Last night we rode twelve hours from 7 pm to 7 am. Night riding has its downsides, and I’m hoping to see some of the scenery along the way before this race is done. But there are still some wonderful stories to tell.
Let’s start with my daughter, Jenny. She was a trooper. Team member George Linney went so hard up a long climb that he needed to sleep in the back of the van. And Henry McKoy’s bike failed him for a second night. So Jenny had to take an extra long leg and pull all the way up the ascent to Monument Pass. No complaints from her—in fact she radioed in and said, “Don’t do the transition halfway up the climb—I want to do it all.” And she did.
Then there’s Frank, our driver, who managed a slow-leaking tire all night, working the compressor at every stop, trying to plug the leak. He gets the award for Most Resourceful. Unflappable Frank.
Henry McKoy’s bike pretty much fell apart last night. Two flats on the back tire. The front derailleur makes him choose one chain ring for the whole ride. And something’s not true with the back tire. So today, after the transition, we pulled into Durango and bought a bike for him to finish this race with. A shout out to Second Avenue Bikes in Durango, who was very good to us.
It was cold last night. I put on most of the cold gear I had sometime around 3, and I didn’t regret it.
And here is my greatest delight: After a night of riding under a moonless sky, focused on a small pool of light in front of me in hopes of avoiding any potholes, knowing I was missing glorious sights all around (and the whole Navajo Nation), adjusting to the vicissitudes of a team effort, I drew the lot to take the descent down from Monument Pass down into the valley just when the sun was rising, lighting up the surreal rocks and copper mesas of the Goosenecks State Park. It was a splendid sight and made the dark night worth it. Made me think hard about the glory of Christ, who brought us out of darkness into his glorious light.
Two more things I love about this race. Small things, but special. Whenever a racer passes a car from another team (might be an RV, or a follow vehicle parked up ahead for a transition) the other team waves and claps and cheers heartily for the rider. We all know this race is hard and that those who are riding are worthy of that applause. It’s a motivation.
The other blessing is our return to the RV and the few moments we have with the other four team members, the ones we won’t see much until Annapolis, because they are riding complementary shifts. Usually a follow vehicle takes us up ahead to the RV so that we can begin to unpack the vans and transition while our last rider finishes the leg. Then, when he or she arrives, the other team’s first rider is off. So the moments are brief and rushed, but the joy in our reunion is intense. We know we couldn’t do this without each other. We know that we’ve just finished one adventure for the team and that they are about to embark on their own. I love those few moments together. Hugs all around.
We’re going to try to get back on an eight hour rotation so that the others can learn to use lights and we can learn to use sunscreen.