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Wichita Falls may not be on the radar of every destination cyclist just yet, but over the last couple of decades the small city near the Red River has established itself as a haven for great cycling. Bolstered by cycling advocates like Roby Christie and one of the most successful collegiate cycling programs at Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls draws thousands of cyclists each August to face the challenges served up by the Hotter’N Hell Hundred.
About 25 years ago, the City of Wichita Falls considered, among other schemes, instituting a rocking chair marathon in order to increase tourism, raise revenue, and celebrate the city’s centennial anniversary. Fortunately for the cycling community, Roby Christie stepped in to suggest the city take another tack and establish a bicycle race; Hotter’N Hell was born and Wichita Falls has never been the same.
Revenue from the popular event has been utilized to build the Multi-Purpose Events Center, popular hike & bike trails along the Wichita River, and the emblematic falls for which the city has been named. Hotels book up months in advance, restaurants stay busy through the weekend, and thousands of dollars are spent in the city. Volunteers of all ages make sure the cyclists are fed and hydrated, and the local media has a lot of fun covering the human interest stories of nearly 10,000 cyclists cruising along local roads. Bicycling has definitely made a lasting impression on Wichita Falls.
Texas Bicycle Coalition staffed a booth at the expo Thursday, Friday and Saturday, introducing hundreds of cyclists to the programs that are working to make Texas cycling stronger. More than one hundred individuals entered the raffle for a 2006 Specialized Allez by either joining or renewing their memberships. Marvin Parker of Irving walked away with the new bike, but everybody who visited our booth gained a better understanding of how Texas Bicycle Coalition is working to advance bicycle access, safety and education in Texas.
The Texas Bicycle Coalition Annual Meeting was well attended with about 40 members present. Gail Spann, Board Chair for the past two years, completed her term and passed the torch to Bud Melton. Executive Director Robin Stallings detailed the victories of the Legislative and Congressional sessions, the excitement of BikeTexas Safe Routes to School, and the future of programs like BikeTexas Trail Doctors and Kids’ Kup. Bikin’ Mike Keel presented a large check to support the Share the Road program, as did REI, Plano Cycling & Fitness, and Tyler Bicycle Club. Many thanks to these organizations for their generous support.
Thanks to Roby Christie and the Hotter’N Hell Hundred Steering Committee for providing Texas Bicycle Coalition with free booth and meeting space. Hotter’N Hell Hundred has been a BikeTexas Event Member since 1992, and their support of the Coalition’s work and cycling in Texas is appreciated by every cyclist who rides in Texas .
Thank you also to Texas Specialized Dealers for the donation of a 2006 Allez. The beautiful racing bike attracted a lot of attention to the Texas Bicycle Coalition booth, and helped generate new BikeTexas Members and more than $4,000 for the membership program!