View Single Post
Old 11-07-09, 07:49 PM
Seat Sniffer
Biker395's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 5,197

Bikes: 2008 Scott CR1 Pro; 2006 Schwinn Fastback Pro and 1996 Colnago Decor Super C96; 2003 Univega Alpina 700; 2000 Schwinn Super Sport

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 749 Post(s)
Liked 691 Times in 281 Posts

Being who I am, I naturally treated the crew to the best accommodations available in Twentynine Palms … the Mo6.

The first order of business was to take a shower. How does a shower feel after 42 hours and 508 miles? Well, it felt like heaven on most of my body. But if felt like burning hell in a couple of places. That’s right … on the stern, both port and starboard. Those saddle sores didn’t really hurt once I sat down on the seat and started pedaling, but the last 200 miles of pedaling and chafing did some awful things.

OMG, but that hot water stung. This was gonna hurt for a while.

And the news got worse.

There was no room for any crew luggage in the van, so before we left Santa Clarita, we had each packed a change of clothes in a small bag. I was so absorbed in all the tasks to prepare to ride the 508, putting a change of clothes was regarded as a pesky detail to be given little attention. And that lack of attention manifested itself when I opened my little care package and looked inside.

Keens … check.
Short pants … check.
“Trona Tornadoes” T-shirt … check.
Underwear …

Uh … underwear? Crap. I forgot my boxers! That’s a fine kettle fish to be in when you have weepy sores on your arse. Oh, and it gets better. The short pants? Off-white.


I didn’t know what else to do, so after slathering the sores with Neosporin, I put the short pants on and shoved a lot of toilet paper in to boot. At least if toilet paper stuck to the wounds, at least it would dissolve easily.

I resolved to figure it out in the morning, and went to bed wearing a strange combination of street clothes and a rube goldberged diaper. Ugh.

The next morning dawned early. Astoundingly, I woke up at about 6AM, without an alarm. I wanted to sleep until later in the day, but waking according to an established schedule is one of the curses of the nouveau elderly. No such luck.

At least it meant we would have plenty of time to attend the awards breakfast at 7AM. I was eager for a chance to chat with the other riders about those winds in Death Valley … a debriefing of sorts.

We loaded up the car and set off. The sores on my arse seemed to be behaving themselves … sitting on the car seat wasn’t all that painful. But the real surprise was when we arrived at breakfast and I set about to deplane from the van. My shorts had stuck to my wounds like a Chinese Band-Aid.

Peeling them loose was not pleasant. And as I would find out … practice … lots of it … would not make it any more pleasant. And this would be the pattern for the next day … no … the next week or two. Gently settling in to a seat like a mother hen spreading her feathers over her eggs … then rising and peeling my shorts away from my arse.

Yes, there were probably chic little elliptical stains on my shorts in strategic locations, but I was too tired and hungry to care. We arrived just as everyone moved into another room to watch the video. All the better. We chose food over entertainment.

Our totem signage was still on the van when we drove home. A Honda sedan pulled beside us on the Interstate, and one if it’s passengers held a sheet of paper to the window. It read:

“The Horned Lizard says hi!”

Ah, my companion on the Kelso climb. And at 19, the youngest person ever to complete the Death Valley Cup by completing the Badwater Ultramarathon and the Furnace Creek 508 in the same year. The Lizard rocks.

The saddle sores were not without their advantages. When I got home and walked through the front door, my wife was reading on the couch.

"So how was it?" she asks.

How do you summarize an adventure like that in a few words? I could think of nothing, so I said nothing. I turned around and bent over.

"Oh, I see."

The next several days saw some pretty comical scenes. After using the restroom at work, I somehow got the brilliant idea that a folded up toilet seat cover would be a good barrier to keep my shorts from sticking to the wounds. The only way to find out is to try, so I had at it … I folded one up and shoved it in my pants.

I had to keep it there while walking through our office lobby. That meant walking through with one hand holding my rear end and the other a Neosporin dispenser. Our receptionist is new. Nice guy. I wonder if he'll decide to stay after witnessing that.

That afternoon, I packed it in and went home for an Epsom salt bath. Ahhh. Buoyancy lifting the sores upward, taking a hot bath ... it doesn't get any better ....

... until I leaned forward to turn the water off and ground both sores into the salts collecting on the bottom of the tub. Holy crap, did that hurt.

Still later, I tried something new … panty liners and tidy-whities. Strange to say, I had the most success with this experiment.

For those that would attempt the 508 themselves, I do offer some advice.

First, train.

Second, train.

And third … train.

