Saturday, August 16, 2014

Easy Balls

There are many commercial gels, Gu's, bars, wraps, and balls on the market for endurance junkie consumption. There is also a lot of shit, bars filled with garbage and empty calories that hurt your pocketbook and your performance.   I am constantly looking for new foods to eat while on long bikes or runs. This new food has to be perfect. It has to fuel me.  It has to taste good.  It has to be easy to eat.  Easy to transport.  Easy on the belly. Easy to make.  Easy to afford.  Well, I think I have found it, easy balls. Simple, quick, cheap fuel.  Tell me some more.

Ingredients:

1 cup of oatmeal flakes
1/2 c honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 to 1/2 c milk chocolate chips

Mix all four ingredients into a bowl using a wooden spoon or your clean hands..  Use a spoon to form small balls and place them on a cookie sheet.  Place balls in fridge for two hours.  Enjoy!  These can also be frozen in batches for future consumption.
WARNING: double this recipe.  Something happens after you roll a couple of these up and  they start disappearing.  Quick.



There are several additions you can make to this simple recipe.  You can add flax seeds, coconut, chopped pretzels, or finely chopped nuts.  You could also make several substitutions:  sub semi- chocolate, sub dark chocolate, sub small M&M's, sub almond butter,  you get the idea.  These Easy Balls don't last long at my house.  They are a great quick snack, quick energy.  I send them in my daughters lunch and the hubby takes them on biking and sawyer outings.

The Midwest has been experiencing very mild temps this summer so I am not sure how these do in the heat.  I expect it could melt so put them in a baggie and hope for the best.  I know these will be my go to snacks for all things trail related especially as the Fall approaches.

Hey, you probably have all these ingredients on hand.  Go make some. Let me know what you come up with.

Yoga Pants


This story took place last year, December 2013, around Christmas-time.  I had been working my tail off at the gym trying to get in shape for the Dirty Kanza.  My husband couldn't keep his hands off me, which is great when you have been married 15 years. Normally Jim does not tell me what to wear but after seeing me in Victoria Secret yoga pants he forbade me to wear them in public.  Now I usually listen to my husband but found this to be a ridiculous request.  I could wear what I want , when I want.  After all I am 44 years old.

One day while wearing said yoga pants I had to run to Walgreens.  I planned to grab a few things and get home, it was freezing.  I had a hoodie on, hood and all to cover my head and ears.  I am in the gum aisle minding my own business, bent over the gum making my selection... when all of a sudden someone grabs my ass, I mean REALLY grabs my ass. Both hands, both cheeks.  Now I am not expecting this, I have no idea who just grabbed my rear, my hubby is at home.   I quickly clench a fist and get ready to throw a punch when I turn around to see a beautiful 18ish year old girl.  Long brown hair and wild eyed staring back at me. She has a "What the hell did I just do" look about her.   She immediately starts to apologize.





Her: I am so sorry (mortified but smiling)

Me:  ( BIG eyes, I almost hit you)  Whoa, why did you grab my butt?

Her:  I thought you were my friend, Jennifer from school, we are in the same grade.

Me:  Wait a sec, school?   What grade are you in?

Her:  I am a Senior at FZH. Again, I am so sorry.

Me:  How can I be mad at someone who thinks I have a high school ass?

Her: (Speechless, eyes still a bit unsure of the situation)

Me:   ( HUGE smile, I want to hug her) Really, no worries.

Her:  Merry Christmas

Me:  Merry Christmas

When I got home I immediately informed my husband what happened.  He laughed and said that was the reason why he didn't want me to wear the VS yoga pants in public.  How did he know some 18 yr old girl was going to grab my ass in Walgreens?

Ps.  I can't wait to break those out this Fall.

Bless the creator of yoga pants, they made a 45 yr old ass look 18!




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

DK200 STICKER PRIDE

You cannot buy a Dirty Kanza 200 sticker. You can steal one or earn one and I wouldn't recommend stealing one, chances are good you will get hurt. Some riders earn theirs rather quickly crossing the line in 11 or 12 hours, others of us like to get our monies worth and drag it out to the 22 hour cut off.  My first DK sticker took 19 hrs, my second took 19:32 hrs and the third only took 16:57.  Knowing what I went through to receive this sticker I was not going to place it anywhere lightly.

