Lar's 24 hr ride part 2

Here’s the rest…-Mark

Then I turn north on 49 and the crosswind is at last at my back after a full day of having it come from our side. Robert and Sara catch up just after the north-bound turn. We flag down a highway patrol car and the trooper signs our sheet and wishes us well for the night. We keep expecting the pizzas to show up but we get to mile 125 before the RV and van pass us and pull off to serve dinner. The kids are jumping up and down with greetings when we arrive. The weather is pleasant, the breeze is gentle. The pizza boxes and drinks are on the pavement in the pullout. We lean up against the cars, eat and rest. Amy rubs birch oil on my knees, gives me an anti-inflammatory pill, and tells me to take some homeopathic Arnica tablets through the night. Then I take off again. Its 7 p.m. 2 hours and 15 minutes of reserve time. Robert and Sara stay behind to hook up the lights on their bikes. Anne and Amy drive ahead for a campsite at the Missouri River. Anne will drive back with the Honda as soon as they’re set up.

My knees had been getting a bit tender before dinner. After the half hour break they really didn’t want to start turning again. It took a full half-hour before they recovered from that break and got limbered up again. No more long breaks tonight. No nap for sure. Open ranchland, the sun was behind a cloud, I was tired and suddenly feeling lonely and small in this wide open land with a full night of riding ahead. I was hoping Robert and Sara would catch up soon, but they were packing their bikes for the night ride and nowhere in sight. Then a bit later a rainbow appeared to my right and lifted my spirits. Actually, it was a double rainbow. The northern end reached up somewhere towards my destination. The southern trailed my path, out across the fields. The rainbow was so bright that its reflection shimmered along over the field. Sara and Robert caught up with me. “That’s a sign, Lars,” Sara said. I agreed.

After some miles the rainbow faded, and the sun set. We were expecting Anne back with the Honda anytime. It got slowly darker as we pedaled on. Cars had their headlights on. Soon we turned ours on. We crossed the White River and climbed a steep grade to get out of the river valley. Five more miles we rode until we reached the underpass to Interstate 90. It was dark now and stars were showing in the sky. “We need a Honda,” Sara said.

When the infrequent car came our way, you could see its headlights far into the distance ahead of its approach. “We need a Honda,” Sara would say for everyone. Finally, one vehicle slowed and turned. It was Anne and the Honda. We were at mile 151. ‘You got far,” Anne exclaimed. “Sorry I’m late. We got all set up and then the attendant came and told us that we were in someone else’s spot. They helped us move, but it took a long time. I’ve got pizza, chocolate milk, OJ. What do you want?” It was a quarter past 10. An hour and a half of reserve time. Sara rode a few circles in the headlights of the Honda to get in the last three tenths of a mile to make 60 miles for her day, her longest ever. Then she packed her bike up and got in the Honda to help escort us through the evening. We rode alongside, following the path of the headlights. The windows were down and the radio was on so we could all hear it as we rode.

At midnight we called WCCO radio for our regular Wednesday evening update with Al Malmberg. “I’m sorry you have to stop,” he apologized. “Don’t worry. You have no idea how good it feels to stop for a minute.” Each time we talk now Al gets the address for where listener’s can send checks for the Seward Peninsula Endowment. We’re looking forward to meeting him when we get to Minneapolis. He’s becoming a good supporter of One Wheel – Many Spokes, and he wishes us well for the ride through the night. Midnight. 164 miles. A little more than an hour of reserve time left.

Mile 160 to 170 are the slowest ones yet. We’re riding on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation, headed towards the Missouri River and Fort Thompsen. For a long stretch I’m only riding 8 miles an hour. “Is that the dam up there?” Robert laughs at me. “No really, is it?” “Of course it is,” he replies. The lights are swimming together as I ride towards them. Then finally, we’re riding over Big Bend Dam, a long earthen dam that is lit by streetlamps along its full length. “We’re camped down there,” Anne points to the lower side of the dam, “Just a few more hours.” We ride through Fort Thompsen, then follow the sign for East 34.

“You’re doing great, guys,” Sara calls out the window. Now it’s Roberts turn to zone out. He misses when he tries to return his water bottle to its carrier and it drops to the ground. And when we pass a flashlight back and forth to check the odometer, it requires our full concentration to keep from dropping it. “Shine the light on that sign,” I tell Robert, “I think it says West on it.” Sure enough. We’ve missed a turn and we’re on West 34. We check the map and find out this will work. West 34 is actually heading north on this stretch and that works for us too. It has turned out well, since the gentle breeze is still behind us when we travel north.

