No slackers – 508 4X

Riding Furnace Creek 508 as a 4-woman team was a great experience! In retrospect, asking three friends who didn’t know one another to fly to California and spend 96 hours together, including 40 hours with little-to-no sleep, while traveling across the desert in a van crammed full of gear and alternating supporting one another with riding their bikes as hard as possible seems like a good way to lose three friends. Fortunately, they are all still talking to me.

Catherine first put the idea of a team in my head in 2010. I’d said if she ever wanted to ride The 508 I’d crew for her. She’d responded that a team sounded like more fun. After my disappointing attempt at HooDoo Voyager in 2011 I was ready for something different, and asked her if she’d be up for riding The 508 as part of a 4X team in 2012. I thought it might be cool to have other teammates who’d never ridden an ultra event on their own and even better if they were people who’d given up their time crewing for me or other riders in the past. I also had an inkling that since we were planning to crew ourselves, crewing ability might be as valuable as riding experience. Abi and Jen, both cyclists and former crew, signed on.

From the beginning, the goal for me was for us all to have 508 jerseys by the morning of Oct 8. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that happened. It gave me huge motivation for training all year. Since we’ve each ridden 500+ mile events solo, having Catherine on the team also gave me a lot confidence, and meant I could relax and not lose sleep worrying in the months before the race.

I’ll admit that I anticipated a 4-person team to be a bit like a rolling party, as compared to riding solo. I can tell you now that it’s not. Not that we didn’t have fun, but as a 4X team crewing ourselves, everyone had a job to do the entire 35 hours and 15 minutes we were on the road. Riding, driving, feeding/navigating and yes, sleeping. There’s no room for slackers or anyone who’s not willing to step up and do any job that’s needed. It was pretty amazing to see everyone doing all they could, and using their different skills and abilities to fill whatever the need at the moment. It is also amazing how hard you can push yourself when three other people are depending on you and you see your teammates pushing themselves to their limit.

Photos from Jen. I’ll try to get some more photos up in the next few days.

Riding is the easy part

I suppose I should write something about Furnace Creek 508, but really all I feel like doing is taking a nap. Prepping my own gear and supplies for the team has been almost a full time job in the last week. That along with squeezing in as many work hours as possible, a few easy rides, baking vegan kibble so the dogsitter has enough easy meals for Bonnie while I’m away, and worrying most of the night about what still needs to be done is starting to take its toll. I’ve gotta say, I’m lucky. My work is flexible, so I can work from noon-8pm, or 3am-11am, when I need to. And it sure makes me grateful for all the help I’ve gotten for all my ultra events, most especially the Oklahoma record, because in the end, riding 500 miles is the easy part.

This year the 508 is special because I’m not riding 508 miles, I’m riding 130. I’m very excited to be riding with a 4-person team. Two of my teammates have crewed for me in the past. Abi Spring the anchor my 2010 Furnace Creek 508 crew; electrician, cooling expert and nutritionist. She earned a new nickname during that race, “MacGyver”. Jenifer Boyce has crewed for me more times than I can count. Often crewing solo. Her trailside style, “Here’s your bottle. Here’s your battery. I have to get back to work,” was critical to me riding as far as I did at 24 Hours of ERock in 2010. She couldn’t have gotten too much work done, because she was standing by the trail waiting with supplies every time I rode by. Catherine Shenk is an experienced randonneur who’s many accomplishments include 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris and 2010 1001 Miglia Italia. Training with Catherine and other Colorado randonneurs was instrumental to me being able to finish Furnace Creek solo in 2010.

Starting on Friday at 11am, you can follow all the action, including webcam, photos, and other updates on the AdventureCORPS webcast. Race progress and time splits for the entire field can be found on the results page. Click on any totem or rider name to get details, including average speed, and breakdown by timestation, for solo/team progress.