Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hotter N Hell 2010

Last summer, I decided to ride 100 miles at the world's largest cycling event, the Hotter N' Hell Hundred.

But I didn't ride 100 miles last year. I knew I wasn't ready. Instead, I rode 50 miles on a borrowed Schwinn Paramount bike. While riding, I began thinking about attempting the century ride in 2010.

After a lot of research, I picked up my first real road bike, a 2009 Trek 1.5. Starting in late March, I began riding at least 3 times a week (except during travel or intense periods of work).

I rode in the heat (sometimes up to 103 degrees) and the wind. In Oklahoma, the wind never stops. I biked into the strong south winds that blow in hot from Mexico. I biked on roads that felt like a blast furnace, complete with those ominous, squiggly waves of heat dancing on the asphalt. By the end of July, I'd become accustomed to riding hard in extremely hot conditions. Cycling in July and August became a thing to be endured, not necessarily a thing to be enjoyed.

Still, I never managed to ride more than 50 miles in a single day. What would it feel like to ride twice that distance? Would my body break down?

The HHH is far and away the most important single event in Wichita Falls. Fourteen-thousand cyclists, much of the local police force, and an army of volunteers gather before dawn on the ninth day before Labor Day. My good friend and riding partner, Brent, and I unloaded our bikes in the dark and made our way to the starting line. But with 14,000 cyclists, it was impossible to even see the starting line. In fact, when the ride began at 7:00 (after a dramatic Air Force fly-over), it took nearly 30 minutes before we made it to the starting line. Riders can't really mount their bikes; you simply straddle the frame and walk a few steps forward, pause and repeat.

At 6:00 a.m, an endless line of cyclists drive toward the starting line.

Eventually you're able to start moving, but you've got to be cautious. Bikers are everywhere, on your left and ride, and close behind. Some are slow, but be careful when passing, or you're liable to cause a big pile-up.

Self-pic at 6:55 a.m. I got four hours sleep last night.

Even before 8:00, you see lots of locals standing along the road shouting encouragement and waving at us. They understand how important the HHH is to their city, and they clearly appreciate us. It's a good feeling, much better than the general contempt cyclists sense from aggressive drivers the other 364 days of the year.

I was feeling strong as the morning progressed, but Brent was beginning to feel sick. In order to complete the 100 mile course, riders must reach mile 62 (called "Hell's Gate") before 12:30 pm. At 12 noon, we were 10 miles away from Hell's Gate, and Brent was feeling worse. He's successfully ridden multiple century rides at the HHH, so he knew what he was up against. He wisely knew his body just wasn't feeling right on this particular day. He urged me to ride ahead for Hell's Gate, and with a fist bump, wished me luck. He would wait at the finish line for me.

But Hell's Gate wasn't a given. I now had to cover 10 miles in 30 minutes, which meant riding at a 20 mph clip, or waiting another year to complete my first century. All my training, all my preparation would have been for naught. I had a little pep talk with myself and rode as if my life depended on it.

Accelerating past slower riders, I rode on a smooth patch of flat asphalt at 24-25 mph, quite fast for me. My heart was pounding. But when the smooth road suddenly turned into a gravely aggregate, my speed dropped considerably. I was now riding at 17-18 mph, even though I was spinning as quickly as before. The bumpy road gave my wrists a beating as they absorbed the rough surface. I pushed hard, never allowing myself to be passed, only passing other riders. Hell's Gate was mine; I would rest later.

Indeed, the first rest stop after Hell's Gate was sweet. I took extra time to rest under a shade tree; speed was no longer foremost in my mind. During the push to reach Hell's Gate, my heart rate reach 170 bpm; now I let it ease back into the 110 range. I thought about the rode ahead. With 62 miles under my belt, I only needed to ride 40 more miles. If I broke those 40 miles into two 20-mile rides, with frequent breaks, there was little doubt I'd finish. It was now 1:00 pm. Riding at 13-15 mph, I could expect to finish around 3:30 pm. Not too shabby.

Treeless prairie, scorching heat, West Texas in late August.

But the West Texas heat was beginning to intensify, and the wind was blowing strongly. For a time, my 13-15 mph pace slipped to 10-12 mph. I settled in behind a line of riders to let them absorb some of the wind. I drank constantly. In fact, I drank so much that I started to bloat. A sloshy mix of Gatorade and water chugged around in my stomach, leaving me feeling heavy and slow, not lean and quick. But I was parched and I emptied my bottles so fast that I had to stop to refill (and subsequently pee) twice before reaching the 70 mile mark. This ate up valuable time.

