Texas Hell Week 2007

March 16th, 2007

Riding During Texas Hell Week

Hundreds of cyclists will be finishing up Texas Hell Week tomorrow. Bloggers Sascha and Steven have been writing about it. I wish I could have been there but it didn’t work this year.

It really started as a RAAM training camp. It used to be if you didn’t put in at least a 100 miles a day you were frowned on. There still are rides every day that a in the 100+ mile range but there’s also B and C rides that are around 60 and 40 miles respectively. Besides it being great training it’s a lot of fun. There’s very little traffic and interesting things to see. I hope to go again sometime and if you’ve never been you should plan to sometime.

Last year it was the best thing I did for training for the Race Across America. I got in 872 miles in 7 days. I had planned to ride another 100 miles on the 8th day but I was tired and it was raining when I got up. I decided the rain was a sign that I shouldn’t push it too much. You can check out my pictures from last year’s Texas Hell Week. On my page of pictures I also have links to my blog posts for each day that include the elevation profile for the ride.

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Hell Week Picture Page

March 20th, 2006

The weather today is a bit of a shock after being in warm Texas at Hell Week. It’s been snowing off and on with the windchill in the single digits.

I now have pictures of Hell Week posted on my website. There’s an article in the Austin paper today about Hell Week.

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Hell Week Day 8 – Rain

March 19th, 2006

After the 300k it was fairly late when I got to bed by the time I rode to the campground, showered, and went to town to get something to eat. I set my alarm for 7 Saturday morning so I could get up and ride in for the A ride. Soon after 6 I woke up to hear rain on the tent. It shouldn’t have been any big deal but the tent is old. I know my brother and I used it on an expedition in Alaska in 1989 but don’t remember how long we’d had it. Soon after the rain started, I felt water dripping on me. The fly needs to be recoated but it has a few patches. The zipper on the door keeps giving me problems and it was replaced several years ago. There’s a rip in the door that is patched with duct tape and the floor is ripped from my pack getting thrown around in a violent wind storm in the Grand Canyon. It may be time to retire the poor thing.

I got up and really couldn’t get motivated to ride in the rain. I checked the weather radar and it showed rain scattered around the area. I drove in to town and was at the hotel when the A ride should have started. By then it was just a light drizzle. A few riders trickled out in ones and twos. If I had ridden, I would probably been by myself. I already had in 872 miles for the week so I didn’t feel any big need to ride. It takes a lot of training for RAAM but over doing it can can be a set back. I decided getting cold and wet could push me over the edge. It turned out that it dried out and drizzled off and on a bit like during the 300k so it wouldn’t have been a bad day to ride.

I was able to change my flight home from Sunday to Saturday evening. After doing very little all day, I realized just how tied I really was. There were 2 very happy little girls to see me when I got in at the airport in Colorado Springs. Julie was also very happy for me to be home. This week is the longest we’ve been apart since we got married. This morning the girls spent most of the morning climbing all over me and showing me things.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 7 – 300k Brevet

March 17th, 2006


I like to say that a ride isn’t long if it can be started and finished in daylight. Today’s ride started before daylight and finished after it got dark so it qualifies as a long ride. Sixteen people showed up for the 300k brevet. I actually thought there might not be that many. Starting so early in the morning we saw lots of deer. For a while there was a rider ahead of me and I couldn’t see anyone behind me. Finally I saw a rider catching up when I got off and walked through a water crossing. On Monday when I did the 200k brevet, some of the riders on the A ride broke bones so I wasn’t taking any chances. All I need to put an end to my RAAM effort is to break a bone. I saw the rider behind me start falling but he didn’t totally go down.

It turned out that the rider coming up was Fred Boethling from Boulder who is also doing RAAM solo this year. He will be oldest solo finisher ever if he makes it. He did it last year on a two man team. We rode pretty easy and chatted about RAAM and whatever else we felt like.

It was a cool, overcast day and I never took my arm and knee warmers off. We had periods of light drizzle but it never got too bad. After the first checkpoint, we were in the lead and it was that way all the way to the finish except when we got caught briefly by 4 other riders. We had just started rolling down the road after a bathroom break when they caught us. We jumped on the back and rode with them for a little ways. They were hard core randonneurs and apparently we weren’t good enough for them. We didn’t have big butt bags, carry our maps in holders on our bars, and didn’t have hub generators. They weren’t friendly and after a couple miles they stopped for a bathroom break. The rest of the ride they would show up at stops just as we were leaving.

