The 2006 Furnace Creek 508

Ultra cycling in Death Valley, CA. USA

By Christina Peick and Martin Kristensen,
Team Gallus Gallus

What an awesome race Furnace Creek 508 is...

We decided in July to participate in Furnace Creek 508 2006 because we were looking for a great challenge within the cyclingsport. Both of us have a very active background, but none of us had ever done such a long bike race. Christina is a former cyclist and I'm a former triathlete. Christina works full time as a physiotherapist and Martin works full time as a controller. So all our training had to be done after work or on the weekends and therefore we did most of our training indoors on a spinbike because the training is in a warm climate and very effective.

We left Denmark nine days before the racestart. We wanted to climatize to the heat and make sure that we could see the route before the race. Before we arrived we were sure that Martin had to start the race and race the stages 1-3-5 and 7 because this was the longest stages and with the same elevation gain as the stages 2-4-6 and 8. After we saw the route we changed our mind and decided that Christina should start the race and do the longest stages. The reason for this decision was mainly that the climbs on the stages to 2-4-6 and 8 are more moderate and should be raced in a timetrial position. Christina loves to do real challenging climbs and Martin is a former triathlete, so the decision seemed very natural to us.

Friday we had to check in and see all the race participants. It was a good and very informative meeting. Specially we remember Chris Kostman's one show about handing out drinkbottles to the racers: "Do not hand out bottles like this" (facing the racer coming against you with 35 mph, smile). "If you're lucky you will only be knocked over..."

We remembered this with a smile. And we saw a lot of very fit participants. After the race meeting Christina pointed out a blonde-haired woman and said to me: "Martin that is Cathrina Berge the solo winner of RAAM 2005. We shall look out for her team during the race, because she will definitely go fast."

Saturday morning at 9 PM Christina headed out for team Gallus Gallus to do stage 1 and we left her quickly behind us and drove up the first climb to meet her there. A couple of very fast men were the first racers to meet us up there, but Christina had put in a good pace and was the first woman to get to the top approximately 12 minutes after the first man. The race had started and she was looking good and smiled all over here face.

4:49 hours from race start Christina handed out our Gallus Gallus baton and Martin entered the race. It was a great feeling and he was put in good position due to Christina's performance.

The first crisis entered on stage three on the long climb up to Townes Pass. We had made a wrong decision about Christina's gearing on the bike and didn't bring a lower gearing than 39-25, which meant that Christina had a very long and rough climb over the pass. She could hardly push the pedals and fought very very hard for six miles. But three Cokes and her own will brought her to the top and down into Death Valley. We changed in Furnace Creek for stage 4.

Martin went out on his first ride in the dark. He was very excited and soon very positive about the conditions in the dark. "I had feared that I couldn't see a thing out there, but the vision was good and soon it was really exciting to sit in the dark and watch the flashlights from all the other racers." On the long flat part in Death Valley he went along with team Fruit Bat. We kept a good pace all the way to the bottom of the climb to Jubilee and Salsberry Pass. Martin felt really good so he decided to push hard in the headwind and get to the top as fast as possible. Gallus Gallus went up to the top fast.

After stage 5 one of our crew members noticed Team Bumble Skipper had arrived nine minutes before us at the time station. Unfortunately we had to get fuel for the car so we had a long shift while waiting for the car to get back. The clock was as I remember 6:40 AM so it was not dark anymore, but the rules predicted night riding until 7 AM. We decided to try and catch Team Bumble Skipper. The last thing Martin said to Christina before stage 6 was that she had to recover the best she could and just focus on pushing really hard on stage 7. Christina said that she would and that I should concentrate on pushing hard now. The teamwork at this time was excellent and we were both very excited about the race.

Stage 6 was another long time trial uphill and in headwind. Focus was to keep pushing and staying down in the aerobars and just focusing on trying to gain time on team Bumble Skipper. Five miles before the top we caught them. We really appreciate the team's very good spirit while they were cheering at us. It felt great and we cheered Cathrina back. Soon after we also cought team Red Kangaroo, which we had been very close to during most of the race.

Christina finished stage 7 in front of both the teams and left Martin in a good position before the last stage. The last stage felt very long and it was warming up, so it ended up being a very hard stage. On the last stage the focus was to get to the finish line together with Christina. We had worked as a team the whole way and we wanted the team Gallus Gallus to finish together on the finish line.

So we did after 28 hours and 20 min minutes.

We had a great race in Furnace Creek 508. During the race we were very focused on racing even though we said hello and cheered on the persons we met. It was fantastic to feel the understanding and friendship between the teams and to see how everybody was cheering on one another. We would like to thank all you racers out there.

We want to thank our crew members for their fantastic work and support before, during and after the race. Without them we couldn't have done the race. Also a great thanks to our sponsors, Codex-Company, Keops, Polar Danmark, Maxim and Descente Clothing.

Also many thanks to Chris Kostman and his team for arranging such a great race.

Gallus Gallus will come back to the 508 one day.

Best regards,
Christina & Martin