Friday, October 10, 2008

508... the long version

Friday morning.

Pick up van, freak out, Jack finishes building wheels for us. Nothing like the last minute.

Friday Afternoon.

Drive away from Heliotrope Village with Jen, Beth (driver extraordinaire), Beatriz and myself. Stop in Glendale to get my spine moved around by a 76 year old man. See some kid on the 134 overpass on Brand Blvd taking a picture of his "fixie whip machine" and take pictures of him taking pictures. I'm not sure if we scared, confused or pissed him off yelling. We drive to Altadena and pick up our last rider Jay. Didn't get to play with Chris' ducks, but we'll have to make that happen some time. It's late, and we still have to get to the pre-race meeting in some sort of reasonable time. I'm also starving because I couldn't be bothered to stop and eat all morning.

Friday late.
The girls got almost all of the pre-race meeting. In particular the overview of the really important rules. I finally bumped into Greg and his crew of Missing Lynx, the 4-man fixed gear team. They sound confident, and being across the line first is probably going to turn into a game. Matt and I decide that carrying a banana as our baton (for the relay format) is going to have to live on from team Bonobo. We manage to pull the cord out of the plug on one of our amber flashing lights and blow a fuse in the van. I called Max (team Bonobo gadget-master). Max has spare fuses, wire, and well, everything he needed to re-wire the two lights together into one plug. Less than an hour later our amber lights are both working, and we're checking into the hotel. I'm infinitely impressed by Max this time around and I'm not sure if we would have been able to replace the lights before 9am the next day.

Saturday Morning
Jen is first to ride, so we make sure she is eating by 7am. Jen asks if I think it will rain, and I laugh at the midwestern girl in Southern California. The start is foggy as hell, and Jen needs to ride with a rear light. They take off, and of course, we leave the hotel 15 minutes later because Dennis has come to see us off, and decides his bike rack would function better than ours. He is correct, and it is totally worth waiting to catch up with Jen for 45 minutes.

It's drizzling less than 15 miles into the course. Jen must be cursing my name. We wait at the 24.5 Mile point for the riders to come through. I chat with the Missing Lynx guys. They think we are running too big of gears. They may be correct, and my knees probably will hate me. We are all thinking of the benefit on the downhill side really.

Jen is hammering out the stage, and seems to not have too awful of headwinds. Somewhere near the top of Windmill Climb we all get out and wait with the moustaches Max brought to the ride. I'm not sure what the team near us is thinking, but I look really creepy with a dirty blonde 'stache.

Jen and I trade in California City and I take of with a solid tailwind hustling me along. The first person I pass is a woman on a Look 595. I can build my own bikes, but I have to say I would jump at the chance to have one of those bikes (I rode one at interbike and really didn't want to give it back). The climb up to Randsburg is pretty uneventful. I passed people pretty consistently and got to pass a tandem just in time for them to barrel past on the downhill. We actually traded off the whole 70 miles with my uphill advantage and their downhill advantage.

Saturday evening
Jay is fired up at Trona, and I'm excited to be there 45 minutes before the official night time following kicks in. She takes off as we refill on water, and I search for coffee. I didn't have much luck, but managed alright without it. I made up 10 minutes on the Missing Lynx from the last time station. My gearing was definitely an advantage on the downhills and I managed to maintain 20 mph over the 70 miles. The really impressive thing for me was not stopping to pee the entire time.

Jay makes the turn toward Townes pass just after dark has really set in. We make her stop to pee, and I expect that this isn't going to be the first time. She jams up Townes Pass. Seriously, 76 gear inches on a 10 mile climb that gets up to a 13% grade. She was told she couldn't do it, and does only stopping 3 times. We also pass the Missing Lynx here. We hear the rider groan at this point, and I'm pretty sure that is what kept Jay going.

Somewhere between Stove Pipe Wells and Furnace Creek my bladder thinks it can't handle another second in the car. Jay doesn't want to stop riding. I am thankful for Beth's empty coffee cup and the fact that we are in a rental van. Beatriz tries to get some rest, but the excitement is hard to contain.

Almost Sunday
Beatrize gets on the bike at Furnace Creek and is so excited we can barely get the van out behind her. The Missing Lynx are better on the exchange than we are, and leave Furnace Creek just ahead of us. Beatriz catches up and goes for the pass in the rollers between FC and Badwater. Their rider underestimated B and picks up his pace. Beatriz is obviously frustrated and let's him go on for a bit. By the time she is headed up Jubilee we've caught back up, and she jams past this time. I think they said she made 30 minutes up on them in that stage.

Sunday morning
Jen is up for her second stage about an hour before the sun is up. She's tired, but keeps the pace up just enough that Greg can't quite catch her. I've managed to fade in and out for this whole stage, so it's really fuzzy for me. Near the end we finally catch up with Matt. He gets in to Baker just ahead of Jen, so I have someone to chase after. She and I trade off, and I have the promise of Hummus and Pita from Mad Greek to get me through the next 35 miles. The climb was longer and steeper than I remember. If I had based my gearing on this climb I probably would have gone down a tooth on my chainring, but it's too late for that. I can see a dark shape behind me, and I'm pretty sure it is Dan from the Missing Lynx. I may be faster than he is, but I'm pretty sure his endurance is better. I pass Matt stopped at his crew van on the side of the road and I'm sure yelled something. I managed to keep Dan behind me, and as I hoped put the distance on him in the nasty, bumpy downhill. Beth kept the van close to me just in case I got a flat on the rough road.

Sunday around noon
Jay gets back on the bike, and want to make sure she isn't the 'slow, old lady.' Seriously, she made the next climb in record time and I don't even see the Missing Lynx rider again. Their van catches up to us at the final time station before the finish, but even they don't expect to see us before the end. Beatriz got the worst of our headwinds in the final stage. She has 60 miles to get through, and it's a rough one. She hasn't had much sleep, and the Jubilee/Salsbury combination wasn't easy.

Sunday late afternoon.
Beatriz is fighting her way to the finish on the long, false flat and head-windy road. We make it into 29 Palms, and on to the road of the finish. I completely forget there is one significant hill in the road before the finish and get her hopes up that the hotel is just on the right. Fortunately, she keeps pedaling and follows my corrected directions into the hotel parking lot.

32 hours and 28 minutes. Just 5 minutes behind the team Bonobo time. Brian has just finished in a little over 33 hours, about 2 1/2 hours ahead of his previous solo ride. We actually didn't hangout too long in the interest of eating, but saw the Missing Lynx come in about 30 minutes off our time. We stuck around long enough to get the photo with them. I checked in with Budge and headed to the finish just ahead of Matt. Of course, I bring our banana baton so Matt could eat it only to find out he has carried his own banana the entire ride.

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