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.
Two Wheels on My Wagon
Well, as I’m typing this, Matthew Lee appears to be within only a handful of miles of the finish. I won’t succumb to the temptation to call his arrival too early, however, and declare him the winner just yet; after my riding companion Per’s accident south of Silver City on our last day last year (for those who weren’t paying attention, he fell off, knocked himself cold and had to go to hospital), fear of the curse of the commentator weighs heavily on me.
So, while Matthew knocks out the last couple of miles, a brief digression to catch up. First, apologies for indeed having undersold the story of Matthew having his bike pinched in Grants yesterday. I’d relayed it in amazement so many times – including to next door’s cat and to my baffled four year olds – that I think I just assumed I’d written down what happened. Cleary I hadn’t.
Anyway, to paraphrase the story as I understand it (as reported on the race forum), Matthew was eating a burger, watching his bike out the window, when an unsavoury character strolled up, stared Matthew in the eye and cycled off. Thankfully, the bike was recovered during a case through town and brought back to McDonalds, where it was recovered by Matt.
Also, I should apologise for being so mean about Grants. My impressions of it certainly weren’t great, but then again that might have been something to do with the fact it was preceded by 100 miles of pavement on the alternate from Cuba in 100 degree heat. Or the fact I’d spent most of that time watching Trevor and Per ride further and further away from me. Or the leg-threatening attack made by the hounds from hell in the reservation. Suffice to say I might have been a little jaundiced by the time I arrived. Read more »