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Old 08-23-08, 08:27 PM   #1
Bud Bent
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Hotter 'N Hell Hundred ride report

I had a blast at the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred again this year. Spending time with riding friends, and looking and shopping at the MPEC show before the ride was lots of fun, too. I'm still amazed at the effort that Wichita Falls and the area puts into this ride. It's just an event that any rider in this part of the country should try to do at least a few times.

Because HHH is a relatively flat route with good traffic control, it's always a great place for riders to try for their best century time. I was especially curious to see what I could do after all my health issues since last year's ride. I knew I couldn't physically do now what I could then, but I wondered how much riding smarter could help me with my time.

I like to go for the best overall time, and compare there, but since recumbent friends on the rbent forum had discussed doing a recumbent paceline, I decided that if I rode with rbenters and spent too much time at the rest stops for an overall time comparison, I would settle for an on the bike time comparison. Last year, I had finished HHH in 5:34, with an on the bike time of 5:16, both personal bests for me for a century ride.

I had a 3 point plan for getting as good a time as I could this year:
1. I would not go out too fast this year like I did last year. Last year, I hit the wall at around mile 60, and was pretty much just turning the pedals to finish after that. I wanted to watch my heart rate early, and save some matches for late in the ride.
2. I would suck more wheels. Last year, I spent way too much time out in the wind, hammering on my own. There are 10,000 bikes to draft here; I figured I should be able to find a few to ride behind.
3. I put a coroplast wheel cover on my rear wheel this year. Last year, I didn't add one until after HHH, just before The Texas Time Trials. On a flat route like HHH, good aerodynamics does help.

As soon as the jets roared overhead, the cannon fired, and we were off at the start, I found a tandem doing a steady 21-22 mph and got on its wheel. I decided this was a reasonable speed for me, that I wasn't willing to ride much faster, and that I would resist chasing any of the many rabbits sure to race by. I waited behind the tandem to see how the rbent paceline would shake out. I didn't have to wait long. Several rbenters blasted by, at a pace way too fast for me, so I let them go, and figured I was on my own.

It turned out that the tandem I was behind was very slow on hills, and when we hit the small rollers at mile 15, I found another wheel to ride behind. And so it went. I felt good, tried to pace myself well, and changed pacelines from time to time. Several riders I knew said hi as they zoomed past me. I resisted the temptation to join any of them. I knew my water and mix would take me to mile 50, so when I didn't need to stop for any other reason, I made that my first, and as it turned out, only stop. It was a long stop. I spent 12 minutes eating, drinking, visiting mother nature, and refilling my Camelbak and mix bottle. I realized shortly after taking off again that I hadn't taken electrolyte capsules, so I downed a couple of those as I rode.

I reached Hell's Gate just a few minutes after 10:00 am, and still had a 20.5 mph average there. That's much slower than the average I had at that point last year, but I felt MUCH better. I knew there were rough roads, and a wind to face ahead, though, along with fewer pacelines at my speed to join, so I knew that speed would come down. It fell to 20.2 fairly quickly, but held there until I turned into the wind at mile 78. I had passed the paceline I was riding with on the big downhill just before that turn, but I spun an easy pace and waited for them after the turn. What had been a pretty big paceline got whittled down rapidly on the next stretch; riders were hitting the wall, it seemed.

On the hills that start at mile 88, the last of the paceline broke up, and I was pretty much on my own after that. At mile 90, my average speed finally fell to 20.0 mph, and I realized that if I could pick my speed up just a little, I might be able to finish with 5 hours of on the bike time, and a 20 mph average. Both were things I considered way out of reach before the ride. I also knew by that point that I wasn't stopping again. I downed a GU gel pack, and set about seeing how fast I could finish. I figured that even if I blew up at some point after that, I was still going to beat last year's overall time.

Although I was feeling pretty tired, things were looking good, and I was still on my 20 mph pace until mile 98, when my legs started giving me one of those "we're done, and can't do this any more" cramps. I knew I had to start spinning easy, or have my legs lock up with cramps. I eased off, keeping a good fast, but easy cadence. I was going so slow up the overpass at mile 100, I think the crickets were passing me, as they hopped along.

As I passed the finish, the loudspeaker announced the ride time, 5:18. That made my on the bike time 5:06, and my average speed 19.9 mph. My total miles were 101.8. It was a bit disappointing to come that close to a 5 hour riding time century and 20 mph on the bike average and not get them, but that overall time is 16 minutes faster than last year, which I never thought would happen. It says a lot about pacing yourself well, which I seem to be better at these days.

Several friends also finished with personal best times, so it was a fun day. I'll try to post some photos as soon as they make it online.