In 2012 I watched my husband peel his sticker off and place it firmly on our Subaru shortly after he received it, too short in my opinion.  I was taken aback, I mean, we will not have that car forever ya know.  I couldn't believe he just did that!!  In 2013 Jim peeled his sticker and put it on the Skybox the day after the race. WTH?  How could he do that?  With what seemed little or no regard toward the effort he had to expend to get it. I was clearly on the other side of the fence and couldn't bear to part with any of mine. However, since acquiring the third I finally felt okay with letting one go. In actuality I did not really let it go... I laminated it to my laptop. Yes, I am still an noncommited pansy.



Seeing this everyday is quite a motivator


Below is a great collection of how several finishers showed their DK stickers off.  Enjoy!



Mickey from Ofallon MO is clearly an overachiever. I saw him around the gravel circut but   
this was his first attempt at the DK.  He raced the sun and won! Nice job Mickey!


Team Trail Monster, aka Jim Davis 






Curt shows the division that has to happen when placed with 'less'.  The 150's are from the OGRE, a real MuthaFocker I hear, and should not be taken lightly.  Curt finished the DK in just over 15 hours.  He is definitely a beast. 







Michael told me of his first two stickers that ended up on vehicles he has sold.
Getting the sticker this year was a must. he busted his ass on his singlespeed and slapped it on his Prius!






Matt, also known as 'water gravel angel' sent this in.  He hopes it inspires him to "step away from the fridge" and return to the DK  with a better time next year.  You can do it Matt!




Steve, a single speed endurance junkie from MO sent in this photo with the caption...
"I thought that 5K would never end"  




Jenny is a seasoned athlete but has not put a sticker on her car until now.  She calls this "the one sticker that really matters.  I watched her cross the finish line, her expression was priceless.  Exhaustion, elation, joy, pain, and a realization of what she just did.  She said "I need to work on speed for next year" within minutes of finishing.  Badass Jenny!






Hunter from MO is just an animal on his single speed.  As you can see he is also quite successful riding it.  He took 2nd this year at the DK and we couldn't be prouder.  I envision him returning in 2015 and standing on top spot.  You can do it Hunter!





This guy clearly gets around.  This would be Rick, owner of Mulready's Pub right there in Emporia.  Super nice guy, took time to give me a quick tour of the place and offered me a job if I move there.  If I make it Rick I will take you up on that.



This last photo is from Jay (MO).  He joined the gravel forces this year and stuck his first DK!  On the left you see 340.0 which is from the MR340 paddle, yes paddle.  He told me he wants to do an IronMan to even things out a bit.


What did you do with your sticker???













Friday, June 6, 2014

Dirty Kanza -Part Two- Dare To Dream



Kona ready to ride it's 4th DK

My 2014 Dirty Kanza 200 report is incredibly long so I placed Part One here.  Thank you for your patience as it's been a busy week of celebrating my hubby's 46th Birthday, our 15th Weddin' Anniversary, and our daughters last week of school. Strap yourself in, I will tell you everything I remember.  Caution, it may or may not be very organized.

As I sit here trying to sort through the details of this past DK I am having a very difficult time.  A lot happens in 200 miles and it takes a few days to decompress and realize what the hell just happened.  My DK eve was quite eventful in itself.  I fell in to bed exhausted yet extremely excited for the day ahead. It's finally here!  It had been a year since I had seen my Kansas girlfriends and I was forced to focus on this silly ride in the Flint Hills instead of visiting with them. I know they understood. As I thought about the dream of DNF'ing and watching all my friends reach their goals I realized I had to find it within myself to face the fact that I might fail tomorrow.  Finishing before doesn't guarantee another.


THIS. IS. KANZA! 


I left too quickly out of town.  I was just going with the flow, the flow of bike traffic was intense and way faster than what I was used to. Well what do you expect with 727 cyclists?  Rolling in a pace line three wide was quite exhiliarating, at times we were a solid pack of fifty or more! It was going to be a long day. All I had to do was concentrate on three things.... Pedal, Eat, Drink.  If I could handle that the 'fun' would come. Right? The temp was relatively low and a beautiful fog was rolling in as the sun came up.  It was crazy humid.  I heard it was 80%, with temps ranging from 85-95 degrees depending on who you spoke to.  By afternoon it felt like being in a microwave, cooking from the inside out.

