Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hotter N Hell Hundred

4am is real early to get to a bike ride. It is real important at the Hotter N’ Hell. Parking has becomes limited and you need to get onto Scott Street as soon as you can. If you lollygag around, it could take you hour to just get across the start line.

Justin, Bob Jung and I made it to my parking place at about 5am, thanks to the fine folks at Hudson Blueprint. This was Bob’s first Hotter N’ Hell. I was a tad concerned about the level of training he had put in, but he seemed confident he could do the hundred miles.

We made it to the start line on Scott Street at about 6am. The Hotter N Hell organization goes to great lengths to have markers so that fast riders do not have to comingle with the slower riders. I think about 75% of the riders pay attention to where they should start. I always try to start towards the front, most of the time I am where I need to be. Another cycling buddy Jack found us at the start.

Scott Street is amazing the morning of Hotter N Hell. 13,000 plus cyclist all crowded together makes quite the atmosphere. One can look back and see a sea of colorful cycling helmets. One can look back and see the temperature on the downtown bank building. We were very pleased to see it at 70 degrees.

After the national anthem, fly over, and the shot of the cannon we were off. Actually we were not, we scooted our bikes for about ten minutes until we crossed the start line. I would guess there were about 500 people in front of us at the gun, but by the time we cross the line, you can see cyclists for miles.

The mass of humanity was off. I had set a goal of completing the ride in 5:30 minutes. I have done it much faster, but felt this was realistic. Justin was shooting for a little better, Jack’s goal was 4:30 and Bob had aspirations of just fewer than six hours.

I rode with Justin and Jack for as long as I could. You spend the first hour of the HHH trying not to wreck. There is a high percentage of “Freds” at the HHH and they are scary to ride around. Moreover, bikes are flatting; water bottles are hitting the pavement and well as riders. This problem is solved by riding 25 miles an hour in a group on the wrong side of the road. Lucky for us, the roads are in essence closed and police support forgives us for this transgression. They even stop the train for us when cross the tracks in Iowa Park.

With all the chaos of the ride, I lost Jack and Justin in front of me. I kept a close eye on my speed; I wanted to sit around 22mph so that I would have something left at the end. Bob was somewhere behind me. There is always a group to ride in at HHH so this was not a problem.

Bob came screaming past me at the 20 mile rest stop. He was really cooking. Luckily for me I could check my ego and I let him go. I knew it was going to be a long day and head wind and heat was in our future. I caught Bob as we approached the 30 mile rest stop; I cautioned him it was going to be a long day. He was stopping for water, but I kept rolling.

I found myself in a very good group and we were cruising. I was wearing my Texas Tech Cycling Jersey so for the next 40 miles or so, there was much Big 12 football discussion with my newly found friends. Most were curious on my position on Tommy Tuberville. (Good hire) My Tech Jersey got me lots of “Go Tech” and “Wreck’m Tech” yells by fellow cyclist, event workers and just spectators.

I was still averaging 21.5 mph when we passed through Hell’s Gate. By then I was riding with Jack again but no site of Justin or Bob. I had not stopped yet and knew I would need to fill up my bottles at the 70 mile rest stop. I was starting to get quite optimistic that I might be able to pull off a sub five hour HHH. I pulled over quickly at the 70 mile rest stop, filled up, got back on the bike and found another group. All was well.

This group was moving slower, but I was pleased. Somewhere right after the 80 mile rest stop, the wind really picked up. I was struggling to stay on the back of this group and then the “bonk” arrived. I have come accustomed to bonking, but it became suddenly clear that I had nothing left. I comforted myself knowing that I had just did 80 or so miles plus 20mph average, but I still had a ways to go to the finish.

I kept getting into groups and riding at 19mph, 18mph, 17mph, 16mph, and 15mph and at times by myself I was doing 10mph. I kept looking at my computer watching my time extend and my average drop. I knew I wanted to be 5 miles from the finish at 5 hours so that I could do 10mph and still make my 5:30 goal.

