Wicked Strong Racing
Wicked Strong Racing was born at the HH100 in August 2014. It was such a BLAST that Ronzoni & I decided that it was imperative we grow the racing team, find a suitable name & proceed forward to have MORE FUN. The charter or Mission Statement are all coming soon but the focus is Family, fitness & fun. Pretty much in that order.
Wicked Strong Racing
Original Wicked Strong Racing team for event. Ronzoni looking remarkably refreshed at 5:30 AM, Your writer (rider ?) not so much. Sleeping on a strange couch PLUS the racing jersey makes me look fat.
THIS ACCOUNT originally appeared in the Old Testament (aka old site/blog) archives on the posted date.
23 August HHH Today we ride
Race day is here. It is early, dark & cool as Ronzoni & I fumble with final preps to get bikes tagged with numbers, dressed, geared up & bikes loaded before picking up some other riders for the drive to the starting point. But first, some backfill …
I left McK much later than planned and after a misread of the map, I got bearings back & on track arriving WF with much daylight remaining after a brief rest stop for fuel & drinks.
When I hit WF city limits, I had no idea where to go. I stopped at a Flying J gas station & called Ronzoni who was driving up from Houston by way of Big D to pick up a third rider Chris. He got me to his Mom who talked me in so I could unload my bike & store some gear at their house while I went back to the WF MPEC to register & check out the booths at the huge show & expo set up there.
Suffice for here & now that the show & rest of the exhibition center was spectacular with all kinds of bikes, apparel & people.
Fast forward now, arriving at the starting line, it is just beginning to turn daylight. If it would just stay cool like this all day it would be a great ride. Cyclists are darting about warming up & some groups are leisurely pacing up, down & around the side streets.
Final preps are water bottles stowed, snacks tucked in the back pockets of the special racing jersey & shades hanging loosely under the helmet chin strap until needed.
We pick up the pace & ride towards the starting line when things start to fill in. A vast array of bikes & riders of all sizes & shapes pack in & in every direction it is a huge colorful mass of people. Our group is now five (5) & I am with Houston near the front. Ronzoni is toward the back with our 4th & 5th riders a Father Son Mark & Chris from Big D, friends of Ronzoni’s.
We get separated and as the crowd rapidly fills we lose site of them not to see them again until after the race.
The planes fly over, cannons blast twice & the race begins. I hang with Houston & we carefully weave our way between other riders in what can best be described as a hectic mess.
Houston is a rugged rancher from West Texas & an avid rider. This is not his first rodeo. Solid & spry for his 68 years, he starts pulling away & I tell him to go ahead after only about 2-3 miles if that. I do not see Houston the rest of the weekend.
We head west on a long stretch of municipal road with the sun at our backs. The shadows thus formed help following the action in the rear as you can see the if someone is about to pass before pulling out & causing a wreck.
Early on the action is constant. As many riders as I pass on the right more are blowing by on the left. It is flat & the only sounds in the packed herd are rubber on the pavement this surface causing a surprisingly load humm.
Ronzoni’s Dad, Mr H, mentioned last evening that the different road surfaces would amaze me & he was spot on for in a short time the route changed & the surface was new, smooth which translated into very fast.
By this time my timer was set for one (1) hour intervals & I also have a running time going as well. I never looked at elapsed time until down the final stretch because I didn’t want to know for psychological purposes. I had no idea what time it was until we passed a clock on a bank in Burkburnett. It was 11:20 am & 94 degrees. By my estimations we were approaching the half-way point.
My ‘computer’ was tracking my rate of travel all in kms & with my timer I knew exactly where I was relative to my rigid & structured training rides. As I continued to master the time & space continuum and was dealing with the heat & wind, my confidence began to grow.
Spectators were now lining the route in different locations cheering the riders on. Waving was a cool thing to do & at one point a little kid about 8 or 9 was holding out his hand for a touch. Certainly a thrill at both ends.
Some small hills caused things to slow down a bit & hearing all the bikes downshifting was like its own little symphony as the riders chugged up the hills early on.
Going down the other side, the pavement was smooth & again very fast. I reached 30 km/hr quickly which I had only accomplished a few times in training & could not sustain in training due to traffic patterns & the routing. I could only reach & remain at or above 30 km/hr for a minute or two at best.
Now was different. The surface, momentum & adrenaline were all kicking in. Besides, EVERYONE else was going like small mammals flying out of Hades so what the hey? I lifted my pace to go with the flow & when I looked down I was cruising at 41 km/hr. If I COULD keep this up, I would be done in time for lunch. Never before had I gone this fast on a bike.
Another boost to my confidence occured as the course neared the point where it split from 100 k to 100 miles. This was a huge point in the race for I needed to decide which way I was going to go & hopefully, finish.
In the early morning hours before the race, my apprehension was running wild. I had visions of a body bag & some stories gathered in passing conversations before the race raised some issues of fright & fear.
This was life. Was confidence & ability going to rise above fear ? Press on, take some lumps or quit ? Wait by the side of the road for the SAG wagon? AND live with that failure forever in dreams, nightmares & would-have/could-haves ?
