Thursday, October 9, 2008
Stage 4 Furnace Creek to Shoshone Time Station
From the 508 website:
Stage Four: Furnace Creek to Shoshone, 73.6 miles. Elevation Gain: 6744'.
"South through Death Valley, the alluvial fans are invisible in the dark, but you climb and descend several thousand feet through Badwater (El -282’) to the base of the exit passes (Mountain Section Six). The first climb starts at mile 300 and climbs about 1000 feet in five miles to Jubilee (El 1285’). A one-mile descent leads to the next climb, about 2300 feet in 9.5 miles to Salsberry (El 3315’). Each climb has sustained sections of 5-5% grade and usually poor road surface; in fact, all of the road is terrible after you pass Badwater."
As you leave the Furnace Creek Time Station there is a slight climb. It's funny to say that you are climbing UP to sea level, but here is a video of me doing just that. The desert floor is an amazing place. You are below sea level often, and you can look around you to either side and see mountains towering over you. You feel dwarfed when you realize how small you really are in relation to nature and it's incredible majesty.
Here is an example of the grandeur of Death Valley. You are a couple of hundred feet below Sea Level and yet you can look up and see Telescope Peak at over 11,000 feet elevation and even Mt Whitney at over 14,000 feet. So the lowest and highest points in the western hemisphere. Awesome. Just Awesome.
I HAD ONE MAJOR GOAL: I WANTED TO RIDE THROUGH THE NIGHT. In the previous years I was not able to keep Mr Sandman away. In 2006, I was so tired I couldn't pedal in a straight line. I was falling asleep on the bike-- yes it can be done. We pulled over and I could hear the crew snoring. It's even more difficult on you psychologically becasue you hear the whir of bikes and their follow vehicles passing by as you lay on the ground.
In 2007, my crew got into it with Mr. Sandman and they bowed out gracefully by asking me to pull over in Badwater. Once again I could her the crew snore. The way I see it -- The score was Mr. Sandman 2 Crew/Racer 0.
BUT not in 2008 baby. WE ROLLED THROUGH DEATH VALLEY LIKE IT WAS COOL.
Yes, of course I was fatigued. Yes, of course I was sleepy. Your body wants to shut down when it's 2am. Isn't that when normal people are sleeping? But you have to keep pushing, you have to keep pedaling and you have to stay on the bike. You have to commit to your goals, and my goal was ride through the night. I think it is the natural progression in an Ultra cyclist's development.
Here I am passing a 2x team Garuda. And I get a bonus there was someone else in their lights. Brandy nails it and calls it a Two-for!
Here is how my crew was staying awake. Hey, whatever works. This video was Sunday 1:29 am.
After many hours of rolling through time stations and only having taken 38 minutes off the bike in 252 miles, I was finally starting to slow down. Err.... I mean stop. This picture was taken at 2:08am Sunday morning. Race Total Time 19:08 hours of racing and about 295 miles into the race. I passed Badwater and looked over and said, NO I'M NOT STOPPING HERE (2007 stop) I have to keep pushing. But finally, I was too exhausted to keep up the pace. I pulled over and thought, I have to play it safe and not crash, just take a few minutes off the bike.
Here I am stopped to eat a Salmon sandwich and get a quick massage on my legs.
I was hurting now. I was sleepy, my legs were tired and it was that magical hour where your body wants to protect itself and shut down. It's amazing how time flies when you are off the bike. 15 minutes just like that!
Back on the bike. I think there was a bike change for the two climbs Jubilee and Salsbury here, or maybe later. I can't remember. The climbs aren't steep, but you are just exhausted. I was however, excited to know that it was still night time. I have climbed these climbs in the daytime the two previous years. I remember passing Missing Lynx the 4x Men's Fixed Gear Team on one of the two climbs, but can't remember which one.
After the two climbs there is a decent downhill and then the right turn onto HWY 127 towards Shoshone.
My goal in reaching Shoshone was 24 hours. I made it in 22 hours 22 minutes. My time off the bike was 38 minutes plus 42 minutes for JUST this Time Station. My new total off the bike is 1 hour 20 minutes in 326 miles and 24,670 feet of climbing.
Time Station #4 Total Miles Date Time Total Time Avg speed from Start Time Avg speed TS