Tuesday, September 4, 2012

HotterN' Hell 100: Summoning your inner Bradley Wiggins (Part 1)

So one of my co-workers told me about this 100 mile bike race in the middle of summer here in Texas called the HotterN' Hell 100.  She said it was a pretty famous ride that attracts riders from all over the nation, and that usually 10,000+ riders come out and participate.  I figured what the heck, I am going to be training for IM and half IMs this summer and fall, why not try it out!  I needed to get some good practice riding in the heat because at Kona I paid the price for that lack of experience.

As race day approached i was worried because of the lack of long rides that I had hit.  I did a 75, and even a 90 miler, but those had been awhile back now, and idk, when you get into those big volume events you worry about your preparation a lot.

When I got to the packet pickup the night before I asked how many people there were racing this year, and I found out that there were 14,000 people riding across all the different distances they offered (25M, 50M, 100K, 100M).  14,000 people, wow im in over my head!

Race morning was a nightmare.  It was like a freakshow cycling circus!  All these teams from all around texas packing up together in the starting chute with their matching kits, bikes, and whatever other paraphernalia they had with them...And then there was me, a solo, lonely rider by himself out of 14k, with his tribike and non matching kit.  I felt out of place, but that didn't stop me from forcing my way in between these cliques, squeezing as close to the front as i could.  I was still behind well over 1000 people, which made me uneasy.  I am a triathlete, i dont like to ride in super compact packs constantly rotating in at the front.  I like to get over the pedals and grind it out, stroke for stroke.

Very unexpectedly they had a fly-over during the national anthem, and right at the end to start the race off they shot a 4000 year old cannon that made everyones ears bleed, but i guess if thats how they want people to know the race has begun, so be it!

The first 30 miles were uneventful, I tried to latch onto small groups of guys who looked like they knew what they were doing, but each time we got stuck behind slow sunday strollers who camped the night before the race on the start line so they could be first!  Come on...really!  Use some common sense here people.

Finally at mile 30 i saw an opening and went.  I got down in aero, and just started to tempo off the front of the 75 man pack of avid cyclists that had formed.  Surprisingly to me, only 2 guys came with...one had a p5 and the other was a scraggly looking cyclist holding on for dear life.  I pulled for the next 10-15 minutes comfortably, and still both of the guys were with me.  I gestured for one to take the lead, and the p5, without hesitation helped me out.  He and I traded off for the next 10-15 miles, with the leach cyclist gripping tightly to our back wheels.  We were not too thrilled with this!

At an aid station close to 50 miles in we quickly hopped off our bikes, and filled up our bottles, within 1 minute we were back on the road.  The lame thing about this bike race was that there was no bottle exchange, it was a get off and fill up your bottles yourself.  So that threw another piece into the puzzle.

We all were very quick, neither guy holding the others up, and like i said within a minute we were back on our bikes.  We hit a very friendly stretch with major tail winds and we were flying 40+ mph on the flats because of this 20+mph perfect tail winds.  We were very excited to be ticking the miles off so quickly but knew that with this great fortune currently comes much misfortune later on in the race!  And that absolutely held true!

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