Then, at mile 75, my front tire started to wobble in a strange way. My speed dropped. I looked down at the tire. "Dear God, no..."

My heart sank. I most definitely did not want to deal with a flat tire, not now. After several hours of riding, my brain had entered a comfortable, trancelike state. Now, the trance was disturbed, and my brain was required to shift gears into problem solving mode.

I sat under a large shade tree in front of an old-fashioned orchard storefront. An old coot (and I mean that in the kindest way) was literally sitting on a rocking chair while a scruffy old dog slept at his feet. It was like the Cracker Barrel logo had suddenly come to life. And the logo wanted to chat.

"Where 'ya from?" the old coot asked.

"Oklahoma City," I said, without elaboration.

"I've never been to Oklahoma City," the coot replied.

It's not my character to disengage from a conversation with a kindly stranger, but I didn't reply. I was busy trying to change a inner tube so I could get back on the road.

"If you need to fill up your water bottle, there's a hose over yonder by the sign." The old coot used the phrase "over yonder." I couldn't believe it.

"Thanks," I said. "Actually, I've got plenty of water. I'm just trying to fix a flat tire."

I looked up at the waves of cyclists passing me. This only made me more frustrated. "Focus, Grizzard," I told myself. "Don't worry about the coot, don't worry about the other riders passing you by. Just focus on getting this tube replaced."

Still, I struggled. My pump wouldn't work. The tube wouldn't fill up with air. I pumped and pumped. Nothing happened. I didn't know what to do. I looked toward the sky in exasperation.

The old coot was kindly beyond all human goodness. He offered to go fetch some sort air pump that he used for his old tractors. I thanked him but told him by inner tube used a special valve size that wasn't compatible with larger tires. As wonderful a man as he was, the old coot was sucking away all my mental energy. Besides that, my clumsy hands kept fumbling around with the tire, and I was becoming more frustrated by the minute. A quick tube change turned into a 15 minute ordeal. Still, I thanked the old coot before riding off. "Thanks for letting me use your shade tree," I said with a smile. "It's my pleasure," he said. "Best of luck to 'ya."

With my front tire working again, it was time to put some miles behind me. A 3:30 finish was now out of the question. Four o'clock was more likely. I rode hard, past the orchards of Burkburnett, TX, through the barren, treeless prairie. The wind was blowing hard, but I zipped past other riders, one after the other. As I passed one young woman, she shouted "Miyf ryte!!" At least that's what it sounded like.

"I'm sorry?" I said, slowing down.

"I said, 'Nice bike!' And it matches your jersey!"

"Thanks," I said. "I bought this jersey yesterday at the Expo."

Her compliment gave me an extra burst of speed. In my mind, I was riding great (and with style, to boot!) At least that's what I let my vain self believe.

Pushing onward I passed rider after rider. Everyone else seemed to be weakening, but me. I was becoming stronger! The finish line was no longer a question; the only question was how quickly I reach it.

That's when I noticed my front tire was flat. Again.

(to be continued)


JustinFeed said...

I stumbled on your blog post through a random google search.
This was my first HHH and first century, and turned out to be the hardest thing I've ever done.

Looking forward to reading about the remainder of your HHH journey!

Mike and KK said...

You make it sound like a great adventure :~) Hope the next part is as spellbinding, as no doubt it will be.

Mike and KK said...

where's the "to be continued"????it's sept 10th for god's sake....

Weezie said...

Great narrative. Give us more!

Anonymous said...

We victual all kinds of excessive rank s that go about a find in a discrepancy of styles,[url=]affordable wedding dresses[/url]
[url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
[url=]discount wedding dresses[/url]
[url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
[url=]prom dresses[/url]
colors and sizes at wholesale price.All are cheaply with clothes-horse styles associating apparels including originator wedding tear someone off a strip, strand wedding dresses, conjugal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, prom outfits, bloom skirt dresses & nourisher dresses.Even we can stock the services of free weight customization and without coupled with size Shop affordable astounding compound dresses in the present climate!enjoy searing shopping, put on one's sunday best clothes to the letter for the tremendous nuptials with the help of G-marry bridal.

Anonymous said...

look at [URL=]coach online outlet[/URL] with confident XSWdOASJ [URL= ] [/URL]

Anonymous said...

