I wake up around seven in the morning. I am feeling better. I am exhausted but, I am now mentally prepared for what the ride is going to be like. I know that I have ground to make up. I get my clothes together and dressed and head down the hallway to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The hallway is almost empty. The night before it was absolutely packed with bikes. Not only am I slow, everyone got a head start on me today. Oh well. I am relentless. I will not stop. I get my bags packed and ready to put back onto the bike.
I go outside to realize that I have locked my bike to the pay phone that I couldn’t find last night. My bike is a muddy mess. The drive train is pretty clean thanks to my friend Moon setting is up with a chain scrubber. I pick up the pay phone and get a hold of my girlfriend Alex. She was concerned because my tracker stopped sending a signal. I had shut it off. She tells me I am behind the pace to make the 25 day cutoff. Not a surprise. I will make the time up today. When I get off the phone I see some trail magic. The person who owns the house across the street from the hotel is letting everyone clean their bikes with the hose. I clean my bike, say goodbye to the boys and head over to the gas station for food. I see Billy and Lana again. Billy is a TD veteran and has even rode the course yo-yo. South to North to South. I ask Billy how long it is going to take him to finish and he say 21 days. I must be on track then. I double up my food. My hydration pack is absolutely stuffed with food. I take off and climb a monsterous hill leaving town.
My GPS is good. I am feeling good. I have tons of food. This show is on the road. I hit some of the fire roads I have heard so much about. I am dodging ruts and having a good time pedaling. The mud is like peanut butter but I will catch these miles up. We get to the end of the fire road and start to go into the woods. This is when I come to find out the GPS isn’t always right on point. The fact the the race is 2800 miles and the GPS can only hold 10,000 points of reference means that there has to be some averaging on the route. Some of the time when the route is a horse shoe shape, instead of having a nice curved line, it will be an arrowhead of sorts. It will show a line out to the apex of the curve and then shoot an angle straight back on the other side. This makes for some real fun when there are three routes that come together in one spot. I zoom out the screen and take my best guess at which route it might be. I guess wrong. I come back to the intersection and choose the next route. I guess correctly. I bounce around enjoying the trails and eating food for the few hours until I hit pavement going into the next town.
When I make it to town I call Alex again. I just wanted to hear her voice and I have her tell me that I been riding strong. Things are looking up. I eat at Subway, stuff my hydration pack with food, and set sail. I am 200 miles into the ride and less than 100 miles from the US. I am going to make it to the US tonight! The going gets rougher. After a short amount more on the pavement we go into rolling climbs. You climb for 5-15 minutes decend for two minutes and then climb again.
The terrain gets progressively worse and I get slower. Every few miles I am crossing water and getting wet. I am burning through my food quickly. I should be taking more time to enjoy the views and take some big sniffs of the beautiful mountain air but I am too focused on catching up the miles. Head down, spin hard. I’m not stopping often enough to enjoy this amazing life experience.
By the time the sun is going down, after 10PM, I am catching up to a few people. I throw on a jacket and rip some amazing down hill sections. I actually catch up to a 70 year old man. A man that could have been my grandfather or great grandfather was ahead of me……… Knowledge and skill beats strength and effort. This is when the fun for the day really starts.
Little climbing, blast down. Little roller, rip some turns and get skeezy. This is the life. Blasting down the mountain at 25 miles per hour with an amazing sunset in the background. You are only granted so many days in your life and this night is a sunset I will never forget. When I decide to crash for the night I find a cool group of dudes in a real campsite. I am still 30 miles from the US border. Then the bad news sets in, I am down to one half of a gas station sandwich, I have a handful of nuts, and some chocolate pieces. I have to make the decision to wake up and be starving or go to bed starving. I eat half of everything and decide I can make it to the US in the morning in three hours tops. There is a big town there and I can grab a bunch more food. I go to bed thinking things are on the up and up. I wake up dry heaving. My heart is racing and my stomach is painfully empty. I might not have got the fueling part of the race down yet. Back to sleep………
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