17 May 84

Started packing, finishing up details, trying to leave by 1200. Lee arrived shortly after noon. He showed early that he was useful in ways that might not be expected: he helped set up and solder some of the lighting system that was still being finished up.

Finally left for Elaine’s house around 1800, hit the road ~1900 to drive the ~500 miles to Hemet. Stopped at the Mexican place in Newman.

I figured we would stop somewhere overnight as I had no stomach for an all-night drive. However, I awakened from a nap to find that Lee had gotten us to Gorman and, as I was refreshed, I took up the task.

Arrived as the sun was lighting the eastern sky ~0500 Friday, went to sleep.

18 May 84

Up after a few hours sleep. Elaine’s father, Ray turned up. He pulled an all-nighter, driving down alone. Ate at MacDonald’s, the first of several such meals, the drove the course. Lee took notes oon everything, including the mileage posts at each checkstation. These meticulous records were later to prove invaluable.

Approaching the start area in Rancho California, we pass a rider who is probably Michael Shermer. At the start area, we meet two dramatis Personae: Race Director Bob, jovial, energetic, brash jumor. Steve Rivit, layed back survivor of some earlier generation. He was stapling reflective tape onto the dozens of 4’x4’, yellow, diamond shpaed signs: "Caution. 800 mile bicycle race in progress." Steve took our picture in our Sam-designed team tee-shirts. Blue eyes, short blond hair, slight mustache. You would expect to see him sitting on a street, not riding a bike. Exchanged pleasantries about the race. Invented the phrase which was to become a theme: "Chew em up and spit em out."

Back in Hemet, ate pizza at a dive. The motel begins to fill up with riders: Victor and Rosalyn, John ?, Karen X from Kansas, ... .

We crash around 2100 and sleep very well, propelled by the previous nights shortage.

19 May 84

I awake before the 0500 alarm. Drive to Rancho California. Encounter a raodblock/detour on our route, but hte young man was kind enough to allow us through what turned out to be a baloon-launching jamboree.

Finished checking in, ate some mush. Last-minute equipment change. Elaine’s back tire had seemed to start losing air and the most recent test proved it. A quick change to my back wheel for the start. Then I slap one of the criterium seta’s from the tire museum onto Elaine’s wheel for subsequent change back. This required buying some glue, as the only tube in the kit proved empty. Fortunately, there is a bike shop in the complex where the start is held!

In the parking lot, we see Pat Hines for the first time; "six foot five", as Elaine said. She’s not quite that big, but she is very striking in her all-white clothing.

The starting scene is spectacular, with dozens of brightly colored balloons drifing over the assembled throng of riders, crews, officials, and who knows who else. Kitty turns up and Elaine has a chance to speak with her briefly before the start. Elaine is nervous and Kitty helps with some calming advice. Race Director Bob gives a speech which makes things seem more organized than they are. All the stars are introduced, but they are invisible in the crowd. Lon Haldeman, Susan Notorangelo-Haldeman, Mike Shermer, John Marino, Pete Penseres, and others.

At 0900, they roll out and the race is on.

Sat 10:24 1 2 24.0 1:24 0 17.1 17.1

We drive to checkpoint 2 at Winchester by a route other than the course as rightly required by the officials to avoid bad congestion. When we join the course, a large group of riders is just turning onto the road we are on; a few little groups are further out in front.

#2 is at a God-forsaken intersection in a dirty vacant lot inside a right turn that the riders make at a stop sign. It is already hot. We prepare to hand up water and cookies and wait.

The heros rage through, including Sue Notorangelo, who I spot for the first time. Elaine rolls through in a large pack and shouts something about people being off the course. We manage a messy handoff and in the excitment I give Elaine a little push. This is inconsequential as far as helping Elaine, but potentially devastating as it is explicitely against the rules. "Don’t push me!", she shouts for all to hear.

