We always go to the IHOP (Wichita Falls is a culinary challenge) after the trade show. I have since ramped back my carbo loading since it is dehydration that gets to you the most. We bought a few sports drinks and went back to the MPEC center to set up the tent. There have been a few years that it was hard to avoid a fire ant mound, then you had to spend an hour to determine where the meager prevailing wind could enter the tent, to cool it down below 95 degrees. This year it was actually a pretty night. Caryn cleaned and waxed her bike then made my headset as functional as it was going to be.
In the tent she had a bean bag and I had a fold able lounge chair. Neither made for a comfortable night sleep. The next morning I went to the car at 5 am to get my gear on. I was not feeling skin suit worthy, but I heard, "I know that bike that's Scot from SMU" I immediately recognized the voice as our Lisa Marshall. She was gone before I could clamor out, since I thought it would be best if I was dressed!
We went into the MPEC to discover long bathroom lines. Most people were planning on staying awhile in the stalls, so the waits were long. A volunteer pointed to a hidden bathroom down the hall. If any of you join us next year, I will divulge the location!
We then came back to the car to finish getting ready. There I saw Lisa and her friends. They were very interested in my Klimt inspired paint on the Y-Foil. I have brought the bike to HHH the last two years with it's exotic finish, and was always shocked that it was hardly looked at. For some reason, the addition of the thematically matching carbon bars (like Cinelli's rams) seemed to be the tipping point this year.
We rode to the start after I checked my phone to see if anyone called to verify starting line position. With 30 minutes to go before the start, it isn't too hard to get right at the front. So many people get there way too early and lay their bikes down. When they arrive back at the start and lift their bikes up, a lot of room is available, if you can sneak in at that time. I saw Philip Eshelbrenner, (SMU MBA and former Meadows IT minion) We talked for a moment about our rides (he races his inline skates and rides with the PBR)
The flyover finally occurs (T 38's, pilots in training) and Philip said the flyover took so long to occur last year because a news helicopter would not get out of the airspace (pilots in training remember). As he was telling me this, the cannon went off. Caryn, Philip and myself must have each jumped a foot! That was LOUD!. Being so close to the front, the pack immediately moved. I was so shocked by the thunderous retort that I fumbled into my pedals and then we were off.
The first mile is so dangerous due to the overpass and the possibility of riders massing behind you. Some are wanting to escape right then, others are so fearful about clipping in that the pace is very disparate between all the people. We could not get away from a guy making war cries, whooping it up and various other unintelligible mutterings. The odd thing was that spectators were responding with similar hollering. I guess the adrenaline affects people differently.
After four or five miles we saw our first crash, but nothing gruesome. We saw a homeless man laying in the middle of the street a few years ago that I would swear was dead. He was hit by the pack after stepping into the street. Also at this time we saw John Sadowski of Bicycle stuff, the guy who took the cheesecake photos of Jackie and Rob at Hot Rocks.
We paced ourselves at about a 24-26mph pace. The first ten miles are on a straight highway (think Northwest Highway but flat.) If you get caught up with the overly ambitious that are hugging the center stripe or making center line violations, then the possibility of catastrophe increases. I have done that stretch at a 28-32 mph pace (leading a pack) before and paid for it later. The first 45 miles were easy, a lot of groups, but the stretch from the 100 mile 100K split to Electra, I spent too much pulling the pack. I think I passed Philip here, but wasn't sure. (He wasn't wearing SMU colors, so he blended in)
We were on a good pace 24avg to this point, then Caryn's back and hands were stung by the chip seal on that 45-52 mile mark, and that had some influence on the rest of the ride. We stopped at 50 and downed some cookies (I even had a pickle, but none of that green poison) She stretched her back out, and I saw an SMU rider go past. He is an alum, I will have to go in my archive and figure out who he was, but I saw him on his cell and waived as we went on. We did not seem to be able to catch a group for a while, probably not consistently till 75. Caryn' s back was so sore that two groups went by at 58 and 65, but I was the loyal domestique and towed her till the back wasn't so painful.
At 80 a group went by that she knew we had to get in, since the dreaded turn into the wind at 84, 85 was coming up. Once in the friendly confines of the peloton I was free wheeling a lot, easy going it was. Caryn was working it hard and stayed near the front. We were nearing the home stretch and I felt a slight bump on my rear wheel, then the sound of a rider crashing behind.
I stopped to check on what happened, and the guy said the rider behind me freaked when I stood up to climb a rise and went across his bow. Oops. He had a bloody elbow but otherwise was OK. Not at fault but feeling a bit responsible, off I went after Caryn. The next 4 miles are where a few hills are, and I worked harder than I had all day to catch back up. I passed 40 or so riders and was going into the red zone, but I caught up. Caryn had to stop and stretch her back again, then I pulled her (mostly) for the last 10 on the highway into Wichita Falls.
We looked at the moving clock at 100 miles and were were two minutes plus slower than last year, (4:47 to 4:44) Overall a good ride. Should I do the masters 100K next year? I always say I will, then opt for the "fun" ride with Caryn.
During the ride and after, I heard so many comments about my bike that I had too wonder what made it more visible this year. Why was Gary blind to so much bling?
I would have liked a post ride, post-mortem with Philip, Tony, Kevin, Lisa and anyone else that was there. We packed up the tent and the headed north. We are always too destroyed to drive back the same day, and a 10-12% grade climb awaited us in Lawton.
The next post, let me tell you about our ride the next day, 2.66 miles up Mount Scott in the Wichita Mountains, 18:57 minutes that is more painful than all of the HHH!