Last edited by Bud Bent; 08-23-08 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 08-23-08, 08:47 PM   #2
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Wow! What a report.

I found myself rooting for you as I read it.

Congrats on a fabulous ride. For you to have gone through what you have over the past year and then come back and beat your personal best time is really amazing.

Which bike were you riding?
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Old 08-23-08, 09:01 PM   #3
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Wow! What a report.

I found myself rooting for you as I read it.

Congrats on a fabulous ride. For you to have gone through what you have over the past year and then come back and beat your personal best time is really amazing.

Which bike were you riding?
Thanks, Tom. I'm still smiling after the ride.

After much debate, I ended up riding my Corsa. My Roadster lowracer might have been slightly faster, but I really don't have many miles on it yet, and figured I'd be more at ease among 10,000 other riders on the Corsa. It would also make the comparison to last year's ride more valid, since I rode the Corsa then, too (although I did cheat a bit this year, with the rear wheel cover).
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Old 08-23-08, 09:15 PM   #4
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Very nice Bud.
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Old 08-23-08, 09:51 PM   #5
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Fun report. I have to learn to plan out my strategy before long rides as you have done. I'm just not competitive enough, even with myself. Nice going on the ride. I'll look forward to the pictures.
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Old 08-23-08, 10:08 PM   #6
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Fantastic; and thanks for the ride report.
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Old 08-24-08, 02:01 AM   #7
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Dude, you rock!

Great report and how impressive your performance, given your recent challenges!

Way to set the bar for the rest of us.
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Old 08-24-08, 06:59 AM   #8
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Great ride! How uhh, hot was it?
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Old 08-24-08, 08:17 AM   #9
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Great ride! How uhh, hot was it?
It didn't get into the 100's this year, like it often does at HHH, but the humidity was high. In fact, part of the route flooded last week, and local authorities were scrambling to get mud and floodwaters off the road before the ride.

If you finish just past noon, like I did, you miss the worst of the heat anyway. But if you stop and enjoy all the outstanding rest stops, then you finish in the hottest part of the day. It's always a debate among riders about which way to go.
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Old 08-24-08, 08:19 AM   #10
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Great ride! How uhh, hot was it?
Mrs. Mono was waiting for me at the finish line. She said they announced it at 101 degrees about 2PM, which was quite a bit above the forecast. So, for me, it was actually the Hotter N Hell Hundred and Three at a Hundred and One but who cares about the details.
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Old 08-24-08, 09:54 AM   #11
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You're far faster than me. Well done.
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Old 08-24-08, 10:15 AM   #12
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Mrs. Mono was waiting for me at the finish line. She said they announced it at 101 degrees about 2PM, which was quite a bit above the forecast. So, for me, it was actually the Hotter N Hell Hundred and Three at a Hundred and One but who cares about the details.
Wow, I knew it felt awfully hot as we were leaving the restaurant that afternoon, but with all the humidity and as cool as the morning started out, I would have never thought that it reached 100 degrees. We waited for all in our group to finish and shower, then went out to eat, and I was still seeing riders on the course as we left at 4:00 pm. The heat had to be pretty brutal to them at that hour, but I guess they would argue that riding hard and only making one stop is just as bad.

My wife was going to ride HHH this year for the first time, doing a shorter route, but she broke her foot five weeks ago, and had to skip it. If I'd have know of fellow 50+'ers being there, I'd have tried to say hi, although finding anyone in that big a group can be pretty tough. Hope you enjoyed your ride.

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Old 08-24-08, 10:21 AM   #13
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Heres some pics I took....

Great ride I will be there next year again more than likely..
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P8230014 [800x600].JPG (68.4 KB, 21 views)
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File Type: jpg P8230013 [800x600].JPG (82.9 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg P8230012 [800x600].JPG (62.6 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg P8230029 [800x600].JPG (82.1 KB, 26 views)
File Type: jpg P8230015 [800x600].JPG (65.6 KB, 30 views)
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Old 08-24-08, 10:34 AM   #14
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Way to go, Bud! I'm planning to do some century rides next year when I recover from my own health issues. You are setting a great standard for all of us survivors to follow.

One thing I don't plan to follow you on is your time goals. I can't even imagine spending only 12 minutes total at rest stops on a century. I enjoy the stops and might spend that much time at one stop.
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Old 08-24-08, 11:18 AM   #15
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Way to go, Bud! I'm planning to do some century rides next year when I recover from my own health issues. You are setting a great standard for all of us survivors to follow.

One thing I don't plan to follow you on is your time goals. I can't even imagine spending only 12 minutes total at rest stops on a century. I enjoy the stops and might spend that much time at one stop.
I certainly look forward to your century reports, BD. I was so sick during my chemo, and weak on the bike when I could ride at all, it was hard to imagine riding strong in a century ride, but here I am.