Sat 10:54 1 3 32.6 1:54 0 17.2 17.2

We drive to #3 at Hemet, passing the main pack en route. #3 is at a fairground which is up for sale. Another event is in progress and we are directed to a parking area outside the checkpoint proper. Another straight handup, then off the the next checkpoint.

Sat 11:57 1 4 46.0 2:57 0 12.8 15.6

#4 is about 1/3 the way up "the hill", a climb to 4900’ over about twelve miles. Things are already spreading out pretty good, as some riders are only beginning to understand the true magnitude of the task. Elaine is doing a good job and rolls through well up in the group, certainly in the first half.

This is to be a pivotal station, replete with hihs and lows. It is run by Marilyn?, a truly remarkable, wiry, grey-haired woman whose kindness and energy seem inexhaustible.

Up the hill Lee has selected an intermediate point to take splits at Mtn Center, near the top. I am mildly annoyed for no good reason, but stop there. It is a pleasant spot, cool at all times. Call it #4.5.

Sat 12:57 1 5 55.5 3:57 0 9.5 14.1

After 4.5, there is a little remaining climb followed by a fast descent right into the Lake Hemet checkstation, #5. (I didn’t realize that there really was a lake in the area until I finally saw it Tuesday, driving back.) #5 is in a grocery store parking lot and is quite convenient, with a real toilet where I make my first pit-stop.

Leaving 5, an 8+-mile strecth rolls gently upward to a right turn which we make into another never-fail stopping point. The turn introduces a noticable little "wall", followed by a fast descent reaching to within a mile of #6 in Anza.

Sat 13:51 1 6 69.6 4:51 11 15.7 14.4

A little plastic awning is stretched over a table and some chairs in the dirt by the side of the road at an intersection. A phone booth here is the communications nexus of the JMO! A firestation, providing restrooms, bunks, and even showers is a few feet away across the sideroad.

Elaine gets off her bike for the first time. She is not eating or drinking enough. I can’t even get her to consume any reasonalbe amout of fruit juice and Calistoga water, which is old reliable. She complains that it is too concentrated, no matter how little juice I include in the mixture.

Maybe 10 slightly rolling miles through open countryside bring us to a steep 6 mile descent to #7 at Aguanga.

Sat 14:49 1 7 84.4 5:49 0 18.9 14.5

This is a hard one. A motor home parked by the side of the road is the base. It is trying not to be in the way of a nice little grocery store/gas station next to a bar. The road here is narrow and frequently busy with fast-moving, agressive traffic. Some of the events here bear out my nightmares.

Elaine is still riding very strong. Handups have gotten pretty routine. Ask her what she wants as we pass her on the way in. Upon arrival, someone whatches while the rest load bottles with ice/water/drinks and pack cookies, or whatever. When Elaine is potted, a couple people get out to the raod with the goodies, hand stuff up, collect the rejects, straighten up the mess, and hit the road again to repeat the cycle.

Leaving Aguanga, the (nasty, narrow, busy, awful) road rolls a little down through dry, hilly country to hit the flat for a few miles before getting to

Sat 15:45 1 8 98.0 6:45 0 14.6 14.5

the final checkpoint before Rancho California. This is in a real estate office parking lot. Beyond #8, a right turn takes the course into a residential area leading back to the start line at Rancho California, outside Temecula. We also take consistent splits here at a stop sign where the course closes and the second lap begins.

Sat 16:08 2 0 103.3 7:08 0 13.8 14.5

Elaine rolls through at 7h 8m, a very good time. Our optimistic plan calls for 8 hour laps on the avarage. The slowest that will get Elaine in in time is a 10 hour average.

A few miles through half-inhabited, half commercial, but mostly spase and empty country. There is a big gully that provides a noticable descent and climb.

Sat 16:43 2 1 110.9 7:43 0 13.0 14.4

This bring us to #1, which we see for the first time. It is REALLY nowhere. At a wide spot in the road at an intersection in a grapefruit orchard. Another motor home, providing restroom facilities.