The first leg was a battle of belly issues.  I suspected my nerves were getting the best of me.  Passing so many with flats, including my hubby, was quite discouraging.  I had on my fave set of 40's, it was their third DK appearance.  I mentally promised myself a pair of fresh meats after this race.  I roll into CP 1 at 9:46am.  I am slightly ahead of schedule.  My support Emma gets to work filling my bladder, two bottles, and replacing my fuel.  I meet Tiara who also helps me to a very quick transition.  Emma informs me that the hubby has "no fucks to give" and is dropping out. She mentions he may have done something to his arm, I am not surprised given the shoulder issue he is currently dealing with.  I leave with a good feeling since we will not be looking for Jim in a ditch later today.

Emma World's MOST awesome support (Jim Davis)

The next leg is quite painful.  I got to experience cramps for the first time ever.  Yea, I guess I was due but today of all days.  These little bastards started in my right quad.  It felt like something out of the movie Alien.  I could see my muscles moving, it was crazy. Well, as long as it stays in one leg it will be manageable.

I love seeing old friends, especially friends I have met because of this race.  At the start line I saw Jim D who pulled me several miles last year so I could catch my breath and gain a second wind for the next 100 miles. I gave him a huge hug and was thrilled to be able to ride some of the day with him.  He talked about skiing and playing in the snow and riding his new bike.  I saw Jim finish.


Kansas gravel beauty (Jim Davis)

I see my friend Jay from MO, he informs me that he is trying this because of me.  I ask him if he is mad at me.  His reply "not yet".  Jay said he read my blogs and saw my photos and I made it sound like fun.  I see Jay and his teammate many times throughout the day.  I hope we are still friends after this race.  Jay and his teammate finish.

Picture this... I have been riding solo for quite a while when I hear quite loudly " hey! who are you"  I respond " Uh- no, who are you".  As the words leave my mouth I realize it's Chad who I finished with in 2012.  He is crushing it on a singlespeed geared at " whatever Don Daly says". Chad and I rode together for quite a bit. He and John from the Dirty Dog Pack were evenly paced and looking strong.  I saw them finish.


Big smiles through cramps (John Powell)

Bobby Thompson is from Emporia, I rode with him last year for a while.  I saw him early this morning to compliment him on his spider jersey, very cool.  I see him leaving the first CP looking a little lost.  He expalins he beat his wife Kerri there, she had been riding the DK Lite, in doing so he had to use other types of fuel since his was not available.  As a wife and mother I noticed his lack of sunscreen and forced a tube of lotion on him.  I reminded him to eat/drink often and we parted ways.  I watched Bobby finish.

To say that Kate, SuperKate, Geisen has been working her ass off is putting it mildly.  Riding next to her I could see the iron determination she had to finally conquer the DK.  She has heard "third times a charm" more than she should have had to.  We are together in the second fifty miles and we nearly run out of water.  A gravel angel by the name of Matt who "has more water than anyone out here" generously gives us each a full bottle.  I thought I had plenty of H2O but it turns out that was just my rain jacket padding.  Lesson learned I took it out.  I watched Kate finish.  The look on her face said it all, Redemption.

I know John Powell from MO, we have ridden in several gravel grinders together.  He rides a singlespeed and we are pretty evenly paced except on the downhills.  I put a lot of this years training on bombing down the hills.  I notice John is stopping and taking in the scenery and snapping some photos.  I beg him for some for my blog since I am not taking a single shot.  He runs out of water at one point and cashes in some karma points as he finds a full bottle.  John persevered and I saw him finish.


John selfie


Oops.  I digressed.  Like I was saying, the second fifty was quite painful.  I got to say "shut up legs" numerous times as the spasms seethed uncontrollably in BOTH of my legs.  Climbing was difficult at best and I could feel my whole leg seize up.  Make it stop was all I could think of.  There was no way I could survive another 100 miles in this condition.  Speaking of not surviving... I come upon Sheldon to find him waist deep already in the pain cave.  He is suffering in a tremendous way and I can't help him.  He encourages me to keep riding. I pedal away offering my wheel, he doesn't take it. I thought Sheldon would snap out of it and catch up to me but he never did.  I reach the next CP at 2:03.  Last year was around 3:30 I believe.  Emma goes to work refilling my water and depleted fuel.  Jim goes to work on my legs since the aliens are wrestling again.  He hops on top of me and proceeds to massage/kill me.  I yell out in pain and knock him off me.  He hands me a jar of pickles, forces me to ingest one and then orders me to take a couple swigs. Ewwww, I don't wanna but I obey quickly because I want to leave.  Emma hands me a perfectly iced down camelback, Lori fills my bra with ice, and I head out to tackle the next fifty.

