HHH. HH100. Hotter n Hell 100. Has a couple different monikers amongst those familiar with it. I hadn't heard of it until this year, but as a recent transplant to the area, was advised it was one of those things I should definitely hit at least once. Taking that advice, I signed up for the epic event, known for it's blistering heat and peloton shredding crosswinds.
The event is divided into a multi-day festival of sorts, centered around Wichita Falls' MPEC, a convention center/arena type facility. There were crits on Friday and Sunday, with Saturday being the Big Day, featuring the HHH rides and USCF road races. Rides varied from around 25 miles up to the whole 100. The USCF races ranged between 50 or so and 100. I would be doing a 100 mile race.
Arrive late Friday night and head to the MPEC to sign in and pick up my numbers/race packet. It is a major mob scene. I knew the event drew a lot of people but was still a little taken back by the numbers. Registeration/check in was open until 10pm on Friday, I arrived with a little time to spare. Packet pickup was a breeze once I found the location, which was about half way around the perimeter of the MPEC bldg. The main interior area was set up with numerous vendors selling all the bike junk one could need, and then some. I did a quick cruise through, picked up my t-shirt and noticed several people carrying around beers. This seemed like a good idea, so I sought out the beer vendor. I got there just in time to see them loading the kegs on to a golf cart. Closed for the night. So much for that good idea.
Next up, food search. I bailed out of the MPEC and figured I could grab something nearby on my way to the crash pad for the night. This didn't work out too well either, and the best I could find was a super sketchy convenience store several blocks away, and definitely off the beaten path. Bars covered every glass panel. A weary looking crew diligently feed cash into some sort of video slot/poker machines lining the right side of the store. Good nutrition was not going to be coming from this place, and I was resigned to a dinner of energy bars and other delicious "power" food I figured. They did have a cooler full of beer, so at least I good slake my thirst for a cold one. I selected my drink while a couple bemoaned the fact that there was no more Colt .45, and they were going to have to settle for the Cobra or Hurricane 40 0z., can't remember which. It was low grade stuff for sure.
Hit the register, pay for my stuff and hit the crash house. I was the last to arrive and there were a lot of people spending the night. Fortunately a couple guys had reserved a love seat for me, so I was set. Not going to be stretching out much but then I had spent many a college night with similar accomodations so I wasn't too worried. Besides, I would be getting up in a matter of hours to hit the 7:50 start. Sleep came easy after a late feast on leftover pasta and breadsticks I was able to scrounge up, and the alarm sounded way to soon. I still felt pretty good for the early waking, especially considering I am not the morning type.
I loaded up the bike with 2 large bottles and stuck 2 more in my jersey, along with a pile of Gu gels and the parachute 200 mg caffeine pill under the leg of my shorts. I planned on taking a water bottle or two in one of the neutral feeds as well.
We rolled out, toting our spare wheels for the wheel truck. I usually don't bother, figuring once you flat you are generally out of the race, so might as well just fix the flat and then crawl home. For this event, with the longer distance I figured the spare wheels may be worth it regardless. Long day wouldn't be too fun fixing flats. Dumped the wheels at the truck and lined up.
A front had moved through the previous day and it brought unusually cool temps and nearly no wind. Temps were in the mid 60s at the start.
We rolled out with little ceremony. It was dark enough that I debated wearing my sunglasses initially...opted for them and then we were rolling...
more to follow, this is taking longer than I expected and I need to hit the sack. Hey, its only about a month later anyway, so no need to rush I figure.