If you live in the near-state area of Texas, and are into cycling, then you owe it to yourself to come to Wichita Falls TX in August for HHH, at least once. Much like RAGBRAI, every cyclist should do HHH once, at least. Many folks make it every year, rain or shine, hot or not.
There are mountain bike races, 2 pro-grade road criteriums, the main event road ride of up to a 10k run and a half marathon...so lots of sporty things to do for those so inclined. The road ride options were as follows: 25mi, 50mi, 100K(62mi approx) and 100mi with an enforced time cut at the 70mi mark or so. Oh, and don't forget the Trade Show...
The Trade Show was fun. All sorts of area cycling shops, vendors and others show up, offering up wares, advice, food, etc. Much like your usual gun show, but with different stuff. Ride clothing was readily available (yes folks, there is a good reason cyclists wear spandex. It works.) I even succumbed to jersey-lust, and brought home 3 new jerseys for DH and I to wear.
There was another Texas exclusive jersey, a Share the Road one, with a Texas twist, but they were out of my size, and to be honest, the thing that makes it so funny, would not be seen while riding recumbent. So I passed on it.
Since you had to declare your chosen distance at the time of registration, I was not sure I could make the whole 100 mile route in good time, as my mileage has not had a lot of longer distance rides this year, so I chose instead the 100k, or Metric Century. It's probably my favorite distance anyway, as it does not take up a whole day in my otherwise-occupied life.
What I did not know, was just how flat and fast this HHH course would be. We were all blessed with non-hot temperatures (low 90's at worst), light winds at max 8-12mph and non-existent traffic. The police support was superb, and the rest stops entertaining and well supplied. Heck, they even mixed the Powerade strong enough for me!
I was on my recumbent, which means I started from "the cage" in the front of the whole pack of cyclists, who stage up behind the cage based on their chosen distance, and documented speeds. The race organizers don't really know what to make of recumbents, or trikes, or tandems...God forbid you show up with a recumbent tandem trike! I think they might just have a mental short circuit! Still, it was nice not having to start at the back of 15000 riders, which was where the rest of the 100K riders were located.
The route started out fast, and by sitting in behind a DF tandem (aka sucking wheel) we were rolling along at a nice pace of 20+mph for most of the first 13 miles. At that point, my tandem pacer split off for the 50 mile cutoff, and my pace dropped a bit. The fast pace lines started to blow past by this time too, so you had to me more aware of what was behind you coming up fast.
I opted to stop at the second rest stop. I didn't catch the name of the stop (they're all named), but it had the slaughtered souls entering Hell, and a guy in a Devil suit (and you can get your picture taken with them even!) The Headless Horseman's horse looked profoundly bored with it all though.
The best part of the ride (besides the finish line) was being allowed to ride through Sheppard AFB. The folks at Sheppard really support the ride, and set up a static display of aircraft, and manned another rest stop. They had a T-6 Texan II, an F-5, an F-16, an A-10 Warthog, and some heavies all set up. They even provided a cadre of officers to answer questions etc.
And then there was the Gauntlet! Yes, imagine both sides of the boulevard you are cycling down, lined with several hundred enthusiastic young airmen in their PT uniforms, cheering you on at the top of their lungs. Most folks stuck to the middle of the road, but I, realizing what they really wanted, aimed my Giro for the right curb, right at them, and rode there, arm stuck out, giving high-fives to as many airmen as I could! They loved it! I about lost an arm.... but it was totally worth it. It was the best way I could think of, at that moment, to show my appreciation for their service. For this batch of young airmen and women (though I only saw guys in the Gauntlet) are the ones who will stand in the breach, protecting our country and my kids...
The finish line not far off, and I was ready to get showered and get home. It was still a 2+hr drive home, and so I did not stick around at the Finish Line Village. It wasn't really anything I was interested in anyway.
For those interested, here are my results (official from the chip) and from Strava/Garmin.
Location: Wichita Falls, TX1257 Participants
332 Women 925 Men
|So if I am reading the final results of the 100K correctly, I finished 8th in my women's age bracket, 31st out of all women riding the 100K, and 195th out of all riders on the 100K (1257 total riders on the 100K). My Garmin/Strava results have an auto-pause feature so the time recorded does not account for the rest stops. The timing chip is simply from crossing the starting line to the finish line. Not too shabby!|