Friday 5:00 pm – Greenfield OH
At the 6 day mark we reached Greenfield OH for the hand off to Jerome and Tony at 5 pm on Friday. We enjoyed some great riding weather through Indiana and Ohio, through rolling farmland the entire time. We have just 530 miles to the finish. By 5 am Saturday we should be somewhere in West Virginia and ~325 miles away. West Virginia and Western Maryland are the hardest sections of the race so we will modify our rotation to get through without too much pain. Dave and Frank will start their regular rotation at 5. Tony and Jerome, after a short rest, will come back to join us around noon. From that point forward we will use a 4 man rotation – all the way to the end. While it means no bed rest from 5am to the finish, it also means that the climbing load will be spread out among more riders. If all goes to plan we should reach Annapolis sometime between 1am and 3am Sunday morning. It’ll be an exciting 24 hours
For much of the race and right up to today we’ve been seeing several teams regularly throughout the day: T801 – 8 mixed team, T411 (Kalyra) 4-woman team, 50-59, T412 (Race Brazil) 4-man, under 50. We’ll see how everyone holds up on Saturday!
Over the last couple of days we’ve seen a number of solo riders. When I passed on of them I tried to strike up a conversation, but the poor guy was so exhausted he could barely talk to me. His head and helmet were supported by an elaborate neck harness designed to hold his head up. If I ever had a desire to try the solo race it is gone now. If you look at the solo standings you will see the large number of DNFs (did not finish) – in some categories more than 50% are marked that way. It means either the rider dropped out or did not reach one of the cut-off points in time.
Crew and riders on our team have remained cool, calm and collected. We’ve seen other examples where fatigue and sleep deprivation take their toll and the important crew-rider relationship can break down. I watched a rider cuss out a crew member when they got lost on the route. The reason I witnessed this was because we were lost too. Sometimes, in spite of all the planning and preparation, something goes awry with our navigation. You just have to recognize it quickly, figure out how to get back to the point you went off course and then get going again.
It has been particularly inspiring to see how many people we run into on the road who see our RV, strike up a conversation and then give a donation. Sometimes it’s cash, sometimes a check, sometimes some free stuff. We got a case of ice-cream drumsticks today from the ice-cream man.