mike started us off, one of twelve cyclists in our starting pack, taking off at the horn, 9 am.
patty brought us home, 30 hours later, pedaling into henderson, nevada at 3 pm the next day.
in between came karl, john, susan, patty, and mike, in various couplings and trios.
the first relay for all of us, this was a wild experience. the entire ride was broken down into 30 segments, and each of us was assigned 6. but then some of us--ahem--rode additional legs, either to help pace our teammates, or for the sheer pleasure of it.
the legs averaged about an hour riding time: some closer to 45 minutes, some closer to 2 hours.
the timing chip went from bike to bike to bike, and we just kept pedaling south.
then all night.
and all morning.
jeb drove and was the best pit crew boss ever, full of encouragement, offers of ice water and supplies (as when I flew past him yelling "shot blocks at the next transition zone" and his quizzical expression told me he had no idea what I was talking about, but sure enough, I got a bag of them handed off to me at the next transition zone), and a master at moving bikes on and off the bike rack and tightening front wheels.
tony did great hand-offs from the vehicle as it passed us, and from the ground, running as we passed the transition zones; he updated our facebook page, and basically said "yes" to every request we threw his way.
we bonded, the 7 of us, in the way that people in challenging circumstances do. we were all in it together, and the only way out of it was through it.
the sun tried to do us in, as did the aridity, sucking every molecule of moisture from our skin, our mouths, our eyes. the undulating rollers broke our hearts as they relentlessly rose and fell and rose again, and again.
some of us napped between riding legs better than others, and by about 24 hours into it we were all terribly sick of GU's, power bars, electrolyte drinks and other riding food. I started craving eggs: an egg mcmuffin loomed above me, fragrant and anything-but-prepackaged-energy-food.
jeb kept notes of what to do differently next year. add this to the list, add that.
I have only one note of what to do differently next year:
not sign up.
it was a grand adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I'm extremely glad I did it.
but I'm also happy to leave it in the past tense: I did it.
but the rest of you should absolutely get out there and give it a shot.
it's a great test of your stamina, and it gives you a terrific opportunity to bond with your own team, and others who are in the same darn boat.
I mean bike.
go for it!