This year was another strange year. Saturday morning we awoke at about 5:30am. The alarm was set for 5:45am and Anne woke up first. Very strange! Anne _never_ wakes up early at home! We had breakfast scheduled for 6am downstairs in the dining area of the Spur Hotel. We got up and cleaned up, dressed for the ride in our biking shorts, Anne in her Big-F club jersey, me in my standard red T-shirt with the big sun-baked spot where the ride number hangs, and headed to breakfast. Michael was no longer working at the Spur, the lady at the desk said that he'd quit at the 1st of August. Bummer. We enjoyed watching the Texas Ranger's baseball game with him last year. We had a fine breakfast of muffins, coffee,juice, some fruit, other stuff. Alan was heartbroken when he couldn't find any hot tea, but when he asked they brought some right out for him. They had a big jug of Sparklett's water setup for us to fill our water bottles. Anne brought her Camelback that she had won as a door prize on the Bluebonnet ride in Burnet, TX last year. She filled that too. We headed out. It was dark and overcast when we left. This kept up for most of the morning mixed with fog and a very light drizzle. We drove into downtown to 6th street and turned right then pulled directly into a parking lot and parked. We prepared our bikes, took a lot of pictures, and started biking east on 6th steet over to Scott where the bikers were lining up. The line started at Scott and 4th street at the bridge. The tandems were first, then the fast 100 milers, the the "other" 100 milers, then the 62 milers (100Km), 50 milers, 25 milers, and then the rollerbladers and others. We rolled into the 62 milers and picked a nice position. No sooner than we stopped and relaxed that we heard SSSsssssss...... Alan's tire stem had sprung a leak and the tube needed replacing. Bummer. It was right at 7:30am when the ride was supposed to start for us. We dragged his bike over to the east side of the road and started changing it. About halfway through we heard a "Boom!". They had started the ride! Not to worry though, it takes _at_least_ 20 minutes before we might cross the starting line. It's been as long as 40 minutes (2 years ago). We learned then that the best thing to do is simply walk your bike until the speed picks up, and the wave action subsides so that you can make forward progress on your bike without having to stop a lot and get off. As we changed Alan's tire we saw Steve and Doris Brown go rolling by. I yelled to them and said Hello and they returned the fire. We never saw them again on the ride. Very strange. I expected that we would catch them as we rode before the 50 milers turned away from the 62 milers. Steve and Doris were doing the 50 mile course while Anne and I were doing the 62 mile course.
We got Alan's tube changed and got back into line and 20 minutes later crossed the starting line and out onto the ride proper. We had to roll slowly for the 1st 5 miles or so. There were a lot of crashes that required ambulances and EMS vehicles. More than usual. We attributed this to the weather. It was misting a lot, and pretty cool. The mist would accumulate on our sunglasses and make it hard to see. Also the blacktop felt a little slick. This might have caused some problems too.
We rolled on. Maria had gotten some new SPD clipless pedals and shoes and we were worried that she would explode past us and make it hard to keep up. But she tamed it down a bit and we rolled smooth as we passed the first rest stop and on to the 50 mile turnoff. This came on us sudden like. Both Anne and I were thinking that we would pause at this point and consider the 50 mile route since the weather was drizzly and cool. But as it happened we passed by the turn and heard Alan and Maria right behind us yelling "Have Fun! See you later!" as they turned onto the 50 mile cutoff.
We rolled on. The southern part of the ride heading due west was dominated by a long string of slowly rolling hills. Up one side, down the other, keeping a steady pace. We didn't much notice the road until we rolled into Rest Stop #2 the Gilligan's Island rest stop. These volunteers had setup the most elaborate rest stop we'd ever seen. They had the Minnow (the boat) built up where we went to get drinks and fruit. They had look-alikes for Gilligan, the Skipper, the Professor, Marry Ann, Ginger, and the Howells. They were "recruiting" people to help fix the radio. Anne and I went in to help and had a great time there. We also got into one of the long lines for the Port-A-Johns. There were 9 Port-A-Johns in a row. Anne started carefully watching numbers 1,2,3,4, and 5. As we queued we watched until we decided that nobody was in 1 and 3. When it came to our turn, sure enough, nobody was in there and nobody had been using them! Anne has those sharp eyes... Everybody behind us cheered.
We rolled on. The route headed north here and it was an easy ride. About the 40 mile point the fog lifted, the drizzle stopped, and the weather warmed to about 80 degrees. Wow. It became so clear and beautiful it was hard to believe. We felt wonderful and we rolled through Rest Stop # 12 and turned right to pick up the eastbound leg of the route. This directly into the wind. The wind is almost always out of the south, so this east wind was unusual. It was light at 5-10 mph and we had no problem grinding through it.
From here I'll pick up from the beginning of this story.
Anne and I and Alan and Maria decided to go on the HHH this year. Anne and I went last year and met up with Richard Blanford. We had reserved two rooms at the Spur Hotel last year, and when the ride was complete we reserved 2 room for this year. Alan and Maria took the other one. We decided to drive separately since Anne and I wanted to leave a bit early and walk the town of Archer City, and Alan and Maria had an early commitment Saturday evening. Since Alan and Maria wanted to do the 50 mile route while Anne and I wanted to do the 62 mile route, it made good sense. Archer City is the place where they filmed Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show" and "Texasville". It is a very small Texas town about 20 miles southwest of Witchita Falls, Texas (about 2.5 hours northwest of Dallas on the Oklahoma state line). The Spur Hotel is a small hotel with 11 rooms, a dining room, and a very nice lobby. It is located in the center of downtown Archer City.
Anne and I took 1/2 day off work and packed up and headed out about 2pm heading over to Alan and Maria's house. We picked up their bikes (they don't have a car that can easily carry the bikes) and headed up Preston Road, then state highway 380 west, then northwest on 287 toward Witchita Falls. We arrived at the Multi-Purpose Event Center (MPEC) in downtown Witchita Falls about 4:00pm. The place is very crowded with bikers from everywhere. We took our signed release forms and headed for the pre-registration area around the north side of the building. The lines there were non-existent. We picked up our numbers and went into the main part of the exhibit hall to pick up our T-shirts, water bottles, and packets full of goodies. The lines in here were longer, but only took a few minutes to get through. Then we wandered around among the vendors looking at seat covers, and tasting "Power Gel", a concentrated concoction made to resemble "Vanilla Bean" and "Banana Raspberry" but really tasting a little like artificially flavored Elmer's glue. It is supposed to give you quick energy and replacement electrolytes. Yuk. We had also picked up some Goo. A similar product. We ate it at the 50 mile rest stop. It was much better than that other stuff. Or would we have liked flavored Elmer's at that point?
We headed back to the car and drove out to the Spur Hotel arriving arriving about 5:30pm. We settled into our room (# 11) on the 3rd floor at the top of the stairs. Not 10 minutes later Alan and Maria came rolling in and checked into their room (# 4) right across from ours. We decided on lunch in Witchita Falls at the Olive Garden. I called them to make a reservation, but on HHH eve, they wouldn't take reservations. The wait was 45 minutes to an hour. I had my name put on the waiting list and we headed out. We arrived at the Olive Garden 1/2 hour later, walked in, and heard my name called _right_then_. Wow! We couldn't have gotten luckier! We all ate Pasta and later Anne developed the theory that pasta with marinara sauce is the perfect pre-bike ride evening meal. We'll try it again sometime and see.
When we arrived back at the Spur we worried about raining. We had left our bikes on the car for the night. Anne and Maria went out and bagged the seats to protect them from getting wet.
Things we remember: