I spent an extended weekend in west Texas supporting an ultra-cyclist in a 400-mile bicycle race. Yes, that’s 400 continuous miles, no sleep, and I followed behind him in a car mixing up sports drinks, monitoring food intake, and fulfilling a plethora of other duties.
We started before sunrise to wonderful 70-degree weather, but a descent into a valley around the 100-mile mark brought on temperatures around 90-degrees. The excellent riding conditions turned into a heat battle to include leg cramps. He pushed through it, and eight hours later, he had to don pants, gloves, and a jacket for the night. Unfortunately, the heat cramps took their toll and at mile 306, we calculated he wouldn’t make the 32-hour time cut-off and stopped racing.
The weather took an extreme turn the next day with a wind chill below freezing. While we packed up the car and put the bikes on the roof, all the while wishing for some gloves, the bike race continued for those out on the 1,000-mile course. Warm and snug, we passed one of them on the way back home…he had on what looked like a hazmat suit to keep the bitter wind and light rain off him as much as possible. Yet he pedaled on, his goal still attainable in the prescribed time.
With each racer I support I’m amazed at their dedication. They push through pain and setbacks. Sometimes they don’t make it to the finish, but they always come back the next time. It’s the same kind of commitment Nino had in Daughter of the South Wind in his search for Tira. Like the ultra-cyclists, he endured loss and setbacks, and eventually found his finish line.
Check out Nino and Tira’s story in Daughter of the South Wind.