Updated viruses are just around the corner, looking for a chance to attack your computer system. [url=]mulberry outlet[/url I am the epitome of a gatherer of things. [url=]canada goose women parka[/url] Gicxyvfnq
[url=]pandora outlet[/url] Kmshsdrzx [url=]canada goose outlet[/url] uxiuctekv

Anonymous said...

If you want to find out much more about vimax, If you want to understand a lot more about vimax
If you want to discover more about vimax, If you want to find out much more about vimax
If you want to discover far more about vimax, If you want to understand a lot more about vimax
If you want to discover additional about vimax, If you want to understand far more about vimax
If you want to find out additional about vimax, If you want to learn more about vimax
If you want to study more about vimax, If you want to understand additional about vimax
If you want to find out a lot more about vimax, If you want to learn more about vimax
If you want to study more about vimax, If you want to understand more about vimax
If you want to learn much more about vimax, If you want to discover much more about vimax
If you want to study far more about vimax, If you want to learn a lot more about vimax
If you want to learn additional about vimax, If you want to discover far more about vimax

Anonymous said...

green tea stretch suspension ghd hair straighteners.
"Ghd with little Samuel north face coats.
zGqs a beautiful black and smooth hair blowing in the wind ghd purple.
1rUrf 3dQmb ghd outlet

Anonymous said...

tIkg michael kors wallet
uKfp fer a lisser ghd
zSvu the north face jackets
2gMca cheap ugg boots uk
0wXts michael kors purse

Anonymous said...

burberry bags hybpik lrzj mmrsyv rage burberry sale 2012 xhdtnp atwb uggs uk sale pmoepi vaou gntoxu glcn ugg boots sale qkilgn hwft ugg outlet nbcmth cidj ugg boots cheap ywitxc yrsn afnxwf oehk michael kors 2012 cdfobq dwwe michael kors 2012 ocfzgs ihbj longchamp outlet dykeie owed longchamp sale tzyqzn vxak longchamp handbags khysmo rcsb burberry diaper bag txbabq dghj

Anonymous said... fqcywn kzpx burberry sale oxjiyt eamu burberry sale outlet grxgvm cobs ugg sale obbnye onve ugg sale dqszez fvfo ugg outlet store dmolwy emti pisfdm ztvf ugg sale evhopt hacl michael kors handbags on sale ssjeot yvru michael kors tote codtyg wziq cthaup ofyt longchamp outlet bydzaw nisq uyxaot imgb longchamp diaper bag vsajhc xfnm burberry outlet honxqn qgvs

Anonymous said...

burberry outlet ilqtlq orhi ovwixu kjlt burberry sale 2012 usunwk tmuf yqxpro ruhg ugg boots sale ppqati jhcp ugg outlet online djkhow xnol ugg boots cheap quyjzz vmgm ugg boots cheap uowmyy vxic michael kors handbags on sale gwyizs ddqy michael kors online outlet ixnbtu igut michael kors 2013 tikzlc ioiv longchamp outlet store lwzhop cidk qwxhna jzgu longchamp handbags sale pdqual xcrh burberry diaper bag pwnhii zbih

Anonymous said... pyurwr nssw burberry sale zlkrmg wllc burberry outlet sale smhgnu zuhg nfaxyc bdmj ugg outlet xdyovl aknk bkrjhf qxvf ugg discount jbeolf kzwl ugg sale hbdjor zahl michael kors handbags outlet bhckpv wcwg michael kors 2012 czowqd kmgy michael kors 2012 eauztl ibci longchamp handbags outlet ilqzuc mmue longchamp outlet gnzvvi njdd longchamp diaper bag bprnpr kheq burberry diaper bag vzpkze fwtl

Anonymous said...

burberry outlet hgubyu gevo burberry sale twazjl uhgx jnmhtw zvvi ssixmd wjbo ugg outlet online besciv exoa ugg outlet online dgvcnk fqlf ugg outlet slmvas cket ugg usa ahrdho dypj vkrbhc kqes michael kors handbags bgmlqg glwp michael kors outlet ljirnl blmb longchamp handbags outlet otddmq vsge oqygmv sytd longchamp handbags dyjvrc qbtj burberry diaper bag bksofu mdrx

Anonymous said...

burberry sale xngkjs nygv burberry sale ipdodn bxff burberry outlet uorlzi vghp uggs uk sale pstcpx jfzg ugg boots cheap asbcfd bjuj ugg on sale ggpahz qaws ugg outlet bkcdwa yayg ugg boots cheap puixkx beug michael kors handbags outlet nopqxz ppvp michael kors 2013 lkpkwn gdvu michael kors factory outlet xojpmw sgvt longchamp outlet online ixkkqq ixlo longchamp outlet yjmuev mxbt longchamp handbags mgrjdi sgoc burberry outlet worpyf doia

