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Hotter'N Hell
A HotterN' Hell Hundred rider rolls through Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and "Airpower Alley" Aug. 24, 2013. An pair of C-130 Hercules, F-16 Falcon, an A-10 Thunderbolt II, a T-38 Talon, T-6 Texan II and an F-15 Eagle from the training ramp were on display for riders to stop an take a look at with pilots on hand to answer questions. As part of the event, hundreds of Sheppard volunteers helped riders needing a break at the last rest stop before the finish line. Across all the rest stops, riders consumed more than 20,000 bananas, more than 9,000 oranges, more than 8,000 pickles, 2,800 gallons of PowerAde and 10,000 gallons of water. In all, more than 70,000 pounds of ice was also used. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Mike Meares)
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'Hotter'N Hell' blazes through Sheppard

Posted 8/26/2013   Updated 8/26/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- As the dawn peaked over the indigo sky, the cannon's boom echoed across the North Texas prairie. While the sun painted Air Force planes with a golden glow, participants rolled across the asphalt with a focused ferocity in the in the Hotter'N Hell Hundred Aug. 24.

The Hotter'N Hell Hundred is a 100-mile bike race dedicated to the pioneers who settled the Wichita Falls, Texas, area more than a 130 years ago. Its original race in 1982 was to celebrate the centennial with a 100-mile bike race in more than 100-degree temperatures, a normal environment for this time of year. It is the largest single day 100-mile bicycle ride in the nation. Since part of the race rolls through Sheppard, hundreds of Airmen greeted thousands riders as part of the path cut through the base. 

"It's good to get out and help the community," said 2nd Lt. Jacob Impellizzeri, a student at the 80th Flying Training Wing's Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. "They support us; it's nice to show support back."

As riders attacked the course, the race carried them face-to-face with "Airpower Alley," a path that crosses a training tarmac lined with two C-130 Hercules, an A-10 Thunderbolt II, a F-16 Falcon, a F-15 Eagle, a T-38 Talon and a T-6 Texan II on display. Most of the civilian riders do not get a chance to see these type of aircraft on a regular basis and made an unscheduled pit stop to take pictures.

"It's very impressive coming through the jets lined up at the beginning," said Bill Chandler, a resident of Dallas, riding in the Hotter'N Hell Hundred for the first time. "It really makes a statement. It looked like 90 percent of the people were stopping as soon as they got to that area."

With racers continuing their ride through the base in weather well over 90 degrees in the early hours of the day, weary participants cooled down at the last rest stop with Airmen handing out wet towels, refreshments and words of encouragement.

"This is more than a race, this is a day to give us an opportunity to demonstrate dedication to our core values," said Airman 1st Class Anthony Pizzello, 82nd Training Wing international military student officer.

During the race each year, an estimated 20,000 bananas, 9,000 oranges, 8,000 pickles, 2,800 gallons of sports drinks, 10,000 gallons of water and 70,000 pounds of ice are used for rest stops. At Sheppard, there were Airmen hard at work in the back of a kitchen making sure riders got exactly what they needed--a well deserved rest.

"We all get to play a part to complete the mission," said Airman 1st Class Skyler Green, a 363rd Training Squadron munitions systems student from Riverside, Calif. "I had a part in making someone smile."

Immediately leaving the rest stop, 82nd TRW Airmen-in-Training flank each side of the street cheering on the participants as they pass by. For many who come through the base, this is the highlight of their journey.

"The ride is wonderful," said Rod Payne, a cycler and minister for the First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls.  "We appreciate these young people and their instructors."

For the sum of the Airmen volunteering, the overall emotion of the event itself was gratifying. 

"Nothing makes me happier than to see the look on their faces as they go through the column of Airmen," said Pizzello. Payne believes Sheppard is an important part of the city he has called home for than 25 years. "Sheppard is as intricate to Wichita Falls as our water supply," he said. "They defend our international freedom."

As cyclists retrieved their bikes on the last rest stop before the final leg of the race, the deafening roar of Airmen rang out across the route, with outstretched arms hoping riders would feed from their energy. Temperatures continued to soar as people, drenched in sweat, showed no signs of slowing down to finish the Hotter'N Hell Hundred.

8/27/2013 1:37:46 PM ET
As a 100K rider I definitely was looking forward to the stop at the Sheppard Air Force base This is my third time participating in the HHH endurance race and I wanted to thank every airmen and women for being so welcoming
Sandro Scielzo, Arlington TX
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