Special Olympics Texas Area 9 gearing up for Hotter’N Hell

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 10:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Cyclists are also gearing up for the Hotter’N Hell Hundred and that includes riders for Special Olympics Texas Area 9.

This organization represents the Special Olympics region of Wichita Falls. Members have been riding in the Hotter’N Hell Hundred for the past 10 years, and they’ve been preparing for the past few months as they look forward to the 25-mile endurance race.

“It makes you feel like you’re in a dream, you know, it’s just top of the world, you know what I mean,” Ronnie Baker, Area 9 Special Olympics Texas cyclist, said.

Riders from all over the world come to Wichita Falls for the Hotter’N Hell Hundred race, including professional cyclists, college riders and even Special Olympics organizations.

“It started in 2012, just riding the criterium and then a couple of years later we started riding the 10K and then got most of everybody up to doing 25 miles,” Doug Carlile, Area 9 Special Olympics Texas coach, said. “I got one guy riding the 100k again.”

As most of these cyclists come for the glory of winning the race, the Special Olympics Texas Area 9 team will be riding for a different purpose.

“It means a lot cause it’s more like therapy and I just enjoy it, getting out and socializing with so many different people who come across the country to come to this ride, and you get to be with your teammates and just have fun,” Baker said. “It feels good because, you know, we have some athletes that aren’t able to do this, so what we’re doing is we’re not riding for ourselves, we’re riding for them.”

Their coach said it’s all worth it to see them persevere through everything and complete the race.

“Yeah, you feel good to see them doing their best, getting a medal, you know, helping them through their heartbreaks and triumphs, it’s a good feeling,” Carlile said.

Some of the riders have experienced these things firsthand.

“It’s emotional, a few years ago this guy donated a bike to me,” Baker said. “You talking about being emotional now, you know, I’m riding on a rinky-dinky bike and he’s like ‘hey, here’s your new bike’ and I’m like wow.”

Team members are always looking for volunteers to train with them as this goes a long way for some of the cyclists.

“It just makes it so much more fun, we see them pulling in the parking lot were like, yeah look who’s here, you know, we’re so excited to have them with us and they’re more excited to be with us than we are having them with us,” Baker said.

The coach said it’s difficult getting the team ready for the race, but there is one thing that keeps him pedaling.

“The smile on their faces,” Carlile said.

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