The drive from MO to OH was kind of a blur, I don't remember anything significant happening during the ride. All I knew was that I was really tired, and that we were driving to OH, so I tried to get a lot of shut eye in the back of the truck. If I remember correctly, I think I did a good job in doing so (can ya tell fatigue was settling in?). I was kind of excited because our next shift in OH was from 2am - 7am and I dig riding at night. Honestly, I don't remember where we stayed in OH, or much about the hotel. We were approaching the final stretch, and just like last year, things started getting blurry.
The first few hours were fairly uneventful (I think), with rolling hills, and dropping temperatures.
As the sun was starting to come up, it was revealing the layers of fog that we could only see with the FV headlights. This was a pretty cool part of the shift because it was a flat to rolling "course", and you would go in and out of the fog banks. Really neat stuff. This pic doesn't do proper justice, but trust me, rolling through a fog bank with nothing but the FV headlights, and the slightest of glows from the sun is pretty cool!
The shift was kind of fun , and it was a shift I was looking forward to because of riding at sunrise. Last year, I looked forward to the "sunrise shift" because while a lot of people were hitting their snooze bars and wondering how many cups of coffee they were gonna need to wake up, I was riding my bike in the Race Across America. Bad ass. This is the stuff that keeps me ticking, but that is a whole other post by itself.
About 90 minutes later, Dave snapped this great picture of Tobias and I right after an exchange.
With the sun right over the horizon, I looked over just in time to catch it there and started thinking about how lucky I am in life to have the abilities and opportunities to do this. Few people are blessed with the physical and mental abilities to do this, along with the external support from sponsors. My good friend, and arguably one of the coolest dudes on the planet, Homa, told me before the race to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. He then corrected himself: twice in a lifetime. It is seriously times like this where I feel life is being lived. I am truly lucky.
I got in the truck, and Dave and I drove about half a mile, and HAD to stop over to take this pic:
One exchange hour later - still lovin:
A little bit, those deep, philosophical thoughts were wiped away with reality, and it might have been one of the funniest parts of the race.
There was a detour from the route book, and a lot of confusion. Long story short, I just did a 5 mile pull, Tobias & the FV got lost, and 2 minutes later, I was put back on course so we didn't lose any time. As I approached a small hill, off to the left I started hearing dogs bark. I didn't think much of it because even if the dogs weren't on a leash, this person had a huge yard, and there was no way they were going to catch me.
What I didn't realize is that a little hill was blocking my view because when I crested, there was a pitbull coming at me in an ALL OUT SPRINT barking ferociously. Let me tell you I dropped the proverbial hammer like my life depended on it, because I think it did! I would have loved to have a power meter on the bike to see how many times over my power multiplied.
Right before he got to the road, the dog slammed on his brakes so hard that he actually kicked dirt into the road. It was surprising that he stopped so sudden (but maybe b/c he know he didn't have a chance catching me ;) I looked back at the FV, and was all smiles and laughing at this situation. I later learned that the FV actually swerved towards the dog (protect the rider at all costs) - thank god!!! I crested the hill nearly in tears from laughing, and when Dave picked me up, he was like "Uh, why were you laughing so hard?!"
I told Dave to put Tobias out there for 6-7 miles since he was close to feeling 100%, and I was starting to get pretty cooked. Well, when we went to pick him up at about mile 7, I looked at my bike to get on it, and SOB, I had my 4th flat (3rd on the rear). F! I realized this as Tobias was closing in at 200 yards at about 25mph, so I had to tell him to keep going. Honestly, I didn't feel bad because I had shouldered the load for the past 3 shifts, and he had arguably the freshest legs in the damn race!
The rest of the shift was all about digging deep to hand off to Larry and Kevin so that they could continue our fast pace through Ohio (despite a few navigational miscues).