If you ask me, two wheels are two wheels, no matter what powers them, so last weekend I made what used to be an annual trek to the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred bicycle ride in Wichita Falls and met up with my friends, Peggy and Buddy. Cyclists come from all over the USA and several foreign countries to ride and compete in the HHH.
I completed my first century (100-miler) in 1991 at the HHH, when the temperature was 104 at the finish line and I was sure my feet had melted into the pedals. Since then I’ve done centuries, 80-milers, 100 k’s, competed in the women’s road race, and worked as a U.S. Cycling Federation motorcycle official at the HHH. It was an annual event on my calendar until 2007, when a cell-phone-talking driver ran me down while walking in a cross-walk in downtown Austin. This year I’ve recovered enough to do a slow 25-miler, and in some ways it was just as sweet an accomplishment as that 100 miles 19 years ago.
It was great seeing my long-time friends, and here we are at Johnny Carino’s the night before the ride, with the three of us simultaneously pulling out our baby-boomer glasses to read the menu. (Peggy, from Denver, and Buddy, from Fort Worth, both did the century.)
This year there were more than 13,000 riders, and it takes over 4,000 volunteers and medical personnel to make it all come together. I lined up way in the back with all the other slow pokes; and, with thousands of riders ahead of us, we didn’t take off until 40 minutes after the start cannon fired. I will say my group was a whole lot more easygoing and polite than those intense 100-miler groups I’ve been in! The terrain around Wichita Falls is not challenging, but the 100-degree temps and strong headwinds will kick your ass in no time if you’re not ready.
The highlight of the ride was ridng through Sheppard Air Force Base. The base goes all out to welcome the riders, including a flyover during the Star-Spangled Banner before the start in Wichita Falls, your own personal pilot to take your picture by the aircraft display at the base, your own personal airman to hold your bike at the base rest stop, and an energetic, cheering gauntlet of 200 airmen as you exit the base. (“Airman” is the proper term for men AND women.) I found myself feeling the need to tell a few of them that my late brother, Alan, was in the Air Force. Made me choke up to see his reflection in their smiling faces.
Here is a video that will hopefully help convey the HHH experience. It will also convey why it’s taken so long to get this posted!
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can use the following direct link to Vimeo to download.
While it may seem like this post is something completely different for Biketrash Holiday, cycling has always remained my true two-wheeled love. In fact, Biketrash was “born” several years before getting her motorcycle endorsement. There will be plenty more motorized adventures, but let me publicly announce here and now and put it in writing that next year I’m goin’ for the 50-miler! Yeah, baby!
Peace on the Road!