JOINT-BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – Riding a bicycle for a hundred miles through the inferno that is summer in Texas sounds like fun, right? For some people at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, it's a great way to spend a weekend (at least once a year).
Included among the 14,000 people who gathered from every corner of the country to ride in the 2019 Hotter 'N Hell 100 (HH100 for cyclists in the know) bike ride Aug. 22-25 were a handful of 97th Flying Training Squadron "Devil Cats," as well as 340th Flying Training Group Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Scott Goetze, formerly assigned to Sheppard AFB.
This year, in the sky above the cycle horde, two Devil Cats (Lt. Col. Jeremy Downs and Lt. Col. Dan Scheuermann) joined their Regular Air Force teammates in a Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training four ship flyover that featured two T-6 Texans and two T-38 Talons.
The annual ride is one of the oldest and largest cycling events in the nation and includes a variety of activities, including the 100-mile endurance ride, various races and more.
Though it may seem a bit crazy, it's actually an opportunity to strengthen comradery, and a personal test of endurance.
According to Goetze, whose oldest son joined him for this year's ride, it's a physical challenge he looks forward to with great anticipation. The chief finished his fifth HH100 ride this year, and offered guidance for those who may be interested in future years.
"It takes a year of conditioning to prepare for it, so start your preparation early enough to ensure you're ready," he said.
Not all participants ride the 100 mile event, though. There are other options, like the 10-kilometer ride, 25 miles, and more. A handful of Devil Cats opted for a shorter ride with their kids.
Devil Cat Lt. Col. Cary Herndon opted for the 100 miles – his seventh 100-mile ride. He does it for the challenge.
"The [race] draws people from all over the world," Herndon said. "What began as a one-off checkmark for me years ago has become something that is part of every summer; an annual rite of passage. None of us knows how long we will be able to do something like an endurance event on the scale of this ride but once the opportunity passes it isn’t going to come back. Seeing life in that light, how can I let that challenge go untaken?"