Four Rookies and a Three Year Old: Team Osprey's Tale

By Janet Osprey Christiansen, 2003 solo finisher and Nancy Dankenbring Award Winner 

After getting home from the 508 this year, I wrote off a "quick" email to my cousin, Dr. Whitney Swan, who is a psychiatrist. I wonder what she diagnosed me with after she read it. But I was not writing it about my own experience, I wrote it on behalf of Team Osprey; four rookies and a three year old. Here's the email:

"Well, speaking of cycling, the Team Osprey crew did **outstandingly** well this weekend considering we were all rookies plus one three year old. Not to mention that Carol and Albert are not even cyclists. On top of which we were trying to coordinate two support vehicles as well. It was a heck of a first race for them to be support crew. A few minor glitches in the first part of the race. And a rather ragged time of it the night before the race (race start 7:00 am). We were trying to do the impossible task of getting organized after the Pre Race Meeting (picture the entire contents of van and truck all over the motel parking lot at 10:30 at night). Things smoothed out and no more problems after that though. Not even a missed gear shift or lost water bottle!! Though at one point, I think Carol and Albert were ready to file for divorce. They're ok now.

As it turned out, I started out better than I could have ever dreamed. By the first 24 hours, I had covered 375 miles of the 508 mile course. At Time Station #6 and only 70 miles to go, I was still going strong with most of the total 35,500 feet of climbing behind me. While I was starting to lose some strength I was still riding well and able to eat and drink (and pee) properly. I was 8th overall, including the men! And with so many vans and people on the side of the road whistling and clapping when each rider went by, I was as high as I have ever felt during a race.

Then we hit the "Valley of Death" coming off the summit of Granite Mountain in the midday heat of the southern California desert. Or I should say, the Valley of Death hit me, chewed me up and spit me out. I nosedived spectacularly over the next hour. It felt like my skin and clothes were on fire. The sun beat down on all the riders and crews who had the bad luck to hit this part of the race in the 100+ degree heat. Somehow my crew, who had slept a combined three hours themselves, held it together as I fell apart. They did everything they could think of to help me, but my system just quit on me. At 30 miles to go, I was crying inconsoleably. Carol, angel of mercy—who could believe we are related—kid sister, massaged my legs and got me back on my bike to continue on in that heat. Debi, my best friend, cycling pal, and crew captain, was also incredibly patient having suffered in an un-air conditioned vehicle all day long too. By now everything hurt, and I was no longer going to win, or have a fantastic bike time. But I kept going for them. And we finally crossed the line at 8:45pm, for 37.75 hours. Janet, stop pedaling now. I don't think Chris Kostman ever saw anybody so unhappy to cross the finish line.

Funny thing is, I did better then I expected to (goal: 40-hour bike time), even with my demise in the V.O.D. So having dried my eyes, and calmed down, I was soon very happy and thankful that my crew talked me into to finishing the race. And so my rookie crew, including little three-year-old Christian who stroked my face and consoled me at my lowest point, saying "Janet is sad" ( Man that little boy has uncanny sense of compassion!), came through BIG time. And we enjoyed the rest of the weekend, no regrets. The other riders and their crews at the 508 are the best people you could hope to meet. There is no race or event I have ever been to where people go out of their way to help and encourage each other. I think Carol and Albert were really surprised to experience this, and guess what??? They want to do this NEXT YEAR!!! Janet is not so sure. Has to figure out how to deal with those fireballs of hell coming out of the sky, bouncing off pavement and incinerating the rider."

OK that's my tale. See you all soon!