Mile 100.  Am I dead yet?  (Jim Davis)

I love meeting new like minded gravel friends.  Because of a few flats early in the day I met fellow Chamois Butt'r teammate Ben.  Ben had a total of seven flats on the day. His day would have ended in the first fifty if he hadn't come across my hubby with a spare tube.  I also got to ride with Chamois Butt'r teammate Kent for quite a while.  Thanks for the chats fellas, I really appreciate the encouragement.  Ben and Kent both crossed the finish line.

Heading out on this next fifty I feel better than I have felt all day which still isn't very good. The cramps are intermittent and only come if I push the big ring too long or stand too long on the climbs.  I try to neither but flub up several times getting anxious.  My eating and drinking is starting to become more difficult now.  I am so glad I do a liquid fuel in addition to solid food.  Otherwise I would have not injested enough calories for this mission.  It was on this leg I believe I topped out a 42 mph on a downhill. I made sure to rip every single downhill.  I would hammer down in the big ring pedalling like a mad woman.  Yes, there were prayers, many prayers. In the shape I was in I had to use the hills to my advantage. I realized this would only work for me if I stayed upright.  I already saw to less lucky fellas covered in blood. They looked fine when I passed them as they were being helped off course. Please do not let me end up like that.

It was on this leg that I desperately wanted a beer, a Pabst to be honest.  I mentioned my thought to the guy riding next to me and all he said was "Good luck with that"  You should have seen his face when not ten minutes later he passed me drinking an ice cold Pabst on the side of the gravel.  I happened upon a Pabst and water oasis just sitting there on the side of the gravel.  Yay!  Someone heard my plea.  I drank quickly and motored on.  Well timed!

I reach the final CP at 6:34pm.  Holy shit! That is two solid hours off last years time.  I had no concept of time while riding all day except when I was at a CP.  Jim and Emma fill my stuff while I duck off behind a building to relieve myself.  Being of the female persuasion wearing bibs makes it hard to stop and pee on the side of the gravel.  I squat down to notice "leaves of three" everywhere.OH MY, I am highly allergic to poison ivy amd have to head to the doc for a steroid shot and a hanful of prednisone.  It's too late to find another spot so I place my gloved hand on the building to brace myself.  Whew, that was a close one.  I find Lori for another ice bra bath and get back to my crew.

Returning to hop on my bike we find that the front tire is flat. WTH? I get a flat rolling on cobblestone and escape the sharp Flint Hills rock?  Whatever. This is definitely a gift. Jim changes it in a minute and I am out.  Before I leave he informs me "your brother is about twenty minutes ahead of you.  He said "tell her to come get me".  I would love to ride with my brother so I begin to turn myself inside out to catch him.  I really start pushing and it hurts really bad. My legs are not happy again and the cramps surface with a vengence.  Seriously?  I then remember some wise words spoken at the meeting the night before "Ride your own race".  I reel it back in.  If I see him I see him.


Can you see me?  (Jim Davis)

Earlier today I met Jim Belford. He was from Emporia and this was his first DK.  We shared some great conversation that made the time pass quicker than riding solo.  About halfway through Jim changed jerseys and I had to try and figure out who he was all over again.  We rode together most of this last leg.  He had a superior Garmin, bright ass lights, good conversation, and the same pace.  I wasn't going anywhere.  I was relieved to be with him when it got dark.  Pitch black darkness and alone in Kansas doesn't sound fun to me.  The miles tick off and time passes as we talk.  Seeing residents sitting outside hooting and hollering as we pass by feels amazing. There are signs of encouragement and coolers full of water and sodas offerings for the riders.

Almost there.  We finally reach pavement and we are about two miles from town.  I start to smile.  This is happening!  My long day of work is almost over.  Damn this feels good!  We see HUGE spotlights signifying the finish line and race towards it.  Coming down the straightaway there are so many people yelling, the music is loud, hands are flying out to be high fived, it's like nothing I have ever seen. Holy cow, this is cool!  I see Jim Cummins and give him a smelly sweat filled hug. I don't think he cares.

Thansks Gretchen!  I am definitely buying this one.


He hands me a glass with my sticker and a small red ticket.  The red ticket is for a FREE beer.  Damn, I am excited.  An awesome hug from Kristi, a few photos and its all over.  I find Jim holding my bike and he tells me to turn around and check the clock. I do and see the clock say 16:58 and change. I immediately flip out.  I go batshit crazy, really I did.  I had no idea what time I crossed the line, I forgot to look. I had no idea I beat my goal.  My official time was 16:57:52 or 10:57pm.  I will take it.
Got the RED ticket




Dirty, Wild eyed and batshit happy

Whew!  What a day.  Some of my friends were still out there though.  I waited patiently for them as I chugged my FREE well deserved beer.
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My teammates Carrie and Angela both finished and received their well earned glasses. 


