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Inline Skating the Hotter'n Hell 100 Wichita Falls, Texas

johnnyChen's picture

Hotter'n Hell 100 is the biggest bike ride in Texas. To finish full distance, the rider needs to get to Hell's Gate at mile 60 before cut off.

In zone 2, I skate 14 mph on smooth pavement, 9 mph on rough, and 7 mph on the really rough with fresh legs. Mathematically, I need to average 12 mph to make the gate.

Below is my event report:

HHH 2007

Unfinished Business

In 2002 the Texas Flyers canceled the Hotter n Hell team trip due to long stretches of unskateable chip n seal. I fantasized skating the 100-mile route that weekend. 2005, Duane expressed his opinion that skate wheels would barely roll even on the smoother chip n seal. I ignored it because he banged his head against the pavement that day. Don volunteered to support on bike if I ever skate the full distance.

2007 was the 3rd time I skated Hotter n Hell: Coyoted 50 miles in 2003; 100k with 100 mm wheels in 2006 averaging 12 mph not including long rest stops. Beating Hell’s Gate seemed impossible given the 40+ min it took to cross the start line. I abandoned the 102-mile skate idea and concentrated on triathlon. I obsessed skating HHH again after reading Karnases’ “Ultramarathon Man.”



I start skating in July this year and didn’t feel ready for the full distance. I decided this would be a recon for HHH 2008; I would go as far as I could to learn the route and my body. Based on last year’s experience, I didn’t have a realistic chance without practice skating rough road. I thought the day was likely to end after 80 miles and/or in SAG wagon. I budgeted for new frames and bigger wheels for 2008.


Got Around the Long Delay

The day didn’t start well. I crashed at mile 0 tripped over the same stupid 1-inch curb that got me in 2003. I began my skate 5 minutes and 1 block before the official start to avoid the normal 40-minute delay. The first 11 miles were spent in cyclists’ slipstreams before the chip n seal. I skated slow and skinny on the edge of the road watching thousands of bikes flew by. On the short stretches of the smooth pavement, I drafted behind bikes. “You miss the 25-mile turn, didn’t you?” I couldn’t tell if the guy was joking. “No, I’m only doing 10k.”


Long Day

The road surface turned very hairy after the 2nd rest stop. Like last year, I pushed hard only to maintain 9 mph. Mile 23, Phil caught me on bike. I told him not to slow down; I didn’t wanting him to miss the adjustable gate time again.

Good surface appeared at mile 26. I hid behind cyclists, continuously upgrading to wider riders. Many was surprised a “blader” could keep up. We rolled into a residential area with black ice. I stayed with cyclists at 25 mph. Beating the gate seemed trivial at this speed. Maybe I overestimated the difficulty? That’s before the road turned rough again. I applied every trick I knew to hold the momentum: high cadence, hopping, short strokes, arm swing, toeing. It became clear I couldn’t power my way through all the chip n seal. I obeyed my heart rate monitor and tried to ignore the dropping speed.

I rolled into mile-54 rest stop at 11:40. I needed 18 mph to meet the noon deadline; unthinkable under the condition. 100-mile skate would wait ‘til 2008. I held 11 mph ‘til the dread Highway 44 at mile 58. My legs decided to quit fighting the incline. It was a small consolation finding cyclists also had difficulties. Imagine my surprise to learn the gate actually closed at 12:30pm! I skated through Hell’s Gate at 12:12pm, 8/25 2007.

The elation didn’t last long. I bonked and had 40 miles to go. I struggled on the endless chip n seal and helplessly watched the speed drop to single digit. Some cyclists finally believed I was serious about skating 100 miles. The smart-donkey comments turned into encouraging words.

Mile 74. One marathon to go. The hills seemed frequent and long. Funny I had no recollection of any hills from biking the route in 2005. My left leg gave out on the slanted road; I struggled to hold 8 mph pushing mostly from the right. Then sky darkened with lightning; the wind materialized in the wrong direction. GPS said 5.4 mph. I watched the heart rate approaching double digit and briefly considered running ‘til the road turn smoother or ‘til skate muscles wake up, but I’d never run barefoot carrying 10-lb load and wasn’t confident I could put the skates back on without a chair.

The SAG wagon made continuous trips between the finish and last of 100-miler. It circled me quicker and quicker like a vulture. I actively looked for reasons to get on the inviting flatbed: dehydration, dizziness, anything, but I felt exceedingly healthy except legs that refused to skate. With each pass the volunteers returned my thumbs up and drove on while I was in insufficient trouble.