We start to think about the transition to night.

The course rolls through open, brown slightly hilly country on backroads, then joins a state highway. It is my second least favorite strecth after the Aguanga piece. Mainly from the point of view of the rider, who enjoys several vistas of the road stretching away for miles into the distance through the hot, dry countryside. It is the kind of thing I find really depressing when I ride.

Sat 17:43 2 2 127.3 8:43 0 16.4 14.6

We tell Elaine that we expect enough of a stop to put on the lights and maybe change clothing at #4.

Sat 18:15 2 3 135.9 9:15 0 16.1 14.7

Sat 19:26 2 4 149.3 10:26 19 11.3 14.3

It gets cool amazingly fast, before the sun has really set. A 19 minute stop gets the lights set up, clothing changed, and some food aboard.

Sat 21:00 2 5 158.8 12:00 7 7.6 13.2

Six more minutes on the ground. Now it is totally dark.

Sat 22:08 2 6 172.9 13:08 5 13.9 13.2

Kitty and Elaine have been in close proximity ’til now, exchanging positions, and having a few chances to hold brief conversations. After five on the ground, Elaine rolls out. Kitty is still sitting in a chair at the checkpoint. She will bag it here, which is sad for us, as we like Kitty and wish her well.

Sat 22:56 2 7 187.7 13:56 0 20.7 13.5

Was this the conversation with the woman coming out of the bar? "Why don’t you go somewhere else? ... Yeah, we get 10 points for every rider we hit." I am dismayed to see her turn right, following Elaine down the road.

Sat 23:50 2 8 201.3 14:50 0 15.1 13.6

The fixed headlamp has failed completely and the miner’s light is getting dim. We prepare to change the battery at the next stop.

Sun 0:13 3 0 206.6 15:13 0 13.8 13.6

Sun 0:56 3 1 214.2 15:56 6 10.6 13.4

Naturally, we arrive before Elaine. Sharon X, who has noticed Elaine and taken a liking to her, expresses concern about the lights and offers Dan Baummer’s headlamp setup. (Dan has dropped out.) It is a very bright Union Halogen lamp (no, NEITHER of the Union lamps I have turns out to be Halogen, in spite of the fact I was assured they were). It is powered by 4 C cells, and set up for the Bell Pro Helmet, which is what Elaine has - serendipity continues to aid us.

Our first stop in the orchard - six minutes. Sharon does the light installation for us.

Sun 2:06 3 2 230.6 17:06 0 15.4 13.5

It is becoming clear that no (living) rider gets off at #2.

Sun 2:45 3 3 239.2 17:45 8 13.2 13.5

Eight on the ground

Sun 4:37 3 4 252.6 19:37 8 7.7 12.9

Eight more. It is beginning to get light. Where do we remove the lights?

Sun 6:10 3 5 262.1 21:10 6 6.7 12.4

Six more. Elaine is getting pretty ragged and is looking for ways to rest!

Sun 7:11 3 6 276.2 22:11 10 15.4 12.5

Ten more. Elaine is approaching the longest ride of her life and is tiring. We start to plot the first sleep. Seems we should try to get her to #3, where there are good facilities. Also, she should arrive in the heat of the day and may get a break climbing the hill next time.

Sun 8:02 3 7 291.0 23:02 0 21.7 12.6

After #7 by 9 miles, Elaine reaches 300 miles, equalling her longest previous ride. Her time is 23:39, much better than the previous ride.

We measure out the spot and set up a little finish line, complete with rope, to celebrate and cheer her on.

Sun 8:55 3 8 304.6 23:55 5 15.4 12.7

Sun 9:20 4 0 309.9 24:20 0 15.9 12.7

Five more.

Sun 10:00 4 1 317.5 25:00 0 11.4 12.7

Probably encouraged by the prospect of rest, Elaine stays on the bike through several stops.

Sun 11:19 4 2 333.9 26:19 0 12.5 12.7

I buy some flowers from a man who is selling them from his truck on the corner across the street form us.

