Saturday, September 03, 2011

Are we there yet?

Last weekend, I participated in the 2011 Hotter'N Hell 100 (HH100). The HH100 began in 1982 as a way to celebrate Wichita Falls' centennial (100 miles in 100 degree heat). The first ride had 1200 participants, but it has grown into the largest single day 100 mile bicycle ride in the nation. This year, the total number of participants in all of the events was 13,241, with 11,870 of those riding the 100 mile endurance ride.

Now, this wasn't the first time I've ridden 100 miles in one day (see You're a better man than I am, I was doing fine until the ants and Outlaw Bike Tour 100), but it was my first HH100. I had two main goals for the ride: 1) Finish, 1a) Finish in a total time (including rest stops and bike repairs) of under 7 hours, or at least improve on my time from last year's Outlaw Bike Tour 100, and 2) Make it at least until mile 25 before I made my first "Are we there yet?" joke.

And on one of those goals I failed miserably.

I can ride between 40-45 miles before I have to refill my water pack, so my plan was to stop at the mile 42 rest stop, then again at the mile 84 rest stop, and then ride the last 18 miles of the 102 mile ride to the finish. That was my plan.

I made it to my first rest stop at mile 42 with relative ease. I grabbed some oranges and bananas, refilled my water, and got back on the road. Three miles later I had a flat. I changed the tire on the side of the road and started up again. At mile 50 I stopped at the rest stop to put a little more air in my tire and to buy a spare tube for the remainder of the ride (since I had used the one I brought). It was a quick stop.

I was still on pace to finish with a total time of under 6.5 hours, but around mile 70 I started to feel the effects of the heat, so I stopped at the rest stop at mile 77. I sat in the shade, drank some fluids and caught my breath. And at some point I misplaced my sunglasses.

Since I stopped one rest stop early, my new plan was to finish out the last 25 miles without stopping. Again, that was my plan.

The heat was brutal. Officially, the high was 109 (making it the hottest HH100 ever), but there were reports of temperature measurements on the ground as high as 125. The slight wind felt like a blow dryer in my face, and without my sunglasses I was squinting from the wind and glare. With my body temperature rising, and with my need for fluids and food, I stopped again at mile 91.

After getting more fluids, I got back on the bike, determined to finish the remainder of the ride nonstop.

I stopped again at mile 96. Again, more fluids. Again, back on the bike determined to finish the remainder of the ride. Since I had now left the last rest stop, I was pretty sure I was going to finish.

And finish I did. I crossed the finish line around 1:41 in the afternoon, giving me a total ride time of 7:18. It wasn't quite under 7 hours like I had hoped, but it was 59 minutes faster than the 95 mile ride I did last October. And of the total time, only 5:45 was actual riding time. Also, I rode the first 91 miles in 6:04. The last 11 took me 1:14. Did I mention it was hot?

I obviously achieved goals 1 and 1a, which means I must have failed goal 2. So when did I make my first "Are we there yet?" joke?

Mile 0. Twice.

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