Getting to Wichita Falls
Thursday Robyn and I loaded up the minivan with the Quest and Catrike Expedition and headed to Wichita Falls to stay with Gary and Gay Bradford in Iowa Park.
After a nice relaxing meal Thursday evening Friday morning saw us getting up bright and early to start getting Gary’s stable of bikes ready for people to ride. I rode so many recumbents Friday morning I don’t know if I can remember them all!
Bike-E, Bacchetta CA2.0, Longbikes tandem, Rans Screemer tandem, Cartike 700, Bacchetta Cafe - I’m sure that there were a couple more but my mind went foggy after the first couple of hours of riding.
Packet Pickup - Vendor Show
Early afternoon most others start arriving and we head into Wichita Falls to pick up our registration packets. The place is definitely hopping with most of the 15,000 riders streaming through in the afternoon to also get their packets.
If you have never been to HHH100 before make sure to visit the vendor booth’s inside Thursday afternoon. There must be a few hundred vendors selling everything you could imagine that is even remotely bicycle related.
I picked up several little doodads I’m been wanting - you know, those things you just have to have but are too lazy to get unless they are just sitting right there in front of you.
But the thing I really wanted was the cryogenic unit. It is some kind of stand up thingy that you walk into and it covers you up all the way to your neck. I’m not sure how it works but it seems to freeze the lower part of you body for just a brief few minutes rejuvenating your entire being. They showed a lady entering the unit about my age and then coming out a few minutes later looking 20 years younger. I figure I’ll need about 4 hours in the thing then I’m golden to go hang around the buff 20 year old triathletes.
Robyn and I make the local news channel at the vendor show. We get our 15 seconds of fame around the 56 second mark.
Friday Night Spaghetti Diner
After a fantastic spaghetti diner at the Bradford B&B we spent the early evening loading up all the vehicles with bikes, trikes, the Quest and the big four wheeler. Shoes, helmets, water bottles, every must go in the vehicles tonight because we have to leave bright and early in the morning to get to the starting area by 6:30am and we don’t want to be fumbling around in the dark at 5am in the morning trying to get everything together.
It was predicted to be a typical summer day for the HHH100 - in the low 100s for temperature and winds of 10 to 15 mph directly for the south making for a difficult headwind the last last 10 to 20 miles.
It sure is hard to sleep the night before the ride knowing that Saturday will probably really be ‘Fry-day’.
The ride starts just at daybreak. We got to the parking area a little late but were able to thread our way up to the front area where the recumbents were stagging. Talked to lots of other recumbent riders I knew. Jim Reeves from RBent we just ahead of me when I finally parked and he came back to talk to me. A friend of Karl Murdock came by to say high before the start. Lots of people walked up and took pictures of the quest.
I think I was the only velomobile and I did not see any F-40s either.
Before I could get everything set inside the Quest they were already starting the ride.
I’ve only had the Quest about 3 weeks now and had put just over 550 miles on it, so I thought that I had everything sorted out ride wise. But, alas, just a couple of miles into the ride I notice several issues that I would need to sort out in order to have a successful ride.
First, I left my un-thawed sports mix back in the cooler in the minivan. Bummer, I pulled the frozen bottle out of the back storage area of the Quest, took the top off to let it thaw out, but it still took about 2 and 1⁄2 hours to thaw enough that I could start drinking the sports mix. I ended up immediately also pulling out my emergency packets of high energy chews and endurolyte pills which I started downing on a regular basis to make sure I consumed enough calories to not bonk.
The second problem was that I crimped my camelbak hose when I was inserting it into the 64 oz vacuum insulated stainless steel beer growler. Lots of iced down liquid but nothing coming through the straw. I slowed down midway to Iowa Park to to unscrew the top of the growler and pull the camelbak hose out of the top which is when I discovered the crimped hose. I had filled the growler to the brim so liquid was sloshing all over while I’m rolling down the road at 18 to 20 mph, weaving all over the place, trying to straighten the hose out. No deal, the bottom of the growler was one big frozen block of ice and the the hose could not be inserted into the growler without being kinked. Well, I had another backup 50 oz vacuum insulated stainless steel packed into the back of the Quest so I swapped tops on the two growlers and only used the smaller growler for the rest of the ride. The big 60 oz growler still had a block of ice in the bottom of it three days later. Notice the reoccurring theme here - the Quest can hold lot of stuff.
Good video here of lining up at the start, meeting lots of other recumbent riders and the first several miles of the ride (sub-titled Jane!).
