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I survived the 25th anniversary of the Hotter n' Hell bike ride Saturday. The National Weather service reported 100 degrees F at 1:00 p.m. and a high of 104 with a heat index of 107. I finished about 2:00, and I swear it was 150 degrees F with a heat index of 200! Add to that the what seemed like a 20 mph headwind the last 20 miles, and it was a challenge to say the least.
As a matter of fact, the Race Director wrote on the website:

"We have had to close Hell's Gate only a few times in 25 years. During the late 80's we establish a hard and fast rule for closing the 100 mile route when heat stress could be fatal."

Read the last word again! FATAL...and, they closed the course this year an hour before the usual time because the ride's medical officer based his decision on "...heat, solar light, wet bulb thermometer, black bulb thermometer, wind, and the speed at which the stress indicators are accelerating through the morning." Whatever all that means, it added up to shutting the course down AFTER Keith and I got through the cut off. So, we completed the rest of the course under potentially FATAL conditions. I'm either an idiot or a glutton for punishment. (Okay, I confess to being a little of both.)

I stopped at every aid station, starting with the 80-mile aid station, for those ice water towels, without which I know I would have not finished. The medical cots were full at most of the sites, but riders kept filling their water bottles and Camelbaks and getting back onto the road. It definitely was an endurance ride.

To get a fuller picture, read some of the local reports from the Times Record News. (According to the paper, I was not the only preacher who rode on Saturday and preached on Sunday. Check out the sidebar picture of Ron Allen. He is 12 years older than me. Wonder if I will still be riding then?)

Jim Craig, who finished over an hour before me, got us a spot at the local YMCA. Over 300 riders spent the night throughout the facility. I found out that Jim and Dave's tradition was to stay in one of the racquetball courts. Do you know how much sound echoes in a racquetball court? Add to the normal sounds things like snoring, people coming in at 1:00 a.m. and my phone ringing at 1:30 a.m. (Who called me anyway? "Unknown call" was all that was on the screen, and the voice mail was just rustling in the background. Kim, did you do that?)

And, then some woman stuck her head in the court that morning and said, "If anyone wants to know, it's 4:45!" What if we didn't want to know!?! Needless to say, I did not rise refreshed for the ride that was to come. However, the shower after the race was worth ten times the $10.00 we gave for the spot on the floor and bike lockup. Thanks, Y, I'll gladly pay the ten bucks and sleep on the floor again.

It was a great experience, and I enjoyed riding with Jim, his friend, Dave, Keith, Daniel, Ray, and the 11,800 plus other riders. I'll be back on the bike after I return from China. See you guys on September 10.