With 5 minutes to spare.  Congrats Angela!






Thanks Rebecca and Dan for sharing your mojo


Bobby Smith and I after his finish




Michelle tracked me down to tell me she tried to catch me.


With another Dirty Kanza in the books I still can't get this silly smile off my face.  Speaking of my face... I noticed a small red rash forming on Monday.  It took a moment to piece it together.  Poison Ivy!  Good thing I kept my gloves on and didn't have to apply an Chamois Butt'r.  Thanks for the good time Emporia.  See you in 2015!





Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dirty Kanza Eve - Part One-


I woke up Friday morning with a lump in my throat and my heart beating erratically. I am waking up from a terrible dream.  One of the most horrible dreams I could  have before THE BIG SHOW.  I have never had a dream like this, I don't even think this way.  My dream unfolded innocently enough as I was riding the Dirty Kanza 200 2014 edition.  It ended abruptly with me  DNF'ing.  I couldn't believe I had this in my head especially the day before the event I have been busting my hump for the last year to do well in.



It was hard to go through the motions with that crazy dream taking up all the space in my head. My focus needed to be on packing the car, putting my 8 yr old on the bus, and finally leaving at 830am to pick up my brother. This would be Jeff's first DK.  He figured "if she can do it, I can do it"  He set a goal of 14 hrs or less. Shheeit! Jim was hoping for a finish but a bit skeptical since he hurt his shoulder and received a steroid shot the week before. I had my own plan of action.  My goal was by midnight, 18 hours or less.  I really wanted to see the party and finish in the same day. The husband could tell I wasn't my usual self and asked what was wrong.  I explained the dream/nightmare I had and said "I saw ALL my friends finish but I didn't". I began to doubt all my hard work.  The entire Winter in the gym meant nothing, the healthy eating meant nothing, the countless miles for naught.



 I don't think this way, something is very wrong.  That is when I decided I would race in brand new socks.  It was obvious my others had lost their Superior Attitude and Superior State Of Mind.  I would rather be safe than sorry.  I tossed a pair, tags attached, into my bag.


How many jerks does it take, two.


Driving from Ofallon MO to Emporia Kansas normally takes about 6 hours.  However if Jim is driving it takes considerably less, he was set on 80/85mph.  I knew this would probably happen and let Jeff have the front seat to that action.  I sat quietly in the backseat hoping we don't get pulled over and get searched for some reason.  I have roughly 10 baggies filled with white powder and several more filled with white and white/blue pills.  Can you imagine? We make great time and as we roll into the parking lot of the hotel to see the one, the only Garth Prosser .
Garth!

 Cool dude and mega fast.   We chat him up a while and  see Rob Ballou walk out of the same hotel.  Rob moved to CO two years ago so it was nice to see him.  Jim leaves us chatting to secure our room. He comes out several minutes later with his head hanging low, very low. Turns out we do NOT have a room here.  Our room is in Emporia, Virginia. WhatTheHell?  While my husband tears into the customer service agent I calmly put up a new status on FaceBook.  It read "Arriving in Emporia Kansas to find out our room was moved to Emporia Virginia. Thank for nothing Holiday Inn Express. No worries though.... I have friends in Kansas."  Within three minutes I had two phone calls , several texts, and a handful of FB messages.  If you have never been to Emporia you are missing out.  Some of the nicest folks live there and are willing to go out of their way to help you.  It's almost like being in another country.  Jim gets in the car and tells me to phone a friend.  I tell him it's already taken care of and give him an address. 


 My good friend and Chamois Butt'r teammate Angela put all three of us up at her home just minutes from the start line. Her Dad Ron was just a sweetheart.  The second sentence he said was "What do you all want for breakfast"  Ron even made a special trip to the store for bananas when mine suffered from heatstroke. I began to finally feel at ease and the knots in my stomach were relaxing.  Untying them would be an entirely different matter though.  See, everything is going to be alright....except I still have a slight lump in my throat and a horrible feeling I am not going to finish.

A quick visit to the Dirty Kanza store to score  a few fab DK jersey's. I picked one for myself, one for the hubby and I had to buy one for my awesome support crew too.  Rock it Emma!  


