Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Five FAQs (and some answers)

1 - Did you enjoy it?

At times, very much. Overall, yes. But...the further into the race I got, the greater it seemed to be an emotional roller coaster. After about halfway it seemed to take 2-3 hours to warm up in the mornings. This could be very discouraging. Eventually, most days, the sun would come out, a fun descent would present itself, and maybe I'd have an enjoyable encounter with a rider or local person or some wildlife. Often the scenery was uplifting, as was my MP3 player and phone calls to Sarah. On the first day the ratio of fun to grind was about 10:1. By the last day it was 1:10. There is a correlation between those ratios and the amount of time I spent with fellow racers.

2 - Would you do it again?

If I had my time over - absolutely!

Will I do it again? No - once was enough. But I wouldn't rule out a similar challenge elsewhere.

3 - What happened to Rainer?

Rainer took a short-cut off Togwatee Pass (taking a fast stretch of highway rather than a 1hr+ hike in the snow). Just hours earlier, he indicated his intention to take that shortcut to a fellow racer (due to the pain he would experience pushing his bike, having broken his collar-bone 5 weeks earlier). At the end of the day he claimed to have been prevented from following the official route by a State Trooper. No other racers saw a State Trooper at this point.

The previous day he was seen missing a turn (and not returning there for at least 10 minutes). He then appeared to arrive at the next town before riders who had been in front of him on the official route.

It seems that Rainer may have been unaware of the importance of sticking to the official route. If he goes back next year, I expect he'll win.

4 - How did you and your bike handle the abuse?

I got very tired and experienced numbness in all points of contact with the bike. My lower back became numb where the backpack sat. My disgestive system became very cantankerous and I lost 11 hours to a stomach bug in Wyoming. My throat & tongue was often dry and sore. Various leg muscles seized up temporarily and my quads became very fatigued. My lips cracked. My brain became very tired. My weight went from 69kg to 67kg.

Now, 3 weeks later, my legs and fingers are still a bit weak, and my physical energy levels below average. My weight is 70kg.
[Too give this some perspective, Carl Hutchings ran a half marathon last week and Jenn Hopkins is currently cycle touring from Portland to San Francisco]

My bike was fine. Three bolts fell out of the granny chainring - that's all. Not a single puncture! I'll do a gear review shortly.

5 - Are you writing an article or book about it?

I'll do an article for SPOKE magazine, and a diary-style account here. There will also be the odd slideshow, including a big one at Rongatai College (where my gear will be auctioned off). This Friday I'll be interviewed at 8:10pm on Radio New Zealand National. There will be the odd extra article here and there, but no book - you'd all be bored to tears!
If you're in Wellington and want to hear more, sooner rather than later, come along to the tree planting at Makara Peak MTB Park this Sunday at 10am.

Bonus question: Where those Diamond Back shorts really 17 years old?

No, of course not. They were only 11 years old. I wore them over my Ground Effect shorts for a little extra padding in the mornings for a few days. [The Sams Bike Shop shorts I wore on day one were 17 years old]


carl said...

thats funny,i was wondering about those shorts.My 2 pairs of Assos F1 shorts could have taken a large chunk off 3rd world debt.

I got asked what was the best part of it.....after a long silence when i decided not to say the border at Antelope Wells i said a Latte i had in Salide in that cafe next to Absolute bikes.I swear if i didnt have a word with myself i would still be in Salida..... in that cafe.

Rainer would bring it down to 14 days something if the weather is kind and his health is good.

$10,000 and 75 virgins wouldnt be enough to get me back in Roosville or Banff.

I finished on monday night,i was back in the UK on friday lunchtime at work trying to pay for it all.1/2 marathons are easy compared to my job.My On-One finished in alot better shape then me.

Im trying to think of a way to do a write up that isnt like everyone else.Im thinking i need to go inside my daily thoughts and write from that angle opposed to what was happening...then i can wait for the van and straight jacket to come collect me.

Are you going to auction the shorts?


Geoff said...

wow carl,
i was thinking i had some witty things to say in response to this post and then i read your comment and after rolling on the floor in laughter for 30 minutes i forgot what i was going to say.

simon, you mention a similar challenge maybe being an option for you at some point in the future. well, i was just looking at the iditarod invitational page and noticed that there are still over 20 spaces available in that race :) and if i have my way i'll talk our entire gdr class of '09 into coming up to alaska in february. did you change your mind about that one yet carl?

it will be interesting to see what happens if rainer rides it sometime as a 'race'. obviously he has the ability to go insane fast but so many things can go wrong out there that i wouldn't necessarily peg him for the win. then again, did the guy ever even get tired this year? i probably rode with him more than anyone up to steamboat and i don't remember a single time when he seemed worn down, except on the snow stretches... but then again everyone i encountered snow with seemed worn down compared to me. if there had just been more hike a bike in the snow i might have been able to finish this damn race.

but now i'm stuck feeling like i should do it again but i get kind of an upset feeling in my stomach when i hear you guys talking about how there's not a chance in a million you'd ever do it again. i guess that's the punishment for a dnf in a race like this. i didn't spend enough time out there to realize how stupid it would be to ever try this again.

anyway, you two already know this but i'll say it again. the time i got to spend riding with you and the others we bounced around with for those first several days was so much fun. it was certainly the most fond memory i take with me from this experience. i hope you don't mind simon, but i've told dozens of people the story about how you were eating toast off another table that morning in ovando... and i saw that david mentioned it in his race report on his blog. funny stuff... although it just seemed kind of normal at the time.

Simon Kennett said...

Hey Carl
I'd love to read stream-of-conciousness account of your race.

Afraid you can't bid for the shorts - they got binned somewhere in small-town America. Crying shame really.

Geoff - all bets are off on Rainer winning if you decide to race again. You were the one guy who looked to be climbing as effortlessly. I'd be cheering you on!!! Certainly don't think it's stupid to try again for the finish. If there are more riders next year, there's a better chance of fun times in New Mexico. With a wee bottle of sleeping pills and an extra couple of pounds of fat at the startline, you'd see Antelope Wells for sure.

Alaska? I've heard it's cold up there. My overseas leave is all used up for a while - reckon I might consider running something similar to the GDR here in NZ.

I'd forgotton about that free toast - you know I was starving!
Funniest moment for me was when the Ovando Museum sprinklers came on full bore at midnight. The frantic dance you did around that sprinkler head while trying to turn it away from our camp was hilarious!


Patrick said...

Hear Simon's interview on National Radio at:

max said...

Well done Simon from Max Neumegen, one long distance traveler to another. Maybe for the next ride have a look at the "" and follow some of my foot prints when I set out to walk down the length of Africa, "".
Or Nathan Gary's walk along the Great Wall of China, "" .