Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hotter 'N Hell or Bicycle Heaven

Okay, I get to have all the fun, now I am in Wichita Falls, Texas for the Hotter ‘N Hell bicycle event. My mission here is to show off the Athletes Honey Milk and ride the 50 mile course. This event is to Wichita Falls and bicycle riders what Sturgis, SD is to motorcycle riders. Over 14,000 bicycle riders converge on the city starting about Wednesday prior to the event on Saturday. While this is not truly a race or a tour, it is better described as a spectacle. While there are some very competitive riders they only represent about 1% of total number. Some of the “other” riders will actually buy a bike the week before and then become riders who choose to ride 25, 50, 100K(62.5) or 100 miles. Some 29 years ago some one had the bright idea to have a bicycle event in this small city(90,000) and since the temperature this time of year is “Hotter ‘N Hell” they thought it would be smart to name it just that. So, over the years it has grown in stature and reputation. There have been years when the temperature was so high they had to cancel some of the mileage just make sure everyone finished without injury. This will be my fourth time to do the event and I will venture out on the roads to do the 50 mile distance. The temperature this year has been in the high 60’s early in the morning while rising to the mid 90’s by noon. I mentioned to someone yesterday that if the cool early mornings keep up they will have to change he name of the event to “Cooler Than Thou” or something like that. At any rate this is a well run event, well backed by the city and its’ citizens. Wichita Falls feels like it is in another state instead of Texas. While it has oil, cowboys, a small university and an Air Force base it just seems to have a different feel than Texas. Fact is I keep thinking we are in another time zone, but no we are really CDT and this is really Texas. Since the hotel rooms sell out a year in advance we decided to try the RV camping thing and rented a 26’ RV that could sleep 6 people. We hope that is not the count since it is beginning to close in on us now, and it feels like it must feel to travel in a submarine. Everything seems to be in the way from one end to the other or just to go to the rest room. I have bumped my head numerous times and worry about the sewer tank filling up and over flowing. So far so good and maybe this might be a good idea for the future. We had to come on Wednesday since the RV spaces close to the event center for the expo, and race start was a first come, first serve basis. When we got here there were only 4 other RV’s, now there are 200. Since it is really not an RV camp ground the trailers are parked very close together and it really feels like an RV ghetto. But it is within walking distance of everything that goes on with the event and is probably a good thing. The tell tale story will come when we have to hook up the pickup to the trailer again to head back. But RV’ers have a way of paying attention to their neighbors needs and I am sure they will come to our rescue.

Now for the ride report. I mentioned above that we were doing the 50 miler but as the testestorone started to build after seeing all of the riders and the new equipment we switched to the 100K(62 miles). They allow you to do this after you start the course, since the entry fee is the same for all. My fellow rider John Harris was trying to sell me on the 100 miler with the bribe that they gave out brockwurst and free beer at mile 87 so we needed to up the ante and go the ultimate distance. Of course I was tempted and we had to make the decision at mile 50. We were both feeling good, the weather was excellent, and I must say it was tempting. The brockwurst and beer was sounding better by the minute; however, I wasn’t too sure on how I would feel after stopping to partake and then riding another 13 miles. So, I convinced John that we could get brockwurst and beer after we finished the 100K and even enjoy it. He finally agreed and we moved on towards the finish line. We were able to finish with a 3:30 hour time frame and felt good doing it. Now for the beer and brockwurst!! We also received some Athletes Honey Milk from the finish line expo and proceeded to begin our recovery of tired legs and sore butt.

Since we were RV’ing it added a second dimension to the trip, since usually it involves a hotel room and then head on back after loading the bikes and suitcases. But when you RV anywhere it is as much about setting up and tearing down as it is anything else. There are certain things you have to do in setting up that make the rest of your trip more comfortable, such as the awning. Put the awning up and then you have a nice shaded area to sit and talk pre and post race information. You must also hook up the water, electricity, and sewer properly or you really have a problem. These are things we take for granted in the hotel rooms, but you can‘t do that in an RV. We also learned what to do when the shower water tank(different than the sewer tank) reserve decides to over flow. This is called “gray water” and is really the old shower and dishwasher waste water. We learned that you can drain this water out on the ground if you do it very discreetly, meaning you wait until after dark. Seems as though this is a practice done by all of the experienced RV’ers, so we pitched in to do our share of sharing the used “gray” water. On the sewer side we had no problem and after arriving back in Lubbock we searched out a “RV Sewer Dump” and after going to the faithful know it all, “google” we located a dump at the Chishom Truck stop. After asking everyone where the dump was located we pulled up to it to learn that there was a sign on it that said, yep you guess it, “RV Sewer Dump!” The odd thing about it is that it is just a innocent plastic pipe running straight down with the hole left open for you to put your drainage hose it and without much fanfare it takes the bad smelling stuff with open arms. The other way we were able to determine it was the sewer dump is the always offensive odor coming from the eagerly awaiting sewer pipe. This little chore only took about 10 minute and we were rid our our waste and off to do the final clean up and return to the RV to its rightful owner. My conclusions for this adventure is that you really don’t rent or buy these things to save money, because you don’t, you rent them to have some kind of 26’ highway submarine to play with and see if you can overcome the little challenges they throw out to you during the trip. One good thing is that we were able to park it so close to the event activities that we were able to walk back and forth to the events. This was nice since all of the hotels you would stay in were not of walking distance. So, put a big triple plus up for the RV ghetto. Possibly this will be done again in 2011; however, that Courtyard by Marriott sure did look good as we passed by it.



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