One of the largest bicycle races in America is in my backyard of Wichita Falls. The Hotter’N Hell Hundred is a giant bicycle race that hosts riders worldwide for three days to compete in several events. The biggest event is the 100-mile ride that spans four towns, a city, and an air force base.
This year’s event included over 10,000 riders and a whole lot of bike traffic all around Wichita County. Suppose you can see where I’m going with this. Stuck in bike traffic, I parked on the side of the road and just photographed cyclists going down a Farm to Market road near Iowa Park.
Now I’m usually not stuck in random places in the middle of nowhere, but I was initially in this area because my job had a bike stop there for riders on the 100-km and 50-mile race.
Students were helping riders by holding their bikes while they took a break from the ride. Some were also giving out homemade cookies and other food and drinks. There were over 70 student volunteers, and with the other volunteers, there equaled over 100 volunteers at just this bike stop.
The Hotter’N Hell Hundred is made up mostly of volunteers. This bike event celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021, and it has always been a partnership between the city, its cyclists, and surrounding towns. This event brings Wichita Falls together to host the most significant event in this part of North Texas.
If you’re wondering where the name comes from, the event is always in August, when it’s typically 100-degree weather. They then ride for 100 miles. Now on Saturday, the hottest it went up to was 93 degrees. I’m sure a lot of riders were thankful it stayed in the low nineties.
Now thousands of bikes ride through the area where I was. Many volunteers had been at this bike stop since 5:30 a.m. that morning. I didn’t arrive until 8 a.m. to take photos. I planned to leave after an hour, but with the hordes of bikes coming through, it seemed more and more like an impossible task.
I stuck around for a while longer to see if the bikes would clear up, but it seemed more and more were coming. Probably my favorite picture is the one above of the Penny-Farthing cycle. You can see the actual scale of how big the bike is to a standard bicycle. There were about five riders that were in this group that had similar Penny-Farthing bikes. They were on the 50-mile ride. I cannot imagine riding on that for 5 miles, let alone 50 miles.
I finally saw my opening and slowly drove alongside bikes as I made my way to another open road. I thought I was in the clear until I turned, and there was another path of bikes, this time the 100-mile riders.
The number of bikes that passed me was terrific. You don’t understand the scale of this event until you’re outside on a country road, watching them all pass you.
There were so many, and I decided to pull off to the side of the road and take pictures. I selected this area because of the hill the road made. I knew it would create some excellent drama in the photos. Plus, there were so many bikes it was just wiser to let them pass me before I’d start driving alongside them in the opposite direction.
Many smiled or waved as they passed. Bikes were concentrating hard to make it up this hill, and the next bike stop for a breather. I saw one rider pull over and take a picture of some cows in the pasture. He may not be from Texas if he’s never seen random cows in a field.
On the side of the road, I was this random person with a SONY camera taking pictures of cyclists passing me by, and you could see the excitement in their eyes that they’re taking part in this historic race.
I took a lot of great pictures, and I still have another 1500 to review. Maybe there are some more gems I have yet to discover. For most of the time, I just aimed, clicked, and let the shutter go.