BVC-CHAT cycling adventures: Colder than Hell
westover at iodp.tamu.edu
Mon Aug 29 17:01:36 CDT 2005
My oldest son, Arthur, is a medical doctor completing a residency in psychiatry in Dallas, Texas at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He is 31 now and I am 56. Last year he talked me into going up to Wichita Falls, Texas, with him to ride in the century ride (cycling event) that is held on the last Saturday in August there every year. It is probably the largest organized group ride of this kind in the United States. We had such a good time that we decided to do it again this year. It's called the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred.
We both registered for the event ahead of time on the Internet. It cost $25 per person, but besides supporting the event, that entitles everyone who registers for a t-shirt. The t-shirts this year were very attractive: a buffalo skull with the horns being racing bicycle handlebars, complete with cables and hand brakes, orange on a black background. It reminded me a little bit of the old LDS "Duty to God" Boy Scout award.
I thought my preparation through pretty well and packed cots, sleeping bag, comforter, foam pads, sheets, towels, personal toiletries, and besides the bicycles, a wheel truing stand and various bicycle tools. Arthur brought along his bicycle tool kit too and his stationary trainer and a pump as well. I also took an ice chest with ice, extra changes of clothing, and other various and sundry items.
I took Friday off work because I was able to complete everything I needed to do for Friday on Thursday the day before. I even rode my bike back up to work and worked until 10:30 or so at night to get it done.
On Friday morning, I loaded everything up into our Toyota Camry (4 cylinder that gets good gas mileage) and drove up to Dallas to Arthur's place. When I got there, I visited with Jennifer, his wife, and their one year old son (my grandson), Luke Katsuya. While waiting for Arthur to get home from work, I trued the rear wheel on his bicycle, tightening and loosening spokes as required to make the wheel spin perfectly true without any wobble. That service costs about $25 at a bike shop, but I bought the tools so I can do it myself whenever necessary.
Jennifer fed me some chicken pot pie for lunch that was left over from the previous night's dinner.
Luke is sure a cute little guy. I guess you can call him a "toddler" now because he started to walk a few weeks ago. He walks with his hands up in the air to help keep his balance.
To transport the bicycles up to Wichita Falls we had to remove the wheels from the frames and then put both bikes and wheels in the trunk of the car. I put a big horse blanket between them so they wouldn't be damaged.
Arthur drove the car up to Wichita Falls, and when we arrived there, we went to the convention center to pick up our registration packets and get our ride numbers that we would wear on our jerseys and put on our helmets and bikes the next day. We also got a ride t-shirt (the one I described earlier) and a package of various items, including chamois butter, a Cliff's granola bar, a small sample of deodorant and a couple of outdoor activity magazines. The convention center was full of bicycle vendors selling cycling related items. There were clothing, helmets, bicycles, energy bars and GU, and a number of other items.
Arthur brought his new Canon digital camera and after we confirmed our registration and picked up our materials we went outside to watch the criterium races. The women's criterium was first. There were about 30 women registered for the event. It was about a 1 or 2 kilometer loop (that turned a number of corners) that they rode for about 45 minutes. The winners of the various laps got prizes such as a new jersey, a $50 gift certificate to a particular store donated by the store or some other organization, etc. One of the ladies who was riding (I think she got about 5th place) was a member of Arthur's cycling club in Dallas. Arthur said that she was much better than him. He took a number of nice pictures of the participants in the race.
After that, we went back into the convention center to look around at the vendors' booths, and then walked back outside to watch part of the men's criterium race. Matt Stephens, a rider from my club (Brazos Valley Cyclists) took 25th place out of about 75 participants in that race (at least I think that's what my son said). We then went back to the car and left to get something to eat and find our way to the Family YMCA where we stayed the night. We ate at a Pizza Hut restaurant and got Pasta and some "buffalo wings". Afterwards we bought some ear plugs at a Brookshire's store.
When we got to the YMCA (it cost $10 per person to stay the night) we found some good places to sleep in the gymnastics gym on some nice large foam pads, so we did not have to use the cots. The foam pads were very comfortable. We got a lot better night's sleep this time than we did last year. People started getting up after 4:00 a.m., we got up after a short time too and got dressed in our cycling gear and got ready to go. The Y provided us Gatorade, bananas and bagels for breakfast, and we picked up some ice for our polar bottles and camelbak water packs there too.