Fred and I ended up with an official time of 13:54 which isn’t fast but we enjoyed the ride and weren’t out to set any speed records. I actually felt good the whole ride. I was worried that I’d start feeling all the miles of the week. I got 194.8 miles with 6722 feet of climbing and the on bike average was 15.6 mph.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 6 – Fred’s Ride

March 16th, 2006

Apparently most people were hammered from yesterday’s Death ride since less than 20 showed up for the A ride. Today’s ride was a typical hill country ride with a bunch of rollers. It was warmer today than the last couple days and it was humid. We had seen the first part of the ride when we drove to Bandera. I got in a nice group that included Annie. I stumbled on to her blog a couple months ago and a few days ago she left a comment saying she was here at Hell Week. We stopped a while in Medina for lunch and I had a big burger since all I could think about today was food. The way back was on nice quiet roads through pretty country side. Just for fun there was a 22% hill thrown in.

I tried not taking too many pulls so I could recover from yesterday since I’m doing a 300k tomorrow. I felt like I rode pretty easy and my heart rate average was only 130 but I still averaged 18.2 mph on the bike. I got in 100.6 miles and 3835 feet of climbing.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 5 – Leakey Death Ride

March 15th, 2006

Leakey Death RideAfter my bonking episode yesterday, I decided I needed to make sure I ate more at night. I ate two plates of food at the banquet last night but afterward I got hungry again. I went to McDonald’s and had a nice greasy burger and fries. It must have worked because today I felt the best I have at Hell Week. The Leakey Death Ride is considered the toughest A ride and the only route that has been used all 16 years. Because it’s a popular ride, the A ride was small yesterday as people do the shorter routes to be rested today. At mile 25 and about 12 miles later there are a couple really steep hills.

The scenery was great and all day I was in good groups. Since we had to drive about 50 miles to the start, there wasn’t a set start time although Nick suggested we leave Fredericksburg around 7:00. The slower riders left earlier so it was interesting to see so many people as we caught up to them. Since I’ve riding near the front I haven’t seen that many riders.

By spinning around the block at the end I was able to get to 109 miles with 5210 feet of climbing. My average speed of 18.1 mph is the fastest I’ve had here.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 4 – Bound for Boerne

March 14th, 2006

Last night it was cold and it was when I got up. It started warming up about the time I left for the ride but it was still cold enough for knee and arm warmers and a vest. For a little while, I rode at the front with Allen Larsen and talked to him about RAAM. About mile 15 some guys attacked and Allen went with them and I stayed with another group. We were still riding a good pace. Just before we got to Boerne which was just over half way, I started feeling a bonk coming on. I had fallen a little behind on fuel and normally it wouldn’t have been a problem but after all the riding I’ve doing I don’t have much in reserve. I ate more than normal at the store in Boerne but still felt hungry. I couldn’t stay with Nick, the Hell Week organizer, and another guy. Nick’s advice was that I’d feel that way in RAAM so it was good training. After spinning easy for 10-15 minutes, I felt strong again but ended up riding the last 40 miles by myself.

Today I saw a couple other Texas sized gates but none as big as yesterday. For the most part the ride was a lot like the last few days, not that it’s a bad thing. It turned out being a absolutely beautiful day with a high around 70 degrees. I got in 113.2 miles with 4731 feet of climbing. My average speed of 16.6 mph was a little slower than it’s been but still not bad.

Tonight was the banquet. I hardly recognized anyone there even though I’ve been riding with them the last few days. I did recognize some of the people from the campground since I’ve seen them without helmets and glasses. Tomorrow is a road trip for the only route that has been used for every Texas Hell Week. It’s about a 50 mile drive to the start but is supposed to be a very pretty area that is quite different than here. It’s supposed to be a lot like along the Guadalupe River where we were for a bit yesterday. I also hear that it is a very tough route with a couple very steep hills. There are local ride options but it sounds like the road trip one is “the ride”.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 3 – 200k Brevet

March 13th, 2006

Last night the forecast was for 15-20 mph north winds today. I was hoping we’d get lucky but I woke at 2AM with the tent flapping and things blowing off the neighbors picnic table. It was also blowing a little rain in through the vent so I had to close it. The wind didn’t calm down much until late in the afternoon.


