Tuesday, May 5, 2009

transiowa v.5 pt.3

all of the time cutoffs in transiowa are based loosely on a 10mph average speed. this obviously counts time spent off the bike as well. the only exception to this rule was the final stage, from checkpoint 3 to the finish. we knew we would have a minimum of 12 hours to go the final 100 miles once we left checkpoint 3. that seemed very reasonable so in my mind the race was now to make it to checkpoint 3 in time. we had somewhere around 70 miles to go and by the time we left checkpoint 2 i believe we had somewhere around 7 1/2 hours to get there. doable. we all assumed we would be getting a break from the northwest headwind since we'd been riding away from williamsburg for so long. it only stood to reason that at SOME POINT we would have to turn around. but no...not yet. however, as late evening approached the wind died down as expected. this was nice as we continued northish but disappointing when we finally turned and should have had a tailwind. so it is.
we rode along with renewed conversations that come from full and happy stomachs. and the group had a new member that we took time getting to know. as i said, andy was a perfect fit and conversations came naturally with everyone. gersib at some point began a discussion about how he was the only one taking the easy way out since wills, jeff and andy were single speed and i was fixed. dude...this is transiowa...there is no easy way out. somehow in the failing light the inevitable "shocker" conversation came up. my last name lends itself well to a variety of creative nicknames but predictably the shocker will always come up. however, this one had a new twist that made it pretty funny. apparently a couple of the guys (don't want to incriminate anyone in particular) decided that if i finished transiowa fixed then vassago should custom paint a "shocker" version of a fisticuff in which the front 2/3 of the bike is pink and the back 1/3 is brown. they also felt the headbadge should involve a hand with only three fingers showing. if you need it explained then you are probably better off not understanding.
soon i was able to witness a gorgeous sunset for the second consecutive night. unfortunately with night came the cold. the cold was very hard on me. as i've said, we stopped a lot. it was important and i'm glad we did but i was having such a difficult time getting warmed up and getting muscles loose that every time we stopped i froze and tightened back up instantly. it was a rough cycle to be putting the body through and it was taking its toll on me. i continued eating at a pace more than double what i had anticipated but i was doing a good job of listening to my body and not my expectations. i stayed fed and hydrated for the most part. the closer we got to cp3 the more i hurt, the more cold i got. so buried myself in my ipod and cut myself off again and tried to just put my head down and go through the motions. the legs had become almost robotic and the bike just continued to move forward. time and miles passed and slowly i realized that jeff was starting to fall off the back. he yo-yo'd at first, falling back then catching up repeatedly. eventually gersib, andy and i had ridden off the front and we could barely make out the headlights of wills and jeff behind us. i wasn't sure if wills was hurting or if he was hanging back to ride with jeff. i also wasn't sure if jeff's knee was causing problems or if he was just tiring but i never really considered the possibility of him not being able to continue.
just outside whatever town cp3 was in we had some difficulty. it was obvious that our critical thinking skills were beginning to diminish. seriously, we were just getting dumber. the three of us backtracked and this allowed wills and jeff to rejoin us. we finally found our way around and into cp3. the gas station was shut down but some volunteers had saved some pizza and water. holy god was i ecstatic. on a whim i decided to change socks. its the only spare clothing i brought and it made a huge difference. slightly heavier weight wool than what i'd been wearing and dry. my feet were happy. my stomach was happy. it was sometime between 1 and 2 in the morning and we knew we had the time and ability to finish this thing, especially if we could keep it together through the darkness. and then i looked at jeff and i honestly felt my heart break for him. you could see it in his face. i still didn't know if it was knee or fatigue but he was done. this isn't how it was supposed to go down. we all started this thing together. these guys took me in less than 10 miles into this race. we were now almost 220 miles in and we could sense the finish. jeff was an integral part of this group and a big reason i was still pedaling. having heard his story about v.3 made it that much more surreal. its hard to keep your emotions in check when you've put your body through everything we'd already been through, and i was devastated. it was obvious there was nothing we could do and i knew i had to bury my sadness for my own sake. i shook jeff's hand and headed out with the two matt's from lincoln and andy from cali in search of a second sunrise.
saturday night's sunset
l to r: gersib, jeff, wills, andy

thinking this is shortly before 9p.m.

gersib and andy getting restarted after a break

best guess is this is sometime shortly before cp3...maybe between midnight and 1a.m.


Guitar Ted said...

Great, great write up Ben! This is awesome stuff.

By the way, just so you know: The pizza left at checkpoint #3 was leeft there by my my bud Paul Buchanan, (aka The Bluecolnago). He may still have been there when you were at the checkpoint, I don't know, but he was waiting for Jeremy Fry to come through so I think he was.

The Lincoln Crew is a great bunch of guys. I am glad you got to know some of them. I'll tell ya this much, I haven't met one of them that isn't like the Matts or Jeff. Great folks!

Squirrel said...

awesome right up! Some day I'll get to start this ride.

Anonymous said...

your pain killers helped get me to cp3, thanks again buddy.

MG said...

I'll claim that one... The "SHOCKAH!!"

That was definitely the conversation of the season... so far. We can top it. I know we can.

MG said...

Man, that's some great writing, Ben. Thanks again.