The last 15 miles were brutal. In addition to my suffering in the head and the headwind, everyone around me was suffering as well. Groups are dangerous during this period because everyone is tired. I rolled through a crash site of a group that just dropped me. I glad I missed it, but I am also glad I missed the fight that was breaking out between the guy that caused the crash and the one of the guys that hit the ground.

I was six miles from the finish at 5:00 hours, so I knew I had to keep it above 12mph to make it. I actually got a second wind and started to move above 15mph. As I went by the “beer stop” at mile 98, I kept moving. I just wanted off the bike. I was pleased when I crossed the line at 5:20 minutes (19mph average) with the PA guy announcing “We have a Red Raider crossing the line!”

I snaked my way through the finish line and rolled back to the car. Justin found me their sitting on the pavement under the shade of the hatchback. He had completed the HHH averaging 19.4mph. (I learned later Jack finished in 4:55) Bob was nowhere to be found.

Justin and I loaded the car headed over to the Agriculture Barn where they set up showers. Yes they are the same showers used to wash horses and cattle, but they are very welcome to get the combination of dirt, sunscreen and salt off your body.

When we got back in the car, Bob had texted me he had finished. So we headed back and gathered him up. I was quite surprised on how well he looked. He finished just over 6 hours, so I was real impressed.

There was only one last thing to do before we left town. That was for me to swing by Whataburger and have a triple meat triple cheese. That is 1,400 calories with about 75 grams of fat. But on a positive note I burned over 7,000 calories on the ride. A good lunch was had and the tall tales of the ride had begun.

I will be back next year and in better shape so I will be willing to stop at the beer stop.

Monday, August 30, 2010

HHH Routine

The Hotter N Hell Hundred is the largest cycling event of the year for me. In fact it is probably one of the largest cycling events in the country. There were over 13,000 cyclists this year.

I always mark August of 1994 as my commitment to road cycling. I had been riding sporadically before then, but I made a goal in 1994 to ride the HHH the following year. So in 1995 I did my first century at HHH. (Story of that one will go up on the blog one day) I have probably only missed the event three times since then, one being last year because of the broken thumb.

Since it had been since 2008 since I had been up to Wichita Falls, so I was excited to go back up. Make no mistake; HHH is all about the event and the number of riders. One does not ride in Wichita Falls for the scenery or the cool weather.

I went up with my cycling buddy Justin. For those that don’t follow the blog, I have been riding with Justin for about 8 years. His first century was the 116 mile Dallas adventure this past March. This was Justin’s first trip to HHH.

We headed up this past Friday. It is only a two hour drive, but one wants to get there to register and check out the largest cycling trade show. It was a flat out zoo in the MPEC (the creatively named Wichita Falls Multi-Purpose Event Center). Justin and I got registered and fought the crowds to get our T-Shirts. I usually like to shop, or at least gawk, at all the cycling gear for sale, but I just bought a bunch of cheap tubes, a T-shirt for Carol and bailed. It was just too crowded.

From there we hunted down what I call my "Hotter N Hell Gang". I am not real sure who I met first in this gang or when, but for the past 10 years or so this is who I hang with at the event. Our leader is Tod. Tod seems to work deals to get us a cheap place to stay. It started at a mattress store, one year it was the remodel rectory of a Catholic Church, and currently it is a house right on Lake Arrowhead. I am not real sure how Tod pulls this off, but with hotels booked a year in advance, I really do not care.

The corp of the rest of the group is Pete, Bob and Bill. All three are Vietnam Era veterans. I met Bob and Bill through my Kiwanis Club and Pete through them. There have been slow additions and people that come and go but these are the most entertaining. (No offense “Other Bob” and Mike)

Over the years we have had some interesting stories at HHH. Many of them retold every year in the Parking lot of the MPEC under the shade of a pop up in what is referred to as “The Tailgate”. This tailgate is followed by watching part of the criterium and wandering over to McBride’s Steakhouse for dinner. We are doing what we can to pump money into the Wichita Falls economy.