Yes, even most of my riding companions tell me I'm missing the best part of these rides by skipping too many rest stops. That's just me.
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Old 08-24-08, 11:19 AM   #16
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great report! anxious to see the pics!

i live 45 miles from wichita falls and have never ridden the hhh. dumb, i guess but i just don't like the big crowds.
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Old 08-24-08, 11:28 AM   #17
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This was my first year for HHH. What a great event! The volunteers were unbelievable.

My friend and I were just getting registered when the cannon went off, so by the time we got to Scott Street we were mixing it up with the hopefuls and the 10K riders. The first four miles we averaged 12 MPH and I rode with my foot out of the clip for a good part of it.

After we got through some of the slower traffic the pace picked up and we pulled several pace lines, switching off between the two of us while younger, (smarter?) riders sat on our wheels. Occasionally we'd find someone willing to share the work, but by and large we spent a lot of time shaking off riders who weren't willing to help.

We made Hell's Gate at 10:15, feeling good, and spent 15 minutes there taking a bit of nourishment and refilling water bottles. By the rest stop at mile 75 I was beginning to feel the heat and the pace, so we stayed there about 25 minutes, drinking as much as possible and trying to cool down.

From mile 75 to about mile 90 we kept a pretty good pace and managed to get involved in a couple of good lines where everyone was willing to take a turn up front. Unfortunately, none of them lasted very long.

At mile 90 I really began to feel the effect of the heat and lack of a nourishment plan. I had gotten out of bed at 3:00 that morning to make the trip to Wichita Falls, eating only a couple of pieces of bread with honey on them. Since then I had eaten two power bars, three GU packs, some banana and watermelon, and (disgustingly enough) a pickle. We rode past several watering stations where I should have stopped but I was focused on trying to complete the ride in under 5.5 hours. I was beginning to cramp and couldn't pull at our pace for more than 1/2 mile without blowing up.

The climb up the overpass at the end of the ride would have been humorous if it hadn't hurt so much. I was in the small chain ring churning along at 9 MPH thinking I'd never get to the top of that little grade. The last few miles were brutal and I was absolutely worn out when we crossed the finish line. The total ride took 5:29 at an average pace of 18.2 MPH. Time in the saddle was 4:46 for a 21 MPH average. Not bad considering our first four miles took 20 minutes.

After spending the entire afternoon trying to replenish fluids I was still six pounds lighter than when I started the ride, so obviously I was way short on the amount of water I drank during the ride. I saw several riders water bottles in their jersey pockets as well as in bike cages - that will be me next year.

Here's to everyone who completed the ride, and to all of the wonderful volunteers along the way. Faster, stronger, better hydrated next year!!!
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Old 08-25-08, 08:04 AM   #18
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Some photos from friends Paul and Joe:

Best expo t-shirt.


The start.


Derailleur issues on Greg's TiCa.


Almost starting time.


Friend Peggy.


Approaching Hell's Gate.


Paul at the mile 98 beer stop.


COLD water just past the finish line.

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Old 08-25-08, 08:35 AM   #19
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Bob Costas couldn't have told it better!
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Old 08-25-08, 09:22 AM   #20
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Great report, pics and ride.

How is it drafting other technology? It strikes me that the lower profile of the bent puts your body position lower than upright bikes or tandems.
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Old 08-25-08, 10:33 AM   #21
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Great report, pics and ride.

How is it drafting other technology? It strikes me that the lower profile of the bent puts your body position lower than upright bikes or tandems.
Recumbent drafting is a whole thread itself. It's harder to draft on a recumbent, but because of its aerodynamics, you don't need to draft as much. Riding in a really fast paceline is tough, because a recumbent is a longer, heavier bike, making the precision adjustments required, tougher. There are a few recumbent riders who do it really well, but I can't claim to be one of them.

A recumbent's speed profile doesn't match uprights either (faster on flats and downhills, slower on uphills), so you end up riding the brakes down a hill, and blowing yourself up uphill, to stay in a paceline. You don't leave a very good draft behind you, either. For that reason, I usually ride off the back of a paceline, and move back to let anyone else in who wants in. Of course that last rider is the first one dropped, so I'm all too often having to bridge back up to the paceline. Since a recumbent's speed profile matches tandems closer, they're always the top choice to ride behind.

All that is why several of us in the rbent forum talked about doing a recumbent paceline, and four rbent riders did. If they hadn't been at too fast a pace for me early, I would have joined them. As it turned out, they slowed after their first stop at mile 30, and ended up with an average just barely faster than mine, so I wish I had made that stop and joined them. Maybe next year...

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