Furnace Creek 508 2012: Stage 5-Shoshone to Baker

Sunday, October 7, 2012

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It is now in the early morning hours of Sunday and Julie and Steve are on Stage 4. Deb and I drove the Tandem truck up to Shoshone to see about getting a bit of rest before our next and final stage.

We pulled in about 2.5-3 hours before Steve and Julie would eventually arrive. We were semi sleeping in the truck across from the time station so as not to get disturbed by solo and relay team arriving and leaving. However, just as I nodded off one of the station officials came over and banged on our window to find out where our rider was. Since it was before 7AM there should not be a race vehicle driving without a bike in front of it. If so, it usually signifies a DNF. However, as a four tandem team we are allowed a second vehicle. So although he had a good reason to wake us I never really got back to sleep after that. I figured I got about 30 minutes of on and off sleep while waiting.

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If there’s an easy stage in this race, this is it; one gradual climb up to Ibex Pass, and then a long, long descent down into Baker. There are a few rollers but the road is mostly flat and in good shape. The stage begins with about 5 miles of flat, and then there’s a false flat/climb up to Ibex Pass over the next 5 miles or so.

Deb and I made our exchange with Julie and Steve about 9:30AM while it was still cool out. We both commented on how nice it was to not be riding in the heat. Our ride up to Ibex pass was ridden mostly in the big ring. I never mentioned to Deb where the top of the hill was and after about 75% of the climb I mentioned that we were almost to the top. She had no idea we were even on the hill.

Once over the top it is a long, long gradual descent for the next 10 miles. The payoff for the easy climb is fantastic. We are in our big ring pedaling at about 30+ MPH. I tend to coast when there is little payoff to gain the extra couple MPH’s but Deb seems to like to peddle most of the time.

When we finally got to the base of the descent it looks like it is a long slow 40 mile climb to Baker with a few long gradual turns just to mix it up a bit. We are cruising thru at about 15-18 MPH and catching a solo or relay team every 15-20 minutes.

Riders are really getting strung out now that we are in the second day. Crews are leap-frogging along this stretch and the traffic is very light. In past years there has been quite a bit of traffic and with zero shoulder and it can be dicey.

We didn’t put the GPS on for this leg since there are no turns required. As a matter of fact the next three stages are on the same road with zero turns. However, we can tell by the roadside mileage markers how many miles are left to Hwy 15 which is Baker.

The temps start to rise and I am getting a case of Hot Foot. Not too bad but just enough to be annoying. Deb and I are getting antsy to get our final stage done and every other mile we stand to get out of our saddles. We stand very well and each time I shift up about three gears and we stretch our legs. We have to be careful not to gain too much speed while standing or we will have to sit back down as we do not like shifting while standing. It is such a pleaser to ride with someone who is so smooth and likes the same gear.

We finally see Baker in the distance with their world’s tallest thermometer, however, it takes another half hour to get there and make the handoff to Lisa and Jason.

Baker is the ONLY chance to stock up on gas, food, water, etc. before the finish; there is nothing in Kelso or Amboy up ahead. So we hit the mini mart for some supplies, and then Julie, Steve, Deb and I hit Burger King for some real food. Nothing like a nice big chocolate shake at the end of our last stage. We were sure to let everyone know that we are the first to finish which of course means we won. 🙂

*Ride report by Willy Nevin & Debra Banks

STATS:
Start Time: 07:33
Miles: 56
Elevation: 2186′
Arrival at Time Station # 5-Baker: 10:54
Elapsed Time: 25:24:00
Time from last station: 3:21:00
Avg Speed: 16.78 mph
Miles into Race: 382.7
Temps: Mid 70’s
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This is the route for Stage 5:
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