The Hotter ‘N Hell 100-Mile bike race is in the books!
Hotter than what…??
I’ll put it this way, I completed a 100-mile single-day bike race in August, in Texas, on a 30+ lb. steel-framed single-speed bike wearing a 10+ lb pack and got temporary paralysis of my left hand in the process.
All in all, I had a great time.
And I have to preface this entire article, for those who may not know, I am not an endurance athlete.
I like to lift, carry, throw, go fast and go hard, but not long (that’s what she…). I am not a cyclists, an endurance runner, or swimmer.
I do stuff like this for one reason: Mental Toughness Practice
It takes a long time to strip away your comfort zone, and to find out who you are.
By not training for these events, I get out of my comfort zone quickly and that is what I desire. For the seasoned cyclist, they may not even be pushed in an event like this; going at a moderate pace.
But that’s not me.
I find it fascinating how pushing your body can reveal who you are.
The only unfortunate thing is that it can take some pretty harsh circumstances, and a lot of time to meet yourself.
And some never do…
I had the pleasure of meeting myself at mile 84, and we will get to that…
First, let’s talk about how NOT to ride in a 100-mile bike race.
When you ride your bike 160, 934 meters in 100-degree road temps in a single day, you may think that is stupid enough, right?
Well, I upped the level of stupidity a bit.
Hotter’N Hell Hundred Mistake #1: The bike
I decided to do the bike race on a 30+ lb. steel-framed single-speed bike I purchased on Amazon.
It became clear this bike wasn’t a great decision when grandma and grandpa, men twice my weight, and kids 1/2 my age would pass me on modest uphill climbs.
A few simple clicks and they were cruising…
Gears may help, but a lighter bike may help too. I don’t agree with Lance Armstrong…It IS about the bike 🙂
I asked a few of the riders what a “good weight” for a high-performance bike would be, and the general consensus was around 15 lb.
I think my bike choice made the race harder and longer than it needed to be.
But I wanted mental toughness, right?
Hotter’N Hell Hundred Mistake #2: Sprinting
I averaged anywhere from 11 mph to 15 mph during the race. I didn’t think it was too bad, since I wasn’t there to be competitive.
At mile 50 they let me know that if I didn’t make it to mile 61 in just shy of 30 minutes I would not be allowed to finish the race.
I came here to do 100 miles!
I did what I had to do, and that was to increase my speed to 25ish mph for 11 miles to make the time cap.
I nearly died.
I essentially did a full-sprint (for me) for 11 miles and felt dead after. I made the time cap and my reward was 39 more miles 🙂
Can you imagine running a marathon and trying to see if you could hit a record mile time half way through?
That sprint set the stage for a rough last half of the race.
Hotter’N Hell Hundred Mistake #3: Losing my left hand
At mile 70 I decided to stop and see if I could find some sunscreen.
I went to the medical tent and they slapped a can of SPF 50 spray-on sunscreen on to the table.
Great! My skin was saved!
But there was another problem…
I reached my left hand out to grab the can and knocked it right over, which got me some funny looks from the medical staff.
I immediately realized I couldn’t use my left hand…
Fearing the medical team would try and get me to stop the race, I picked up the bottle with my good hand and applied the sunscreen in private.
A bit shocked, I didn’t have time to think about it.
After grabbing a drink and resting for a few minutes I was able to grasp things but I didn’t have any dexterity or fine motor skills.
I figured if it was getting better already, I should be fine. So I hopped back on the bike and got moving.
At the time of writing this, my hand is still not back to normal.
**More about the hand (if you want to know)…**
After talking to a friend, who is a physical therapist, I found it’s called handlebar palsy. I jacked up the ulnar nerve in my hand and forearm.
I need a better fit on my bike to avoid this in the future and the immediate fix was:
- Ulnar Nerve Glides
- Grip strength work
It may take a few weeks to get back to 100%.
Now that you know my mistakes, let’s talk about what I set out to do…mental toughness practice.
Mile 84: Mental Chess
It wasn’t until around mile 84 that I finally got to meet myself.
What I mean is your brain starts to act contrary to what you think you desire. That’s when the game of chess begins.
What it took to get checked mentally…
- I lost my riding partner at mile 50
- I sprinted 11 miles faster than I should have
- I didn’t get a break from mile 40 to mile 70 (and I didn’t rest long enough at mile 70)
- I lost the use of my left hand
- I was feeling way overheated.
My wife and one of my sons were waiting for me at the finish line, but could only stay another hour…
I gave them a call and told them to head home because I didn’t know if I would finish the race in that time frame. I knew I would finish, but I was crawling.
I knew there was a checkpoint in a few miles, and my hand wasn’t doing any better and that’s when my brain flipped the script.
- Dude, is another 16 miles worth possibly permanently jacking up your hand…
- You’re waaay too hot, and alone, this could be serious…
- You’re barely moving, this could take over two more hours…
Were they all legitimate concerns?
But once I started to have thoughts of just having my wife meet me halfway, or talking to the medical staff at the next stop about continuing is when I realized I was being weak…
I found the side of me that wants to quit!! This is a good thing!
I had to quickly crush the soul of this “other side”, by changing my self-talk. The first step is recognizing you have more strength.
The second step is doing something about it!
New Mental Self-Talk…
- Your son is at the finish line. What lesson would you set to stop now?
- Go to micro-goals: just make it to the top of that hill and then see how you feel…
- There’s someone in this world fighting a MUCH harder battle than you, in higher temperatures and they do not have the option to quit. Keep moving.
Once I got to the next stop, cooled off and drank some water, I was good to go!
I made it to my low, only to get out of it and make it to my high.
I had a new found energy after that stop. I was passing people and moving pretty quickly.
So I rode 8+ hours and 100 miles to meet the side of me that wants to quit.
It may have only been for about 10 minutes, but it was worth it.
Every time you meet that side of you, and defeat that side of you, that side will become harder to find.
Here’s to being mentally tough and pushing yourself to new limits!
Thanks for reading! To becoming better!
P.S. If you have any questions on recovery, pre-race prep, and what I did during the race let me know! I may do a follow-up article!