Wichita Falls is about to host the annual Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred cycle race. It covers a hundred miles around the region in temperatures that, at this time of year, are usually at or over (sometimes well over) a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Thousands of riders are pouring into the city, and nervous eyes are scanning the weather forecast (which is presently 103° F – about 39½° C – for Saturday, race day, allowing the event to live up to its name). For weeks, cyclists have been seen zooming around roads in the region, getting the feel of the course and testing their fitness against the searing summer heat in this part of the world.
Here’s some footage of the 2016 event, to give you some idea of how big this race is.
The event brings out lots of community organizations, distributing water and food to the riders, helping with first aid, and so on. Every local and regional law enforcement agency gets involved, directing traffic, helping to keep the riders on the right road, and clearing up incidents. (One local officer, who shall remain nameless, loathes the event because of having to stand outside in the extreme heat for hours on end. He describes, with a certain malicious relish, the sound made by less attentive riders as they plow headlong into his car, parked at the side of the road. It seems many of them don’t, or won’t, lift their heads to look where they’re going. They simply look down at the line demarcating the shoulder, focus on it, and ride like bats out of hell . . . until they meet an immovable obstacle. He says they usually fly right over his car, if they’re going fast enough!)
Interestingly, the well-known Camelbak personal water system had its origins in the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred back in the 1980’s. It’s come a long way since then!