Hotter'n Hell Hundred

Yesterday, a group of us from the DFW Unicycle Club participated in the 35th Hotter’n Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls, TX. 4 of us, including myself, did the 25 mile race, and one did the 50 mile race, all on 36ers. This was the first time I’ve ever competed in a race of any kind riding anything.

None of us came in last place and beat at least a few cyclists, which I though was cool. I only got my 36er a couple of weeks ago and had almost no time to train or customize anything (just used stock parts on the Nightfox), but it turned out fine. I took my time and didn’t get in a hurry. Thankfully, the weather was not as advertised (100 degrees F), and in fact it was a very nice day. We had a little bit of a headwind on some of the inclines on the last half, but nothing that made it hard to ride.

Naturally, we got a lot of attention from spectators, the media, and especially cyclists. The community, event staff, the US Air Force, and other riders were really fantastic. I really didn’t expect that kind of reception from everyone.

The Sheppard Air Force base put on a static display for us and provided a rest stop with water, sports drinks, indoor restroom facilities, fruit and music. I especially enjoyed the valet unicycle parking. When we stopped, we were surrounded by Air Force personnel demanding that they be allowed to hold our unicycles while we rested. They even had some great music setup for us as well as a huge cheering section of about 100 or so as we left the base.

It was an awesome event to attend. Despite having over 14,000 participants and hundreds of volunteers and staff, it was amazingly well organized.

I was worried that my 138mm cranks were going to be too long, but they seemed pretty good. Our fastest rider for the 25 mile race used them and averaged 8.62 mph, and our guy on the 50 mile race used 150mm cranks and averaged 7.17 mph. Not any records there, but compared to me (I averaged 6.48mph), I was impressed. I’ve tried 125mm cranks on a friend’s 36er and really liked them, but for my purposes, the 138mm did fine. The 138s were really nice on on the inclines, especially in the headwinds for this 36er newbie. :slight_smile: My buddy with the 125s definitely had the advantage on the downhills, though. He just seemed to glide down them. I certainly want to experiment with shorter cranks now.

I also definitely want try a new saddle now. I actually think the Nimbus Gel saddle is an excellent choice for a 36er newbie as it seems to be easier to freemount and control, etc., but now that I’ve got that down and have felt the pain of using it on a 25 mile ride, I’d really like to see what might work better.

Overall, the ride showed me 1) that I could do a ride like that (yay!), and 2) what I might want to upgrade or experiment with for a better ride.

I’d highly recommend doing a ride/race like this one. You will learn a lot about yourself and your equipment. These larger events usually have all classes of races, and chances are that one of them will fit you. For example, there is a 10k that’s do-able even on a 24 inch. It’s a great feeling to participate, and I think it does a lot to advance the sport. We got TONS of comments from everyone, especially cyclists, and Steven Leggett that participated in the 50 mile race was interviewed for the local news:

Just to show how well this type of event helps to raise awareness for our sport, only 0.035% of the riders at the event were unicyclists, but we got 2.6% of the photos in the local paper:

In past years, media coverage has been as high as 12.5% of photos in local papers covering unicyclists at HHH. :slight_smile:

The best quote I got during the race was from a Wichita Falls cop helping with the event. As we rode past, he said, “Real men only need one wheel!” We got similar comments from Air Force personnel as well. :slight_smile:

Local media video coverage at 1:41 in:

Congrats! Looks like you had a great time!

Thanks! Yes, we all had a pretty good time. I was a little worried about it during the week before the race, so I was pretty relieved and excited when we finished. Naturally, since it was the first time I’d ever done anything like it, I was all pumped up and felling kind of buzzed about it. I also slept soooo good afterwards! We left at 3:30 am to get to the race on time from the Dallas area, and when I got home, I slept A LOT and probably ate my weight in food. It was a good excuse to be gluttonous and slothful for a day afterwards!

Great write-up! What a great event! I had read about this event before, but didn’t realize how well the unicyclers are received. I’d like to make a special trip to join you guys next time! :smiley: Cheers!

Thanks! Come on out! I can’t guarantee that the weather will be that nice next year, but we’d love to have you!

Highly recommended

I’ve done this ride several times and share Brad’s enthusiasm – especially the warm reception given unicyclists. Here’s a write-up from several years ago.

Make plans for next year and get folks ginned up for the 50-mile route. Doing 50 is a real challenge, especially one year when it was 108 degrees, or the year after when there were strong headwinds the whole way.

Hey, Jim! Thanks for the link. Hope you’re doing well. Missed you out there! The weather was amazing, and Steven stole the show this year! What a great interview in the local news with him! I think Katsu’s tryin’ to get a muni ride together for Rowlette Creek over the long weekend for Labor Day, so maybe we’ll see you, schedules and weather permitting.

Great writeup and really nice job doing that ride, Bradford! It’s good to see that unicycles were received so well at the event, and accomplishing the distance on your new 36er has to be a huge morale boost. 138 mm cranks sound very reasonable for it all things considered. I’ll be interested in seeing where you go next with the saddle for it.

Thanks, LargeEddie! Only having ridden the 36er for a couple of weeks before this, (and never more than 9-10 miles in a day) I was worried about riding that far. I literally lost sleep over it. (Silly, I know…) When I realized that we were about to ride into “Finish Line Village” I was almost in disbelief! It was a huge moral boost!

Something that’s stuck with me for ages, even if I have no idea now which running book I read the advice in, was to get a really good night’s sleep two nights before a big event because you can just about expect to have trouble sleeping the night before.

I’ll bet it was! Here’s hoping that many more will follow.