Hotter ‘N’ Hell 2012
While not literally hotter than hell this year, it was windier than hell out there! We were blessed with moderate temps in the low to mid 90’s and a bit of God’s own air conditioning in the form of a nice cooling breeze that was reported to be gusting to over 35 mph.
This was my first trip back to Wichita Falls, TX and the Hotter ‘N’ Hell since 1991. Obviously a lot of stuff has changed since then, the course, where I stayed, (Yay, no camping out in a tent with the fire ants), the weather, and my bike.
This year I decided comfort was going to be a deciding factor and I wanted a good night’s sleep the night before, this meant air conditioning, a real bed, and a real bathroom. This required finding a motel which was kind of hard to do when you have over 14,000 cyclists coming in for the ride. The nearest motel Vicky could find for me was in Lawton Oklahoma, 50 miles away. I will say though, it fit my definition of comfortable.
Ride day for me started at 0’dark 30, (0300) in order to get my morning routines out of the way, the van repacked the drive back to Wichita Falls and be there in time to get ready before the start of the ride. Rain was threatening the area when I looked at radar but due to all the cyclists devoutly praying it would go somewhere else our prayers were answered.
I got into the starting area with plenty of time to get things packed, repacked, repacked yet again, (do I really need to carry a spare tire? What about that extra bottle of pickle juice? How about more energy bars? Do I really need to carry three spare tubes?) Yes, I over packed as normal, (good thing I wasn’t towing a trailer, I’d have stuffed it full of crap also!)
However somewhere in my repacking my phone got lost and I didn’t discover it was gone till I was in the starting group and ready to go. I initially thought I’d left it in the van so I wasn’t super worried, I should have known better as it had fallen in the parking lot. It was picked up by a nice guy from Saginaw who returned it Monday. He earned himself lots of thanks and a couple $20 bills.
From previous experience on the Hotter N Hell I knew that the start was going to be were the most problems were going to occur. When you try and pack 14,000+ riders down a road, things can get a little "entertaining". Fortunately the start was well organized and the start was staggered by groups so we avoided the overwhelming crush or riders all trying to get going.
Lurking in my mind was also the other bane of the Hotter N Hell, the sheer amount of water bottles, seat bags, bottle cages, pumps and other bike bits that were going to end up littering the course. This year was no exception. By the time I got 30 miles in, the water bottles on the road were becoming a real hazard and causing numerous crashes. When that many people are packed up that tight on the roads at that kind of speed, crashes happen. I did manage to snag a nice Camelbak insulated bottle that was in a pull off next to the road, I saw plenty of others I wanted to grab but they were out of reach and I was out of room to carry stuff anyway. I swear one of these years, I am going to pull a trailer just to pick up all the bike bits that fall off/get dropped out there.
This is the route for the 2012 Hotter N Hell. The north running bits were fun, the south running bits, not so much so.