En route to Hemet, Lee and I have our first discussion of sleep strategy! I think we should let her sleep several hours to get really rested (and also to kill off more of the hot part of the day). Lee is very insistent that an hour is tops! He finally convinces me that we should try an hour and see if it works. If Elaine is still dragging, we will try more.

Sun 12:00 4 3 342.5 27:00 120 12.6 12.7

An elaborate stop of two hours. We find a shady spot in the building near where the other riders are sleeping. (It looks a little like a war zone with about twelve bodies flaked out on cots, some attended by loved ones...) We change Elaine into a T-shirt and a pair of Lee’s underware, Lee cleans her off and massages her for 45 minutes, then to sleep.

I bring in the flowers and Elaine wakens a bit, sez thanks, and asks me to stay. I stretch out on the wooden floor and catch a few winks myself. After a bit, I get up and sneak out to see what’s happening.

We awaken Elaine after an hours sleep. She seems rested and sharp. She eats some lasagne, to my great amazement. This is the first real break in what has become a real feeding problem. It is not optimum to stuff herself with tomato sauce before the climb in the heat, but by now eating is the real priority, so I am very happy.

She rolls out at 1400, a two hour stop exactly. It is still beastly hot.

Sun 15:16 4 4 355.9 30:16 0 10.6 11.8

Sun 16:20 4 5 365.4 31:20 0 8.9 11.7

Sun 17:20 4 6 379.5 32:20 9 14.1 11.7

We are trying to keep Elaine moving. She stops. It’s not all bad - she finds some spaghetti which she likes! Lee and I are trying to get her rolling again and have loaded the spaghetti into her Marino cup. She is straddling the bike but still stalling. Pete Penseres appears and introduces himself - he is one of my real heros, but I barely have time to say hello. He comments that if Elaine is putting away spaghetti in this heat, she is doing OK.

Sun 18:21 4 7 394.3 33:21 10 17.1 11.8

Kitty appears. As we suspected, she had retired last night, not just for a rest, but from the race. Too bad! She cheers Elaine on between the stops. She tells Elaine that she is going to "talk to your crew".

Sun 19:29 4 8 407.9 34:29 7 14.1 11.8

At the checkpoint, Kitty shares information with us crewfolk, which is very helpful. Even more, she and her fiancee are enormously generous with material support. This is to prove crucial at the very next stop. As Elaine was to observe later on, "...all of which we needed and none of which we had."

Sun 19:59 5 0 413.2 34:59 0 13.8 11.8

Sun 20:43 5 1 420.8 35:43 47 10.4 11.8

Elaine arrives and takes me aside mysteriously. She is having trouble being with her saddle! The Kitty gifts of 44 short minutes ago miraculously include some kind of chaffing creme and a Spenco saddle pad. All of this is applied immediately. We also go to evening wear and lights during this too-long stop with it’s very ominous problems.

Sun 22:48 5 2 437.2 37:48 3 12.6 11.6

One of the only stops at 2, three minutes to remove the saddle pad. It is to high, wierd, and bulky. The chaffing concoction seems to be helping.

Sun 23:40 5 3 445.8 38:40 4 10.5 11.5

The race enters a new phase. Things have gotten moderately routine (with the notable exception of the recent saddle problems). Getting cold drinks into the bottles during the day and warm drinks during the night is pretty routine. The first sleep is past. We are over half done.

I had not really thought about "competition" since the early calculations that predicted that all we had to do to qualify was to finish. Only eight women were entered and casual visual inspection had revealed that few of them seemed likely to survive the hill.

These predictions were proving out (too bad, I would like everyone to finish!). Susan Notorangelo, current cross-country record-holder, went out strong and was hours ahead. Shelby Hayden-Clifton, winner of the recent Spenco 500, had also started very strong and was hours ahead last time I had payed any attention. The only other woman still riding that I am aware of is Pat Hines, who is a few hours back.

