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.