Monday, May 17, 2010
Fearless Leader Al Bags the 600
This one goes out to Fearless Leader Al, our beloved local RBA who rolled into the final control at 7:53 p.m. on a workers' pre-ride of our May 22 600K. Of special note, Al successfully completed his first 600 since 2002. That was the year that a car clipped him during Bike Virginia, dashing his hopes for PBP 2003 and putting him on a long path of multiple surgeries for leg, hip and shoulder injuries.
A 600K is a daunting task under the best of circumstances, and the hours of open road create plenty of time for doubts to take hold. In a few low moments, Al entertained the idea of calling it a day. Hey, we're not showing that movie! Carol and Dorothy knew just the magic words to keep everyone rolling along as a team to a magical finish.
Al's legs may have grown tired as the miles exacted their toll, but his sense of humor was unflagging. We had a hotel room in White Lake with three beds, a Lazy-Boy recliner and a fold-out sofa. Two of the beds were claimed beforehand and when Al got out of the shower, Joel was sprawled across the third one. Joel asked: "Al, do you want this bed?" Al's response: "Depends -- do you want your brevet card signed at the finish?" Joel moved along to the fold-out sofa.
The jokes on the homebound leg were populated by your normal cast of characters -- priests, rabbis, lawyers, giraffes and a sawed-off tailpipe. We were caught up in one particularly engaging story when Al jumped around us and bagged a county line. Sandbagger!
In the heat of the day, Jerry made the find of the ride: the walk-in beer cooler at the convenience store in Erwin. Joel debated whether it would count if we moved rollers in there and finished our miles on ice.
A massive thunderhead with thick lightning, heavy winds and flooding rains moved through in the afternoon. It was tough, really tough. We could tell, as we downed our fourth burger of the ride, high and dry in the Angier McDonalds. We waited out the storm, and rode virtually rain-free to the finish.
Al led us into the final control at his Morrisville home and the number five took on a new meaning: the five medals that Al could now add to his collection -- the 200K, the 300K, the 400K, the 600K and the SR. Expect to see them on proud display sometime soon.
After swapping highlights, hugs and handshakes, we headed off to bed and board, but mostly bed.
Thanks to all for a great day on the bikes. And the next time you see Al, be sure to give him a big congratulations and an even bigger thanks for all he does for us.