I believe that if you can ride a bike X miles comfortably, you can ride 2X miles if you push yourself. I trained all summer. I rode 6 double centuries. I rode a handful of 250 mile rides. I even rode 300 miles, got a few hours sleep, then rode another 100 miles. And on the weekend days I wasn’t doing any of those things, I was riding sufferfest centuries in hot weather and with 10,000 feet or more of climbing. If I was on a ride and there was an easy way home or a tough way home, I took the tough way.

All that training paid off. When? When I awoke in Death Valley, having rode 300 miles, the last 50 miles of which in a gale. If not for all the training, I would have been exhausted. But with all the training, I actually awoke refreshed and completely ready to attack the rest of the ride. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. In fact, I rode the 508 very conservatively, and if not for the saddle sores, I could have ridden another 200 miles, just for the asking.

What else? Ride the course. I had ridden all but two of the 508 stages, and had at least seen those stages by car. It helps tremendously to know what to expect in terms of climbs, road surface, and temperatures.

Finally, pick a good crew, and put your trust in them. My crew are all endurance athletes. Two of them had done the 508 solo in earlier years. At the start of the ride, they organized everything where they could find it, and were always there to shove some Endurolytes, a roasted potato, or a fruit pie in my face. They also made sure I drank enough. They shoved me out of the van when I needed a kick in the ass. My crew was the best. I could not have done it without them.

So what of the 508? Friends had me expecting all kinds of things. That I would emerge with a higher understanding. That I would learn a lot about myself. That I would bargain with divinity.

None of those things happened. Frankly, at the darkest hour, when I was struggling hopelessly in the dark gale of Death Valley, I was so hell-bent focused on staying upright I had little time for anything else. There just wasn’t the room for introspection or philosophy. But I did learn some things.

On a bike tour years ago, I was in the mood for a mai-tai by a swimming pool, and set about to find a hotel with a pool and a bar. I found a likely suspect, walked in, and asked if it was OK if my wife and I used the pool if we bought drinks at the bar.

“Of course! No problem.”

So I went back to the campsite, changed outta my bike clothes, and we rode back to the hotel. Upon entering, I saw all kinds of clues I had missed before. Clues that made it clear that this was no ordinary resort … it was a gay resort. The artwork on the walls … something I disregarded initially … featured men in provocative poses. The barkeep who introduced me to her partner … I thought she was referring to her business partner. And come to think of it, the free glass you were given with the drink of the day did bear a strange resemblance to male anatomy.

But we were there, the drinks looked good, and no body minded ... least of all me. Screw it.

“Two mai-tais, please.”

So there I was, sunning myself on a cot, listening to kvetchy 80s disco on the loudspeakers …reading the newspaper, and sipping a mai tai … a damn good mai tai, by the way. And it occurred to me … if someone had told me a week ago that I’d be sitting by the pool in a gay resort, listening to disco and sipping on a mai-tai, I would have told them they lost their mind.

But there I was.

Consider 4AM early Sunday morning. A satellite, looking down on Death Valley would spy a long line of lights, seemingly motionless, but in fact, making painfully slow progress across the desert floor, struggling against fierce winds in the company of scorpions and coyotes.

I was one of those distant lights. How did I end up there? Why the hell would anyone in their right mind be down there? The easiest answer is that they are not in their right minds, of course. But if you reject that possibility, you’re left to ask … why?

Well if you’ve read this entire paean, you’ve heard about meat lockers, near death experiences with crotch rockets, bottles in the face, broken keys, desert sunsets, scorpions, sandy sheets of wind, coyotes, flapping saltbrush, pit-toilet baptisms, flapping bicycles, drawing straws, clogged toilets, saddle sores, incontinence preparations, road canyons, pee parties, tombstones and flattened jackrabbits. You’ve heard of certain failure. Of acceptance. Of resurrection, and ultimately … triumph. And between all those things were miles and miles of expansive desert. Asphalt extending to infinity. Turning the pedals over 150,000 times.

And consider this … all that happened in less than 48 hours … two days.

Time. Relentless, inexorable, ruthless time. We have only so much. You can’t stop it. You can’t bargain with it. But you can cram as much living into it as you can. That is the curious thing about endurance events. A month worth of living … a month worth of memories … happen in only 48 hours. That’s why I do it. It’s because you don’t measure lives in years … you measure them in adventures.

Moderation in all things. For a lot of people and a lot of things, that is good advice … the moderate do well in their universe.

The problem is that their universe is too small. “The big fish run deep,” one of my professors once said. He understood the dangers of misplaced temperance.

The object of your passion matters not. The depth of your passion does. So whatever your passion, I encourage you … forswear moderation. Dive … and dive deep. That’s where the big fish are.

Proud parent of a happy inner child ...

Last edited by Biker395; 11-08-09 at 01:49 AM.
Biker395 is offline