Hotter 'n Hell Hundred History

All this week, we're going to be previewing the 30th annual, Hotter 'n Hell Hundred.

It's an event known 'round the world that put Wichita Falls on the map its very first year.

There was some disappointment at first, though, among area churches.

They spoke out against using the word hell.

And, the school system didn't want kids wearing t- shirts with it on there either.

Today, though.. most people probably embrace the largest sanctioned century bike ride in the nation, and its name.

MARK: "This is a little screwdriver that was given to all of the riders in the very first Hotter 'n Hell."

Not once have Mark and Jo-Alice Davis missed even one Hotter 'n Hell Hundred, not even after moving 16- years ago, east of Weatherford.

Jo-Alice: "We were there, we started it. And, it grew so quickly and became such a happening for Wichita Falls. We just feel like it's part of our life and we want to be a part of it too."

The Davis' were there along with Hotter 'n Hell Chairman, Roby Christie.

They were all members of the Wichita Falls Bicycling Club, who were asked to come up with a kickoff event for Wichita Falls' Centennial Celebration.

Roby: "The company that had been hired to provide consultation on how to put on a centennial had brought a huge manual, 4 or 5 inches thick, on how to put on a rocking chair marathon. Well, we said no, no. We're not doing a rocking chair marathon. That doesn't speak to the kind of character that prevailed in people who settled the west. But, we're going to do a 100- mile bike ride, 100- miles to celebrate 100- years in 100- degrees. And, he thought I was crazy."

Mark & Jo Alice: "So, he brought that to the club, and we started talking about it. And, it just kind of mushroomed from there. We decided we'd have it in August. And, somebody in the audience said it will be Hotter 'n Hell. And Mark said, call it the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred. And, the name stuck."

Roby: "It started out as just a ride. Well, just a ride. It was the largest century ride in the United States its first year. Blew us away! That first year, we were expecting 5 or 600 people, which would have exceeded the biggest ride. But, we didn't order enough numbers for everyone. So, the night before the ride, my wife and I and others were out buying paper plates, and writing numbers on those paper plates."

And, from that first Hotter 'n Hell, with riders wearing paper plates, grew later a race and then the consumer show.

And even more races as well, from the criterium to off- road racing.

Roby: "If you ride or race 100- miles, do the off- road bicycle race, and the half marathon run, well you are in competition for the winner of the triple threat."

Chip Filer/Executive Director, Hotter 'n Hell: "Last year, the visitor convention bureau did a survey, and determined Hotter 'n Hell Hundred week, brought over 8 and a half million dollars into the community."

Roby: "It's good for jobs. It keeps people working. And, it's good for our self image. We are the biggest and the best at something, and it's Hotter 'n Hell Hundred."

Mark & Jo-Alice: "It gives us a lot of pride, especially when we talk with other bicyclist, and they say, you're involved with the Hotter 'n Hell, all over the United States.

Around 15- thousand people were expected to take part in this year's ride, as well as somewhere around 4000- volunteers from a community that took a chance in 1982 on the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred, that will most assuredly be around for many more generations to come.

Years ago, the ride started on Southwest Parkway, in- front of the stadium.

Then one year, it started in Century Plaza.

But, when MPEC was finally just about complete, it moved downtown where Roby says overall, there's just far more room.

There have been 7- deaths over the past 3- decades of Hotter 'n Hell, all because of health related issues.

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