The fast riders form groups to try to achieve certain timing goals.
Of course, the fastest riders are going as fast as they can. At HHH this usually results in a ride of around 4 hours. You can pretty much plan on a 25 mph pace for these really fast riders and then figure out where you are going to be on the course when pass you going at a blinding speed. There is at least 50 to 60 riders in this group. Very impressive as they pass your. Last year they passed me at when I was at the 22 mile mark. This year they passed me at the 23 mile mark. Maybe I’m a little faster this year at the start :) As the group is going by Ron Swift on his Carbent leans out the side of the pack and says hi! I talked to Ron Swift (who finished first?) after the ride and he finished in 4 hours and 6 minutes just ahead of professional rider Ricardo Hincapie.
The next big peloton group to pass you are the ones trying for a sub-five hour 100 mile time. This is a pace of 20 mph (for 5 hours!), and again like clockwork you can work out the math to determine where they are going to pass you. This group passed me at the 27 mile mark and there in the middle of the pack my neighbor Justin Eggemeyer leans out and yells hi!
HHH100 High Speed in a Quest
The first 31 miles of ride are slightly uphill with a couple of long accents where lots of riders passed me. But starting after mile 31 it was my turn to have some fun.
Here I’m doing pretty much 30+ mph for several miles passing lots of really good riders like they are standing still.
The last few minutes of the video show me cruising slowly through one of the rest stops. The ride is always the best supported ride in the state of Texas.
HHH100 High Speed 2
This is probably the only time I’ll ever pass Mark Leuck on his Baron. I’m on a slight downhill run with my speed varying between 20 and 40 mph and at 2:40 into the video come upon a group of riders where I notice a low-racer also overtaking them on the left.
I can tell that it is Mark because he is wearing his signature Prison garb. Because the uprights are strung out across the road I have to stop peddling and I run up onto the rear of Mark, who is also held up, I have to apply the brakes and slow down to 29 mph until there is a slight opening on the extreme left.
Needles to say the group was very surprised when both Mark and I blew by them. Mark was on a 20 mph average for the ride so I know this group thought they were hot stuff. Really, on the slight downhill, they were no match for a Baron low-racer and a Quest.
Hell’s Gate Shortcut
Since I was missing one bottle of sports drink I decided that I should not do the 100 mile and instead take the Hell’s Gate Shortcut which ends up returning to meet up with the 50 mile route and making the total mileage for my ride about 72 miles. If you don’t get to the gate by 12:30 pm they force you to take the shortcut anyway so that you can actually finish the ride at a reasonable hour.
When I tried to go through the gate two hours early the policeman was very surprised, but after a little hand waving on my part he eventually let me though. Three or four miles later I rejoined all the riders who were riding the 50 mile route.
Billy and Tyler
Soon after joining up with the 50 miles I catch up with Billy Younts riding his Musashi and Tyler (Bradford?) riding a Catrike 700. Tyler had just realized that he had dropped his phone somewhere prior and was coming to the conclusion that even if he turned around he would never be able to find the phone. Bummer.
Sheppard Air Force Base
Part of my motivation for taking the cutoff was that the 100 mile route does not go through Sheppard Air Force Base. Last year I missed the AFB because I did the full 100 miles. This year was able to go through the base and take some good video.
They have jets lined up and down the taxiway with the pilots available to answer your questions and take pictures with you.
Of course the pilots were a big hit with the women.
The four wheeler was a big hit also:
Here is some video of entering the base, riding through the jets. And then at the end of the base route was the best part - they have airmen lined up in a gauntlet cheering you on as you ride through!
Make sure you view the last 30 seconds of the video!
Finishing the HHH
It was now over 100 degrees and everyone had been riding for almost 4 hours. The route was heading directly into a 15 mph headwind and you can tell the 50 milers were really suffering.
I’m on the last few miles of my 72 mile route - the wind does not affect the Quest at all.
Make sure you watch the video at the 1:50 mark to hear all the people yelling out about the Quest. (captioned)
At the end I’m still feeling pretty good! Lots of people asking questions. Robyn meets me and takes this photo.
Ron Swift’s Carbent
I met up with Ron after the ride and we trading sitting on each other’s bikes.
Ron in the Quest. Ron finished the 100 miles 20 minutes faster than I finished the much shorter 73.9 miler!
Me on Ron’s Carbent. (Maybe it’s not all about the bike?)
By the numbers:
My longest ride so far in the Quest.