Friday, October 26, 2007

2005 - The 508 was a Burr Under My Saddle

My cat Ozzy was compelled to jump. He’d jump up there almost everyday. I’m sure he knew there was no way for him to get down. Once he did it, it was over for him until I’d climb up on the roof and get him. Pouring rain or searing afternoon sun, it didn’t matter. I watched him do it time after time. The look on his face was one of terrified resignation. He didn’t want to jump. He was compelled to jump. I know now how he felt.

In 2005 the 508 was a burr under my saddle. That number gnawed at me every day. I spent time on the internet researching everything that I could find about it. I put a 508 graphic on my PC at work. The image was a tiny speck of a cyclist in the distance on a desert road. The graphic had a quote by Seneca the Elder, “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult”.

Early in the season my wife Desiree and I decided that we should get road bikes. Since she was lukewarm on the whole mountain bike thing, we thought that road biking together would be fun; I secretly recalled the 508. She and I spent a few weeks checking out the road scene and riding as many demo bikes as we could find. We eventually chose the Trek 2100. I think that we must have looked like a couple of dorks riding identical bikes. We also had fancy riding clothes that matched our bikes. We laughed about it and called ourselves "Team Troili".

The more I rode, the more I wanted to ride. I heard people talk about century riding and I had no idea what that meant. Once I figured it out, the prospect of riding a hundred miles sounded like a fair challenge. “Besides”, I thought to myself, “If I could ride one hundred miles, it can’t be too much harder to ride five hundred miles”.

I was sure that big rides were going to take a ton of food. I wondered how I was going to carry it all. That question was the beginning of an investigation into unsupported endurance cycling. I poured over tons of material on long distance riding. One internet article mentioned Steve "Beaver" Born and his "Double Furnace Creek 508". Now I felt much better about my dream to ride the 508; I figured that if this “Beaver” dude did it twice in a row, I could definitely do it once. I had never been serious about riding a road bike. I had not even ridden a century. Now my ego and I were conspiring to ride over 500 miles.

In August of 2005 I finally completed my first true century. The ride was 110 miles from my home in Everett, over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth. The total trip time was seven hours. Excluding breaks, the actual saddle time was just over 6 hours; 110 miles in 6 hours over a 4032 foot mountain pass seemed like a reasonable result for my first century. My reaction was, “Four more century rides like that and I’ll be doing the 508 in 30 hours; no problem”. I have often failed to separate fantasy from reality.

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