Sunday, Brutal Sunday

Sunday, Brutal Rainy Sunday Tough night on le “Tour”. Nothing but rain and isolated roads. I was behind Alessandro driving the escort vehicle when I had a “wobble” a temporary lapse of consciousness which was fortunately interrupted by Daniela screaming something in Italian. At the time we were 60 kilometers into our shift and Alessandro had not stopped at all. Daniela and I started up a pretend conversation to keep me alert, she would talk in Italian and I would say the most ridiculous things I could think of hoping that she didn’t understand and it worked as we delivered him to his next driver at the 83 kilometer mark on the Stewart Cassiar Highway. I then went with the advance team and I slept as Fabrizio drove. I woke up 2 hours later and he was still driving which worried me, I mean how far advance are we going I wondered? Soon we pulled into a lodge and gas station and slept. At daybreak when it opened we filled the truck’s tank and drank coffee. I shaved for the first time to the dismay of the bathroom attendant. 8.36 and we wait. FINALLY the rain has stopped. As I wait I cannot imagine Alessandro being in a good state or mood but we will find out shortly. 10:38 and still no Alessandro and company. Still no more rain but the day is dark and promotes doubt and fear. What we have learned is that we last saw Alessandro 141 kilometers ago about 8 hours ago. We watched as two search and rescue helicopters flew off on assignment; one was going to Smithers to airlift someone to a hospital and the other was to search the mountainous forest for two hikers that are 2 days overdue. I want to go back on the course but it is Alessandro’s crew and they will do as they think best but if it was me I would have gone back long ago. Laura, Lorenzo and Fabrizio handled the laundry details. 11:25 I have talked to two motorists who have sighted Alessandro. One said he was resting, the later said he was riding and close to our location....

South to Alaska

I fear that I may never catch up if I try to report on yesterday, so for now a brief summary. The highlights of the day were headwinds, massive road maintenance delays and unpaved ground, a loss of cell service and wife and one agitated ultra-endurance rider named Colo. I don’t want to bash the guy as I appreciate the massive stress he is under and the strain on his body and the diminishing faculties that I like to call rider brain. It happened, he recovered we recovered and on went the Colò road show. Again I say it: impressive. Overnight he fought his way along the Alaska Highway visiting nowhere, seeing nothing just riding like a bat out of hell. In the morning he continued on  towards Watson Lake in the Yukon. This is a major point in our race because of two things. First it is as far north as we go and after about a 35 k westerly jag, we turned south to Alaska (see image) Smithers, Prince George, Whistler and the finish line on the pier in White Rock, BC some 2,100 kilometers away. The Stewart Cassiar Highway is nearly paradise for cyclist but the road grade can be rough as in a the seal coat and the road is narrow but the scenery and rate of traffic more than makes up for it. And I have to figure Alessandro is entirely business now, he pulled in about 60 k down the road and went to work cleaning his change. I thought his procedure was a little excessive but the fact is the man has ridden over 3,000 kilometers in 6 days and I have to figure that the man knows what he is doing. When he was ready to roll again I wished him luck and told him to watch out for crocodiles, he replied” Thank you very much”. I told you he is focused. I got evicted from the escort car earlier and now I am riding in the advance vehicle with Daniela and Laura. Fortunately Laura was in a talkative mode which helps keep me awake and more alert. Daniela rode in the back rested and read...

North to Alaska Day 5

After leaving Grande Prairie yesterday morning and learning of Chris Culos and David Baxter’s incredible rides in the PowerCranks Contender and the Naked Challenger I started to really think about what Alessandro is accomplishing ( so far) and it added some shock to my system. I like to be honest, so here goes: When I met Alessandro at his hotel a day prior to starting the Tour of BC and he handed me his race plan to finish in 12 days I thought “ambitious” and I thought good I don’t want this to drag on but I really didn’t expect him to be able to pull it off as I was thinking 14 or 15 days. Now as I sit in the rain swept Fort Nelson 450 kilometers along the Alaska Highway I have seen him deal with mucho problems and challenges. The climbing, the climbing in intense heat, the descents in the cold of night, the pain in his legs and buttocks, working to sync his crew, brutal headwinds, some stressful traffic at times and now about 16 hours of rain and I got to start thinking this man from Italy is the real deal. That this man, the lone person in the entire world brave enough to race this race might just be having the race of a lifetime. Sure he gets grumpy and withdrawn in moments; anyone would, but the man bounces back like a basketball and almost always smiles. I see him playing electrician to get his flashing lights on escort vehicle working better, cleaning his own chain, even getting food for others, the man is on a mission and he is not allowing the pressure, pain or conditions to get in his way. When I woke on the side of the road in the advance vehicle there was no sky – only clouds and rain at daybreak and I felt for the man, but an hour or so passed as doubt built and boom then he was there. He didn’t stop to talk, he didn’t even acknowledge us. Simple, pure, old-fashioned focus. I hopped in the follow car with his daughter Laura who might be getting sick of me...

Culos & Baxter Finish!

Chris Culos & David Baxter Finish! Great work guys! Tremendous effort by both cyclists!

DAY FOUR

Highlights from Day 4 Still no bear sightings but plenty to look at on the road as we traveled through Banff and Jasper towards Hinton we experienced a million sights and sensations. There isn’t a camera made or a writer talented enough to describe the beauty that surrounded us. I head at least 100 times “mama mia, bellisimo and mucho bravo, to what I can add Canada. Currently I am sitting in our truck outside a gas station in Grande Prairie, Alberta where we slept and waited for Alessandro and his two handlers. No one can explain the miracles that Daniela is able to create working with Alessandro’s legs and buttocks, she is the leg whisperer. Time after time Alessandro gets off the bike in pain (but smiling) and Daniela rebuilds him. (A talent she apparently reserves for him exclusively for when I asked for assistance she responded with an international symbol made with one finger) On the outskirts of Japer, on the side of Highway 16 she rebuilt him, then 60 kilometers later where we turned north on the scenic route to Alaska she fixed him again; this time as a thunder shower helped clean his body. Then another 80 kilometers down the road where he was up to what I will call “ultra-rider things” like refusing to stop, throwing his water bottle on the road for us to collect, then stopping instantly in a dangerous spot and demanding food, clothes and therapy he finally stopped for his longest rest of the trip so far, a walloping 2.5 hours. He lunged into our follow car and ripped the food from my fingers which I could care less about but his sweating, grimy shoulder touched mine and if I had a gun the race would have been over. Ha-ha. I got out of the vehicle ‘toot sweet’ and so did most of our gear. We have a tiny follow car called a Chevy Spark, which is fantastic. It is small, can fit in the highway shoulder and is great on fuel but for sleeping not so great. No matter within minutes Alessandro is naked and bent like a pretzel and Daniela  has begun to...