By the time I post this entry, the race will be over. It’s Friday evening, 7:30 pm, Race Time (EST). Henry K, Henry M, Jenny, and I finished up a day of climbing through the West Virginia mountains. Now we’re riding in the RV to Hanover, MD, to catch the other four and join them for the last three stages of the race. It will be great to have all eight riders in the vans together. Jenny and Henry M are going to ride along and not bike until we officially finish the race; then we’ll all parade into Annapolis.
I think I expected to have more time to talk with folks, to get to know them on this trip. But there’s been really very little time for that. If we’re not riding, we’re eating and sleeping and getting ready to ride. Jenny and Henry McKoy are sitting up front just now, relaxing a bit, knowing that their pressured riding is over. They’re laughing and joking around—typical UNC-Duke banter. I think they’re feeling human again.
The other surprise for me was how isolated the two teams of four have been. I’ve barely seen Christopher Gergen, David Hofmann, or Lance Condray. We slap each other on the backs at our exchanges, but we’ve been living on opposite schedules all week. Henry Kaestner and George Linney, who switched teams midway through the week, got to experience both teams.
Besides the cyclists on my team, the folks I’ve gotten to know best are the drivers for our teams. We’ve spent hours navigating our way through backroads and blue highways from California to Maryland. Frank Gover and Amanda Davis have been amazing, sometimes driving fourteen hour shifts, pulling all-nighters, supporting us in so many ways. Our coach, David Williams, has come along for several of our trips (he was along today for the West Virginia climbs—in fact, his parents drove down from PA to cheer us on at Grafton and to deliver us homemade cookies!). Sandie Condray, our crew chief, and James Roberts, our driver, have been servants to us all. They’ve probably gotten less sleep than any of us: cooking, washing clothes, packing and unpacking gear at every exchange, shopping, driving late into the night while the cyclists caught a few hours of sleep.
One of the special pleasures of arriving in Annapolis will be the chance to celebrate with the entire team. We did this together, but we’ve been apart so much of the time while we were doing it. Seems only fitting that we should come together, cyclists and crew, to celebrate this great accomplishment.