Mac’s Corner is on the map, but all we see is a single gas station where we pull in for another piece of pizza. Amazingly, there are two cars with children and dads in them parked nearby. They start walking toward us. “We couldn’t believe it when we passed you back there. What are you doing, trying to set a record or something?”

“Yeah,” I reply, “What are you doing here at two in the morning?”

“Oh, we’re just coming back from taking the kids fishing. I work here. I’m the head of security at the Cherokee Tribal High School.”

Another official on our path. He agrees to sign our verification sheet. Two a.m. 19 miles to go. 50 minutes of reserve time left.

We ride long distances in silence except for the radio. When I ask Robert what the mileage is, I find out we’ve only gone a mile or two since last asking. Mileage and time are slowing down. There are only 15 miles to go. Not far, I tell myself. 15 miles is a long ways though. It’s the distance from Greenbank to Coupeville back at home when I was training last winter. It’s the distance to the beach from home when I was a kid. I visualize riding down the block from home, passing each house, turning each corner, riding past my high school, the mall, and then out Tujunga Canyon Road. I ask Robert the mileage. My six mile trip in my head is worth two point three on the odometer. Sara is driving now. Anne is sleeping. Sara looks tired, but she keeps telling us, “This is great. You’re doing great.” Ten miles to go, we discover. At last. 30 minutes of reserve time.

There’s a light up ahead in the dark. Two men are standing outside their broken down car, a lantern on top of the hood. They’re a couple of sorry looking cowboys who have drunken far too much to be out on the road. “We need a ride,” one of them tells us. “We’ll ride in the car.”

We have four miles to Highmore. I consider what to do. The Honda is full of stuff. We’re traveling nine or ten miles an hour. I’d like to help, but I sure don’t want Anne and Sara riding with two drunks for the next half hour. It’s a balmy evening and they’re not in danger of freezing. “No, sorry, we can’t give you a ride. The car’s full. We’ll go to Highmore and call someone to come and get you.”

“We can fit.”

“No, we can’t give you a ride.”

“We’ll ride on top.”

“No.”

This conversation is too strange, at nearly 4 a.m. in the morning. I tell Robert to watch them while I try and get back on the unicycle. It has become more and more challenging to find my balance and get going after breaks these last couple of hours. I make it back up on the first try and we pedal off. Sara drives past them and we continue on. “Well,” Robert says, “that woke me up.”

In a moment the sky begins to lighten up and we see Highmore in the distance. Pedal, pedal, pedal. With 23 minutes of reserve time left, we hit 200 miles, just outside of Highmore. We stop for five minutes to take pictures and get a drink of orange juice. Then Robert and I get back on our cycles for one last time for the last few minutes. We ride thorugh Highmore and make the turn out on to Hwy 14 East, ride a mile or so out of town and finally stop at 4:45 a.m. The sun is just about ready to come up. We’ve covered 202.78 miles. It seems a long time ago that we started this day.

202 miles is a bit less that the distance from New York to Washington D.C. (233)

Its more than the distance from Seattle to Portland (189)

Its more than half the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco (379)

Its farther than I ever thought I’d ride a unicycle. And I never could have done it without Anne and this team of friends who thought this would be a fun adventure.

I was wondering how I’d feel after this ride. I feel tired. I am amazed that my body agreed to do this.

Robert volunteers to drive us back to the campsite. The rest of us are snoring before we leave Highmore.

Great report. Where’s the link to part one?

Part one is in the thread titled “Jack Hughes riding the STP”
<http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=26674&gt;

Thanks for posting that, Mark. Yes, if that’s on the site a link would be nice.

Lars, you’re an animal! The 24-hour bar has been raised to 202.78 miles, with what sounds like thorough recordkeeping and witnesses to make it stick Steve McPeak’s 186 miles probably can’t be substantiated nearly as well.

I wonder who will be the next to tackle the 24 hours?

I don’t think it’s on his site. Lar’s sent it to Al Lieffring who posted it on his Yahoo Group “Al’s Unicycling Club”

I did find some pics of this day at

http://www.onewheel.org/docs/phgal/g0606.htm

-Mark