We're starting with a look back at the history of the largest sanctioned century bike ride in the nation.
Joni Schatte is a Chillicothe resident who's in shape and ready to take on the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred, a ride that's often just as brutal as its first year, when 104 was the high.
"We talked about the fact it was going to be in August. One of our committee members said, gee it's going to be Hotter 'n Hell. And, there the name was," said Hotter 'n Hell Founder, Roby Christi.
Christi says not without some controversy or disappointment, in the beginning.
"We really sweated the name, Hotter 'n Hell because we wanted the kids to be able to wear their shirts to school and didn't want folks to feel we were doing anything positive for devil and the hell. So, we've never really used any devilish things, well one time. But, we've avoided that because we're just making a comparison to heat. And, three churches were unhappy with us over the name, but all eventually became sponsors in some kind of way. So, it was a great turnaround, and I think the community knows our heart and they know we're not selling hell," Christi explained.
That first year, Hotter 'n Hell Hundred was the largest hundred mile ride in America.
Christi said, "People say, well did you ever think, and I say no. We were going for beating the biggest ride in the country which was 400, and that year it was 1,200. And, we didn't have enough numbers to put on people, so we had to put numbers on paper plates and pin them to their shirts."
Christi says they thought Hotter 'n Hell was going to be just a one time thing, but it was so successful, and the community loved it so much, there was no way anything could happen but major growth.
"We've added things throughout the years. We started as a ride. We added a race. We have the biggest bicycle consumer show anywhere in the United States. We've got off-road events, on-road events, mountain biking," said Christi.
"If you just start at the beginning of the race and see that sea of bikes and riders out in front of you, your adrenaline starts pumping and you get goose bumps and you just feel like you're a part of something really big. It's just wonderful," Christi said.
That feeling Joni's talking about is something Hotter 'n Hell riders have known from the very beginning, when the start was on Southwest Parkway in front of the stadium.
It's the same feeling you'll see again this year in downtown Wichita Falls.
Somewhere around 15,000 people are expected to take part in Hotter 'n Hell Hundred events this year, as well as around 4500 volunteers.
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