Saturday, August 17, 2013

Getting closer to officiating again—HHH is looming!

It's easy to neglect the blog when the daily routine involves sitting around, occasionally working on a bike, selling things on eBay, and looking forward to the next PT session. So, it was a welcome break in this routine when last week I drove to Wichita Falls for a site inspection of the upcoming Hotter'n Hell Hundred mountain bike race. You may be familiar with the annual HHH (to which I generally refer as the Dumber'n Hell), an event that attracts thousands and thousands of cyclists not only from Texas but the surrounding states as well.
On the way to Wichita Falls, just outside of Benjamin
The calling card of the HHH is the 100-mile ride on Saturday, an event that can be quite grueling, depending on how damn hot it becomes and how badly the wind is blowing (and how much you see it as a "race," even though it is a tour with well-supported rest stops). Shorter routes are offered as well, but the century is what HHH is all about. But among the about 15,000 cyclists that will descend upon Wichita Falls next weekend will also be a few hundred who will participate in the organized road and mountain bike races, which are being held under a USA Cycling sanction. And this year, I am going to be the Chief Referee for the expanded off-road races. While in the past fewer than 150 riders participated, we're expecting as many as 800 this year—and that is what prompted me to suggest to the organizers that I come down and give them firsthand pre-event advice on how we can make these races as smooth and positive for everyone involved. Thus my field trip.
The happy lil' Miata, out for a field trip
I had an extremely valuable meeting with Sandy and her staff of volunteers, and I believe that we're prepared of the large increase in racers come Friday. The trail is in excellent condition. The last time that Judy and I worked the off-road race back in the mid-'10s it all looked like a wasteland, much worse than Lubbock's admittedly below-average trail system. But over the years, the trail has been expanded and is quite challenging. One lap will be 11 miles long, which is pretty amazing when you look at the general footprint of the area. We will have a superior staging and start/finish area, and spectators will get their fill, too. I love working with the HHH folks: They all exude a tremendous can-do attitude, and they're all friendly. No wonder that Judy got bitten by the officiating bug many years ago when she volunteered for the road races under the tutelage of Dave and Judy Miller from Philly.
We used to ride our mountain bikes in Dickens when Srub was still alive
Even though WF is less than 240 miles from Lubbock I made it an overnight trip. Why rush when one can be relaxed? The drive was beautiful as many of the areas had received some good (thunderstorm-based) rainfall. I just love dropping the roof on the Miata and going places. And I get to do so again next week to actually work the race on Friday and then be the commissaire for the 35+ 4/5 road race on Saturday morning. Officiating has me back. Yeah!
Silver Falls rest area
Otherwise, I am muddling along. The knee finally seems to be coming around as last night was the first time that I could actually use the exercise bike that Wes and Susan have loaned me. Beforehand, I simply couldn't get enough of a bend out of the knee to follow the pedals all the way around—but now, I can! My goal had been to be back on a bike by the end of August, and even if I can't ride one outside just yet (my bikes' cranks are just a little longer than those on the exerciser), I'm almost there. I'll continue to do my exercises and be patient. But I think that the worst may be over, and I am looking forward to the next months as they will bring great travel and challenges, so please stay tuned.


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