It Can Be Done

A Rookie 2-man Team 508 story

By Brad Carey, the 'Walla' part of team Chuckwalla

We did it! Two rookie 508 racers that have seen their dream come true….a Furnace Creek 508 finish!

Thanks to other riders' essays providing excellent route details, I'll concentrate on information that may help potential two-person teams reach their goal of completing the 508.

When my teammate told me he wanted us to enter the 508 as a team I thought he was nuts! I'm a recreational rider who enjoys challenging rides, group rides and challenging hills. The UCMA membership belongs to those talented 508 solo racers not me! The more we talked about the details of the race though the more I became interested and excited. I was in it for two reasons, to challenge myself and to assist my friend across the finish line, after all it was his dream not mine.

How did we train? We typically ride 1 1/2hrs three days a week before work. Our rides always have a mixture of hills and flats. We rode in the Hotter N' Hell Hundred and completed maybe two other centuries prior to the 508. As the race date approached we increased our bike commutes to work from 58 miles to 80+ miles round trip. That really helped our training and greatly increased morale at work. We rode Saturday or Sunday afternoon but not consistently due to being family men and Bible-believing Baptists.

What did we eat? We assumed we needed approximately 500 calories an hour so we planned for that. We trusted those experienced racers and went for Ensure as our mainstay. Four of the 30+ cans were Ensure, the rest were Boost Plus or any other generic equivalent that found its way into our cooler. We also bought stock in Clif Bars and Cytomax as our sports drink. Our grocery list was short including the above and also red grapes, apples, bagels, oyster crackers and Pop Tarts. Our wonderful crew being of sound mind and large appetite brought along a myriad of foods for all our dining pleasure most of which was never touched by the racers. We found that the Boost drinks and Clif Bar were a good match. Eating became a chore on the 2nd day. I didn't feel hungry and nothing sounded good. Only the Boost went down easily along with Oyster crackers. Thanks to our crew we always ate and kept hydrated.

How long did we ride? We went into the race with a plan. Each rider would ride 30-60 minute pulls or 10-15 mile pulls. That plan deviated somewhat when it came to bumps in the rode like Townes Pass and Salsberry Pass or when a rider wasn't feeling their best. Townes Pass was awesome! I loved the challenge of riding up a sheer wall, at least that's what it felt like after my 3rd pull up that devil. Our pulls up the pass were _-1 mile long. We always erred on the safe side and pulled less in order to have strength to finish the race since that was our first goal, to finish.

What about our crew? They were the best! Our wives and a good friend of ours made up our one vehicle support crew. They all got along great and kept the riders fed with occasional leg massages thrown in for good measure. None of our crew is cyclists and only one had learned how to change a flat and lube a chain. Call it an answered prayer, but we never needed an experienced 'wrench' to work on our bikes…not even a flat was had! The Honda minivan was an excellent support vehicle.

What about bikes? Remember we're family men…we each own two bikes, one road and one mtn. We brought the mtn bikes along for the rough sections and as backups. One mtn bike was used on a section of road under construction. The top layer of asphalt was chewed away leaving a surface that'll jiggle your eyeballs out of their socket. My full suspension ride w/slicks made it tolerable be it slower. The road bikes have aerobars and 39/53, 12/27 gearing. This gearing proved perfect for Townes Pass. An extra wheelset was on hand but never used. Normal lighting was a cheap 1.25w job to be legal and a std rear flasher. High power light systems were on hand for downhills.

Any other tips?