"I've got to ride like the wind" Christopher Cross-2/80
This 600 km odyssey (373 miles) began August 10th in Fernie, British Columbia, crossed over the Continental Divide three times and climbed a total elevation gain of 40,000 vertical feet before dropping into Canmore, Alberta seven days later. The second annual Transrockies Mountain Bike Endurance Race, touted as the toughest race in the world drew 156 riders from around the world. Last year it snowed on the fourth day, one rider lost his bike in a freezing river. This year forest fires rained ashes for two days. In the first hour of the race, one rider shattered his sternum, another broke his leg.Riders camped in tent cities at night. The Canadian Rocky scenery was heavenly. One is the loneliest numberI first noticed him at the pre race party in Ferney. He was hopping on his only leg with a big smile on his face. My first reaction was one of pity. I wondered if he once rode a mountain bike.We exchanged small talk and I was struck by his high spirits.At the end of the last grueling stage in Canmore the crowd witnessed one of the most remarkable performances of determination and courage in any sporting event. A rider with a smile on his face, without benefit of two legs or even a prosthesis crossed the finish line in front of most of the field.When he was presented with an award that evening there was not a dry eye in the house. The image of his smile and crossing the finish line will stay with me for the rest of my life and will always serve as an inspiration to never giving up-Never!Workin for the manI worked this race as a support person and had the opportunity to ride some of the shorter loops of the course on a demo bike. I came back thoroughly exhausted.In the beginningI met a European television crew in Calgary and was given an RV to transport to Fernie. I had never driven an RV before and tried to stay close to the film crew that was driving at breakneck speed. I may have been responsible for a few minor instances of road rage while trying to get out of Calgary.When I arrived in Fernie I was given the jobs of showers and RV operations. This was a very good match of my skills given my recent RV experience.The Transrockies is modeled after the Transalps race in Europe and put on by a German group. I received my orders in German by many different parties, often times in conflict. One morning I was commanded in a frenzy to drive an RV to some camp ground called Etherington. I was told to fill the RV with water, dump the waste and add propane. It didn't seem to matter when I tried to explain that I didn't know how to get to Etherington and needed a map. When I mentioned that the RV's operating instructions were in German, the response was:Sie werden lernen! (You will learn?)At this time the only German word I knew was yaaaa. Later I learned nein.The trip that involved driving the RV 30 miles on backroads was quite an experience and along the way I stopped at a tourist attraction -----The biggest truck in the world.It certainly was impressive. I used to love playing with trucks when I was a wee lad.Eat your heart out Mooseman!!! You have not seen it!!!!As the race progressed I got more and more bosses and more and more jobs and orders. I shared living quarters in an RV with five people and a big dog that kept licking me at night. Real men don't need sleep.I shuttled racers, played security, unloaded racer's bags, worked with the start/finish crew in back breaking set up labor and then filled and carried 5 gallon (40) lb. shower bags. I also carried the wastewater to a dumping station. My calculations had me carrying over three tons of water. This was all done while the start/finish guys sat in camp chairs. They must have been union? At least they threw a few beers my way at night.The work was worth the appreciation that I received from all the racers, happy to take a shower after a grueling day. I exchanged emails with a number of them and hope to get together for a future outing."This is the end, my only friend, the end"Finishers were given medals by Canadian Royal Mounties in Canmore. A beer bash was held that evening and I sampled a bottled concoction of root beer and vodka. It went down real smooth. There was no need to go to bed that evening since I had to drive a van back to Calgary at 2:00 in the morning. I had a 6:00 A.M. flight and had to clear customs.The adventure continued when I was given a middle seat and sat next to a woman who was having a fear of flying attack and held my arm in a death grip. It stopped the flow of blood through my arm and made it a little difficult to nap.Sweet home ArizonaLater that afternoon Cody and Gerry picked me up at the airport and Cody was so excited to see me, she left a big puddle in the drivers seat. Gerry opted for the passenger seat.