Monday, October 15, 2007

stage six – baker to kelso

34.9 miles, 2920' vertical

again, chad hit the road fast and started his long climb out of baker, a 2+% grade for 20+ miles, the kind of grind that makes you start talking to yourself. the rest of us emptied, refilled, and fueled the car. bad sandwiches and ice cream from the gas station/convenience store on the corner. gotta get back to check out the mad greek, though. next time.

i took the wheel on the way out of baker and started looking for our rider. no sign of him, but you can only see about two hundred miles of road out there. wrong turn? no, tom saw him cross the I-15 overpass. but we'd already passed several teams we'd seen in baker. so where the hell is he? there's no place for him to go, nothing out here big enough to drag him off, and no place to hide him even if there was...

finally we caught him, pounding out his strong fast cadence, just running up that long grade. 'what do you need?' we asked on our way by. 'just pull over a mile or so ahead so i'll have something to shoot for. not much for landmarks out here.' so that's what we did, several iterations of jumping a mile or more ahead, texting more accurate race info to our fans, watching chad pound up that relentless grade. damn, that boy is riding strong...

next time by, chad called, 'can you fix this road? this chip seal is killing me...'

note to future 508 riders: never, ever complain about bad road. once you do, the road gods will soon show you truly bad road... near the top of chad's climb, the pavement lost the right to that name. what wasn't cracked or broken was weathered down to the aggregate, in this case, thumb-sized rock. chad slowed considerably, until he cracked the code. the painted lines were much smoother. he added about 3 mph riding the stripes. didn't complain when the chip seal returned on the descent into kelso, either...

pulled into time station #6 in kelso and checked the time sheet. still two hours behind prairie falcon, and an hour-and-a-half behind team sphinx, but only 16 minutes behind team smoking loon. chad took 17 minutes out of them on the baker grade. but we'd already given up chasing them, we didn't even jump ahead to set tom up to go, so they got it all back at our stop in kelso, plus they had their monster riding third.

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