Lynn Seman , Texas Master Naturalist Published 10:56 a.m. CT Aug. 11, 2019
It’s that time of the year!
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Riders are appearing on the side roads almost like migrating birds before their epic journey. If you are familiar with the area around Wichita Falls, then you know what’s coming at the end of August, the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred, an epic bicycle race of thousands.
For many, this race is about reaching a difficult goal set by oneself to achieve a feeling of accomplishment.
For others, it is a tradition that makes one become part of a bicycling community that draws similar cyclists together, almost like a huge family reunion. For older riders, this brings back the feelings of “being a kid again” with the freedom and fun only a bicycle can bring.
If you are an “older” rider, do you remember the thrill of your first bike? Was it a gift from your parents, bought with hard earned money, or a “hand-me-down” from an older sibling?
Some might recall riding to and from school while parking in the bike rack for the day. You would look forward to making that trip home each day. Maybe you would stop by the park on an afternoon adventure.
Perhaps you would venture to the “big hill” on the way home and enjoy coasting with your feet propped up on the handle bars while crying “wheee!!!!!” all the way down. Did you have a banana seat or a triangular orange flag on the back? (if you are too young to know what that is, google it!)
Did you give a friend a ride on the back with their feet in the side baskets or did you have a front basket to carry your school books? Whatever the style, you most likely had only one gear and brakes that grabbed when you pedaled backwards. Imagine that! Most likely, you avoided that street in town where the territorial Doberman Pinschers lived … you learned that lesson the hard way.
Or maybe, you just rode out of town on an old dirt road toward the golden sunset just to see how far you could go before you knew you had to turn back so you wouldn’t miss suppertime.
Whatever the reason for riding, most everyone agrees that cycling brings one closer to nature. You smell that nearby skunk, the fragrant flowers, and whatever odor may be floating on the wind. In addition, you feel the breeze against your skin, the sun upon your face, and the dirt that sticks to your sweaty self after a long ride. You get “up close and personal” to an occasional critter crossing the road, such as a box turtle, or an upset Killdeer worried that you might disturb her nest, or you might dodge a creeping tarantula looking for a mate. Bicycling gives one a panoramic view of the natural world.
Not only can you join in the Hotter‘N Hell race, but there are other opportunities for you to enjoy the outdoors on a bicycle.
Wichita Falls has the absolutely wonderful “Circle Trail.” If you start the trail at Lucy Park, you will find a beautiful view of the Wichita River which winds up and down a tree lined trail. If you continue south towards Lake Wichita, you will pass the spillway which is daytime hangout for a variety of fowl, such as a Great Blue Heron and a variety of ducks and turtles.
Recently, Lake Arrowhead State Park hosted a Nature Bike Ride with stops along the way to learn about nature and history of the park. What a great experience for a family ride!
If you are one of the thousands planning on riding in the big race, remember while achieving that personal goal you have set, have some “kid-like” fun and connect with the outdoors.
Also, don’t forget to yell out a “wheee!!!!” going down the big hill!
Lynn Seman is a Texas Master Naturalist.
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