I rode the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred
, Saturday. It didn't get over 100 degrees there in Wichita Falls, like it usually does for this ride, only making it into the 90's, but the humidity was higher than usual, so it was still plenty hot. It's a great ride for a recumbent, though, because it's a pretty flat route, and they start the tandems and bents five minutes ahead of everyone else. That's a nice benefit when you're taking off with 11,000 other riders! It ended up not being as much of a benefit as I thought, because as I was still passing slow riders at mile 25, it occurred to me that hundreds of riders had obviously started from somewhere miles down the road from the real start.
I had a feeling that doing a 100 mile ride with bronchitis wasn't going to be easy, and I was right. I figured I would hit the wall sooner than usual, and that's exactly what happened. I felt great at the start, and kept a pretty fast pace the first half of the ride. When I reached Hell's Gate, I still had an average over 21 mph. Hell's Gate is a much mentioned benchmark in the ride, because it's at around mile 57, and if you don't reach it before the cutoff time, it is closed, and you are not able to complete the 100 mile route, being redirected to a shorter one. The normal cutoff time is 12:30 pm, but they will close it as early as 11:00 am on years when the heat is extremely bad.
I was past Hell's Gate before 10:00 am, so no problem with that, but almost as soon as I turned against the wind at Hell's Gate, I hit the wall, and by mile 60, I was just turning pedals the rest of the ride, nothing more. I had loaded up two Camelbaks, and two bottles of mix, figuring to keep my stops brief, few, and far between. The first was a quick stop at mile 30. I made my only other stop at mile 80, and stayed longer than I had wanted to. I was pretty cratered, needed to fill a Camelbak, needed to mix another bottle, and needed a bit of solid food to keep my stomach settled. I ate half a granola bar.
I fought leg cramps on and off the last 40 miles of the ride. Stopping pedaling made them really bad; I had to find the right pedaling stroke to keep going, and I could not let my heart rate stay up in the 160's for long, without cramping. I'm not sure what caused the leg cramps. I was well hydrated, and had downed plenty of calories and electrolytes. It may have been plain old muscle exhaustion, helped along by the fast early pace, and my bronchitis.
My total miles were 101.8. Total time was 5:34. On the bike time was 5:16 with a 19.3 mph average. Not as good as I had hoped for, but under the circumstances, I won't complain. This ride is one of those that is a grand adventure; it has to be done to be appreciated. Here's some photos:
Recumbents and tandems at the start.
And here I am just after the start.
Passing many slow riders.
Friend Greg on his Tica lowracer.
Drafting a couple of fast tandems for a few miles.
Hell's Gate is still open.
Friend Paul (the camera owner) gets his traditional fire hose shower at the finish.