For the small group of my friends that makes the annual late-August pilgrimage to Wichita Falls, Texas for its Hotter’n Hell Hundred (“HHH”) bike ride, the weekend is all about tradition. Like we’ve done for almost all of the past nine years, we got rooms at the La Quinta up near the airport, ate Friday dinner at El Chico, had pre-race breakfast at the What-a-Burger across the street, got in the starting line at the same spot on Scott Street at around 6:40a.m., regrouped after the ride listening to the bands in the same corner of the same big tent, went for a cool post-ride swim back at the La Quinta, then headed out for an early Saturday night dinner at Olive Garden, with dessert at the Braum’s on Kemp Street. Every year. Just like that. Somehow every year’s bike ride is unique, but the agenda for the rest of the weekend is practically set in stone. Why mess with such obvious perfection?!
A few years back, we would train all summer for Wichita Falls’ Hotter’n Hell Hundred (100-mile road bike ride). This year, after finishing the much-tougher Leadville 100 on mountain bikes earlier in the month, we relied on leftover fitness: our HHH training consisted of about two rides each – just enough to remember the slightly different feel of a skinny-tired road bike and brace ourselves for West Texas heat. All the traditions were intact, though we had one new development: Shane’s wife Michele came along and rode the full 100-mile trek. She did a fine job of tolerating our idiosyncrasies and pretending she hadn’t heard our old HHH war stories a hundred times already.
Ned Barnett is a mainstay of the HHH traditions, but unfortunately he’s not in any of these pictures. He actually did a separate race (finishing #15 of about 150 racers in his class), so we never saw him on the course or at the finish. Happily, he did join us at El Chico and Olive Garden, where he brings his own body-is-temple bike racer food.