“Just keep going,”
I’d tell myself. By this point it seemed no longer a matter
of physical ability, but rather a mental willingness to continue,
as my body, aches, pains and all, had settled into some sort of
sadistic rhythm, driven on without cause or reason. In the early
morning hours, somewhere after Bristow, I was literally falling
asleep on my bike in spite of a recent sleep break. I was inadvertently
awoke mid cycle and had just gotten back on the bike. No matter
what I did I couldn’t wake up. I rolled to a stop completely
exhausted to find my crew once again rushing to my aid. In one last
ditch effort I found the strength to raise my arms up enough to
wrap them around the 6’0 Greg Reynolds. Greg was a trusted
friend and a stabilizing force on my crew. Whenever I was sleeping
Greg spent that time praying for me. We joked how he had been praying
for parts of my body that had probably never been prayed over before.
As he later recapped, it appeared to him that he was now the recipient
of a thank you hug. Greg quickly realized however, that I could
no longer stand under my own power as my legs decided it was time
for reprieve. All my weight was now bearing down on Greg’s
shoulders. Peter and Micky helped stabilize my tattered body and
helped drape me over my handlebars. After a quick prayer and some
water in the face, I was back on the road. They knew that sleep
was not an option, this was a race and I’d just have to fight
off my body’s desperate cries. Though only a couple of minutes
in length the quick stop, water and prayer seemed to be adequate
as I began to pedal again.
The heat and humidity
were beginning to make their presence known as I wheeled into McAllester
Oklahoma. “Boy it’s hot.” I said quite distressed.
I was not accustomed to these conditions, and they too were taking
a toll. I took another much needed 1½ hour before finishing
off Oklahoma’s last few miles. As we approached Arkansas it
was apparent that I was in unfamiliar territory. Fireflies filled
the night sky with fascinating trails of radiance that I’d
never before experienced. This was Ozark country and I was quite
thankful that the Ozarks pale in comparison to the grandeur of the
Rockies and Cascades out west. It was dark when we entered Arkansas.
I wasn’t there long before I noticed a faint glow in the distance.
“What was this large glowing building?” I thought to
myself. As I approached I realized it was a chicken farm. Let’s
just say I no longer eat southern grown chicken. We arrived in Mena
to find a small town with little nighttime activity. I paused briefly
to change shorts in a somewhat vain attempt to provide relief to
the incessant pain now dominating my rear side. We got back on the
road and learned from race head quarters that Stefan was gaining
ground. All the problems and stops of Oklahoma were now going to
come back and haunt me. My brother had known for some time that
Stefan had been gaining on me, but thought it better not to be the
bearer of discouraging news. Not being the type that takes defeat
easily, I reprimanded my brother for this poor decision and then
I poured on the gas. And I poured it on hard. I don’t really
know where the energy came from, but I know adrenalin was involved.
I was absolutely burning up the road, first Glenwood and then on
to Arkadelphia. I resembled a Tour de France individual time trail
rider as I bore down hard on the pedals. The pain in my posterior
would just have to be put aside; I had a job to do.