I first saw the split in the distance & the vast majority of riders were going straight for 100 k. I approached that point still undecided until I started the left turn manuever breaking out of the pack facing now a very long stretch & riders far spaced in the distance. I pondered my decision for only a moment before realizing it was fruitless. The decision was now MADE. I saw a few riders actually turn around & were heading back to the turn point.
I took a drink replacing the water bottle carefully in the holder before starting a push.
By this point I have ridden past three (3) Rest Stops. The first was a zoo as most riders were stopping there. The second was nearly as bad & I was just at two (2) hours, about 42 km, which were training benchmarks. I felt good so I pressed on.
The fourth Rest Stop was now 10 miles since the last & they would be at 10 m intervals the rest of the way. I figured I passed at least 100-200 riders as I chugged past RS4. Revitalized, probably about half of those sprinted past me between RS4 & RS5 as I began to recognize numbers, bikes & riders.
I was passed by a racing jersey with the black block C & rooster in the center. A fellow Gamecock ! I shouted a hailing & he replied. I would see him again passing a few times later but did not speak. Cool jersey though.
I stopped briefly at RS5 as by now I am hungry, water bottles nearly empty & frankly I need a break. Sufficient time had elapsed but I do not know how much. I had reached back, retrieved an energy bar from my back pocket & taken a few bites as recommended however there were two fatty protein sticks I could not open while riding so I had one now. I finished one bar and lost one as it fell out while I was reaching for the first.
I also scarfed down a half banana & a quarter orange, filled water bottles & drank as much water & gaterade while standing before remounting & pressing on. Turning back or quitting was now out of the question. Only something very serious would stop BlueRider 18, Wicked Strong Racing, now being referred to on the racing grid as rider 14059.
A little crowd was cheering as we blew thru Burkburnett where the bank clock was mentioned earlier. One sobering reference point was a road sign with an arrow pointing to WF, 35 miles in that direction.
Rest Stop 6 was refered to as Hell’s Gate in the brochures. I expected much more & was disappointed. There were no cheerleaders, strippers or free massages. No band or even a large crowd.
I did the business quickly & remounted nearly colliding with another rider starting out of the gate. This was very reminescent of family trip rest stops driving cross country in days past. One MUST BE moving to arrive at a destination. You don’t get there standing around chatting, visiting or drinking Coca cola.
The earlier established pattern continued as faster packs & individual riders flew past between Rest Stops.
I was preparing to go past & beyond RS7 but my body was starting to tell me something.
I had actually needed to fiz (p) since the beginning but not that bad. I wanted to MAINTAIN some fluids & knowing the way the human body functioned, some of the water would be reabsorbed under this evolving condition of mild stress.
Fortunately, the lines at the RS7 porta-potties were short. I axed the guy behind me in line which RS/mile marker this was. He was wearing a Texas Tech Red Raider racing jersey, very cool, & I thought he said eight (8). It had to be seven but thinking I was now WAY ahead of schedule was another one of those little ‘lifts’ which got me back in the saddle with a little more confidence.
By now it is getting warm so stopping at every RS from here on was going to be required.
Between RS8 & RS9 things turned brutal & by far the most challenging conditions encountered thus far. The wind picked up noticably & with a rough pavement surface, I watched my rate of travel drop down considerably. As I was averaging 22-26 km/hr, now I was having to gear down & struggling at 11-16 km/hr.
My hands were beginning to get sore, stiff & numb in small areas so moving & repositioning gloved hands on the handlebars became necessary.
Arriving at RS9 was like a war zone. The First Aid area of the large circus tent was nearly fully occupied by riders either resting or waiting for IV’s. I made my way for ice, water & gatorade. The table had cups pre-poured so I started to chug one & during breaks filled both bottles.
I reached for what I thought was a lemonade & it turned out to be WARM pickle juice. I quietly replaced the cup still nrearly full to its postion unnoticed.
Some riders think the electrolytic replenishing ability of pickle juice a minor ‘miracle’ of science. In fact, at the start Houston said he swore by it. It did not work for me under these conditions. I wanted first cold then sweet & wet. Forementioned liquid did none of this.
While all this is going on, amid the chaos, I hear a female, screaming loudly, from the back of the first aid tent. The first thing I think is some woman is having sex but soon realize this unlikely. Truth be known, they were probably just cramping up.
After RS9, the carnage is remarkable. SAG wagons, carts pulled by large pickup trucks, pass by carrying bikes & riders looking dejected, beaten & broken.
Further along the route, in the shade of nearly every tree, riders sit resting. Some are lying down trying to decide their future. It gets worse as a hill approaches & at the top it looks like another rest stop.
A cute young lady passes me and axes me if I am bleeding. I first think that a fatty snack is melting & leaking in my jersey back pocket. I first say something smart to her but thank her politely.
I see a sign proclaiming this an ‘unofficial rest stop’. This one is not so well organized so I try to reach into my back pockets for the electrolyte drops & am having all sorts of trouble. I ask the nearest rider, a very tall, shapely & attractive brunette that barely looks like she has broken a sweat, for some help.
She reaches in, fumbles for a second & hands me the drops. The plastic lid has opened slightly & I discovered the source of the ‘blood.’
