Many talk about the heat and relentless winds. Most athletes train well enough for the dozens of miles of asphalt and barren country views. But few riders can ever be fully prepared for the Hotter ‘N Hell hundred mile bike ride. On August 25th, 2018, I was one of thousands of cyclists taken by surprise by the serious mental battle that this Wichita Falls course had to offer. Even so, I made it. I can now call myself a century rider.
What’s so special about this event? Well for starters, there were 11,889 participants at this year’s Hotter ‘N Hell! People came from all parts of the globe to ride one of the most talked about cycling events in the U.S.
This was my second time travelling to Wichita Falls to join in on the cycling fun. After last year’s successful 100k ride, I set my heart on going the full distance in 2018. Fast forward one year, and the pain, uncertainty, and glory were in full force. Training for IM Arizona definitely helped me to prepare for both the race conditions and the pure mental strength needed on race day.
So, how did I do?
- Bib #: 5981
- Age Division: N/A
- Most encouraging thoughts going into the race: “I’ve been riding well and consistently almost all year. This 100 miles is within my reach.”
- Most discouraging thoughts going in: “I’ve never gone more than 70 miles on my bike in one go. Eesh!“
- Overall level of rest: High. I’ve been working hard to get to bed earlier, and my new bed time of 9:30pm these past few weeks has paid dividends.
- Overall nutrition: Excellent. Eating plenty of Quorn meatless food, plus greens, fruits, and grains, as usual. Can’t forget the 48-60 ounces of water I drink a day!
- Mental strength: High as hell. A lot of positive self-talk and affirmation went into this century ride, and though it lost most of its motivational effect by mile 80, I wouldn’t have arrived there to begin with if I hadn’t been so consistent at cheering myself on.
- Race fuel:
- On the bike, I packed two Honey Stinger waffles, a date and nut bar (think Lara bar, but fancier), two bottles of water, and two bottles of pretty concentrated Tailwind. Plus plenty of ice!
- Throughout the course, pickle juice, water, a banana, and a PB&J sandwich kept me fueled and alert. I stopped at three rest stops in total, but really should have taken advantage of that second-to-last pit stop (more on that in just a second).
- Mistakes and missed opportunities: The only regret I have is choosing not to stop at the mile 90 pit stop. That would’ve saved me a lot of struggling and stopping from miles 91 through 96. Thankfully, there was one more rest stop to refuel at about 4 miles out from downtown Wichita Falls. The Gatorade and water I got there saved my bacon.
- Biggest markers of success and perseverance: Pushing through my slumps between miles 82 and 86, as well as the really bad one between miles 91 and 96. I have Kris Keele and Michael Redwine to thank for stopping to check on me, giving me some quick pep talks, and bringing me in the rest of the way to that sweet, sweet finish line.
- Next step for training: I’ve done it! Now that I’ve swam 2.4 miles, run a marathon, and biked 100 miles, my goal is to continue to train consistently and push my anaerobic threshold just a bit more before IM Arizona (do I see a FTP trainer test in my future? I hope so!) All of my training and fitness is well underway and mostly solidified.
In closing, the HHH 100 miler was a serious mental challenge for me, especially on the lonely and savage road from mile 80 to the finish line. With my teammates and family rooting for me, there was no way I was going to give up. The heat and wind only made me want that victory even more, and I’m still savoring it two weeks later.
Congratulations to all those athletes who conquered their own version of the HHH 100 miler! I hope to see you all back there next year.