My college buddy Bob Jung met us at the house on Lake Arrowhead and we all sacked out to prepare for a 4am walk up on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Broken Bow

Last weekend the troop did its annual Trip to Beaver Bend State Park in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. We can say annual, because this was our 11th time. This year it had much trepidation for me. For those that recall, my last trip down the Lower Mountain Fork River resulted in a broken thumb. I can safely say as I type this on my blackberry, no broken bones this year.

I often call the August campout "The Campout of the year". My perception of this campout was verified when I ran into one of my 19 year old Eagle Scouts' father at the grocery store last night. He shared with me that his son had to much on his plate to go this year, but his son hated to miss "The Campout" (finger quotes included).

We took 30 on the trip. 18 boys and 12 adults. Of the adults, 4 were all under 25 eagle scouts. In fact including the boys, 20% of the trip were Eagle Scouts. My long term vision for this trip is that it be a Troop 5 reunion trip. It is slowly headed that way.

The trip was a week later this year so that we could use our favorite outfitter for the canoes. Without turning this blog post into an advertisement for W W Canoe outfitters, let me just say, it was worth the week delay. What a professional outfit compared to who we used last year. We will call them on March 1 to get our traditional week next year.

I spent the past week debating if I was even going to get on the river. Part was nervousness on the thought of going over Presbyterian falls again and part was we only had 12 canoes for 30 people. W W found two more canoes out of their inventory so the later became less of an excuse.

The trip to Broken Bow was quite uneventful. Phillip Pierce, I think for his own sanity, drove the bus for the Troop. This allowed for two things. One I got to play with my blackberry the whole way up and to allow the bus to get headed down the highway while Aric Justice and I waited for three boys who were not on time.  With a 4 and a half hour drive, every second the bus gets down road is in the best interest of the troop. Aric and did catch the bus in about a 100 miles and the boys that were late got to shift to un-air-conditioned bus with the rest of the troop.

We got to the campsite at 11pm. Because Oklahoma Schools had already started, we had our campsite to ourselves. Which is quite handy when 30 people ascend on a campsite in a state park this late. Brett and Mr. F had come up early and secured the first come, first served campsite.

As one would expect, we did not move with much due diligence in the morning, our goal to be at the outfitter by 9am was missed by a good hour. However W W not fazed in the least.   We got on the river close to eleven. I elected to have Jade as my canoe partner. Little did he know how nervous I was about hitting the rapids. In fact I am sure he was completely unaware of the events of last year.

The river trip was quite uneventful.  The boys tipped over their canoes as usual, sometime because of the river, sometimes because they wanted to, and sometimes because someone else wanted them to flip.  Fun was had by all.  Every rock of Jade and mine canoe caused me much apprehension, but we successfully made it just above Presbyterian Falls with no major mishap.   Brett astutely pointed out the rock I hit last year and informed me to say well to the right of it.    I got the canoe strait on with the falls after watching a couple in front of us fail to make it and off we went.

I would like to say that I went over the falls with no fear, but that was not the case.   Jade and I successfully made it over , without flipping and more importantly, with no broken bones.  As the troop gathered back together for the last part of the trip, I proudly answered no to the 20 times I was asked, "Did you break anything?"

Now that I was done with my therapy, I was really able to enjoy the boys enjoying the trip.  Nothing is better than splashing in a cold river on a hot day on Scout trip. 

We made it back to camp to have a late lunch.  The boys played in the river all afternoon and then cooked a hearty dinner.  About 8 pm it became very clear we were about to get hammered with a thunderstorm.  The boys packed the campsite and battened down the hatches with awesome efficiency.  Everyone stayed dry.

I look forward to another adventure in Broken Bow next year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rode anyway

I cycle commuted this morning. I got up and while I drank my coffee, I contemplated why I should not ride. I was tired, my head hurt, my legs were tired, it was going to take a while, it was hot, I had not packed my bag, I had to shower at work and I was tired. I got up, got ready and rode my bike into work, not because I wanted to, but because it is what I do.

