Sunday, August 28, 2011

The end and the beginning

Jon's post does a terrific job of capturing the last ride of the "From Hell and Back Tour".  None of us realized how beat we were until we reached the 78 mile rest stop.  Walking through I saw the army cots laid out and I thought, "Wow, how nice of them to give us a place to lay down and rest."  I was about to take advantage when I saw the IV bags strung out across a clothesline, M*A*S*H style - all that was missing was Hawkeye and Hotlips.  This was the tipping point for the ride.  Only 22 miles left, but heat stroke was close for us all and made it feel like 40 miles.

We stopped at the 97 mile break, too weary to realize the 98 mile free beer stop was just down the hill.  Much to Jason's disappointment, we skipped the free beer this year.  What most people don't realize is the ride is actually about 103 miles, so free beer at mile 98 means 5 miles of foam in your gut as you push through the 106* heat.  Add the obligatory brat and baked beans to that and you get the picture.  Besides, better beer and food was waiting for us just up the road at the finish line.

The last beer stop on the FHAB Tour
I've ridden close to 2,900 miles in the last year, over 1,300 which were for the tour (the rest were a culmination of shorter training rides, rides with the kids, commuting to work, etc. - surprising how fast 25 mile rides add up).  The list on the right captures all the rides and the people joined in on the way.  In the Century Club Jon picked up 7 rides and 700+ miles, Jason 4 rides and 400+ miles.  

Jon and I struck out on this deranged journey together.  It started on a training ride around White Rock last year when the cracked idea popped in my head that if you end capped something with the HH100 on either side it would be "from hell and back".  It had such a nice ring to it!  Then I thought, "Hey, we could ride a century every month in between.  It would be difficult, but we could do it!"  Certainly dehydration and mild heat exhaustion were taking their effects at this point - I hadn't ridden a single century in my life but I was already thinking of riding 13 more.

Lying on the picnic tables at the White Rock trail head, I tried to sell my idea around.  Jon was the only one that bit, saying, "This sounds like a really bad idea... let's do it!"  Everyone else thought it was insanity, which proved it was probably the best idea ever!  With everything based on a cool idea for a name and absolutely no planning, we agreed to go for it.  

Jon didn't complete the FHAB Tour, but he made an impressive showing.  Foot surgery in the fall put him out for a while, then we both got off track between bad weather, family obligations, and the like.  It was hard as hell for me to get caught back up, leading to one stretch of 4 centuries 4 weeks in a row.  Brutal.

It's the end of the FHAB Tour, but not the end of Thirteen Centuries for us.  We've tossed some ideas around like a heading up a school bike club or a charity bike garage to fix up and donate bikes to folks that can't afford ones.  What will come of it?  Too soon to tell just yet, but we'll certainly come up with a challenge that will be hard as hell with an uncertain outcome.

Meanwhile, I'm going to spend more time riding with my own kids.  Aiden rode his first organized ride, stomping down 25 miles of the HH100 with Josh and Dad.  Kellan is not far behind, he rode 16 miles a few weeks ago, and Azure is doing great learning to ride without training wheels.  

Aiden's first organized ride, 25 miles at the Hotter  'N Hell
Thirteen Centuries rolls onward, more to come.

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