But what to my wondering eyes should appear here at checkpoint #3 in Hemet? Shelby is on the ground when we crewfolk arrive! She looks a trifle dazed and spacy to me - maybe she has just awakened. She is back on her bike and out, but only minutes before Elaine arrives! Suddenly, there is a chance not only to qualify, but to WIN!

Elaine spends a scant four minutes on the ground. The chase is on.

Mon 1:27 5 4 459.2 40:27 0 7.8 11.4

Ray and I press on towards checkpoint #4, leaving Lee to clean up and follow. We pass Shelby. SHE IS ON THE GROUND. Her crew is there. Her car turns back to Hemet, leaving her sitting by the side of the road. (We learn later that she has had a mechanical problem with her light which requires the presence of an official mechanic.)

We press on to #4 in great suspense. Lee arrives to report that Elaine passed Shelby, still on the ground, but that Shelby later caught up with Elaine. This provoked Elaine, who picked up the pace and pases through #4 ahead of Shelby without stopping.

Mon 2:55 5 5 468.7 41:55 6 6.5 11.2

Shelby pulls off her first great climb that I witness, taking maybe 20 minutes out of Elaine on the last two-thirds of the climb. She passes through Hemet Lake well ahead (a few minutes, that is!).

The strategy is now set. Who will get off the bike first? Elaine’s energy is still not good, perhaps she is still suffering from the saddle, perhaps she is just plain tired - for Heaven’s sake, she is well beyond any distance or time she has ever done before. The miracle is that she is still riding and doing well, not that freshly-rested Shelby is going a little faster! Nonetheless, it is now imperative to keep riding as long as possible.

Mon 4:16 5 6 482.8 43:16 17 11.3 11.2

Seventeen minutes on the ground?!?

Mon 5:38 5 7 497.6 44:38 0 13.7 11.1

The morning has brought a thick fog with it. We leave the lights on even though it is daylight to maintain maximum seeability for Elaine as she travels my least favorite stretch of road.

We find the approximate 500 mile point and hold another celebration. Elaine later remembers us as the Kingston Trio, lined up by the road, entertaining her with our little routine.

Mon 6:36 5 8 511.2 45:36 0 14.1 11.2

Mon 7:00 6 0 516.5 46:00 0 13.3 11.2

Mon 7:43 6 1 524.1 46:43 10 10.6 11.2

Ten minutes - take off lights?

Mon 9:06 6 2 540.5 48:06 0 13.5 11.2

Elaine is moving but not really happy. I have arranged to try the carrot approach and have chilled and peeled one. As Elaine rolls in, I run ahead holding it out. She is mildly amused; even better, she eats the carrot.

This must be when we talk with Marino. He recounts the list of accidents that have occured, fortunately none are really serious. He offers advice on training for Elaine: skip speed training, spend time on the bike. It is the support systems that tend to determine things by failing: knees, necks, butts (as he knows from painful experience).

Mon 9:50 6 3 549.1 48:50 15 11.7 11.2

Fifteen minutes?

Mon 11:42 6 4 562.5 50:42 8 8.3 11.1

Eight minutes? Perhaps this is the famous stop where Marilyn (Madelyn?) helps Elaine to use the rather primitive and precarious toilet perched on the steep drop on the downhill side of the road?

More carrots - Ray is cutting up carrot sticks which we put in the Marino cup with ice. Pretty fancy.

After Elaine rolls out, Shermer comes through. He will eventually catch up with Elaine and ride with her for a while and talk. I guess it is becoming clear that she is likely to qualify and several of the veterans talk with her and offer various advice.

Mon 12:53 6 5 572.0 51:53 0 9.0 11.0

Mon 13:49 6 6 586.1 52:49 0 15.1 11.1

After Anza, Lon joins Elaine and rides with her for a while. She offers him carrot sticks which he accepts after a brief hesitation. He is impressed that they are ice cold...

