Stage Seven: Kelso to Almost Amboy, 33.8 miles. Elevation Gain: 2280′.
Arrived at Almost Amboy at Sunday 11:16 pm, 40 hours 16 min Avg. Speed 11.22 mph
From the 508 website
Compared to the just completed Baker Grade, you now head up a slightly steeper climb: 2000 feet in 12 miles to the top of the Granite Mountains (El 4000’) (Mountain Section Nine). The downhill to the outskirts of Amboy is fast and long; watch out for cattle guards.
I got into Kelso and met up with Thrasher. His crew was amazed that I was doing the 508 on a Fixed Gear. And quite honestly at that point so was I. I was getting closer to the finish line with each climb.
By this time I had switched to my favorite cold weather climbing garb. I love wearing wool when it is cold and I’m climbing. It breathes well and I don’t sweat as much as I do with synthetics. Then when I descend I don’t get a chill. I see so many riders covered from head to toe with so much gear and all I’m wearing is an ultra thin base layer and a fairly thin wool jersey. Why did wool fall out of favor? It is really the best gear to ride in. I get my clothing from Vintage Velos. The quality of their clothing is without question the best wool clothing I have had the pleasure to ride in. Not to mention that some of the wool trainers look great with a pair of jeans on after a ride!!
I got a head start out of the Time Station but soon I could see the lights coming from my left of Thrasher’s follow vehicle. He had caught me and then passed me. This was the start of what would be an exciting exchanging of the lead between Thrasher and the Vireo, at least in my head.
On this climb I started to “see” things in the bushes and up above the bushes. I thought I saw at least five shooting stars. Would that be possible? I also thought I saw aircraft lights, and for a long time I thought a “light” following me. Yes I had been awake about 38 hours and I guess that is expected. At one point, I let me crew know that I was seeing things. I wonder what they thought. Terry being an experienced Ultra racer himself probably knew right away that it was normal and nothing to be alarmed about. But just to be safe I started doubling up on my Red Star Energy Tablets so I could remain alert. Red Star Energy has the energy boost of the popular energy drinks but much more convenient for a cyclist to carry on a ride since the tablets are lighter and smaller than a can of energy drink.
I saw Thrasher’s lights way up ahead on the climb and decided to chase him down. It took a huge amount of effort but I was less than 80 miles from the finish and I felt well enough to give chase. Except for the usual aches and pains of being on the bike that many hours I had really only about three pains specific to the Fixed Gear riding.
1. My left hand was numb because my right tricep was in pain and I was compensating by riding with only my left hand on the bars and my right arm in an imaginary sling.
2. My left knee was in pain from all the very slow hard mashing and pulling up on the pedals on some of the steeper climbs.
3. My left ankle was in pain for the same reason as #2.
I chased and passed Thrasher on the climb and as usual he and all multi-speed riders passed me on the descent. He passed me going so fast he was a blur and then I could see Thrasher’s lights far off in the distance. They kept getting smaller and smaller on the long 20 mile descent.
I was concerned about the 20 mile descent in planning for the race. I remember how sore my shoulders and neck were from all the time I spent in the tucked position on my multi-speed in 2006. It was a long way down—- I couldn’t coast —- and my butt was killing me—-and I didn’t want to go any faster than 20 mph because everything hurt and bouncing on the saddle was not appealing to me whatsoever. But eventually I made it into the Almost Amboy Time Station.
Arriving at Almost Amboy I had completed 451.6 miles and 32,056 feet of climbing