We went early enough to get our bikes put back together and get a decent position near the starting line (several blocks back, but closer than we had been last year.) I had to use the portable toilet before we started the race and the line was long, but I made it out in time before the race started and we had a fighter jet formation flyover before the cannon went off at the start of the race.
That is usually the most hazardous part of the race where accidents are most likely to occur, but we avoided any mishaps. Since there were over 9000 bicycle riders in the event, we saw many people along the way stopped at the side of the road fixing their flat tires. There were rest areas with food and refreshment about every 10 miles, but we only stopped once, and that was at about the 70 mile mark, to replenish our fluids (Gatorade and water). I think it was after the first rest stop and we had gone a ways that we passed our first accident. It's interesting to ride with a doctor because you getting the running commentary about what probably happened. Arthur said, "See the way he was holding arm? That looked like a broken collar bone." There was quite a bit of blood on the road and twisted bicycles, and everyone had to move over to the right to let the ambulance come down and get them from the opposite direction we were traveling. We passed another one later on that was not quite as bad, and toward the end of the ride we heard one happen right behind us and when we looked back we could see the bikes and riders that had gone down. We were lucky and fortunate and blessed to not have any flat tires or accidents and finished the ride about ½ hour faster than we did last year (a little under 5 hours), with an average speed of just over 20 miles per hour. I had one incident where I bumped into another rider as he passed me on the left, but I apologized and we did not crash, although it was a close call.
I noticed that my saddle was loose before the ride started, but did not have time to fix it before the starting gun, so decided to do it later when we stopped at one of the rest stops. By the time we got to the rest stop, the seat was very loose and wobbly, so it caused me some problems (sore back, sore rear end, sore feet). I then got my Allen wrench out to tighten up the seat and discovered that I had brought the wrong size wrench and could not tighten it. My son reprimanded me for not being more careful and checking to make sure I had the right size tools before the start of the race, but he had one in his saddle pack and let me use it. It did the trick and after refilling our camelbaks and water bottles we were back on the road and did not have to stop again. Of course my son reprimanded me numerous times during the race for not riding close enough to the rear wheel of the rider in front of me so I could ride in the slipstream and benefit from the draft, but I guess I was nervous about getting too close and crashing.
We both put on plenty of sun screen before we started so we would not get sunburned, and I put camphor around my knees so my muscles there wouldn't tighten up and cause me problems. Last year I got fasciatus in the muscles around my knees after the race was over. This year my legs felt great and had no pain, but my lower back was sore and I almost couldn't bend over after riding the 100 miles.
All the finishers got a little pin to wear, so I wore mine to Church Sunday.
We started out early in the race doing an average speed of about 24 miles per hour, and we joined several peletons (lines of riders riding together) along the way so we could draft off the faster riders in front of us and use less energy. Later on we were not going that fast.
I was looking forward to going back to the YMCA for a shower after the race, but Arthur said, "Let's just hit the road and go back," so that's what we did, both of us tired and sore, hot and sweaty. Arthur could have probably completed the race faster, but he said that I did very well for "an old man" and we finished together. He sure did make me work, though, and it was quite an effort for me but he probably worked harder than I did. I just tried to keep up with him. I rode my new Scattante CFR carbon frame bicycle with a Shimano Ultegra 10 speed Grupo. I have only had it for a week. I enjoyed riding it more than I did my old bike last year. That is the first new bicycle I have had since I was about 12 years old. At one point in the race, we caught up to a rider and as we passed him he said "That's a beautiful bike." That was the first time I had a bike complimented. I thanked him, but then when I got a better look at him and he had come up parallel to me, I saw that he had the same kind of bike I did, so I didn't know whether his comment had been sincere or not after that. He said he got his a couple of years before and asked me if mine was the current year's model. I told him that it was. Any way, it was fun and memorable and we remembered the experiences we had together the previous year and talked about them as we rode along too.
At a couple of places in the race we got into some serious thunderstorms where we got soaked and Arthur said there was even some sleet (freezing rain). He then christened this year's race "The Colder than Hell Hundred". What a great adventure!
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