Less than ten (10) miles to go to the finish line now but no road signs for WF, the skyline or any other indications we are nearing the end.
Another ‘unofficial’ RS. I shout to a volunteer how much further to a volunteer. ‘Five miles.’
No effing way !! I look at my handlebar 'computer' for reference point(s).
Markings on the pavement suddenly indicate kms to finish. I check with my odometer & convince myself I HAVE to be getting close.
At a small church, volunteers line the route holding plastic bottles of cold water. I miss the first & second attempts, drop the third but grab & hold the fourth. It is truly a God send as I finish it slowly enjoying the cold wetness. Slight slippage also provides relief.
‘How far to the finish ?’
NOOOOOOO. Figlio di putanna
Finally, a sign, WF CITY LIMITS, in the distance the skyline. The surface is now smooth & fast, the boulevard wide. Reaching for & running on fumes, this needs to end. I push onward.
The course turns off Scott street to Lamar & I see the finish line. The crowd gets larger & louder, applause & cheers, they offer shouts of encouragement now but there is no waving back.
One hundred meters. The last in front of a Grand Stand. After crossing the finish, a volunteer is there with a medal.
I stop my chrono run time. First glance, eight (8) hours & 3 or 5 seconds. It may be 3 or 5 minutes. I can’t recall or verify but it matters not. I have finished. Complete & whole. No body bag required. A chip on my shoe will later on have an official time regardless.
My hands are sore, larger areas are now numb. My back is aching, legs the same. The man-machine interface, seat, padded shorts with butt cream, are BURNING. I push my new best friend to a shady spot for a cold drink & gather my wits. I need to get my phone out as I am quite certain the other team members are wondering my whereabouts.
I say a prayer of thanks. My machine has held up. I have held up. I finished & will be able to talk more about it later but not now.
I was very lucky. I am very lucky. Once again, what can be said?
I finished the HH100 in my first attempt.
Resetting the chrono ...
Here I am with the early lead in the HH100 ...
The Wicked Strong logo will be appearing shortly on a complete line of custom apparel.
Ronzoni took this short video from the 100 K course. It winds thru Sheppard AFB. Very cool.
Wicked Strong Racing 2015
The Plan for the 2015 HH100 is for Wicked Strong to expand the team & have more fun. Looking for the Inner Circle to rent a LARGE RV & camp for the weekend activities & festivities. Ronzoni is in, your correspondent as well. Others have given verbal commitments but they could be lame and change their minds & identities will be revealed later when confirmed in a grand public announcement or press conference with full media coverage.
We have three (3) dedicated & confirmed riders that registered before 31 May early deadline. More MAY join, we MAY get a sponsor & everything could come together as planned. However not betting on ANYTHING except the riders commited & signed up, Virginia Bradley, the first female Wicked Strong rider, Mike Millican & Yours truly. Ronzoni is conspicuously a 'non-committed rider.' (6/8/15)
Time for an update. Ronzoni has accepted a postion in Colo so his participation is in question. Son One (S1) is looking more like he will ride. Va continues to train but now a back ailment has surfaced curtailing training a bit. Yesterday it was a struggle to go for the one (1) hour training ride but I did. Another today with a longer ride tomorrow (Satruday) morning. Lodging for this years event is still according to plan & unsettled. Choices are rooms from WF Chamber of Commerce or a locally rented RV. The RV we could secure we before or anytime but the CofC won't be available until 1 August. (7/24/15)
Finally into August so things are getting serious. Found out yesterday the good neighbor sold his RV last year so that option is off the table. Backup now becomes Plan A so will contact CofC this morning. Still looking like four (4) riders. Training ramping up and making mental preps for long ride. (8/3/15)
An email message has been sent to all Wicked Strong riders with details of the rapidly approaching event. We HAVE SECURED lodging in WF for Friday night before the race. We have 6.5 riders & we will be camping at a persons home supplied by the WF CofC. The 'half' rider will be little FBNG who will be on a seat behind her Mom in the shortest distance race. With her hello kitty helmet & those trendy shades she is so fond of. (8/12/15)
Why is 14059 smiling you ask ? ... within 5K of the finish line !!
WOW !! We are at R-2 & counting down. First vehicle will lift off for WF, TX Friday to be followed by 2nd, 3rd & 4th vehicles in fairly close order. Trailblazer-1 will proceed to base camp after registration. Houston III will blast off in AM & rendesvouz mid to late afternoon either at base camp or registration. Mikey & VA will blast off in separate vehicles after vaporising from their respective places of employment.
Friday night, after all are registered & in camp, our host Family, Darla & Carl, have offered to cook us up burghers & hot dogs.
Saturday morning we line up along with anywhere from 12-15 THOUSAND other riders.
Full report will be found here post race in a reaosnable period of time as last year.
First vehicle will depart WF when it is filled with riders ready to head for home. After party for all riders at the cloud. Swimming, bbq, resting up, swapping ride stories, relaxing & having MORE FUN.
Don't be shocked if a video or two shows up here of ride (NOT race) highlights.
Fearless Leader out. (8/27/15)
Insert team photo, videos & text account of highlights ...