A Note from Fatty: There are still quite a few registration slots for the 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere available. Please sign up for the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done, while simultaneously raising a ton of money for Camp Kesem. Click here for details, and click here to sign up.
The best way to plan is to have a plan and then plan for that plan to unravel. Then have a plan for what you’re going to do when things go pear-shaped.
You should expect, however, that even your contingency plan is likely to discombobulate.
Hence, there’s rarely any point in having any plan at all, apart from planning to adapt and improvise.
This, as you’ll find out shortly, is pretty much my top takeaway from crewing for Lisa and Lindsey at the 2015 LoToJa race.
A Generously-Sized Gap
As I may have mentioned at some point early in this story, When I left you in part 4 of this story, The Hammer had taken off with the lead women’s group, followed fifteen minutes later by an exhausted-sounding Lindsey.
If you were to go back further in this story, you’d see that at the previous checkpoint, Lindsey had been ahead of Lisa.
As far as I knew, the only way they had not ridden in this race was together, which was kind of the whole point of why they signed up.
Nothing we could do about that now. Blake and I just needed to hotfoot it (at a safe and legal speed, thankyouverymuch) over to our final location to crew for Lisa and Lindsey: the Alpine aid station.
Which we did.
Knowing that we’d need to hurry once we got there, Blake and I talked about what we’d grab and bring with us. Blake filled the bottles along the way.
[Note from Fatty: There are several text messages in this section. Please note that while they were to me and I was driving, it was Blake who read the messages aloud and did the replying for me. I don’t text and drive, ever. And neither should you.]
And then, as we neared the Alpine checkpoint, I got this text message from Lindsey:
The temptation was to flip a U and go help…but if we’d done that, we’d have left Lisa — who’d be arriving at the aid station within a few minutes — high and dry.
So I replied:
She didn’t call or reply to this text immediately, which I saw as a positive sign; she was likely fixing her tire and not able to see that we had replied. So we sent the following message:
Then we parked, jumped out of the truck, grabbed everything we needed, and ran to the checkpoint.
We had made it.
Cory — Ben’s dad — came through (Ben had come through before Blake and I got there) at 3:01pm. At which point he apologized for his behavior when he was stung by a hornet at the last aid station, causing him to shout several words I would ground my twins for using.
“That’s a nice apology, dude,” I said, coolly. “But that outburst is still going in the blog.”
Lisa came through at 3:03, her position in the lead group of seven women now a solid fact. They were going to stick together right to the end.
Lisa was way happier and energized than someone who was 3/4 of the way through a 200+ mile bike ride had any right to be.
“We’re just having so much fun,” The Hammer said.
“Lindsey’s not having any fun at all,” I replied. “She just had a flat.”
Another racer in Lisa’s group heard me saying this and said, “Actually, Lindsey has bailed out.”
“What?” I replied. “That doesn’t sound like Lindsey.”
“That isn’t like Lindsey,” Ben’s mom Lynne affirmed.
“The guy on the motorcycle was really clear about it,” the rider said.
Then, at that moment, almost as if to affirm that in fact this was not like her, this text from Lindsey arrived:
I was glad Lindsey had gotten her bike to the point that she could limp it to the aid station. But I was bummed to hear she’d need to do more work. But I was mostly just glad that she wasn’t out of the race.
A quick reloading of GU and swap-out of water AND AN OPEN COLD COKE RIGHT NOW, and Lisa was on her way — her day going almost as well as Lindsey’s wasn’t.
And now Blake and I had a problem: in addition to the fifteen-minute gap that already existed between Lisa and Lindsey, there would now be the additional gap caused by Lindsey doing a field repair, and then evidently needing to do another tube replacement when she got in.
By the time Lindsey got going, she’d be at least half an hour behind Lisa.
So: what do we do? Let Lisa finish the race without anyone to cheer for her? Or bail on Lindsey?
Neither was an acceptable solution, and luckily we had a third choice: have one of us go on with Lynne, while the other took care of Lindsey.
I thought about it for a second: which of us would Lisa rather have at the finish line?
Well, me of course. That’s obvious. OK, maybe it’s not that obvious.
And Lisa does in fact see me and ride with me pretty much every day. And I see her at lots and lots of finish lines. While Blake doesn’t.
And also, Blake is a pale, pale man who doesn’t get outside much; he was starting to burn pretty thoroughly.
So I sent Blake ahead with Lynne and family, and went back to waiting.
And it’s a lucky thing we went with that decision, or things could’ve gotten a lot worse.
I stood and watched the road, expecting every rider to be Lindsey.
None of the riders, however, were Lindsey.
I let ten minutes go by. And another ten. I checked my phone constantly, thinking maybe I’d call or text her to see if everything was all right. Glad she had brought her phone with her on the race — something I have never once done.
And then: a call.
“I’ve had another flat,” Lindsey said. “I don’t have anything to repair another one.”
I wasn’t surprised. Flats come in twos and threes. I don’t know why, but they do. You know it’s true.
“Hang on, I’ll be right there, I said, even as I grabbed and packed up all my stuff and began running the approximately half mile back to the truck.
I threw everything into the truck bed and took off — at a safe and legal speed — down the road, my eyes peeled for Lindsey.
And in a few miles, I found her at the side of the road. Already putting a tube in, with a car pulled over and helping her.
As it turns out, it was the mom of one of Lindsey’s old boyfriends. I’m sure that was a fun reunion, and I’m glad I had no part in it.
I finished changing the tire, got Lindsey another tube and a couple CO2 cartridges (because flats come in twos and threes), set her up with food and water, and asked how it’s going.
“Not great,” she replied. Which was shorthand for “I’ve been throwing up a lot.”
I mentally blame the poptarts, but say nothing. I am not a fool (though I can play that role).
Lindsey continues on, on her own. Not having a good day, not in contention, but not giving up.
I admire her. And soon — very soon — I will think about her as I am not having a good day, am not in contention, and am contemplating giving up.
I’m now free to fly to the finish line, and fly I do. At a safe and legal speed, mind you.
But I don’t fly fast enough.
I park and call Blake, who tells me, “Yeah, [Lisa] just finished.” I find them and get a picture:
Lisa hasn’t just finished, she’s finished third in the women’s Cat 4 division, with a 10:09:28 (all seven of the women in The Hammer’s group would wind up getting a podium spot in their various categories.)
Yeah, 202+ miles, in 10:09. You wonder why I call her “The Hammer” on this blog?
We load Lisa up. She’s tired, but happier than I’ve ever seen her at a finish line. Happier than anyone who’s just maintained a 20.1mph average for more than ten hours has any right to be.
We head to our hotel. We’ll meet up with the rest of the gang after we wash up and eat; that’s our plan. But a few miles after we head out, we see Lindsey; she’s found a group to ride with, she’ll be in soon. And she is:
She’s just finished Lotoja — finished it strong — after having a rotten day on the bike.
I’d say that’s worth a victory salute.