Baker Time Station #5 to Kelso Time Station #6 (382.6 to 417.6)
Coming out of Baker there is a 21 mile climb that drags on and on. I had a slight tailwind and starting motoring up the climb. Along the way David Goggins came up alongside and we chatted briefly. I felt fine on this climb but slowed down as I neared the top. I remember it was cooler than previous years and that’s fine by me. This is notoriously the hottest section of the course for me. I wouldn’t want to make a habit of having 70 mph headwinds through Death Valley just to have cooler weather on this stage. But it sure was nice for it to be cooler on the Kelbaker climb.
Kelso Time Station #6 to Almost Amboy #7 (417.6 to 451.3)
I don’t remember much of this stage. But the long descent into Almost Amboy is so long it almost hurts to be in a crouch that long.
Almost Amboy Time Station #7 to Twentynine Palms– Finish Line (451.3- 509.6)
This last section just wears on me. I think what makes the 508 so hard for me is going without sleep for that long. I almost always have good legs towards the end of the event. In a multi-day ultra like Race Across America (RAAM) you can nap a couple of hours in a 24 hour period. But at the 508 you ride straight through. I started this stage after being on the bike 37 hours already. I was done last year in 37 hours 34 minutes. It was quite daunting to realized that I still had about 5 hours to ride before finishing.
On the Sheephole Summit climb I just couldn’t stay awake. My crew was worried that I would ride off into a ditch–maybe because I did — once. They gave me several things to try and stimulate me but nothing worked– long term anyway. I would have these bursts of energy and work hard to maintain that motivation but would falter a few minutes later. I tried sprinting up the climb and that worked for a little bit. I eventually crested the climb and began a much needed descent. The cold air woke me up.
After the Sheephole climb, next up was the 25 mile slog to the finish. It is a slow grind up a gradual incline all the way to the finish along with a little headwind — you know just for fun. All I could do was count down the miles. Both my palms were killing me. Today is 10/22/09 and my right palm is still in pain. I commuted this morning and every pothole hurt the palm of my right hand.
Ahhh the finish was so sweet.