Goat here, filling in for our intrepid hero, Matt, aka Desert Locust,
aka Dessert Locust. My first ever blog post, quite exciting. I imagine
I'll ruin Matt's sincere and consistent prose style, oh well.
I've always read horror stories of the 'thermonuclear headwinds' that
are said to rip through Death Valley at night. In my four years of
involvement with the 508, however, they've never materialized. The
glorious northbound tailwinds have always dissipated by the time night
has fallen, leaving fairly smooth conditions for the southerly route
through the valley itself.
Things were looking good this year. Matt's in excellent shape, and has
a lot of 508 experience now. He completed the first 200 miles in just
over 9 hours, and just outside of the top ten riders. The time, in
part, was aided by the aforementioned tailwinds.
Unfortunately, this year, the winds were here to stay. After a
refreshing break at Furnace Creek, there ensued eight hours of
gruelling slog against intense, gusty headwinds. To make matters
worse, one our crew. Had chronic, vomit-inducing car sickness. Matt
hung out in the van for a couple of rest breaks, but soldiered on
regardless. The winds eased by the time he hit the Salisbury and
Jubilee passes climb, and there was light in the sky.
Somehow in the overnight chaos I also managed to misplace one (of my
two) shoes. Oups. Should liven up the rest of the trip.
So now, here we are leapfrogging Matt across the (in my opinion)
toughest section of the 508, Shoshone to Baker.
Here, the rider has essentially thirty or forty featureless,
approximately flat miles, on a shoulderless road populated by
thundering RVs. It's a painful and lengthy trek before you reach the
quiet beauty and grandeur of the Mojave National Preserve just past
Baker, with the Kelso dunes and the Providence and Granite ranges.
To quote the closing passage from Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus":
"…we must imagine Sisyphus, happy" .