30 people showed up to do the 200k brevet. We headed south for the first part of the ride so we flew with the wind. A tandem and a couple other guys went off the front. I debated whether or not to chase. I sat for a bit and then decided to chase. I got the lead guys and soon after the tandem dropped off. That left Nick, the Hell Week organizer, and Paul, and me. Both Nick and Paul have done the Furnace Creek 508 faster than me. In the case of Nick, a lot faster. Nick and his wife also finished RAAM on a tandem in 1993. They were really good to ride with and I talked to Nick a little about doing RAAM. We ended up riding together all day.


Today was the prettiest route so far. We were along the Guadalupe River for a while.
There were some big trees and cliffs along the river. There was also a replica of Stonehenge. It seemed like there were less short rollers and longer climbs. At both checkpoints, as we were leaving a group of other riders was arriving. We also saw a few really big and ornate gates to ranches. Unfortunately I would have had to stop to safely get pictures so I didn’t get any.

There are a couple things I’ve noticed the last couple days. The first one is that road kill gets a lot riper here than in Colorado. The 2nd is that they must think that every inch of pavement must be chip sealed. Today we had several miles with particularly big rocks that didn’t feel so good. We did find a 4 mile section that somehow they missed. I had almost forgotten how smooth pavement can be.

The hight today was only 71 degrees which made me feel better. The official distance for today was 126.3 miles. We did a couple mile side trip plus my ride back and forth from camp gave me 135.2. The climbing was 4393 feet. We averaged 17 mph which was slightly faster than yesterday’s average.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 2 – LBJ Ramble

March 12th, 2006


Today was a lot like yesterday with lots of rolling Texas country side on quiet roads. Also like yesterday there were countless cattle guards. Most of them are actually a lot smoother than the ones I’m used to. It stayed a little cloudy until middle of the afternoon so it took longer to heat up than it did yesterday. The high temperature for the day was 82 degrees. It was more humid today than yesterday and fairly breezy. It definitely was a good day to be in a group which I was the majority of the time.

The official mileage for today was 99.4 miles but with riding from my camp site I got 105 miles. That means I actually measured a few tenths less than the official route. It felt like there were more rollers today and I would have guessed more total climbing than yesterday but the climbing came in at 3819. My average speed was only slightly slower than yesterday although I can feel some fatigue in the legs.

I plan to ride the 200k brevet tomorrow. I haven’t seen the route sheet yet but it should be right around 124 miles. Since it’s a little longer, we start at 8:00 instead of at 8:30 when the A rides start.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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Hell Week Day 1 – Windows to Doss

March 11th, 2006



When I showed up today for the A ride, I was surprised at how many people where doing the long ride. Several people I talked to though plan to do something shorter tomorrow and some guys took short cuts back. The lead group put the hammer down pretty much as soon as we got out of town. I wanted to chase but figured I needed to hold back some so I can do long miles everyday. One guy brought his dog along for the ride. I love my dog but he isn’t getting a free ride. I met several nice people along during the day and never ended up riding alone.


For a while I was riding with a strong rider Randy from Indiana. Unfortunately one of his spoke nipples broke. I tried truing it up enough to not hit the brakes but the nipple on the spoke next to it on the same side also broke. Then his wheel was hitting the fork. I ended up pulling a spoke from the other side and on the opposite side of the wheel out so there wouldn’t be too spokes out together. I then trued it just enough to keep it from hitting the fork because I was afraid of another one breaking. He took a short cut back into town in hopes of being able to get it fixed. Hopefully he’ll be back out riding tomorrow.


We went to Luckenbach. I’m not sure what draws people there as there’s only a couple buildings but there were a lot of bikers of another kind. Someone said there’s a song about it. Maybe I ride my bike too much to have enough culture to know about it. The group I was with hung out for a little while and had something cold to drink and some food.

It was slightly cooler today with a high of 86 degrees. The official ride length 105.4 but everybody seemed to have a couple more than that. It’s a little over a 3 mile ride into town for me so I got some extra miles. I ended up with 114.4 with 4754 feet of climbing. There really wasn’t much in the way of actual climbs but a lot of little ups and downs.

Update: Texas Hell Week photos and posts for each day.

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