As a team of eight, we rode 429 miles in 27 hours, 20 minutes through freezing and rain but not, thankfully, freezing rain. As always, the day before, the hour before and the minute before I questioned my judgment if not my sanity; ¨Why do I do this?¨” And, as always, at the conclusion of the adventure I said, to anyone who would listen (or read) ¨That was a fabulous experience!” And it was.
Friday and Saturday of last week (September 22-23) my sister Marjorie and I joined Kevin, Laurie, Brenda, Chuck, Tom, and Henry as part of the Tour de Friends team. We took turns riding bikes from Salt Lake City to St. George UT. This time the method of torture/sister bonding experience was selected by Marjorie. Within 65 minutes of completing our 65 mile Mesquite Madness bike ride in March, Marjorie had committed both of us to ride in the Salt to Saint Relay with her friend Brenda Good times!
The good times started with a note from my friend Heidi saying that our mutual friends, Kevin and Laurie Smedley, had ridden in the Salt to Saint in 2016. Kevin. Laurie, Heidi and I worked Pioneer Trek together back in the day, 30+ years ago and I have not spent much time with them since. Cool that they rode last year. Maybe they would ride again this year and maybe, just maybe, I would see them this year. Chances seemed pretty slim….the course is 429 miles long and riders begin the race in shifts, starting at 7 a.m. and continuing every hour until noon.
Turns out the chances I would see them were about as slim as I am. Much to my surprise and delight, I found their names on my team roster when I registered for the race. WHAAA-WHOO! We spent over 27 hours riding together (in a van and on a bike) and it was just like old times. Laurie still speaks her mind, is very perceptive to other´s needs and feelings and still has a beautiful singing voice. Kevin is still publically quiet, privately funny, and super competent all the time.
There were 24 legs in the relay; each of us were assigned to bike three legs. My assignments were legs #2, 10, and 18. My first leg (#2) was 14,2 miles from Draper to Saratoga Springs which I did in 46 minutes, 45 degree (fahrenheit), and Chacos. My second leg (#10) was 19.5 miles from Salina to Richfield. The course had a very slight incline but I also had a slightly more than slight tail wind. I completed it in 60 minutes, 54 degree temperatures and Chacos.
My third leg (#18) was slightly more than slightly uphill and slightly more than slightly cold. I biked 17.3 miles from the Mount Carmel Junction into Kanab. I did it from about 3:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., in 27 degree temperatures, and closed toed shoes. I pedaled slowly up 1073 feet the first six miles and zoomed quickly down 1372 feet the next 11. Except for my headlamp and the tail light of the man half mile ahead of me the course was pitch black. The term ¨no end in sight¨” gained a whole new meaning; I could not see more than 15 feet. I knew I was going up hill both because my legs and butt were burning and because the tail light in front of me was also above me but I could not see the top and began to question whether or not I ever would. I was thrilled, in an exhausted sort of way, when his tail light dropped out of sight, knowing that meant the summit was up there in fact, not just in theory.
Almost too soon the Salt to Saint was also a fact, a finished fact, rather than an upcoming experience. Most of us rode the last leg (#24, 13 miles) in together and all of us crossed the finish line together, Together is a great feeling. Tom, Henry, Chuck and Brenda are truly great people; riding with them was a privilege. Reconnecting with Kevin and Laurie was an unanticipated but totally appreciated blessing. And spending time with my sister Marjorie was worth every ache, pain and deep muscle burn of that early morning, energy sapping, seemingly eternal uphill ride.
Marjorie and the rest of the team returned to their homes in Las Vegas while I waited on a lawn outside the St. George temple grounds for Tanah to pick me up. She unexpectedly got in an accident on the way down (...I guess almost all accidents are unexpected…) so my wait was much longer than expected. Unashamed and exhausted, I curled up in my sleeping bag next to my parked bike, and napped. ¨There are services for homeless people,¨ I was told. Yep, I totally looked like a vagabond and I was totally okay with that.
My sweet daughters claimed me about 6:15 p.m. and drove me home. And that is the end of this story.
What is next sister, my sister?