The last weekend in August marks the annual Hotter'N Hell Hundred bike ride in Wichita Falls, TX. I've been attending this event for a number of years now and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience each time. It's one of the largest organized bike events in the country, drawing roughly 14,000 cyclists to the northwest corner of Texas. If you're into cycling, it's an event not to be missed!
The first stop is the expo for packet pick up.
The expo has all kinds of vendors from around the country....offering excellent cycling goodies! It can be easy to get carried away. I did pretty good.
My hotel for the evening. The weather was great and I slept quite well! I typically use the 'indoor-camping' option that is available at the downtown YMCA, but there were a few logistical hiccups this year, so I opted to sleep at the convention center in my truck. Normally it would be SO hot at night, but this year's weather was optimal.
Home Sweet Tacoma!
It's always fun to sleep in the truck. I've definitely spent quite a few nights back here.
The ride kicks off at 7:05am on Saturday morning. Thousands of cyclists fill Scott Street, waiting to tour the Texas countryside.
It was a nice opportunity to debut my new black sleeveless jersey. I'm quite happy with the purchase!
Wichita Falls is home to Sheppard Air Force Base, and they do a fly-over at the conclusion of the national anthem. The unusually cool and cloudy morning provided a great backdrop for the jets.
Rolling through the start line.
There are a lot of folks that come out to watch the cyclists!
Bikes as far as the eye can see.
Bicycle tours of this manner typically have rest stops every 10-15 miles. They're great for filling up on water and powerade. Even better....this particular ride always has EXCELLENT snacks! Lots of bananas and oranges! Even better....are the cookies. I try to keep my focus here.
Electra had big cookies.
Texas...in August. Notice the cloud cover? The weather was unprecedented this year! Typically we are out on the asphalt...baking. I didn't even put on my sunglasses until after 10:00am.
When you ride a bike long enough...the food combos become more interesting. This was blue powerade...and a pickle spear. Mmmm....
The pee line is a great photo opportunity.
Also, they guy who is only wearing one sandal....yea, his left one was stuck to his pedal.
We were still enjoying the cloud cover, but it was finally starting to break.
These make the bike go.
The infamous Margaritaville rest-stop. This one is staffed by sororities from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. No one ever seems to mind that fact very much. Plus...they have cookies.
What they ALSO have....unbeknownst to many folks...is leftover breakfast burrito supplies from the morning. You just have to know where to look. Tortilla, potatoes, cheese, and salsa hit the spot and served as a 'normal-ish' lunch for me, instead of shot blocks, GU....and, of course....cookies.
Rolling through Burkburnett, TX. This stretch through town is downhill and smoooooooth! One of my favorite sections of the ride each year.
Pyro Pete guards Hell's Gate at mile 60. This is where the time frame must be met in order to continue on the hundred mile route. Riders also have the option to voluntarily take the cut-off, which routes you back through Sheppard Air Force Base (a real treat), and makes the ride approximately 75-80 miles, depending on the year. Since I hadn't been riding much at the end of the summer, and wanted to go through the base, I took this option and was glad to do so. I've ridding the full hundred several times (including the past two years) and though it is fun and challenging, once I've hit about 75 miles or so....the rest just becomes a task. I also met up with a friend and fellow cyclist from my hometown of Ada, Jeff McAlister, and his plan was the same...so we teamed up and rode the last stretch together, enjoying conversation and general cycling banter!
Found another rest stop...found another cookie!
This rest stop on the Interstate 44 service road always has the old-school style of snow-cones. Remember how good these were when we were kids?!? They're just the same now...except you're old enough to realize how disappointing they actually are. BUT....they're cold, so task complete!
Entering the gates at Sheppard Air Force Base. Jeff is on the left side.
The route goes out between some of the jets and planes.
You can stop and take pictures with the pilots. I always want the Top Gun theme to be playing here, but it doesn't. Maybe I'll start singing it next year.
The Airmen line the road as you travel through the base. This is always a neat experience because they cheer as if you've won the Tour de France.
Riding through the flags on the way out of Sheppard.
The finish line crowd!
Jeff and I hanging out after the ride. I was fortunate to have run into you this year! It was fun to ride together my friend.
A cool, artistic, and space-conscious bike rack outside the convention center.
All showered up and ready for the drive back to OKC....recovery chocolate milk in hand!
If you're a cyclist and haven't ridden Hotter 'N Hell...you're really missing out. Plan your trip for next August and join the celebration!
Thanks for reading - stay tuned for another Appalachian Trail blog, as well as a report on my recent trip to Colorado.
It's supposed to cool down some this week, so get outside!