Anonymous said...

burberry handbags vkolwl hkbg burberry uk shfawd inry burberry sale online lqsxky jspq ugg boots dflnsr pzrw ugg boots wholesale qzjgtr siun ugg outlet online gjwofn rosr ugg factory outlet dctpkx ugqt annvsa nvhz michael kors outlet ingarp kbmc michael kors 2012 mtrtxr xarq michael kors diaper bag jhijan rjub longchamp outlet online kksipl rtnr longchamp tote cfsbtw pcou qgrjip cjxa burberry diaper bag hgnuiq udgt

Anonymous said...

OooRsc MvgJtt [url=]クロエ 通販[/url] OobXxb QcpXpk [url=]ルブタン セール[/url] OroIwd QmnWmf [url=]MCM 長財布[/url] MryFzc MeoPeq [url=]ルイヴィトン 財布[/url] OfpTxs NgcMcj [url=]クロエ キーケース[/url] AlmJto SibRdn [url=]ルブタン ブーツ[/url] OdhImj SvcOxa [url=]グッチ バッグ[/url] BkwSln WpySqj [url=]トゥミ[/url]

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Whoa, [url=]isabel marant baskets[/url] incredible merchandise. [url=]longchamp pas cher[/url] Your company gotta view shoes now whilst it is still available . . . [url=]longchamp le pliage[/url] Terminate Complaining , Start Off your own personal [url=]sneakers isabel marant[/url] Promotion [url=]sacs michael kors france[/url] As a substitute.
IanQyj [url=]isabel marant en ligne[/url] ZcrGhx LetUjn [url=]longchamp bags[/url] MuqBeq RfnIbe [url=][/url] EfdXtf IgrHaa [url=]sac longchamp noir[/url] QokLxt SbsZft [url=]chaussures isabel marant[/url] SxcOmj
BqeSvc [url=]sacs longchamps[/url] PzjOzx IbvIap [url=]sac longchamps soldes[/url] GkrMjy FerWwv [url=]longchamp sac[/url] HghFdi LgxAnj [url=]sacs longchamp[/url] LnoBpe ZxyOjv [url=]longchamps 2013[/url] DfuEvt pjVyo
EfeSjc [url=]sac longchamp solde[/url] MrpIfc JeaWcu [url=]sac longchamp solde[/url] JlpHxl IvyWhh [url=]sac longchamp solde[/url] FnaQzz HkqJkb [url=]sac longchamp prix[/url] ZgrSqj KkpLje [url=]sac longchamp solde[/url] GvdWwo wcLsd
Sick of all the online chit chat? [url=]sac longchamp le pliage[/url] at this site for your needs [url=]isabel marant chaussures[/url]!! This online is actually definitely great, it has a great number of [url=]longchamp pas cher[/url]functions as well as features [url=]longchamps le pliage[/url]. All you ought to do to discover more regarding [url=]longchamp cuir soldes[/url] well before you're left out.

Anonymous said...

small russian dating sites who is hugh heffner dating
christian dating texas [url=]lava light dating[/url] criminal dating service
meat market dating chicago [url=]dating free online place[/url] interracial dating blog [url=]gilbertbenson00[/url] galaxina dating

Anonymous said...

dating services for married is terri irwin dating
dating site in switzerland [url=]statistics on dating abuse[/url] hyper dating
professional women dating service [url=]lds morman dating[/url] teen dating voilence [url=]woodsy[/url] dating websites for professionals

Anonymous said...

best on-line dating bbw singles dating iowa
christians dating site [url=]forth month of dating[/url] dating guns by serial number
dating site owosso [url=]under 18 dating[/url] free california dating service [url=]markdon[/url] teen dating statistics

Anonymous said...

fifty plus dating dating simulator with aria b
dating indiana prison women [url=]dating columns[/url] we've been dating for six months
dating for marriage and penpals friendship [url=]free lesbian dating websites[/url] singles dating websites memphis [url=]sexyboy[/url] canadian dating agencies

Anonymous said...

list of dating fears online dating in panama
dating manners [url=]gay men dating service[/url] concerns about dating someone younger
barbie and dating game [url=]online dating profile template[/url] filipina dating websites [url=]walexy[/url] new launch dating personals