He tells Elaine that Shelby is only a few minutes ahead.

Mon 14:42 6 7 600.9 53:42 23 16.8 11.2

Elaine arrives and beseeches us for a little relief. Her feet and her left ankle have been bothering her for some time. The ankle is visibly swollen and we have been stuffing ice cubes in her sock at checkpoints. She has been complaining that her feet are hot and we soak them with water repeatedly. (One of these "hot feet" is to prove the most threatening health factors after the ride.)

Elaine knows she should keep riding, but we agree to a mini-rubdown and set up the pad and towels in the shade between the store and the bar.

Shelby’s crew, Eric, is still there. He has been montoring the gap by waiting for us to arrive before he leaves (E is still that close). He wanders into our little therapy room and inquires about E’s health and comments on her ankle. We are not particularly happy to have the enemy in the locker room, so to speak, and minimize the problems. We later get a little more used to Eric and are not so defensive.

Several folks wander by our little seance, including the couple who run the store. Elaine starts fantacizing about popsickles and they kindly donate one on the spot! (Elaine winds up eating two more before she leaves.)

As departure time approaches, E sits up. There is a little twinkle in her eyes and she quietly, matter-of-factly, says something to the effect "This may sound awful, but I’ going to get her." All present are jazzed by the reawakened spirit.

We have promised Elaine that she has earned a rest, and if she needs it, she can sleep at Anza.

Mon 16:05 6 8 614.5 55:05 0 13.6 11.2

Sue Notorangelo’s crew arrives while we are waiting for Elaine. We chat a bit. After Elaine goes through, Ray and I wait to see Sue while Lee goes on ahead to get the split at 7.0. Sue stops briefly, but merely straddles her bike for a few minutes before going on.

Mon 16:31 7 0 619.8 55:31 0 12.2 11.2

Elaine says she is going to make a pit stop at #1.

Mon 17:02 7 1 627.4 56:02 0 14.7 11.2

E surprises us and rolls through. She is actively chasing and is working very hard.

Mon 18:08 7 2 643.8 57:08 0 14.9 11.3

Mon 18:38 7 3 652.4 57:38 15 17.2 11.3

Another stop for lights and night clothes, fifteen minutes.

Mon 20:34 7 4 665.8 59:34 0 8.0 11.2

The horror. I prepare some rice with celantro and miscellaneous other stuff. Lee and Ray are off visiting and I am not coping. When Elaine arrives, she pauses and asks for something slightly different. Basically, we blow it badly. E sets off up the hill in the growing chill with no cookies, bare legs, and only her lycra tights in case she gets cold. VV’s lowest hour.

Mon 21:58 7 5 675.3 60:58 26 6.8 11.1

Susan has lapped E. E was on the ground struggling to get her tights on when Susan rolled by. E arrives thorougly cold, thoroughly miserable. Ot takes 26 minutes to get her tights and booties on. Her ankle is so sore that we have real trouble dressing her. It is a real tossup whether we should persist in pushing her on to Anza, where the sleeping facilites are better and where she will have the boost of being exactly one lap out. (We have laread decided that she must rest and have been targeting Anza for some time.

Elaine, exhausted and in obvious pain is literally put back on her bike. We hold the bike, put her feet in the pedals, tighten the toe straps, and say "go". She lifts herself out of the saddle, onto the lead peddle, and rolls out into the darkness. My heart is in my throat. The ladies at the checkpoint voice concern and I feel worse yet. I can’t tell them "Oh, don’t worry." I am worried sick myself.

The gamble is certainly not a raging success. E does not recover to a reasonable pace and it is very slow. I stop frequently and run along side and talk with E. Sometime, I WALK alongside her. She is coherent but not lively. Such a game lady!

I monitor the descent into Anza. If E goes off the road, I don’t want to have to search very far or very long to find her!

Mon 23:40 7 6 689.4 62:40 150 11.1 11.0

Thank God! We get Ealine off her bike, she is scarcely able to walk. I go into the firehouse for the first time, with E hanging on my arm.

