Monday, August 25, 2014

Hotter'n Hell Hundred

 August 23, 2014
33rd Annual
 Just outside the entrance to the registration/vendor building was the neatest travel accommodations. What more could you want? 
 Inside the vendor building was Liz and her friends. Registration and shopping completed.
 Early the next morning, I took a shot of Christine as it would be a while before we met up. She was going to do the 50 mile and I was riding the 100K (62 mile).
 Brian from San Angelo was riding the 100K also. I am happy he did. He pulled me through the wind all day and kept my spirits up.
 There were several reports as to how many riders there were. One estimate was 10,800, another 12,000, but we saw bib numbers in the 14,000's. Take your pick, there were a lot of us.
 "Day" was getting brighter and brighter. There was some kind of delay, so it was later than usual when we finally started.
 Also lined up with the 100K riders was Jesse from San Angelo.
 Finally, it was our block's (6th street) turn to take off and soon we passed Pyro Pete. Ahead over the road was the official start line and our timing chips would activate. (Thanks to Brian's pulling me, I was #1 in my age division, just don't ask how many were in my division).
 From the start, an example of Brian's pulling me.
 Rest stop #1. Brian and I decided to by-pass this one as the ride seemed to have just started.
 But later it would drag out. Small rollers like the one in the horizon kept the ride a little interesting.
 What was lacking in hills was made up for by a good wind.
 Inclines were not terribly steep, just long. However, as I recall, this incline did reach 6%.
 Rest stop #2 is a very popular stop. As the 50 milers split off from the group right after RS #1, this stop had the 100 and 100K riders. You can tell it was the more experienced riders who picked up some Tout de France techniques along the fence line.
 The previous comment was somewhat justified as the crowd was packed at least a "block" past the tents in the distance, and one can see the continued overflow on the road to the right.
 We spent as little time as possible at RS 2 and thus were spared the cluster as the main group left to continue their ride. In the past years, there has always been an accident on one of the declines right after RS 2. We wanted to avoid that delay.
 This intersection was the split between the 100 milers and the 100K's. Turn left for the 100 mile,  stay straight for the 100K.
 On this leg, the wind was behind us. This was a fun stretch of road. 
 Rest stop 3. You had to line up just to get inside the tent. The day was starting to heat up.
 When I spotted the huge dog down the road, my heart beat picked up a little. It was little comfort that the rider in front of me still had both of his legs. As it turned out, the dog was not only friendly, I don't even think he acknowledged my presence.
 Yes, it was getting hotter. Every time there was shade you could see riders taking advantage of it.
 How hot was it? Garmins are always accurate, right? This temperature was the heat reflected off the pavement. The Sunday paper stated the temp. reached barely 100 degrees by 3:00 p.m., but at 11:00 a.m. the heat was becoming a challenge.
 Not a hallucination from the heat. The two on the right were riding unicycles. I think they were part of the 50 milers as the 100K and 50 milers merged at the last rest stop. Brian and I met up with Christine and Jeffri at their 40 and our 50 mile rest stop.
 One of the highlights of the ride--Sheppard Air Force Base. If one is trying to justify not riding the 100 miles, this is the reason. The 100 milers do not get to go through SAFB.
 A friendly pilot volunteered to take a photo of our group with some other pilots. So I finally got to be in a picture. Also, there was Christine, Jeffri, and Brian.
 Brian riding past one of the "small" jets.
 Sheppard had a lot of planes on display this day.
 Another highlight of the Sheppard stop. Airmen line the street cheering riders on. It was plenty hot, but they all were cheerful and enthusiastic.
 Ride was over and Christine was enjoying her favorite recovery drink.
 As was Brian. He deserved it after pulling me for 62 miles.
 Jeffri just had tea but her spirits were high without a "recovery" drink.
Back at the hotel, Brian and Christine enjoyed their Tour de Hot Tub. Note that I was able to publish a wider shot this time. However, the hotel at our next scheduled ride does not have a hot tub, so this one may be my close out for this year. But, we already have Wichita Falls reservations for next year, so we shall see what I get to publish then.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Decatur Eighter

Decatur, Texas
August 2, 2014
Eighter? Because it is in August--the 8th month? Because there are eight routes? I couldn't figure out this strange name for a ride. That is because I am not a gambler. "Eighter from Decatur, county seat of Wise” is the slang of craps shooters who want to roll an eight. Note the die with the 4 showing. And Decatur is in Wise County. Duh. I should have known all of that.
I only discovered the Decatur ride as a result of the Hobbs, New Mexico ride cancellation, so I searched for an alternative. Did I ever find a good one. It was an exact opposite of Hobbs. Hobbs is flat and in the desert. Decatur is a roller coaster ride with trees, green pastures, and for the most part, excellent roads.

