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no joy in Badwater

Monday,  10/05/09  02:59 PM

Well, I didn't make it.  No shame, but I am disappointed.

Sunday morning at 7:30am, as I was fighting a 30mph headwind in Badwater, after having battled it all night, I dropped out of the Furnace Creek 508.  I was about 20 miles from the base of the Salsberry grade, which meant another four hours of spinning in 1st gear at 5mph, and I couldn't handle it.  I might have been up for it physically, but my head gave out.  I began looking for reasons to stop instead of reasons to continue.

Furnace Creek 508 - 2009 - no joy in Badwater

I was very nervous when the ride began, very conscious that I had never done anything like this before, and very aware of everyone's advice to take it easy.  I did.  The first leg to California City featured some climbing and some headwinds, but it was steady on, and I felt good.  It sure is wonderful having a support vehicle right there with bottles and food and everything.  The second leg to Trona featured a little more climbing, and some tailwinds (yay!), and again it was steady on, and I felt really good.  The third leg from Trona to Furnace Creek had three distinct parts:

In the first, through the Panamint Valley, I was flying with a beautiful tailwind.  We were well ahead of schedule, I was feeling strong, and ready for the climb up to Townes Pass.  At the turn to start the climb we passed the 200 mile mark, and I was amazed; I had done 200 miles in 12 hours elapsed, my best ever, and that was taking it easy!

The second part was the climb up Townes, and the descent down the back.  The climb was nasty, with a crosswind / headwind / tailwind / wind.  About 13 miles at about 8%, but the wind was the main factor; a couple of times I blew into the shoulder.  I started cramping a little, because I stopped drinking, because I needed both hands on the bars just to keep my bike on the road.  But I made it!  And felt great, because "it was all downhill from there".  Riight.  The descent down the back to Stovepipe Wells was awesome, a beautiful full moon lit up the valley, and although there was some crosswind it was smooth sailing.  We hit Stovepipe about four hours ahead of schedule, and I still felt great.

The third part was when reality set in.  It is just 25 miles from Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek, a flat road, good surface, should have taken about 1 1/2 hours.  But it was directly into the teeth of a stiff headwind.  On that flat road I was averaging 5-6mph, I must tell you it was harder than the climb up to Townes Pass.  It took me four hours to reach Furnace Creek, and I was exhausted.  We had planned to sleep there and we did, hoping the wind would die down.

Rocky the Squirrel, before the startSo then leg four.  I woke up, ate a little, and was pleased to note the wind had [apparently] settled down.  We took off for Badwater, and bam! the wind hit again.  Big time headwind, 30mph gusts, blowing sand, tumbleweeds, you name it.  It was 40 miles from Furnace Creek to Salsberry grade, and at 5mph that was going to take me eight hours.  What seemed on paper to be a mild little cruise through Death Valley became a nightmare.  After four hours we reached Badwater, my head exploded, and I couldn't take it anymore.  Maybe next year I'll be mentally ready.

I want to thank my most excellent crew captain, Joani, who did an amazing job of supporting me, she was a veteran of two previous 508s, and her experience and calm demeanor were perfect.  I also want to thank Greg, the other half of my stellar crew, for his yeoman work.  In addition to filling bottles and reading maps he also took a bunch of pictures which I have yet to edit; stay tuned for those...

So this year there was no joy in Badwater.  But wait 'till next year!

 

weekend of October 2

Monday,  10/05/09  07:42 PM

Still in recovery mode from a long tiring (and somewhat depressing) weekend...

Tagline of the day, courtesy of my colleague Martin: "there is no Q5".

Onward into Q4, as the Ole filter makes a pass...

Christopher Reeve memorialWell this is important work: a unified theory of Superman's powers.  Which is a good excuse (if any were needed) to post Ramsey's outstanding tribute cartoon memorializing Christopher Reeve...

the Feston Rose - best houseplant for purifying the airInteresting: Top ten houseplants for controller indoor air pollution.  #1 is the Feston Rose, pictured at right: "This houseplant not only purifies the air in your house but also leaves a beautiful aroma".

Susanna Breslin interviews Tucker Max.  "If you want a relationship, make sure you are someone who someone else would want to date."  Tucker Max comes across a lot more reasonably than I would have expected...  his reputation is far more outrageous.

As the Angles get ready to play the Red Sox this week; the NYTimes has a nice profile of my Westlake Village neighbor Mike Scioscia, the LA Manager...  I've been a Scioscia fan ever since he was a great catcher for the Dodgers.

Guy Laliberte - Cirque du Soleil founder is first clown in spaceThis is awesome: Cirque du Soleil founder is first clown in space.  "Cirque du Soleil's founder, who will soon rocket into space, went from pauper to circus mogul by turning a troupe of ragtag street performers in 1984 into a global entertainment empire.  At 0714 GMT Wednesday, Canadian Guy Laliberte will celebrate his recent 50th birthday by becoming the seventh space tourist to rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan to the International Space Station for a 12-day 'poetic, social mission'."  Cool.

MSNBC picture stories from space, for September 2009: dance of the galaxiesApropos: MSNBC has picture stories from space, for September 2009.  Wow.  The one at right is [appropriately] entitled "dance of the galaxies".  I absolutely cannot get enough of space pictures :)

Congratulations to Rio de Janeiro, the IOC's choice to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.  The first South American city chosen, it seems very appropriate, reflecting Brazil's increasing economic importance.  I visited Brazil just about a year ago, and was struck by the sheer size of the country.  It should be a most-excellent party!

This headline on CNN shows how ignorant US media are of Brazil:  We beat the big cities.  With a population of 6M, Rio de Janeiro is over twice as large as Chicago.

Weird Twitter story of the weekend: Why does it matter that Twitter is supplanting RSS?  I'm not sure why it matters, but I am sure that in no way is Twitter supplanting RSS, any more than it is supplanting email.  I guess if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  This blog post would lose something if it were only 140 characters long, don't you think?  [ via Eric Wiesen ]

Palm opens the PrePalm announces more openness for the Pre: it is now possible for applications developers to distribute their Pre apps via the web, without Palm involved.  That seems like a tremendous advantage over Apple.  It won't [by itself] overcome the

Mark Pilgrim delivers a wonderful fisking: Translation from MS-Speak to English of Tony Ross' Distributed Extensibility Submission.  Even if you don't understand the subject, like me, you can appreciate the acid humor.

electron beam fabricationPopsci: ISS Could Get its Own Electron Beam Fabrication 3D Printer.  How cool is that?

Slashdot reports GE Developing 1TB Holographic Disc.  That's good, and the rumored backward compatibility with DVDs is better.  But physical media for storing data is really on the way out, right?

 
 

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