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Monday, October 12, 2009

Beginnings of a Race Report- The eve and morning of the start

The odyssey began on Friday when dealing with Rent- 4- Less or Blue Oval as they seem to be called now. Colin and I did the cursory inspection of the exterior of the vehicle, got our key and off we went. Once back at the house it is time to remove one of the seats, pack the van, and get on the road to vehicle inspection. On the drive home, Colin notices that the left taillight is out. Minor thing but it is something that we assume will be working, it's unlawful, and will be inspected at vehicle inspection.

We call Blue Oval and they say they will reimburse us for the expense of replacing the bulb. Colin and Julie are up to the task and retrieve a taillight bulb AND a spare. We pack the van and we start our drive north to Santa Clarita. Once inside the van we notice the interior of the van has some issues. The handholds (or OH-SHIT! handles as I like to calll them) are falling off, the passenger's captain chair has one armrest falling off, and we find cigarette burns in various places. But more noticeable than all those things is this annoying shimmy that is shaking the van. We call Blue Oval again and try to arrange a swap of vehicles. May I remind you, we are on the freeway and loaded to the gills with two bikes and all the gear we will need for our 508 adventure. Our phone calls were in vain since we found out that because we had taken one of the seats out of the van that another location would not accept the van to do a swap.

Our conversation with the rental office did provide some comical moments such as:

Rental clerk: "Why didn't you tell me you were taking the seat out?"

Me: "I was not sure when I rented the vehicle but decided afterwards when we were packing the van that we would have more room without it. I was not aware I needed to tell you what I was going to do with the seats."


Rental Clerk: "Wait you're racing the van? You didn't tell me you were racing the van."

Me: "No I'm not racing the van in Death Valley.  I'm going TO a race in Death Valley.  They need to inspect the van as my follow vehicle.  Nevermind.  Look, it's against the law to not have a taillight anyway."

This year's pre-race meeting was one hour earlier which condensed the the vehicle inspection and general BS'ing time. Also the pre-race meeting was held at the host hotel which made matters so much easier than driving cross-town like years past. During the meeting the Hall of Fame class of 2009 was announced. I still have that as my goal. I sat there thinking I just need to get through this one and I have four finishes. Little did I know how difficult it would be to finish the 2009 edition.

After the meeting we were off to our hotel just a couple of blocks away. The usual routine on the eve of racing is Brandy and crew gets the perishable groceries and the other items sorted out in the van. I was fortunate enough to lay down and relax earlier than usual. It was before 9:30pm. I tried to find the local weather but what I found were conflicting reports of wind speed.  I put down the Blackberry, closed my eyes and went through my visualizing exercises.  As I said in a previous post, I had an unusual calm this year.


Before I even started the race I was riding with pain. On my way to breakfast I rode my P3, Portia, to the the host hotel. As I was going through the Denny's parking lot I felt the chill of the morning. I took my hands off the bars and zipped up my vest. All of a sudden I see a pick-up truck rounding the corner. I get back down to reach the bars to swerve away from the truck and I TOTALLY miss my base bars. You see I hadn't ridden Portia since June 27-28th when I did the Grand Tour 300 miler

I had gotten so accustomed to my road bike and road position that I miscalculated where the base bars were and endo'd right there in the Denny's parking lot. I hit the deck really hard. My right thigh, and both wrists were in pain from the fall. That fall was the cause of much discomfort and by day two it was just damn painful to ride my road bike because my wrists hurt so damn much.   Today is the 12th of October 9 days after the race and my right wrist still hurts. 

I had scrambled eggs, 2 pancakes, and a small bowl of runny oatmeal for breakfast. I really hate runny oatmeal.  It was nice mingling before the race with my friends. 

Here with Great Dane and Jeroba

Francis Piccachu Ignacio, Vireo and Timmer

Off to the start line. Putting on my MOEBEN arm coolers.  Thank you Nathan Sports for the reflective gear on my Cervelo P3.  And yes I am almost covered from head to to in SKINS  COMPRESSION garments.  The Skins Bib Tights are fantastic.  I trust them with my undercarriage for my Ultras. 


  1. Congratulations on finishing the Furnace Creek 508. I am a fellow cyclist - okay I have not dreamed of riding 508 miles on a single speed bicycle but i have ridden a dozen or so double centuries on my 20 speed.
    It must be a great feeling to train, suffer and then finally complete an event as demanding as this one!

  2. Thank you for reading my blog. Pass it along.

    Thank you. You know I never thought I would race a 500 miler either. But as time went on I just wanted a bigger challenge. I had the 508 as a long range goal and just worked towards it.

    By the way, If I may offer some clarification. I did the 508 on a Fixed Gear. While a Fixed Gear only has one speed you might call it a Single Speed but there is one major difference-- you can not coast on a Fixed Gear. The 508 has 35,000 feet of climbing and what goes up must come down ;) THERE IS NO COASTING ON A FIXED GEAR. Additionally, the rules state that riders shall not unclip from the pedals and have them spin wildly on descents. The 2007 edition of the Furnace Creek 508 Fixed Gear was my most challenging and physically demanding 508.