In the beginning of 2013, a few of my 3-wheeled ataxian cycling buddies and I decided that we needed to do a milestone ride in our recumbent trikes. I had heard of a bike ride called the Hotter than Hell Hundred from numerous people who had done it in the past. With over 14,000 riders participating every year, it makes the Hotter N’ Hell Hundred the largest sanctioned ride in the US. Participants come from virtually every state and many foreign countries for this grueling day in the sun to ride either the 100 mile, 100k, 50 mile or 25 mile route. It is held in Wichita Falls, TX, 9 days before Labor Day every year. Over 15,000 gallons of hydration fluids and ice, truckloads of fruits, pickles and cookies, and thousands of volunteers make this ride happen for the cyclists. I proposed the thought to my friends of doing the 50 mile route and we all agreed it was the perfect ride to do!
After many months of hard work and training in the heat for this ride, the day finally came. My mother and I, Justin Hernandez, David Henry and Denise Lanier headed out on the road with our trikes and bikes loaded ready to ride. We arrived in Wichita Falls the day before to pick up our registration packets and to receive our bib numbers. There was an exhibit hall filled with hundreds of vendors selling and showing their cycling merchandise at bargain prices. Talk about a cyclist’s dream! My mom and I were wearing our Ride Ataxia shirts hoping someone would ask about them or someone would say “Hey, I did that ride!” What were the chances?
Well as you can see in the pictures, we ran into several people that had supported Ride Ataxia in one way or another by riding or donating to our cause to cure FA. We shared stories and hugs. What an amazing experience!
As my mother, Justin, David and I arrived at the start line amongst the mob of thousands of riders, we received a call from Denise, who was supposed to ride with us, but could not due to her friend not showing up to watch her service dog. We were sad that she was not going to join us. However, before we knew it, the Air Force Jet flew by and the cannon ball blasted signaling the start of the ride – we were off.
The first 10 miles were pretty hard on all of us. It was chip seal so our heads were bobbing up and down, plus thousands of two-wheelers sped by us very fast, just inches away. It was cycling madness!
Once we reached the first rest stop and fueled up on snacks, Justin turned on some sort of Spanish rap music (better than nothing right?...haha). The crowd of cyclists had settled down and we were on our way. The long inclines and the 95 degree heat really took a toll on me. My friend David rode along side of me throughout the end of the ride to give me a push whenever I needed it to make sure I would finish. About 6 miles from the finish line, we rode through Sheppard’s Air Force base. Pilots stood in front of the rows of planes saluting and greeting us. Hundreds of men and women who serve our county cheered us on and gave us high fives as we left the base. I thought it was ironic that they were thanking us for our hard work and dedication instead of us thanking them for their duty of defending our country. Talk about major goose bumps!
On Saturday, August 24, 2013, my team completed 50 miles in the boiling temperatures of Texas’s summer heat and long inclines that seemed never-ending with thousands of cycling enthusiasts who just about ran us over! I couldn’t have asked for better people to cross that finish line with than my two best friends and my number one fan, my mother!