Mile 89. Chip n seal ended. The body slowly adjusted to rolling again. I passed the spot where Duane’s Atmos went to the big helmet ranch in the sky. I settled into zone 2 at 17 mph. The cyclists cheered me on as I flew by the last rest stop along a downhill at mile 96; we passed each other repeatedly and felt like old friends.

Mile 98. The beer break. The locals who hosted this unofficial stop believed beer was an excellent hydration beverage for century rides. I had a good time with these exceedingly friendly people but moved on when an overly happy gentleman started the process of showing his tattoo.

It was well over 9 hours by the time I made the final turn. I expected an empty street with vendors packing booths but heard my name over the PA and found friends waiting when I crossed the finish line. It was beyond cool.


Post Race

One downside of such late finish was inability to meet with all the friends to swap stories. After posing for people who wanted photos with the crazy rollerblader, I sat down with Donna and Roger and learned about Duane’s awesomeness, Roger’s first century, Mike’s crash, Robert’s IV, and 25-mile skaters. Still think it would be way cool if Tanisha towed the baby trailer using her custom aero bike. Riders I met on the route invited me for beers next to their camper, followed by a big dinner with frozen margarita at Cheddar’s. Life was good.

I woke up next morning hungry and with sore feet but felt well enough to Wii with my hosts after donuts. Andrea, who recovered quicker from her 102-mile bike ride, knocked me out boxing.

Duane, you were right; 100 mm wheels don’t roll good on them roads.



  • course length: 102 miles
  • total time: 9:48
  • wheels torn up: 3
  • blisters broken: 1
  • avg heart rate: 146
  • energy burned: 6508 cal
  • liquid consumed: 390 oz, including 20 oz of pickle juice
  • gel: 9 packs
  • fruit snack (60 cal): 5 packs
  • misc food:
    • 4 bananas,
    • 1 Clif bar,
    • 1 Clif block,
    • 1 Powerbar,
    • 4 salt capsules,
    • 8 Sport Leg,
    • 8 Gummy Vites
  • goodies in the survival backpack:
    • 5 sandwich bags, each with 1 salt tablet, 2 Sport Leg, 2 Gummy Vites, 1 Gu, 1 fruit snack
    • 4 spare wheels with bearings and spacers
    • 1 empty spare 20 oz Gatorade bottle w/ Accelerade powder
    • 2 spare caps for Gatorade bottle
    • skate tools
    • cell phone
    • sun block
    • 2 zip loc bag for ice



eebee's picture

Congrats and thanks for the report!!

A big congratulations to you for making the 100 miler cut-off, and completing 102 miles on less-than-optimal road surfaces. Pickle juice! Good idea for sodium, if you can stomach it. Also, your camelbak must've weighed a ton. You were smart to start slightly ahead to avoid the 40 min traffic-jam.


What do you mean by 'wider riders' after mile 26? They were cycling two or more across the road?


Also, what sort of temps did you have on the day? Looking at wunderground.com stats for Aug 25th 2007 at Wichita Falls, TX, you had a high of 94. Does that sound right? Yikes! An even bigger accomplishment.


Congrats also to your friends who completed the event, and comiserations for their injuries.

roadskater's picture

Continuously Upgrading to Wider Riders

I loved this line because I have experienced this myself, being a wider skater. If I start near the front, I'm passed by the skinny folks first, and as the day goes on, the riders start to look more and more like my body type. I loved that he considered this an "upgrade," though, since the windblocking was ever better as the riders became ever wider. Those who can stand to skate as slow as me know I block wind pretty well and add considerable momentum to any skate train, ha!
roadskater's picture

eebee Wins Politenice Award!

Now that I look at it, I think eebee knew all along what johnny meant by 'wider riders,' but was just being nice and polite. I guess I explained something that didn't really need explaining,  but it was a line I loved when I read the original post. It sure is fun to be with the cyclists who are working hard to improve and are very appreciative of company on the roads.

I need to see if I can find those photo links of Johnny crossing the line and of his funky survival bag thingy.

johnnyChen's picture

wide riders

You got it Blake.

At times I pray for sumo wreslers cross training on bikes.

The backpack was about 3 lbs.  I also carry 2 20-oz bottle in pockets.

It was a cool day.  94 F sounds about right.   A typical 1pm finish is over 100 F.   I over-hydrated and sharpened my road watering skill as  result.  That's another topic.


Great Hotter'n Hell Hundred Photos on TimesRecordNews.com

roadskater's picture

Good Catch and Welcome rueschmike

Hey! Thanks for signing up to post that photo link. I believe you are right and boy look at that road. He's right there finding the smoothest bit he can get. Last weekend we were on desolate roads briefly and opted for the smooth bit between the double yellow lines for awhile...but it was nothing like this I bet. Thanks again. Were you there on a bike? We'd love to know your story.

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