10/11/2008

Furnace Creek 508 (Post-Race)

This was my third attempt at this brutally awesome event. Being my second solo attempt, I was more prepared and had a better understanding of the course and my plan. To please the Ultra-Cycling Gods we grew mustaches for the event and held a sacred ceremony the night before hosted by veteran Morgan "Goat" Beeby. I love the 508, it is just so EPIC!


We start off at 7am as a group for the first 4mi then we make the turn up San Francisquito Canyon to start our first 15mi, 2500ft climb to the summit (Elev: 3740ft). I was hoping my cycle computer would start to work but it never did throughout the entire race. This year I started off slower up the canyon knowing I had 504 more mi to go.

We hit some pretty thick fog so I stopped at mi 24 (where we can start getting support from our crew) and threw on a rear tail light. Once I made the descent we were back in the sun. I remember looking at my watch around mile 30 and noticed it was only 9:45am and I thought of all the people still sleeping in. Alec made me a banana/orange smoothie at mile 44 at the start of the the 7mi, 1000ft Windmill Climb to 4500ft, otherwise it's been solely dates so far. TS#1 California City @ 11:14am (83.60mi) 4hrs 14min.

While my crew was leap frogging they "dropped" Goji Berries along the route for harvest next year. We had sandstorms and strong scary crosswinds through this stage. I was left with a dilemma, "Do I open my eyes and let the sand blast them or close them and risk getting blown off the road?" At mi 108 Alec made me a Celery/Coconut water to start the 7mi, 1500ft climb to Johannesburg (Elev: 3523ft). Then it was rolling climbs to an awesome descent into Trona. TS#2 Trona @ 2:29pm (153.78mi) 7hrs 29min.

I took a 15min nap here in Trona as planned. I was amazed that it took about 10min before my heart to calm down and the ringing in my ears from the "road noise" went away. So I ended up with a good 5min of "quality" rest. Matt came rolling through at 3:09pm just after I had hit the road again. This next section was the most exciting. First climbing 1000ft over the "Trona Bump" then through Panamint Valley with a fast tailwind before tackling the 13mi, 3800ft climb to Townes Pass (Elev: 4956ft). At mile 183 I roll by my crew having fun with the jump rope! That was the coolest thing I've ever seen!! I began to hit my brakes and stop to join them but thought twice and realized I would definitely fill up my shoes with rocks and sand so I kept riding. Now I'm wishing I had stopped for a round, oh well. Max mounted the lights on the bike early before the climb while I filled up with water and stretched a bit. I was ready for the climb and hammered right up it, I felt great!! Chris rolled up next to me and told me I had about two miles to the top and that Matt was right behind me. The food was really working for me and I made it to the top of Townes Pass before sunset which made me feel like a champ! I stopped to stretch, put on warm clothes for the 17mi, 5000ft descent and took some pictures. Note: you can see the lightning storm in the background behind the sign. The big descent was super fun until I hit the wall of headwind through Stovepipe which slowed me to what felt like 5mph the rest of the way to Furnace Creek. This was less fun and was one of my many mental challenges. TS#3 @ 8:42pm Furnace Creek (252.89mi) 13hr 42min

We had caught up to the lightning storm and light rain (which felt great in the 80deg temp). It was so surreal and I could smell the ozone in the air. I remember seeing the sign for Devil's Golf Course and the scene from Caddyshack and their round through the lightning popping into my head, weird. I continued on through Death Valley, through the water puddles and took my second 15min nap at 11pm just after passing Badwater (Elev: -282ft). I began the 5mi, 1000ft climb to Jubilee Pass (Elev: 1285) and shortly after starting the 9.5mi, 2300ft climb to Salsberry Pass (Elev: 3315ft)the teams began to pass at around mile 300. Needless to say these climbs kicked my ass, they are long, dark, and just when you think you see the top, another turn with more climbing. Huge mental challenges on these babies!! The descent had a little headwind so I just stayed loose on the descent and didn't even have to hit the brakes for the turns. I rolled in through Shoshone and after a few circles I finally found the time keeper and checked in, though the time was never recorded for some reason. TS#4 Shoshone @ 3:14am (326.39mi) 20hrs 14min (un-official)


Hwy 127 to Baker, though fairly flat after Ibex Pass (Elev: 2090ft), caused some real mental anguish for me. This road is a false flat with a slight headwind and it went on FOREVER!!! I was alert and not super tired and I think this is where Jenny made her comment, "You sure are complainy this time, must be because you're not so out of it this year." I just felt like I should be going faster because I felt great but the legs weren't cooperating and that was mentally crushing. But I got through it! Here I took my third 15min nap just before sunrise. Sipping on Alec's yummy smoothies while watching the sunrise over Shadow Mountain helped tremendously. TS#5 Baker @ 7:22am (382.62mi) 24hrs 22mi

Once the sun came up I was feeling recharged again as I rode away from Baker into the Mojave National Preserve and began the 2500ft gradual climb over 20mi to the summit (Elev: 3600ft). This took a few hrs but I just took my time and cruised along on the beat up "ass killer" roads while showing caution to scorpions, snakes, railroad tracks, cattle guards and remembering to drink enough water. TS#6 Kelso @ 10:11am (417.55mi) 27hr 11mi

Now it's starting to heat up just in time for a slightly steeper 12mi, 2000ft climb to Granite Pass (Elev: 4024ft). Alec kept me on track with food and water so I was feeling alright! My lovely wife was there to spray me down with ice water to keep me cool. It's amazing how well that works. TS#7 Almost Amboy @ 12:21pm (451.30mi) 29hr 21min

Into the final stage, and I'm ready to finish! I can almost see the finish, or I wish I could. One more 10mi, 1500ft climb to Sheephole Summit (Elev: 2368ft). I was trying to figure out a final finishing time, Max was thinking 33:45 but I was figuring 34hrs so to beat that I climbed much of Sheephole Summit standing so I could knock off a few minutes to get me into the 33hr range. The descent was super fast and it pumped me up for the final gradual climb to the finish. I finished strong and looking way better than last year. But after 10min I was asleep in the van. My splits are listed here. TS#8 Twenty Nine Palms "Finish" @ 4:25pm (509.58mi) 33hrs 25min 35sec

I was asleep and missed Megan and the girls cross the finish line at 32:28 but was glad to be awake in time to watch Matt come through the finish at 37:20. He was looking a little beat up but tough as nails and was super funny as always. A tour of the BEST roads in the desert. What the hell were we thinking? So next year....