I am slowly coming back into form as I approach the end of cycling season, but I know that every ride is now important if I am ever to get better. So I rode. I am glad I did.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hot Ride

I am very frustrated about my cycling fitness this season. The truth is, it has become increasingly clear, I am becoming an older rider. I used to be able to roll into shape without any organized training of any kind, I just had to ride.

I admit, my normal riding schedule has not been easy to keep to life observations, but it is going to take a concerted effort from now on to make better use of my riding time as “training” in lieu of just another bike ride.

In my goal not to be “that guy” the shop ride group waits on and in mission to beat the summer heat of Texas, Big Dave and I left at 7am on Saturday. Our goal was 70plus miles, and we ended up with 75, so it was a good ride.

We cut out to Joe Pool Lake, rode through Midlothian, Mountain Creek and started heading home through Venus. Since we had an hour head start, we ran into the shop ride in Venus. They were on their water break and were preparing to turn around to go back to the shop.

Dave and I were greeted as long lost friends, with the friendly jawing of my conspicuous absences from the Saturday morning rides. They invited us to ride back to the shop with them. All and all a very bad plan.

I knew I did not have the fitness level to stay with them from the shop, why on earth would I think I would have the fitness level to stay with them when I had a hour more in my legs that morning than they did. Suddenly my plan of a Long Slow Distance Ride ramped up to a hammer fest. As I started to abandon ship, I was drifting to the back and told my buddy Justin “I cannot do this all the way back to the shop” he informed me he could not do it now.

I hung on for a while, my buddy Jeff even came off the back with I got spit out to bring me back to the group, I told him it was not worth it. Big Dave sat up and we returned to the LSD ride we had started that morning.

It is the ride I needed to get back into shape, but a clear reminder I am not there yet.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Court of Honor

Friday night was Little Troop 5’s summer Court of Honor. A Boy Scout Court of Honor is an event that provides an opportunity for the Troop to recognize the boys’ advancements and achievements over the past three months.

The Summer Court of Honor is a big one. It recognizes the boys for all their work at Summer Camp. There are lots of rank advancements, merit badges, patches and special recognition for every active boy in the troop.

I was quite touched when the troop decided to recognize me for my ten years of service as Scoutmaster of Troop 5. I really was expecting it, but I have to admit I had been thinking about it. I know I talked about it during the BRCT with the boys and the adults.  Little did the Troop know it was Summer Court of Honor in 2000 that I took over as Scoutmaster, they picked the date perfectly.

The troop has evolved and change quite a bit in the ten years that I have been Scoutmaster, I hope and pray that it is improved. I have learned so much about myself and scouting during this time. When I was working on the blog post on Hayden, I looked at all the names of boys that have become Eagle Scouts under my watch, their parents, the trips we took, and the related adventures. It is a quite a reflective exercise.

The troop gave me a new scout uniform, with all my knots, and a very nice fleur de lei the will take a promenade place on my desk at work. They even gave Carol a gift certificate to Home Depot.

When I was trying to say thank you to the troop, I attempted to say how I feel I become an extended part of their family. It is very true. The boys of Little Troop 5 I view as my boys. I am very blessed that someone took the time to get me to Eagle, I am even more grateful that I get to help other young men achieve this honor. I have sat on top of mountains in New Mexico, in lakes in Canada, trails in Arkansas, and numerous scout camps in Texas with some of the finest young men. They listen to me babble and sometime, I think they even hear me.

There is no question there have been challenges, but the rewards for my time is priceless. Little did I know in 1997 when I volunteer at a Kiwanis Club meeting to be a summer camp adult, that I would still be scouting, let alone ten years as a Scoutmaster.

