Monday, October 15, 2007

stage two – california city to trona

70.3 miles, 4212' vertical

chad was off in no time, riding into no-fence land. mindy asked the race officials at the time station about our position in the 4x relay team standings. 'seven minutes behind smoking loons.' accurate as far as it went, but we heard that to mean we were riding in second place. easy to latch onto mistakes you want to believe... we decided not to tell chad right away, we knew he'd ride plenty hard anyway, no sense having him blow a gasket chasing somebody down, him with two little kids and all.

until he began the climb to randsburg at mile 25, there wasn't much place to pass the boy a water bottle. there was plenty of shoulder, but that part of the course is faast. i did manage one high-speed handoff with my best thirty-yard dash, but understand, running is not my gift. better to look for a slightly uphill stretch...

on the climb to johannesburg, chad began catching the solo riders. then we spotted smoking loon just ahead and finally broke our news: that rider was leading. over the next few miles, our boy caught him and opened a time gap before the long descent to the trona turn. at the turn, we fitted his lights at a quick stop and he asked, 'leading what?' we told him what we believed, 'leading the 4x relay teams.' so holy shit, we thought, we're freakin' winning the furnace creek 508. chad echoed our team motto: if ya got it, leave it on the road. don't bring anything back...

by that time, chad was cramping pretty bad, asking us to mix extra electrolytes into his fuel bottles. but now that he 'knew' he was in first place, it was going to take une force majeure to get by him. we pulled into trona about twenty past six, a minute ahead of smoking loons, which put us in the division lead, if only in our own small minds. we didn't bother to look any farther up the standings. we'd never heard of, let alone seen, team sphinx or team prairie falcon, forget the millipedes (right name for a four-tandem team, ya think?). but we also had never considered that we'd do any more than finish, possibly even last. contending was a rush.

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