Wow! If you ever think about doing the Hotter than Hell Hundred Triple Threat, check the weather forecast! This weekend was absolutely crazy, borderline insane, and if nothing else….HOT!
Janet and I, in our usual fashion, were wandering the office causing trouble, when Janet said, “Hey! Want to do the Triple Threat at the Hotter than Hell Hundred bike ride?” I thought it might be fun, and had missed the ride the last few years due to scheduling conflicts. Janet went on to explain that it was a 12 mile beginner mountain bike ride on Friday night, the 100 mile road bike ride on Saturday, and a tiny little half marathon trail run on Sunday morning. Sounded like a full weekend, but what the heck.
We wrapped up seeing patients on Friday and jumped in the truck, heading for Wichita Falls. We checked into the nicest hotel in the whole city (Yes, they have one Marriott Courtyard) and made our way down to the expo to get our numbers and directions for this madness.
After a little bit of shopping and losing a timing chip, we made it to the mountain bike start with a whole 15 minutes to spare. I had already chickened out (I don’t own a mountain bike, didn’t want to borrow one, and heard way too many crash stories), but Janet was ready to go. A good group of about 10 people from our running peeps, Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers, had also decided to try their hand at this madness; so group psychosis was also occurring. Did I mention the temperature was 103? The head official explained all the loops and turns and a little water crossing right near the end. The gang took off and I decided that perhaps watching the race at the water crossing might be fun.
Fun it was! Not one person made it across the water crossing without dismounting, either by choice or falling face first into the water! I saw one broken front wheel and one flat tire, but mostly just very graceful water landings. Janet came through and was smart and portaged her bike. I ran to the finish to meet the gang and knew immediately we had a problem. Janet had a bruise the size of a small dinner plate on her shoulder and had her not happy face on. Turns out she challenged a tree and the tree won!
We decided to head back to the hotel for ice, Advil, a shower and of course beer. Beer and a good dinner cure all bumps and bruises. We hooked up with our friend Debbie and had a great steak dinner and more than a few beers. Then it was time for bed. 5am comes early!
The alarm went off at 4:30 am and that was the first time I had the thought, “Why do we do this?” We got our bikes and gear together, shoveled down a little breakfast and we were off to meet the peeps. The three of us were awake and ready to take on 100 miles with 10,000 of our closest friends. The temperature at the start was 80. Not bad, with a little breeze. We saw our LGRAW friends, but they decided to start toward the front of the group called “the Scorchers”. That’s the people who ride from 20-25+ mph. We were in “the Keepers”, planning to average 17-20 mph or so. We positioned ourselves at the front of the Keepers, or the back of the Scorchers; however you want to look at it. We all had our bike lights on because it was still dark and that made an impressive sight with all the blinking tail lights, in fact, I felt like if I stared at them long enough I could hypnotize myself into thinking I was still in bed! The cannon went off at 6:15am (they allowed an earlier start this year for those that wanted it or you could start at the official 7am start but given the heat, why would anyone do that?)
Off we went. The first few miles was slow and had a few stops due to the crowd, but by 10 miles or so it started to thin out so you could ride comfortably. The three of us were riding together and then Debbie dropped her sunglasses. (Yes, it was still dark so they were in her side pocket) She went back for them, but only found pieces.
We all skipped the first two aid stations and stopped at 30 miles. So far, so good. Everyone felt good and the heat was not a factor yet. We then stopped at every other aid station until we got to “Hell’s Gate”. This is the official spot (around 60 miles) that you have to get to by noon, or they turn you onto the 100K route and make you go home. We got there about 10 am, so Hell’s gate was still open and we got our picture taken with “Pyro Pete”, a gigantic devil blow up doll!
Hell’s Gate is appropriately named, because the route passed that point is rolling farmland with very little shade, bumpy roads, and it was getting hotter by the second. We started stopping at every aid station and I started putting ice in my jog bra to try to cool down my core. I actually felt alright as long as I kept drinking, but Debbie was starting to look bad and Janet was getting very quiet. I have to admit, between 70 and 90 miles, it felt like someone had opened the oven door and shoved my head in! Or maybe a blast furnace? Even the wind was hot, so it didn’t cool you down at all. We were all feeling the heat, but were still plugging along. We dropped from 18-20 mph to about 16 mph. The carnage all around us was remarkable. The SAG wagons had tons of people and bikes on them, but you still saw the occasional biker under a tree or passed out on the side of the road. My day was complete when I saw an armadillo and a coyote in the same 5 mile stretch! Gotta love Texas in the summertime!
Debbie and I stopped at the 90 mile aid station to try to get more ice, but Janet plugged on. She said there was beer at 98 miles and she really wanted one! We got to the “Unofficial 98 mile aid station” and I thought I was seeing a mirage. There had to be at least two hundred people hanging out and drinking beer, eating chips and sausages, and having a party in an old machine shop on the side of the road! It was hysterical. We found several of our friends just hanging out there, and made many new friends after a few beers. One guy said he finished at 10:30 am then came back to his favorite aid station. Lots of people were completely hammered! Too funny! After a few beers, we collected our friends and decided it was time to make it to the finish line. Two miles of slightly impaired cycling, we were finally finished!
They had a fire hydrant open and spraying everyone at the finish, so we stripped off our shoes and went dancing in the water. So happy to be done!
Back to the hotel for showers and a long deserve nap. It was the local news that let us know it was the hottest Hotter than Hell Hundred on record, topping 109! No wonder I felt like I was in an oven!
After our naps, we joined our friends for beer and BBQ at their campsite. (Yes, a lot of people bring campers and stay the weekend near the trails) Janet and I like camping at the Marriott better!
Then the alarm went off at 6 am this morning! Again, I was thinking, “Why do we do this?”, but I got up and putting on my running gear. Yes, it was time to do a trail half marathon. On the same course as the mountain bike ride on Friday night! Yes, a water crossing and everything! We met our still crazy friends at the start. Everyone had survived so far with just a few bumps and bruises. Janet decided we should walk run the course given our legs hurt from the previous day’s small endeavors, so we walked. And ran up and down these crazy hills and valleys, singing over the river and through the woods. The two of us finished up together laughing to the point of almost crying because we had both reached fully nuts when Janet almost stepped on snake #3 that we saw on the trails just about 400 yards from the finish! That will get your heart rate going!
Happy to have finished, Janet got a really cool cyprus plaque proclaiming that she had survived the Triple Threat….and yes, it was 104 at the finish! What a weekend!
Ps. I made a video of much of the weekend, so stay tuned to my Youtube channel!
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