.
The physical discomfort and inconveniences of the massive crowds were far surpassed by the thrill of finishing and the camaraderie shared by fellow riders and volunteers. Like a lot of Oklahomans, I expect to be back in Wichita Falls next year a week before Labor Day weekend.
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