Thank you Little Troop 5 for given me the honor to serve.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hayden Pierce

On Saturday evening Troop 5 honored Hayden Pierce as your 20th Eagle Scout. He is the 15th Eagle Scout as Scoutmaster. (Still working on training the "Guns Up" but I am getting there)

It was quite the enjoyable evening. I have been camping with Hayden since 2004. It sounds cliché, but it is really enjoyable to watch him grow up from the first year camper, to a scout, to one of my camping buddies.

The neat thing about being a Scoutmaster is that you become part of the extended family of your Eagle Scouts. Hayden’s parents, Angela and Phillip, also have become trusted friends. Phillip and I have camped many of nights together on the trail. As I always tell the boys, you camp with someone, you really know them. Strangely, Phillip still camps with me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Elvis T. Busboy

I think I am going to work backwards on these posts. On Saturday, Carol and I went to the Blackfinn in Arlington to see Elvis T. Busboy and the Blues Butchers in concert. I am not real sure when the first time I saw ETB. I know it was in Lubbock after a football game at the Texas CafĂ© or as we called it “The Spoon”. I think I was still in graduate school at Texas Tech. The point is, it was a long time ago. I have seen him many times since then. A few years back, I took Carol to see him at J. Gilligan’s in Arlington and introduced Brett to them at Gameday in Mansfield. In fact on Sunday, I got Aedan to dance with me to ETB’s version of  “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby” So three generations have now enjoyed ETB.

Steven Shaw, aka Elvis T. Busboy, is quite talented and the Blues Butchers are phenomenal musicians, Below is the cut and paste from their reverbnation.com page.

I know, you're probably asking yourself, where did the name Elvis T. Busboy come from? Well, did you ever see the Elvis Presley movie King Creole, where Elvis plays a busboy who becomes a hit when nightclub fans learn he can sing? Same deal here.

Elvis T. Busboy (aka Stephen Shaw) started out a roadie for the P.J. Belly band & went with him in '89 to the Arts & Crafts festival in Kerrville, where P.J. Belly asked Shaw if he wanted to get up on the stage & sing. "I didn't have time to think about it long enough to be nervous," Shaw says. He got up & sang the only tune he knew, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 'That's All Right Mama' & it worked. The following year Belly opened up his own Lubbock club & Shaw became the singing cook there. Shaw would stop cooking, come out & sing, then go back & cook some more. Friends started calling him Elvis because of his unique voice & would holler 'You wanna hear the busboy sing?' So he became 'Elvis the Busboy' which was eventually shortened to Elvis T. Busboy....voila!

The Texas Blues Butchers were a side version of Lubbock's premiere '80's band The Nelsons, which had 1 LP & 1 CD released. The Nelson's toured with Culture Club & played on Farm Aid, but were struggling & thus formed the Blues Butchers to get blues gigs. Shaw started singing with the band and before they knew it they were getting gigs all over town. Shaw recalls, "they were a terrific rock 'n' roll band trying to play the blues, and they literally were butchering it.

That's not the case anymore however. Jobs have been coming so steadily, they are booked several nights a week in blues bars from Dallas to New York, and when they play it is almost always to a packed house.

This band is packed with talent and has such a tremendous energy...it is no wonder their fans are willing to drive across the state of Texas to see them! And if you've ever been to Texas, you know that's saying a lot.
– Source http://www.reverbnation.com./#/page_object/page_object_bio/artist_362689
We met two of my college friends, Lauren and Steve Moore, Brett (who brought a lovely young lady named Ashley) and fun was had by all. Carol will argue that I time travel back to my younger days when I am with my college friends and even more so when we see ETB. I did not time travel to much, but it was an awesome way to end a great Saturday that started so early in the morning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

July 31, 2010

This past Saturday was an epic day for me. It involved cycling, scouting, family, college friends and Elvis T. Busboy and the Blues Butchers in concert. The only thing that was missing was a Texas Tech Football Game. It will take me a few days to completely describe Saturday, but I will not have a problem getting myself imposed eight posts a month up.