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Old 11-02-09, 10:18 AM
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Biker395 
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Bikes: 2008 Scott CR1 Pro; 2006 Schwinn Fastback Pro and 1996 Colnago Decor Super C96; 2003 Univega Alpina 700; 2000 Schwinn Super Sport

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Thanks! Here is the next stage:

Thanks, everyone ... and especially STD. I dunno why I write these things, anyway. I dunno if it's a matter of getting out of my system or just putting it in print so I don't forget. Anyway, here is the next stage.

Stage V - Shoshone to Baker



My crew fed me again, watered me some more, checked my endurolyte consumption, and got themselves some provisions. While they were doing that, I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. Here, I discovered, and too late, that there was no toilet paper. Arrrrghhh!

I could hear that there was someone else in the bathroom, so I implored my unseen company to pass me some toilet paper. Apparently, there was none. What I got was paper towels.

I had long ago abandoned any idea of comfort, so I used them and flushed the toilet. But as soon as I did, I realized that that kind of paper towel does not dissolve Ö they would clog the toilet. I was relieved to see that they didnít do so, at least this time. When I got out, I reported the lack of toilet paper, hoping others would avoid the same mistake.

It was also in Shoshone that I would first become aware of my next big challenge Ö. saddle sores.

A word about saddle sores. I never get them. Thatís right. Never. And I donít use chamois butter or any of the other remedies that are supposed to help the problem. I donít because Iíve never had to. But there in Shoshone, after I changed shorts and was ready to go, I discovered that I was about to be deflowered. My first saddle sore had appeared.

Why? I have no idea. Maybe it was the Badwater backsplash. I had wiped myself off as well as possible, but didnít sanitize myself with an alcohol wipe. Maybe I should have. I was using chamois butter for the first time ever Ö maybe that was the problem. Maybe it was the heat. The grind into the wind. Sleeping in the shorts I wore to Badwater.

Whatever the cause, the effect was unmistakable. A saddle sore on the starboard side.

I had a plan for this. Gold Bond. It burns like hell when first applied, but when the burning sensation ends, it acts as an anesthetic. So I fingered my right cheek, suffered through the pain, and was ready to get back on the bike. Kind of impatient really. There was no use in standing around, and I wanted to ride as far as I could while the wind was calm.

ďDid you put any sunscreen on?Ē

I was tempted to say yes, but the answer was no. Saralie set about to get some sunscreen and put it on.

Thinking about it now, I think the sunscreen was a ruse. I think what she really wanted to do was to clean my legs of the dirt and gravel from my trip to the shoulder at Mormon Point. After the fall, I made no attempt to clean up my wounds Ö I just laid down and went to sleep.

So she takes the sunscreen and starts applying it to my legs. Right over all the raw scratches.

ďOUCH!Ē

ďSorry about that. I forgot.Ē

My attention was diverted. Soon enough Ö

ďOUCH!!Ē

Got me again. And this happened two or three more times before she was done. It was almost enough to make me forget about the saddle sores. Almost.

I had done the next stage before. Before me stood Ibex Pass. A short, easy climb, a long downhill, then an interminably long ride through the desert to Baker. On paper, this is the easiest stage of the 508, but in reality, it is one of the toughest. Itís 350 miles into the ride. Itís hot. Itís often windy. Itís mind knumbingly boring.

Right now, I felt great. But how would I hold up on this stage? My fate was with the wind Ö what direction would it be going and how strong?

I found out soon enough. With each mile I put between myself and Shoshone, the wind intensified. At first, just enough to notice. Then, more. Then, even more. How bad would the wind become? I wondered.

One way to make good time in the wind is to use your aerobars extensively. They can add add 2 .. perhaps 3 MPH to your speed Ö for the same effort. The problem is, it is hard to stay on them for hours at a time. I had never been able to do more tha 45 minutes at a time.

I hunkered down and pedaled.

The road to Ibex Pass heads southeast, and now, the winds were in my face. But these were ordinary winds. Expected winds. Do-able winds. All they did was slow my passage. They did not gust me around like a kernel of popcorn. All I had to do was keep on the aerobars, and pedal into them. And pedal I did.



I summited Ibex Pass in no time at all. Before me was a long, straight, and sweet descent. I remember this descent from 2006. But back in 2006, I did the Shoshone to Baker stage just after sunup. It was now closer to noon, and the winds had picked up.



25 MPH. Thatís all. And on my aerobars. As steep as this descent is, I should have been going at least 30 or 35 MPH. What was slowing me down? A quartering headwind. The winds were back.

Crap.

Ahead, the road curved to the left. That would offer some relief, as it would place the wind at my back Ö at least temporarily. And I still felt strong. With the wind at my back, I was able to make a good 20MPH or so through here. But when the road again turned south, the wind became less of a tailwind and more of a quarter or semi-quartering headwind.

Staying on the aerobars, I was able to make a steady 12 MPH. Without the wind, Iíd have been making more like 18, but again, this was childsplay compared to the tempest of the night before.

I donít remember if I caught some other riders or if they caught me. But in this section, I found myself in the company of a few other riders. I appreciated that company, as the road had become busy with other traffic.

This is a long, interminable stretch. Not much in the way of scenery, and the road seems to pass below you without getting any closer to the distant mountains. When you finally see the worlds largest thermometer, youíre still many miles from town.

Just before Baker, the road makes a few turns that placed us directly into the wind. Again Ö not pleasant, but again Ö childsplay next to the windfest in Death Valley.

We rolled into Baker and checked in, adjacent the Mad Greek. Only in America can someone make a crashing success of a Greek restaurant in the middle of the blind desert.



Saralie offered me some 2 day old pizza that tasted divine. I ate some more. Drank another Mountain Dew. Downed another 5 hour energy drink.

And discovered that I had another saddle sore Ö this one on the port side. I didnít reliesh the idea of another searing burn treatment with the Gold Bond, so Sarlie offered another concoction. A sticky goo that is used for elderly and incontinent patients in convalescent homes. I gladly gave it a try.

The crew had to get gas and attend to other details, so after using the restroom, I took off for Kelso.
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