Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hotter N' Hell Hundred 2009

Aimee and Jim and I headed north last week for the 2009 Hotter N' Hell Hundred. It was just a month since my gastric surgery so we opted for the 50 mile route, even though the weather promised to be mild.

The first few years I did this ride we stayed in Duncan, Oklahoma. It's just 60 miles from the ride and hotel rooms are plentiful and cheap. Of course It does require getting up an hour earlier and driving back to Wichita Falls in the dark. Last year we had a chance to stay in WF and loved the convenience so I don't think we'll being staying in Duncan in the future.

In previous years we've either ridden singles or the Rans Seavo on this ride. This year Aimee chose the Barcroft California back to back for the ride. I had some misgivings about bringing the California to the HHH, primarily because we transport the bike on a trailer. That means everywhere we park in crowded Wichita Falls we would need two spaces. It all worked out though. We found a good spot at the hotel and arrived early at the ride on Friday morning to find a perfect spot on the street. The bike even fit in our hotel room.

This bike is alot of fun, of course, everywhere we ride it and the HHH was no exception. We were chased by several photographers at the start line who wanted info on the bike. Almost everyone who passed us asked us the usual questions:

"Did you build that?

"Don't you get car sick?"

"Does it go both ways?"

At every rest stop we would get water and refreshment and return to find our bike surrounded by admirers. This bike is a good will ambassador!

The last 5 or 6 times I've done this ride, it's been on a recumbent and usually a tandem. We were always started in the front at the start line. This year tandems and recumbents were started with their mileage groups. I didn't like this much when I heard about it since the California is a little twitchy at low speeds. It turned out to be an improvement. We started at the back of the 100k pack. Since we were in back we were not surrounded by bikes and were able to maneauver freely. We crossed the start line by 7:20 or so.

The first ten miles of the ride, although flat, are my least favorite. The road surface is chip seal. It's rough and slows the bike down. This road makes regular asphalt seem like glass.

The California affords the stoker an excellent platform for photography.

Turnout this year was 14,205 riders according to the HHH websire. It showed at the erst stops where, for the first time, I saw long lines for food and water.

Like most recumbents, the California is fast on flats and descents, but slow to climb. It's definitely not a hill bike, at least for me.

This is probably the easiest HHH I've ever ridden. The high was 88 when we finished compared to the 103 we endured a few years ago. Winds were light and favorable. Sag and rests top support was, as usual, simply awesome. I'm looking forward to next years HHH.
Since my weight loss surgery on July 28, my biking has been getting easier by the day. I've now lost 30 pounds as of this morning. Who knows what I'll weigh then? My plan is to do the century on a new low racer.