We visit the restroom. A horror mask is hanging next to the doorway! I feel Ealine silently stiffen. I explain that it is just a mask and she sort of believes me.

Out of the restroom, I try to scope out the sleeping area. There are numerous bunks, mostly occupied. One of the occupants says something, gets up, rearanges something on the nearest bunk. Without waiting to understand the situation, I peel back a blanket and plop Elaine down. A voice asks if I want sheets! "Thank you, no" - I have barely removed E’s helmet, she is in full armor, replete with four layers on top, three on her legs, andf booties over her shoes. Sheets seem like something from another world.

We have decided that E should probably get two hours of sleep. Her last words are to the effect "don’t let me sleep too long", "can I still finish in 80 hours"; she is distressed and disturbed that we might not somehow force her in in time. In reality, she could sleep for four or five hours and still make the cutoff.

(Shelby has just left as we arrive.)

Lee is asleep, so is Ray; the crew is about at the end of its rope, maybe worse than E! I put in a wakeup call with one of the checkpoint crew, who seems quite responsible, but I worry anyway. Lee and assorted junk occupy the lower bunk in the bus. I pop the top and snooze. It is cold and I have no blankets. It is too hard to dig out more clothing, I would have to crawl all over Lee to find it anyway. I wake up about 0100 and wander around.

In the bunkhouse, I watch E sleep for a while. As I watch, she starts jerking. It is like a big shiver, except it is more coordinated with her whole body jerking at about 60 cycles. It gets more and more violent, seems to be her leg muscles spasming. I rub/shake her for a while and she stops. I go out and wander around. The wakeup guy sees me, is surprised, and comments that I won’t need a wakeup.

After a bit, I decide to waken E early. I get some hot chocolate and go get her out of bed. She is coherent, but a little groggy. She likes the chocolate and asks for more. I get more chocolate and Lee to help out. E’s energy comes up. Lee wires her for sound and after two and a half hours on the ground, about one and a half of that sleeping, we launch E through the rollies to the downhill leading to Aguanga.

We check on her once enroute, she is very happy and rolling pretty well!

Tue 2:59 7 7 704.2 65:59 0 18.1 10.7

The checkpoint crew says that Shelby was on the ground a long time and was looking pretty bad. We are nowhere near 2-1/2 hours down and Elaine is happy and rolling! A debate starts about if/when we should tell Elaine that she still has a real chance at first.

Tue 3:54 7 8 717.8 66:54 0 14.8 10.7

Last time through Rancho California. It is dark and foggy, Elaine is still cheerful and rolling.

Tue 4:25 8 0 723.1 67:25 0 10.3 10.7

Elaine confesses that her spirits are flagging and asks for help. We promise hot food and whatever else.

Tue 5:16 8 1 730.7 68:16 0 8.9 10.7

I cook mush. We talk to the checkpoint crew. They say Shelby was going strong and looking good (reports of her death continue to be premature!). But we are still closing...

Time drags by, Elaine is overdue! A third party volunteers to go look for her. Ray presses on ahead to take a look at Shelby for ourselves. Elaine finally shows up. She has made yet another unauthorized stop in to hit the bushes! I am annoyed. The mush has jelled and probably won’t come out of the bottle (it doesn’t).

Elaine presses on, we take off after her, still debating if/how to break the Shelby news.

En route, Ray returns. He reports that he found Shelby down by the side of the road, being watched by some random motorist. Ray went on to #2 and got Eric, who came back. In the pre-dawn darkness, lit by headlights, Eric manages to get Shelby back on her bike and moving, but she is obviously in bad shape and well under an hour ahead.

Tue 6:28 8 2 747.1 69:28 0 13.7 10.8

Elaine rolls through, we still haven’t told her where Shelby is. We are encouraging her by every other means and she is doing OK, but not great. Another attempt is made with the mush... Elaine sez she will have to hit the head again in Hemet.

