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Volunteers Make the HHH Wheels Turn

You see them at the registration booth, along the sidelines of the course, and at the finish line.  Hotter 'n Hell volunteers are virtually everywhere during the week of the ride.
    The Hotter 'n Hell Hundred has a reputation in the cycling community as a ride that is professionally organized year after year.
    Keeping that reputation intact is truly a community effort.
    From packing the bags, to handling registration, directing riders on routes, and manning rest stops, it's plain to see...
    "Hotter 'n Hell just couldn't exist without the folks of Texoma coming out and helping out with a whole variety of activities," Roby Christie, the HHH chairman, says.
    Each year, thousands of Texomans come together to turn what could be chaos into a smooth running operation with every cog in place like spokes in a wheel.
    This year, more than four-thousand volunteers will come from all over Texoma to be part of the ride's 30th anniversary.
    Together they'll rack up more than 20-thousand volunteer hours this weekend alone.
    "Hotter 'n Hell Hundred has given us a name worldwide that we didn't have before, and people in Wichita Falls are proud of that and willing to help," Christie says.
    When the Hotter 'n Hell first started, out-of-town cyclists only had a couple hotels they could choose to stay in.
    Residents saw a need and rose to the challenge.
    "The Host Home Program started 30 years ago, and has developed this whole sense of how we are a welcoming community."
    More than 65 homeowners have volunteered their extra beds, couches, and even floor space to visiting cyclists.
    Twenty-five local business and churches are doing the same, including Wichita Theatre.
    This is the second year the theatre is hosting "Hotel Wichita".
    Lara Williams, marketing associate for Wichita Theatre, says, "We allow riders and their families to come and stay right here in the lobby of the Wichita Theatre."
    Cyclists who stay at the theatre are getting much more than an air-conditioned room where they can lay their heads and take a shower.
    "They can just hop on their bikes right out on the sidewalk and ride right to the starting line and not have to worry about trying to get through traffic or anything."
    Others are finding their own ways to help out.
    Members of the Wichita Falls Xpress '97 boys soccer team are volunteering their time for cyclists this week, proving you're never too young to lend a helping hand.
    Larry Filer, a member of the team, says, "We're washing the bikes.  We're basically lubing them up and making sure they run right.  You have these soapy buckets and you have to wash the whole entire thing from the handlebars to the back tire."
    Team members say a couple hours of their time is no sweat even in this heat because they think its cool to get involved in the community and build team spirit.
    "It really pays off in the end," Filer says.  "I feel like with this team, we've got everything you can ask for."
    Christie says residents' willingness to help is what makes this area great.
    "It just boasts of the heart and soul of Texoma."
    People from all over Texoma are finding ways to make their mark on this year's ride.
    A group of women in Electra are baking nearly seven-thousand chocolate chip cookies so hungry cyclists can have a sweet snack along the way.
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