The road to Kosciusko seemed to go through the deep dark recesses of the Mississippi swamplands. It was dark and the bugs down there are loud, deafeningly loud. I proved louder though as I went to sit down and the amount of pain resulting from this simple action was indescribable. My crew didn’t know at first what creature could have made such a shrieking cry, but soon realized it’s was not a creature at all, it was their rider. I was in pain. Pain like I’d never experienced, but pain that would pale in comparison to what was to come. A stop sign at a T in the road provided me with a much-needed support for my ailing body. I paused briefly in hopes of regaining some much-needed energy. The Swedish Team van was still there as my crew hopped out to see if they could help. Everyone just stood around shrugging their shoulder’s as there were no intelligible words proceeding from my still badly sunburned lips. After a minute or two they perceived some English words emanating from this seriously spent individual.

“How much farther to Kosciusko?” I mumbled. “Not too much farther,” was the reply so off I went. I arrived at Kosciusko to a welcome fit for a king. Fireworks, a police escort and a welcoming committee that had been charting my progress and praying for me since day one filled the local high school parking lot. Lead by Johnny Boswell and his wife Maureen, the Kosciusko crew was a sight for sore everything. They had learned of my faith in God early on in the race and informed my wife that they would be praying for me and eagerly awaiting my arrival. I don’t think I had the mental alertness to inform them at the time, but I too had been thinking of them often over the previous 2,600 miles and would have to say they played a big role in getting me that far. I often told myself that there are brothers and sisters in Christ praying for me there and that I would not let them down. I took another sleep cycle there in Kosciusko and awoke to a great deal of pain. By this time there was a number of areas suffering severely. Achilles, feet and rear end were leading the way. I could no longer sit on my seat so I was faced with the challenge of standing up all the way to the time station in Louisville. By this time I was the mental equivalent of a turnip. I ravaged the local mini mart shelves of all their Honey Buns. This was all I needed, a sugar high. I pranced around quite wired in a state somewhere between dream and reality. On and on I would ramble about how I wanted a spy like Rob Kish. “I need a spy Micky, Rob has a spy right there, and I need a spy Micky, get me a spy.” I was definitely providing some comic relief for my crew and two of the officials that were there to witness my lunacy. “Get back on the bike” Greg prodded, worried that much more of this would invoke a mandatory sleep break at the officials ruling.

Scooba Mississippi and York Alabama followed. I was still unable to sit as the pain had continued to increase beyond anything I could have ever imagined in the worst of nightmares. In York I wasted another 2 hours in the local emergency room in hope of finding some form of relief for a seriously escalated skin condition that was getting worse by the moment. Another costly rookie mistake as there was nothing the doctor could do. In a strong southern drawl, the husky doctor’s advice was simple, “Whatcha gotta do, ya see, is get off the bike,” unable to understand why this northerner was participating in such an obviously sadistic event. Any attempt at relief could be compared to placing a band-aid on a severed head, nothing was going to help and I just wasted 2 more hours. Stefan just got his lucky break. Throughout the race it was easily evident that I was one of the fastest riders, when I was on my bike. However, the lack of experience and numerous problems equated to a rabbit vs. hare kind of story line. When I was riding, no one would catch me; I repeatedly passed Stefan earlier in the race and had almost caught Rob in Arkansas. But the only time they could gain ground back on me was when I was sleeping or having problems, and I was having problems now.

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