Monday, August 29, 2011
Hotter N Hell 100 Mile Cycling - 2011
I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher
And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire
In North Texas this has been the second hottest summer on Record…as I write this there has been 62 days over a 100 degrees…and the last week temps have been around 107 as a high. So when the forecast for Wichita Falls TX on Saturday registered a 110 F as a high…well I knew I was going to be getting my money’s worth in the Hotter N Hell 100 mile bike ride. In the end it was the hottest Hotter N Hell event in it’s 30 year history.
I decide to go down Friday evening, take in some Criterium races, pick up my packet and hang out with some of my buds from Team Legacy Cycling. In route, I make a quick stop at the Hospital to see my friend fighting for her life…battling cancer. Carolyn is a true inspiration. Last year her and her family waited for me at the finish line. This year that was to be impossible. I ask that you keep her in your prayers…I dedicated the race to her…and Jereme, her husband.
Saturday found us up bright and early as the race organizers offered a 6:15 start due to the extreme heat. So at about 5:45 we wheeled up to the start with Team Legacy. Jason and Amy had lined up and we lost them…but that might had been for the better as last year I go out blazing with Jason at 29mph for the first 30 miles only to make the last 30 miles a complete death ride…begging for a merciful end. So this year…I was found lining up with Jackie, Carl, and Amber…vowing that I would not go out like I did the previous year…thinking I was racing with a CAT 1 Team…and with this year’s heat…just didn’t want to do anything stupid.
The first ten miles are much like traversing a mine field where you play dodge the dropped water bottle…combine that in the darkness of the predawn hours and you have a whole new sport. The rule of the game is to escape the precarious 10 miles without any mishaps…translate crash. Thusly the speed of travel is sub par…but then again the goal is to escape mishap. So here I am with the four I lined up with…proceeding in the patient manner and going about 13 -15 mph. At mile 10 things open up and we begin to settle into about 20 mph…Somewhere along the line Jackie takes off and I lose sight of her in the mayhem of cycling humanity (keep in mind 14000 cyclist participated in this event.) At mile 20, I crossed that threshold in just about an hour and realized despite the first 10 miles…I was well on pace and didn’t burn up many matches. My plan was not to stop until mile 40…and at that point we got there in 2 hours and feeling good. Carl had been lost in the humanity somewhere along the way. Next stop was Hell’s Gate the 100K (62 miles) point…and things were going as planned…Amber and I had latched on to well paced groups and we begin the journey of getting in and out of these groups that suited the plan (ie…not CAT 2 racing)…but traveling between 18 and 21 mph. At about mile 65 we got into a 150 man peloton with the momentum of a freight train…going about 22 to 24 mph. It was a legitimate pace group with support vehicles and the like…and for the next 8 miles got swept along with only a soft pedal and immense energy savings. The journey continued…I thought back to last year…reminding myself how I felt at this point…and thinking that it was a death ride and became a test of will to continue. This year was a different story…feeling incredible…at times pulling an 8 to 10 man train at 20 to 21 mph…at the 80 mile point. At one point Amber mentions that 18 to 19 would be good…not the 20 to 21…fine…we pull back on the reigns and we proceed. Things are great…but the heat was ON…and it now felt like I was riding in a blast furnace. At mile 90 the heat began to take it’s toll. I was nauseous…positioning myself in the group…that if I puked, it wouldn’t get it on everybody. I was fine on the fitness end…not on the stomach end…I tell Amber to go on. I had pulled earlier…now it was her turn…she was cycling incredibly strong at this point…so the last few miles…with the patience of Job…pulled and encouraged…that’s what team mates do…
The finish line is always sweet…but this year…It was enjoyable.
After about 30 minutes of cool down…I was good to go. If I wouldn’t had been so nauseous my finish would have been stronger…but averaging about 18.5 mph for the entire 100 was not a bad go at it in this heat. Afternoon temps registered 122 F coming off the pavement. The MASH unit at the end looked like Grand Central Station and there were cyclist who accrued some frequent flier miles on the MEDIVAC Careflight. Hearing stories of cyclist being submerged in ice because of 102.5 body temps…and racing officials black flagging riders to get on SAG wagons.
I am so pleased, not only with my ride but the rest of Team Legacy…Jason burns up a sub 5 hour…and tells me that was sub par…whatever boss…I can’t keep up with him on my best day. Jackie and Amy had a stellar finish coming in just ahead of us. Carl finished in full order. Natalia’s perseverance and toughness should never be in doubt…as she completed the 100 miles at the very worst part of the day…and Amber…well Amber finished her first 100 miler…oh…by the way…it was only her 8th ride of the year…The rest of Legacy Cycling…Pat…the Barborao Rocket, Ken...Pyllis...Rana...Keith…all finished in great times…I love that Cycling Team…My brother rode a 450 mile staged ride this spring…and being the Pastor he is, tied cycling into a Bible Study…Ecclesiastes 4:9…a Good Lesson in cycling…in life…in marriage. My sweet wife Bren is a saint…she supports my endurance/endorphin fix. Saturday Morning I get a message…from her…”Ride Strong…Ride Fast…Love You!” I have to say that her support means more to me than having a perfect race. Hey Bren…”Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.” You are a cornerstone that makes our family incredible…you are large part of why are kids are incredible…you make me a better person…and I love you.