EMMA!!!




Kansas Bike Police



Myself and Salty the Yeti




We head to register after dropping our bikes and belongings at Angela's. The Granada Theatre is a great place to put an event like this, it's magnificent.  Two meetings had to be scheduled to accommodate the 1300 riders. While in the parking lot I hear "shouldn't you be wearing a purple shirt".  Steve Weiser catches me off guard as he parks right next to us.  Within minutes he hands me some fresh eggs from his chickens. Hot damn!  A nice place to stay and fresh eggs for breakfast.  I love Emporia.


  The energy in the air is absolutely amazing.  If it could be bottled and sold I would be a millionaire. Registration is a breeze. I signed the waiver and hopped into a short line. There are friendly volunteers everywhere, every direction you turn is a volunteer in a glo green shirt.  I am handed number 638.  We also get to sample GU's, Chamois Butt'r, and a protein drink.  I can't wait to tear in to the DK Magazine.  I am very fortunate to have an article in it. Check it out!





 I ran into Kristi Mohn on the sidewalk outside the Granada.  She wanted to make sure I was taken care of and offered me a place to stay.  See,  I tell ya, the people are awesome. 






I took a few moments and ducked into Eric Benjamin, The Adventure Monkey, special Art Show.  His photos always inspire me. Beautiful shots of the pain and beauty in the Flint Hills.  Eric captures both nicely. 






The meeting starts at 4pm and THE Jim Cummings takes the stage. Jim puts his heart and soul into this event, I am very grateful.   The slide show as usual is awesome.  My legs start shaking uncontrollably as photos of gravel roads are posted on the big screen.  Jim reminds us to be aware of our surroundings.  We are playing in a farmers front yard. He encourages us to keep it clean and take our trash out with us  A quick review of some of the most important rules and we are let go for dinner.  


Emma and I 

I spy Rebecca Rusch and Dan Hughes talking and decide to approach them and steal some mojo.  In fact I didn't have to steal it , they gave it freely.  Both of them shook my hand and wished me luck as I rubbed their mojo on my legs and arms.  I told them I wanted to finish and make the party.  Rebecca blew on my back and wished me well saying "may the wind be at your back"  My thoughts exactly since last year was so painfully windy.  


Chamois  Butt'r riders and support crew

Emma, my support crew, and I head off to the Chamois Butt'r dinner at Gambinos Pizza.  In a sea of 60 purple shirts we enjoy salad and pizza while talking nervously about tomorrows challenge.  The owner of the place made a special veggie pizza and veggie calzone, perfect since I don't eat meat.  He even brought it to the table. Food was delicious and the company was even better.  There were 25 members of the CB Team riding.  Huge team presence for the DK.





Before I know it it's 8 pm and time to make sure I have everything read to give to Emma for the big day.  I still feel a bit nauseous when I think of the dream so I try not to think of it but it's still there.  I have the best support person anyone could ask for.  I give Emma a bag of extra clothes and my fuel choices for the day.  We quickly discussed my strategy.... Only 5 minute pit stops, refill water bladder, lube chain, fill top tube bag with new fuel, sunscreen me and push me back out no matter what.  I told her of a story I read about Navy Seals in training.  In order to quit their boot camp they have to ring the bell.  My mantra for the duration will be  "Don't ring the bell"  




Trying to sleep the night before is next to impossible.  Trying to relax was nearly impossible.  My heart was still beating out of control but somehow I managed to drift off. I awoke and sat right up at 4 am.  My alarm had not even gone off yet.  I did not dream at all or did I?  Was this a good or a bad sign?  



We quickly load our bikes and head to the start to get a good parking spot.  When we arrive it's still dark and a bit foggy.  Things quickly start to take shape as riders show up and take their places in the start line.



  Heading to line up I see Sheldon, racing for the sun, Derrick, wanting a finish, Jim D (who saved my ass last year by pulling me for five miles), Jay tackling his first and John rockin' the single speed.  I place myself carefully in the 16 hr spot on the outside.  I know that is not where I will finish but it's the best place for a claustrophobic rider since it's the least crowded. 







Game face


 As we start to take off the pace is high... 22-25 mph rolling out of town.  There is no way I can hang on to this pace by myself.  Good thing I am rolling in the middle of a group and they are pulling me along.  We hit the gravel a few miles out of town.  I passed three broken down and several flats. Already?  Man this is going to be a long day.

Hang on.... there is more to come.