I was in, and Andrew was out the gates ready for his last ride. There are so many alluring places that we ride through on this route, from dessert to tree filled mountains, but this may have been the most beautiful leg in all the race.
|(Not sure if this is considered 'working hard' or 'playing hard'.)|
Andrew was doing good work of the course, and seemed to be enjoying the ride. The first couple miles were flat, but then he'd have 20 miles of gradual climbing. But then, Andrew got a bit bothered. See, originally this leg was only about 30 miles long, ending on Cedar Breaks mountain. However, as James and I were discussing I saw that he was reading from the old print out of the race and not the current Race Bible that came in our packet. Due to weather/road conditions in the past the course had been permanently changed so that Leg 9 would now end in Duck Creek. The good news was Andrew would get to descend for what would feel like the first time in all of his riding, and he would even save a couple hundred feet of climbing. The bad news was...he got 7 more miles of Rockwell than he thought he paid for.
We pulled along side him, and the conversation went something like this (I'm speeding it up in parts):
"Andrew! Great job, how ya doing buddy?"
"Good. I've got about 20 miles down, another 10 to go."
"Glad to hear! You're killing it. But yeah, you know they changed the route this year. You aren't going 30 miles."
"How much farther?"
"17 miles! But you got this! You have less climbing and a couple descents that look really fun!"
"Yeah, so there is another 7 miles, but those should be the new downhill part. It's like they're free miles!"
"Did I mention that Bob will also have to do more climbing now?" (Trying to distract him.) "Ha, yeah, he's in for it. But you got this!"
With that, I did about the best that I could, and we went back to our normal supporting Andrew on his ride.
|(On the bright side of things, much of his leg had recently paved, very smooth roads. So there was that.)|
|(A nice scenic shot. The amount of water in the shot was James looking for fish. He and Andrew both longed to come back and drop a line next time they were through.)|
After his extra 7 miles Andrew was ready to be done. (I must be honest, I really don't remember him coming in. I think this was when I was laying on the ground in the parking lot next to the van. Needing to puke, I couldn't. I had NO clue how I was going to get back on the bike. Being happy that I finished my first two legs, I started to think about how I could not do the climb that awaited me at the start of my final leg. I was coming to terms with having the guys drive me up the big climb and how I would roll into St. George for the finish.)
|(Andrew, preparing for the hand off to Bob.)|
Andrew completed his leg in a little under three hours. It was about three til noon and Bob was riding.
|(Bob starting his climb out of Duck Creek)|
But by now Bob was still at least tired enough that he was starting to crack. Even though it was the littlest of cracks. As Andrew was getting close to completing his leg Bob asked how far his ride was, and how much climbing he was going to do.
"Bob, I thought you NEVER wanted to know the distance you were riding, or how much climbing you had? Are you sure you want to know this?"
"Yes," he said smiling.
|(Great shot as we awaited Bob at the summit before his drop into Cedar City.)|
"Better give me a small cup of that," I stated.
Mike and Andrew both looked a little shocked knowing the stomach issues I was experiencing.
"You sure?" Andrew asked.
"Yeah this will either help (very unlikely) or tip the scales for me needing to puke." And in less than two minutes I would excuse myself from the van and destroy a small part of the magnificent scenery atop the mountain. The good news was I was instantly feeling better, like a new man. I was ready to tackle my last ride, all of it! The bad news was I never made it off the concrete so there was spatter, and I needed to wipe off my toes and flip flops.
|(Mike telling Bob it was all downhill, and we'd see him in Cedar. And probably offering to spray down these guys coming up from behind with his water bottles as to slow them down so Bob could maintain his lead on the descent.)|