Tue 7:08 8 3 755.7 70:08 9 12.9 10.8

We arrange for E to ride into the building where the restrooms are. I stay with her. She comes out demanding some clothing adjustment. We accomodate (it being quite reasonable to get out of the heavy night costume) at the cost of nine precious minutes of ground time.

We give Elaine coke with caffiene for the first time. We tell her the whereabouts of Shelby. We pick up Steve Rivit again!

Lee and I hit the MacDonald’s for the last time. They are into breakfast and I score and egg mcmuffin or whatever. It is the worst ~food I have enjoyed at this now-familiar breakfast stop.

Tue 8:47 8 4 769.1 71:47 0 8.9 10.7

In spite of our throwing everything we have at Elaine, she is moving very slowly. Steve is dangerously close to her, but maintaining a reasonable (legal) distance.

Shelby is on the ground when we arrive at the checkpoint! When Elaine arrives, she is only 16 minutes down! 37 miles to go!

Elaine somehow gets motivated and rolls through #4 for the last time. She hasn’t peeled completely and is still in lycra tights and a long-sleeve jersey, but she has preserved the 16 minute gap and is rolling. More coke/caffiene, water, cookies, ...

We pass Shelby and give her encouragement. We cannot pass her without being civil and commending her incredibly gutty performance. It does not seem disloyal, Elaine and Shelby are locked in the final stages of a struggle that began almost 36 hours ago and has really gone on unabated ever since. It is incredible that the gap has now become a practical target for Elaine to erase!

At our checkpoint at the top of the hill, Shelby has turned a split four minutes faster than Elaine’s best time! At the same time that it is demoralizing, it is inspiring. She has pulled out her second remarkable climb.

Elaine hits the top looking neither to the left nor the right. She no longer wastes the energy to respond to our encouragement. She has just climbed the hill two minutes faster than her best previous time!

We charge on to Hemet Lake.

Tue 9:47 8 5 778.6 72:47 0 9.5 10.7

Shelby is on the ground! She sits at the checkpoint, we stand by the road and wait, one eye on Shelby, the other on the road watching for Elaine. Shelby gets up, walks to the road, gets on her bike. Standing maybe twenty feet away, I commend her effort. She barely turns her head enough to look at me and rolls off.

Elaine rolls through four minutes later, slowing down barely enough for a reload of water and a drenching. We tell her the interval. The energy level is unbelievable! Eric takes off. I tell Lee that if it isn’t settled by the last little wall, I fear I may expire and we roll out too.

We pass Eric, sitting on the tailgate of his station wagon, brushing his teeth! He waves. We pass Elaine, then Shelby. We have no good way of knowing what is happening to the interval, but they are both rolling. Elaine is on the drops, the strain is apparent on her face.

We wait at the turn for the last time. Lee picks a lillte boquet of tiny wild flowers for Elaine. Shelby makes the turn, rolls out of the saddle, and charges the little wall. Awsome is an overused word...

Elaine makes the turn one minute and 35 seconds later. She rolls out of the saddle and takes the hill standing up. It’s hard to guess. Obviously, Elaine is closing the gap, but there isn’t far to go. We tear off towards the finish line, passing first Elaine and then Shelby.

Tue 10:30 8 6 792.7 73:30 0 19.7 10.8

Will the helmet be white or black (Shelby or Elaine)? We stand by the roadside, Race Director Bob and John Marino hold the ribbon at the finish line. We tell them they may need a photo-finish camera.

A rider starts to materialize from the haze down the road. The helmet is ... white. We can see Elaine too and the gap is oh so small, but clearly beyond reach. Shelby takes the tape down the road with her. There is a scramble to retrieve it in time for Elaine. She takes it away a second time, 35 seconds after Shelby.

Elaine slows, unfastens one foot, coasts unsteadily to a stop beside Shelby, who is leaning on a pickup truck. Elaine says "It’s good to meet you."