'Our 508-mile course serves as a dramatic forum for bicycle racing, personal achievement and self-discovery.'
-from the Furnace Creek 508 press release.
The Furnace Creek 508 is this weekend! I have written about it previously, when Morgan raced solo in 2005 when I was crew chief and when Brian, Megan, Max and I raced as a fixed gear team in 2006.
This year I am racing solo.
It has been a long time coming! I wanted to race solo in 2005, but after riding a triple century I decided I was not ready. In 2007 I was burned out after the world's hardest triathlon and the 760-mile Paris-Brest-Paris.
This race is different in that it is one stage. The clock starts when you roll out in Santa Clarita and does not stop until you reach 29 Palms. Can you sleep? Yes, but the clock is still running! The race offers no support, I am dependent on my crew, Morgan, Budge and Chris, that leap frogs and supplies me with food, water and anything else I may need.
Why would I do something like this? Bicycles have been a part of my life since I was very young. When I was 7 I used to sneak out of my neighborhood and ride as far as I could- and still be able to find my way home. Once my neighbor found me 4 miles away and drove me home to tell my mom what I had been up to.
When I was 14 I started traveling the country to race BMX bikes. That progressed to traveling to ride BMX trails and skateparks. This is how I began to see the world. Within a month of getting my first road bike ($50!) I rode it from college to my mom's house, 150 miles. I wore skate shoes and cut-off camouflage shorts and the idea of wearing a helmet didn't even cross my mind. The following summer I rode 3300 miles cross-country. The 508 seems to be a natural progression.
How far is 508 miles?
San Francisco to San Diego or NYC to Columbus, OH
35,000 feet of elevation gain is greater than going to the top of Everest from sea level (see profile here).
There is a new route reconnaissance with excellent photos (some stolen below) and descriptions. Check it out!
Am I ready? It is hard to say. I have done a number of 'long' races this year from iron-distance triathlon to 100-mile mountain bike races and double century road events. But they have been 'only' 12-15 hours. How will I feel while crossing Death Valley at 2am? After a day of 90 degree heat, will I be freezing when it is 40 degrees and windy? When the sun rises Sunday morning and I still have 150 miles to ride, will I be happy about it? An event like this is about the journey, not the destination. It is not a race that you can go into saying 'I'll be happy when I am done.' It's the experience of the race that I am looking for more than having finished. Really, I look forward to the time I'll have to think and what I will learn about myself.
A number of Swarm! riders will be out there racing and crewing. Brian 'Emperor Moth' is racing solo for the second year in a row and hopes to improve his 36-hour time. Megan is on a bad-ass all-girl fixed gear team-The Blue-footed Boobies.
You can follow the race's webcast where photos, time splits and updates will be posted with surprising regularity. We are going to try to update my blog from the road as well. Please leave comments here and be sure to follow the webcast!