Although this was just the "2nd Annual," over 300 riders showed up. We had three routes, an 8 mile (who would have ever guessed), a 25, and a 55 mile course. 
 Before the ride, once again I figured I had better get a picture of Brian Backlund from San Angelo as I might not see him until after the ride. Again, I was right. Brian rode with the fast guys. My goal was to finish the ride on my own power,
Christine was going to do the 25 mile ride so I might not see her until afterwards also.
As I was taking everyone's pictures, a friendly guy offered to take a shot of us. Thanks.
The start was mostly a series of downhill slopes with just a few inclines. I assumed we were headed down to a river. Nope, the road was just throwing you off guard and luring you on. 
There were a lot of "tunnels" on the ride due to overhanging tree limbs. There was a long tunnel just before the first rest stop that Christine griped at me for not getting a picture, but she had forgotten that it was at the bottom of a steep decline and I was hanging onto the handle bars, not turning loose to take a snap shot.  
Nice house with a great gate entrance.
Still going down. Another tunnel is at the bottom of the decline.
Arrows going both ways? Hard to see but the number on the left hand side of the road was keeping the 25 milers going the correct direction. They did an out and back. 
The 25 mile turn around was at the first rest stop, so of course it was at mile 12.5. I did see Christine at this stop but our conversation was centered around my not getting a shot of the long scenic tunnel just before the rest stop.  
The 55 mile group started into the never-ending series of rollers. The good part was that we never hit a 10% grade on the whole route. Maybe a bunch of 8's, but no grinders.
Just a heads up to new riders next year. Remember my mentioning that reaching the first rest stop seemed to be mostly downhill? Well, guess what the return trip was.  

But we, the 55 milers, continued on our scenic route. 
As we topped one hill, there was a group of people farther down the slope. We knew it wasn't time for another rest stop so we figured it must be an accident. And it was. The ambulance had already retrieved the rider who crashed. The man on the right was alerting us of a huge trench/gash in the road ahead and to get over into the left lane. Brian's group was just behind the rider who hit the gash and was unconscious as Brian rode past. There was no further news of his condition. We wish him well. Update: He banged his head pretty hard but is recovering.
One of the few "level" stretches after rest stop 1.
Good scenery. Green pastures. Good ride. 

 This was a good downhill. After the curve at the bottom of the picture, it kept going down. It was one of those stretches when I apply the brakes to keep me in control of the bike. (Christine is fearless and never hits the brakes. She scares me on downhill's). 
 Next year I will have to keep count of how many "tunnels" there are on the route.
 The cow and calves had a ring side seat to watch the riders go by. They even had a natural umbrella to keep them comfortable.
 I have seen many silos, but none like these. I bet the farmer is a lot of fun to be around.
 We had left the smooth roads. This one was like our roads at home. One would assume we take the left turn ahead--nope--go straight to an even rougher road.
 The nice part about this stretch was the abundance of shade. Of note, the "rough" part of the ride was 17 miles.
 Besides the shade, there were still plenty of inclines to keep ones mind off of the chip seal.

 This was assumed to be a private lake as I saw no signs or roads leading to the lakeside.
 Runner up on pretty houses along the way.

 Edge of town. Ride is about over.
 Finish line in sight. Inside the finish bracket, Boy Scouts were lined up cheering the finishing riders.
 Food awaited all the riders after the ride. They had hot dogs, hamburgers, and chopped brisket. I had a brisket plate the night before so I chose a hot dog. It hit the spot.
 And, hitting the spot. The hotel had a hot tub that really helped our tired muscles. Note there were so many restrictions as to what I could publish that you can barely tell Christine and Brian were in the spa.
 Later, a trip downtown rewarded us with a beautiful courthouse. The lower floors were built of rough and polished Texas red granite. The upper, ornately carved areas may have been of red sandstone. Our little camera cannot do justice to the beauty of the carvings.
 Modern courthouses can not hold a light to the ornate structures of old.

 0n the way back to the hotel, a really nice house caught our eyes. Had to have a picture.
Remember the Boy Scouts at the finish line? They gave each rider a commemorative medallion of the ride. Yep, we have found another "keeper" ride.