508 words on the Furnace Creek 508

posted to www.the508.com in October 2007.

My most memorable 508 was my first experience with it in 1998.

I came here to crew for the “Griffin” along with the future “Hummingbird”. We were double-century riders who didn’t have a clue about this ride. We studied the race magazine on the drive down, with essays by people with names like “Penguin”, “Flamingo” and “Whale”. At the banquet I found out that the “Bike Van”, Lee Mitchell, was also the “Maggot”. The “Beaver” made a speech about retiring, although he came back a few years later to double up the 508.

The three of us had never ridden through the night, and by Badwater Mike and I were dozing off in the van. We passed the “Algae” asleep in his van at Ashford Mills. The sun came up on Salsberry, and around noon on Sunday, somewhere near the Kelso dunes, Kevin had had enough. Mike & I were too tired to argue. We drove the course to the finish, and sorta consoled Kevin with the assumption that this was some kind of crazy RAAM rider event – not meant for double-century riders.

We passed the “Devil Ray” near the top of Kel-Baker – I remember how determined she looked. Driving through 29 Palms we saw the stoker from the Austrian “Wolf” tandem riding a solo bike with a case of beer under one arm.

We hit the sack well before dark. I woke up at 4am and decided to see if anything was happening at the finish line. The lobby faced the finish then, and there were several folks there hanging out, drinking coffee. I met the “Abalone” – a double century rider and rookie RQ finisher, who had been up all night cheering finishers. I met the “Whale” and some other folks. I saw the hallucinating “Nanosaurus” & his “Amoeba” crew chief. And in the last hour the “Swan” and the “Polecat” rolled in. The Polecat had to be peeled off his bike but he was smiling.

I got the bug. I read all the essays on the508.com, talked to other totems and came back as a rookie wih a rookie crew.

On the way to 5 finishes I’ve had lots of great crew. My wife Connie did 4 of them. And the “Kangaroo Rat,” “Hummingbird,” “Griffin,” and the “Boar” finished their first 508 after crewing for me – which proves that luck can be contagious. In five 508’s, I think Reed Finfrock and Peter Pop have beaten me about 10 times.

I’ve mentioned a few totems, but if I tried to mention all the riders and crew who have become friends, sources of inspiration, advisers, or bend-over-backwards supporters, it would take too long and I would still forget several. I will mention one more who not only inspires but facilitates with this excellent venue – the “Whippoorwill.” I’ve always liked the AdventureCorps motto “We’re Out There” because it s a double or triple entendre. Chris is “out there” encouraging individuals, engineering success for the entire event, but he’s also willing to risk failure, which is a rare combination.

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