When it really is "hotter than hell".


Criterion Rider, Hotter-n-Hell 100, 1992

Gear-jammers.  Rookies.  Kids.  Feather-mohawks.  A glass of beer at mile 6 as all the speed junkies go screaming by.  Wait…what?

 Imagine: you’ve just trained 3 months to do one of the hardest centuries of the summer, putting aside everything else and spending hours on the trainer.  During this time you drink, eat and workout in an effort to maintain your fitness so that when the day comes, you are at your best.  Then when you get there, you unpack the bike, find your friends, stretch, do a quick 2-3 mile warm-up, and head for the starting line. 

 Now, because you aren’t an insane gear-jammer, and because you didn’t line up at 2 o’clock in the morning just to be first in line, you now have to wait about 10 minutes for the 2,000 riders ahead of you to get going and get out of your way.  You take the time to catch up with riding friends you haven’t seen, and when the “speed” of the crowd reaches a whopping 3 miles per hour, you start pedaling.  After about 6 or 8 miles - I can’t remember the exact point now, it's been too long - but just when things are starting to really get moving, someone in the group yells “beer stop”! 

I mean, s-seriously?

 You might think it a little disconcerting to watch hundreds of riders per minute go flying past as you and your entourage sit sipping a tall, sweaty glass of Shiner’s finest.  You might wonder what was going through the minds of all the passing riders, still full of adrenaline from the start and trying their best to get to Hell's Gate before 11AM, as they look at you cheering them on, beer in hand, as if you are a spectator to the whole thing and not actually participating.  You might even think it to be a dumb move, sabotaging any chance of finishing, much less with a respectable time (under 5 hours).  Well on the time part, you’d be right.  There’s no way you’re going to do a ride like that in under five hours if you stop this early, beer or no beer.  But as far as finishing the race?  Not a problem.  Except for the goat-heads (pesky little thorny demon seed pods from some roadside sadistic tree that just dares you to get off the pavement, even for a second!)

Don’t panic, and always know where your towel…err, flat tire kit is.

I guess we could have skipped the beer stop, trained a little harder, left the feather-mohawk helmet covers at home, and buckled down for a hard, fast-paced do-it-or-die mega ride.  We could have finished by noon, but in the end, who would really care?  This wasn’t about speed, not for us.  This was about style.  This was about personality.  This was about spending time with friends, with a little bit of ‘buck the system’ thrown in as well.  The ‘system’ being anything conventional, or expected, or understood as being the way to do things, anything.  In this case it was ‘how to ride the HHH properly, just like everyone else.

Well, screw everyone else.  We did it our way, and we were proud of it.

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