Day Six Elevation Profile

'Tour de Blue' Log:
Friday 10/8
Day 6 - The Taming of Chicken Boy

Note: Remember to check the web site after the finish of the Tour de Blue for the awards ceremony and wrap ups!

It was the coldest day so far on average. The starting temperature was 45 degrees, not as cold as Tuesday's start - but it stayed cold the whole day. This meant sweating in the sun, chilling on downhills, and never getting dried out. I can't express how important clothing is on a ride like this. Today we only focused on finishing, not overlooks or pictures or even pigs or chickens. With all the lactic acid we've built up in our legs, pain is the word most often used in our thoughts. But what we had forgotten to think about was the 6500' in climbing to be done today.

Every one has their "cycles" during the day - times when their engines are reved and ready, and times when the transmission is rough and the clutch is slipping. Mike is like clockwork. In the morning he says little, barely wakes up at breakfast, mumbles a lot about saving energy, and invariably announces at the first rest stop that he is going to bonk, his bike is going to fail, or earth is going to be destroyed by a large asteroid shaped like Howard Stern. This normally means that he is going to make us chase him for the next 3-4 hours. Thus far Mike has led most of the time. He is almost totally bonk-resistant. If Mike had sponsors for this trip, they would be Advil and RC Cola. He swears by both.

My sponsors would be Power Gel and Gatorade. I went through two or more 70oz Camel Baks of Gatorade every day plus a couple rounds of water from my two water bottles. I have been first up most of the climbs, but am the most likely member of "Future Bonkers of America" if I don't eat enough. I've eaten constantly every day during the ride, eaten double entree's at dinner - and have still lost weight. But my greatest discovery has been that Power Gel takes all the pain away and makes me whole again. Of late I have had rough mornings and hit my stride in the mid-afternoon. I usually wait until then to take some Power Gel, but today I started right away.

We were never sure what was up with Hans until today. He is always riding at the back and laggin' up hills. His sponsor would be Spencer Gifts, as whoopie cushions and rubber chickens do more to motivate him than anything else. Today for once there were no photo shoots, and when he strapped on that chicken something was different.

He jumped to an early lead. "We'll get him," I told Mike. With an initial 1700' climb coming, I figured we'd just creep up on him and ease on by. Hans almost blew it early when he hid behind the van at a rest stop just to be funny. Thinking he had gone on, Mike and I passed. Hans had to catch up and pass us again, this time taking us up the steeper part of the climb. "I'm coming to get you chicken boy," I shouted. Steadily I cranked closer, pulling to within 50 yards. Then he disappeared around a corner, and when I rounded the same corner he was 80 yards away and standing up on his pedals.

Now, standing up to pedal is a great way to speed up a climb, but it can take a lot out of you. Hans looked back and grinned. "The chicken will be mine - oh yes, it will be mine, " I yelled hoping to gain a psychological edge. When I rounded the next curve, he was standing on his pedals again, farther away, spinning like the Wicked Witch of the West and looking over his shoulder grinning. I felt the pain start. We had maybe five miles left to go on this climb. "What is he doing?", I thought. "If I go after him my legs will be toast for the rest of the day!"

He took the climb, just blew us away. At the top, I rode in laughing. He grinned from ear to ear. "Chicken boy," I said, "you have proven yourself worthy and deserve more respect from us. Hence forth you shall be known as 'Chicken - man'!" He rode tough after that, though his legs were never the same again. Having been put on notice, I took more Power Gel before the next long climb so that I didn't have to show any more respect than necessary.

Having peaked at 4000', we now started on a descent to the James River at 668'. That's 35 minutes of zipping down hill. After the ride today, Mike commented on how fortunate we were that there were no major injuries this week. This downhill is one big place where they could have occurred. But, oh, what a pleasure!

From the James River we had to get back to 3300'. It was in this stretch that the space-time continuum began to tear. First, I fell over on my bike. No apparent reason. I just fell over. Then when we pulled in at the Bald Mountain parking area with 22 miles to go Karyn said, "Mike's bonking bad. Don't let him not finish!" I looked at her and said, "What are you nuts!?". Hans said, "I'm bonking too." This was too weird. I bonk, not them. Yet I was Gel-ed to the hilt and felt fine. And Karyn was right; Mike and Hans didn't look too good. "I'm just cold," Mike said. That is when bonking gets you the worst, not when you exercise too hard, but when your body has to work overtime to regulate its temperature.

In 1991, I ran my first marathon with Mike. At mile 17 I hit the wall (bonked) like a cement truck. Mike could have gone on to finish without me, but instead he got fluid and calories in me and stuck with me for the last 9 miles...

"We'll be fine," I told Karyn. Mike and Hans are the two gutsiest athletes I know. There was a better chance of me not making it through this ride than either of those two. "We'll can all ride in together."

And that is what we did. We changed into dry clothes, ate, and rode the last 22 miles tire to tire with Mike leading. There were a few good climbs left, then downhill. It was a perfect finish, riding together down into the Shenandoah Valley as the sun went down. We rode a long sloping downhill where you can see road wrapping around the mountain way off in the distance. The views were a collage of many things we had seen previously on this tour, cascades of hazy mountains silhouetted against each other, single moutains with million year old egos hovering over deep valleys, ridges streaked in late day sun and shadow. It was pretty damn cool. And here in the Virginia Blue Ridge the tree colors are bright.

At 6:55PM on Friday, October 8, 1999 Mike, Hans and Eric finished riding the whole Blue Ridge Parkway. It's been done before by others, but I'll bet no one else enjoyed it more. Karyn and Heather were there at the end taking video and pictures. We all went out and ate a lot of pasta. Mike and Karyn stayed in Charlottesville to do some sightseeing in mid-Virginia. Hans, Heather and I headed south to Blacksburg so that Hans and I could do the Blacksburg Strider Brush Mountain Breakdown on Saturday, a 16 mile trail run - but that is another story.

There were no Hans-spawned, chicken-crazed photo shoots on the last day. But he's got some ideas.

(Stay tuned for Awards, Wrap-ups from each of the participants, and "Where are they now?".)

Injury Report:
We are all deceased, but expect to make a complete recovery.

Miles Traveled So Far:

Miles To Go:
.1 (Rats! We forgot to do the last tenth!)

Final Yellow Shorts Holder:
(to today's last place finisher)
The chicken!

Thought of the Day:
It ain't always bad to get the Blues!

Bummer of the Day:
Hans' dog Winfrey got into the garbage at Russel's house this week. Every can.

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