We had check-in at 9am. While getting stuff, we also check
in stuff. (Reference George Carlin’s take on “Stuff.”)
It’s really a nerve racking time because of all the anticipation. Self-doubt
creeps in like an order. You don’t know
it’s there until…IT’S THERE! If you can remember dropping off your bike at your
first Ironman, or packet pickup at your first marathon, you’ll understand.
Simultaneously, you’re checking other entrants equipment,
clothes, fitness level, nutrition, anxiety level, etc. Not to necessarily compare
yourself with them as a competitor, but more importantly to know that you’re at
least in the same ball park as others. That you have a chance of finishing.
What I still found astounding is the number of people doing
this who have done MULTIPLE cross country tours. One guy has done AT LEAST one
every year for 14 years! That’s VERY expensive. And time consuming. “Geeez,
buddy! Find a hobby.”
This is very different from my other endurance events
because of its expanse: miles and days. I feel like I packed up my house and
brought it with me. This organization, however, has a limit. ONE BAG. 40
POUNDS. That’s it.
Right now behind me, all my stuff is spread out over my bed.
One to find stuff (Carlin), and to repack. I think it’s a sign of my psychosis
at present, otherwise known as… “FREAKIN’ OUT!”
Another sign is how I feel. How, you ask? Fat, soft, heavy, weak,
not toned, and not fit. I don't feel I'm eating right or have done enough. I know sitting in the car for 3 days didn’t help.
But, I also have faith (below, July 4, 6 am) that once the
riding starts, I’ll feel normal again. Fit. If not at the end of the first day,
then certain by Day 3. (Day 1 is “only” 98 miles and 5500’ of climbing.) Today’s
pre-ride, a kind of systems check, we rode out to the ferry that will carry us
tomorrow. It was only 14 miles but 1500’ of climbing!
I can tell Lance, like me is getting anxious, too.
I met Lance Shelton while we were both doing our first cross
state bike ride. It was Mike Keel’s BRAGALOT ride (Bike Ride Across Genuinely
Awesome Land Of Texas) 2004. Yup, it’s a mouthful.
I had been hit by a car and banged up pretty good. Keel
suggested I come along to assist to him, to work the ride, and if the feeling
struck, to get back on the bike for some of the trip. It was 7 days and 700
miles from south Texas to the Oklahoma border.
I ended up riding all but the first couple of hours of the
first day. IT WAS AWESOME!!! I met up with Lance who was continually in the
front. He has a wicked sense of humor. I’m surprised, as he is, he hasn’t been
fired from his teaching-coaching position in Dodd City where he lives. He could
make conversation with the devil. Great southern humor. Slow and easy laugh.
Funny, funny, funny. And hates football. We get along like peanut butter and
jelly. If he’s the Lone Ranger, I’m Tonto. He’s Minneapolis, I’m St. Paul.
I remember us discussing the cross-country ride then. I
credit him with setting an arbitrary year, 2012. Suddenly, we both started
working toward that goal.
We met at a number of bike rallies since then. My endurance would
assist him in getting him in good position to sprint at end and do very well.
He was/is a much better sprinter than I, so it only made sense that I would
help him. As I said above, we’re a good team.
He had a slight set back a few weeks ago in his train, while
I had mine back in mid-March. In both cases, it set us back in our training and
question our abilities going into this ride. While my situation is still
touch-and-go, he seems to have recovered and will be fine.
We have a final meeting in 30 minutes, at 3:30. Dinner follows
Then, I have to clear off my bed!