WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Thousands of bike riders, vendors and fans make their way to Wichita Falls for the annual Hotter’N Hell Hundred each year, and Aug. 27-30 marks the 39th annual event, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic riders are participating in the race virtually. Some riders are doing their virtual riders before this weekend.
“This will be my fifth year in Hotter’N Hell,” local cyclist Joan Pruitt said.
For usual HHH cyclists, Pruitt, year five is going to be a little different, but her events will remain the same.
“Riding 25 miles this year, and I’ve done 50 miles a couple years, but 25 for the other years,” Pruitt said.
HHH is an annual cycling event that brings thousands of participants and visitors to Wichita Falls but the COVID-19 pandemic has made this year’s event virtual. However, the ride doesn’t stop for cyclists.
“I think they did a great job in not only following the COVID precautions but also in giving us a choice to ride virtually, so our ride our route our day our weather,” Pruitt said.
Through Hotter’N Hell, Pruitt has fallen in love with cycling.
“I bought my bike in June of 2016 with no intention of riding in the Hotter’N Hell, and had a good friend Pat Osenak who insisted I ride with he and his family,” Pruitt said. “It’s been a really good experience—keeps me inspired to ride. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
Pruitt has submitted her hotter n’ hell ride times and has also seen other virtual riders enjoy their rides.
“I actually saw someone that rode in Brazil the other day,” Pruitt said. “I know there was someone that rode on the continental divide a few weeks ago.”
Even with bikers checking in online, Hotter’N Hell 2020 just isn’t the same.
“It’s not the same as being on the start with 12,000 or more riders and you usually go through Sheppard Air Force Base with the 25 miles,” Pruitt said. “Just the camaraderie of all the riders and the community out cheering us on.”
Even though it may be virtual, Hotter’N Hell riders will ride on virtually and safely.
“It’s a Wichita Falls tradition, so hopefully we’ll all be back next year,” Pruitt said.