Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hotter'N Hell Hundred: What was I thinking??

I crave adventure.  Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.  While I usually choke it down, it can be painful.  That was the case with the 2014 Hotter'N Hell Hundred.  This is a ride I have wanted to do for a while.  It get upwards of 12,000 riders which hosts a pretty fun atmosphere.  I have never done it because I have never been that close to it and since I am not a bigillionaire it has never been an option.

Starting position depends on estimated finish time.  Turns out that I was in the right group, the only problem is that it took about 30-45 min to cross the start line after the canon.  When you are trying to beat the clock to Hell's Gate I was a little concerned.  I also had a great time talking to people at the start.

After moving to Louisiana I was as close as I would to Wichita Falls, TX as I ever may be.  By close I mean a 7 hour drive.  Since I had surgery in April and I had to cancel my attempt at the Dirty Kanza I decided that I needed something exciting.  So about 3 weeks out I managed to get a room at Sheppard AFB and implemented my standard training plan.  Let see how I did with that:

1. Ride as much as possible: I rode as much as possible (which was not nearly enough).  By now people who actually read this blog may be asking themselves "for a guy that likes to ride and has a lot of bikes, he sure doesn't seem to ride much?"  This is a valid question with a sort of simple answer, I currently work a job that starts at 0600 with physical fitness training and ends between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.  I am usually pretty tired and since I live very close to work riding doesn't do much.  I do get a lot of riding in but not 4-6 hours at a time very often.  

2. Get a good set of tires: New 28c Gatorskins, need I say more?  To be honest, the roads were mostly horrible and I wish I had bought a new set of 32c Gatorskins.  Either way there was not flatting, so it was a win!

3. Drink a bunch of water: I did a lousy job of hydrating for the several days before the ride.  As usual.  But it was not for a lack of trying, Louisiana is hot and virtually impossible to stay hydrated.  As for the 7 hour drive, I may have overdone it with the Red Bull and Rock Stars.  Though I was generally concerned about the heat and I drank a fair amount of water.  As it turns out, Red Bull is not a good hydration tool.  One thing I did use on the ride was Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes which were great as I didn't cramp and that is a common problem for me.  I am usually not a big supplement guy but I would do this again.

4. Shove my jersey pockets as full of calories: My attitude towards calories has changed over the years.  I think it is more about timing than what you eat.  I buy fewer actual "energy bars" and I like to eat every 45 minutes and I don't care if it is an "energy bar" or a candy bar or a burger.  It takes all things when you are out for a 5+ hour ride.  I done good on this.  At the midway point Cliff Bar had a huge nutrition station with tons of free product.  I was glad and filled pockets for the remainder of the ride.

I got to the parking lot at about 4:45 in the morning.  I couldn't sleep well and I was unsure about how fast the parking lot would fill.  This is the Giant Revolt bicycle which is a great all around bike.  It is pretty relaxed for road bikes and it was a pleasure to ride.  I wish I had left the third water bottle cage on the down tube.  I made the saddle bag and top tube bag.

As for the ride I didn't get to many pictures.  There is a reason for this, if you don't get to the 60 mile mark by noon or so they don't let you finish the 100 miles and reroute you on a shorter route.  I didn't intend to spend a ton traveling there only to ride 75 miles.  I was concerned with the heat and cramping so I didn't want to mess around.  Honestly, I love harsh landscapes, I see much beauty in them where others may not.  I am kind of sad I didn't get more but that is ok.  

Admittedly it is the flattest century I have ever done, so when I say it was my fastest 60 miles on record it is not surprising.  Though as I turned through the "Gates of Hell" it was hot, the end of the ride was well over 100 degrees and there was a horrible headwind so the record was easily wasted.  

I didn't have any issues with leg cramps, but I ate religiously every 45 minutes.  Water was the biggest issue for me.  I chose to only run with two water bottles, there were a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that I am an idiot and only managed to leave the house with one and I got a free one in the swag bag.  The second was that I cannot reach the bottom down tube one and didn't think I would need a reserve.  That was a mistake.  Early on while it is not hot people don't line up at the SAG spots for water.  By mile 80 the line is really long.  

At one point I thought I was good and didn't want to waste time in line so I decided to go.  Then the 100 degree heat and headwind took its toll.  I could have used a third bottle.  Then there was a surprise water only stop.  I chugged and left.  Though at the 90 mile mark I felt really dehydrated.  I actually sat for a little while and chatted with some guys while I ate some bananas and oranges and drank Pickle Juice.  It is nasty but cold and full of salt.  

 Pickle Juice Sport Drink:  Refreshing yet nasty.  Keeps the cramps away though!

The key to HHH is that you want to do it as fast as possible to beat the heat, the course is well marked so you don't have to focus on a cue sheet.  I finished strong and overall it was an enjoyable time.  I always enjoy events with a huge turn out.  The drive home was a little longer in that I was suffering from dehydration and was tired.  Then I saw this?


Buck Piñata?

Well worth the drive and effort though.  Plus I "won" a medal!


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