Nip and tuck

It looks like it’s going to go down to the wire between Erik Lobeck and Blaine Nester. In Blaine’s call in from Beaverhead he had said Erik was now ahead and deservedly so as ‘the stronger rider’. The tone of his voice implied a lesser degree of acceptance, however. As does the evidence of their SPOTS. Last night, Blaine ended up a mile or maybe two ahead of Erik. This morning he seemed to set off earlier, too, and maintained his slender advantage almost all the way to Silver City, where Erik then took the lead. The SPOTS don’t tell the whole tale though. Blaine’s call in from Silver sounded as chipper as ever, in spite of detailing his experience of encountering a 4-5 hour monsoon storm as Matthew had feared they might and having to walk his bike for some 10-12 miles through the resultant mud. Erik, on the other hand, sounded not unreasonably a bit peeved at this turn of events so late in the day and after all his mechanical misfortunes to date, calling the trail conditions ‘impenetrable muck’ and ‘indescribably difficult’. He then said the walking had caused him sore knees and, for the first time in the race, would have to resort to Ibuprofen (which just goes to show how well he’d been coping up to this point) simply in order to finish in three days let alone by this evening as Blaine said was his target. Nevertheless, Erik probably wouldn’t have got this far this quickly without the considerable resilience and tenacity he has already demonstrated and the pair of them remain within a couple of miles of each other and less than 100 miles from the finish. Let’s hope they both make it safely tonight. Paul Howard Two Wheels on My Wagon


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