Stage Eight: Almost Amboy to Twenty Nine Palms, 58.2 miles. Elevation Gain: 4170′.
“After you pass through the funky throw-back hamlet of Amboy (where you can not count on any services), you cross the valley and at mile 472 begin the last climb: 1500 feet in 10 miles to Sheephole Summit (Mountain Section Ten). The climb begins gradually and gets steeper near the top. The shoulder is very sandy; the crew should be careful with the vehicle. A quick descent leads to the rough road and rolling slight uphill to the finish line.”
This ranks as the point of the race where I hurt the most. On the way to Baker from Shoshone was my lowest point mentally. But Amboy, for a brief moment on the Sheephole climb, was my lowest point physically. I was hot. My triceps hurt. I couldn’t switch to my TT bike because my undercarriage hurt too much. I was getting a headache from dehydration. AND I was just done with this race. I did my best to push through the hurt. I sucked down a 50 oz hydration pack of plain water from Nathan Sports and was thinking that’s just not enough.
Thank you to Motor Tabs for providing different flavors for my CarboPro Motor Tabs cocktail.
Amazingly in this desert landscape, I found a shrub just tall enough to crawl under. I got off of the bike, crawled underneath the shrub and folded over like a towel on a rack. I was not having fun. I sat there and tried to hide from the afternoon sun.
I then realized that would not be enough either. I resorted to ice cold water poured on my head. Brandy then began to work on my triceps, which were aching.
The next series of pictures shows what a little water, a little shade and A LOT OF LOVE AND CARING can do. Notice how I go from the depths to new highs! Thank you Brandy and crew for taking care of me. Ticia, you captured a very important moment of the race-something that Brandy and I will always reflect on as a turning point. And Jason, steady Eddie, always there. Thank you all.
The look on my face should explain that I am not happy with the current situation. On the descent off of Sheephole Summit my Nightrider MiNewt headlight was loose. The MiNewt headlight is attached to a bracket which “clamps” to your handlebar by a tiny screw. Tighten it too much and you can’t rotate the light, too loose and it will eventually fall off.
The very poor condition of the roads had rattled the headlight loose and at over 45Mph per hour I was trying to hold on to the light and/or work it completely off. But you don’t have access to the screw because the head of it is on the underside of the bracket. I was trying to take it off with my left hand but I needed to refuel from the climb because I had 25 miles of steady uphill towards the finish. I would put my left hand back in the drops and drink with my right hand. For some reason I only drink with my right. Don’t ask me why.
Well the headlight fell off the bar and hit my spokes. LUCKILY, I was going so fast it could not get stuck in my spokes and richocheted off to the left side of the road into the bushes. Emergency procedures now. Flag the crew vehicle careening down the road behind me over 45 Mph, come to a complete stop as soon as possible, get off the road, get the crew vehicle off the road and tell the crew what has just happen. We had to stop right away or risk loosing the general area where the light was ejected. You travel huge chunks of road will traveling over 45 Mph (if you have to walk it).
Why the heck would Vireo stop on a descent when he loves descending? I tell them what happened and the world’s greatest crew jumps into action. Brandy grabs the spare lights and zip ties. Jason doubles back on the road UPHILL digging in the bushes. The search is made more challenging because the light is NOT illuminating– the battery pack is still on the bike. Ticia is instructed to grab the camera and document. Within five minutes light is found, screw tightened beyond rotating tolerance, reaffixed, crew in van and we are down the road. What a great example of teamwork 36 hours into the race!
Ahh the Finish Line
I spent 28 minutes off the bike in the final stage of the Furnace Creek 508. Added to my 2 hours 36 brings the total of off the bike time to 3 hour and 4 minutes. Not bad in 37 hours of racing. I am pleased with how little time I spent off the bike. It is a huge improvement over years past. But NEXT YEAR I would like to break 36 hours and that means I need to stay on the bike at least one more hour out of the 3 hours I spent off the bike this time.
Just for S & G’s I took the 3:04 time off of my total time of 37:34.
I then computed my average speed with just 34:30 and that came out to 14.7 Mph Avg Speed. So the point here is even if you can’t ride faster spend less time off the bike and you can improve your overall time significantly.