Four Winds 2002
Day 3 - Sleeping until 3:00 AM was just what I needed as I feel refreshed and ready to go. I’d gotten some warm soup and a good sandwich a few hours before and I am feeling fueled up and ready to ride. The team is a little groggy but in good spirits as we pack up and head to the checkout.
Ten miles of easy pedaling through the City of Provo brings us to the trailhead at Rock Canyon. As we head into the canyon, Colleen struggles with the heavy rental bike and the weight of her pack as gravity tries to pull the weight back down the hill. We’re on foot again and I realize that I’ve made a big mistake. I anticipated a bike ride. We’re in for another hike-a-bike, and all I’ve brought are bike shoes. That decision's going to bite me back hard!
After a few miles, our trail becomes a two-track road and continues to climb. We started at 4800’ at Utah Lake, reached about 5800’ at the Rock Canyon trailhead, and will top out on this trail at about 9000’. Although the road quality is good and rideable, we choose to walk which allows us to stay together as a team. Passing the time on the trail, Danny keeps us laughing with jokes and perfect reenactments of Monty Python skits.
At the bottom of a downhill, we run into, almost literally, the next obstacle on the course and one that will become a common sight through the rest of the trip…cows. These are not the docile cows that you see dotting Midwestern fields, but enormous black and brown animals that stand in the middle of the trail without a care in the world, and definitely not intending to move for our sake. Tom has been out of water since we stopped two hours ago and the rest of us are either empty or getting low. I spot a spring on the map...we're saved! “Here it is, Tom.” I announce. We’re staring at a small pond with a cow standing in the middle, flies buzzing around, no apparent source of drainage, and mud-brown water. He scoops up a bladder full of cow sewage and pleads to me to find another source. We may be in luck as the map shows what may be houses a couple of miles down the road.
We finally pass a house and the owner lets us use the hose as we happily fill up. Tom flushes the funk from his water bladder as we all gorge ourselves on fresh, cold water. While we’re eating and drinking, I am asked for what seems to be the hundredth time how much farther we have to go. How far have we gone? How many more climbs and descents and how big are they? How long will it take us? It becomes the “are we there yet” joke, but it’s wearing really thin on everyone, as is this entire leg of the race. We’ve gone about 35 miles so far and by the race organizers estimate we have about 35 miles to go. It sure seems like there’s more than 35 miles of map left though.
We’ve got a brief reprieve from jarring trails and we’ll be on roads for the next 6-8 miles. As we leave, the first storm clouds in months in Utah begin to roll in. Just what we need! A long day of towing on foot and by bike has really taken a toll on me and I’m beat. I pull off to the side of the road with Danny and Tom and announce that I can’t tow anymore. “Not a problem” they both say, “Let’s get out of this rain” as they point to and old horse trailer in the front of a nearby building. We decide that it’s got to be better than a cold, driving rain and we duck inside. The rain is just going to keep coming so we pull our stove and Danny brews up a tasty meal of cup-o-soup and hot chocolate. My stomach is growing queasy as we’re sitting in the trailer and I’m progressively feeling worse. I finally stumble outside thinking I just need some fresh air and suddenly I’m in the middle of a new experience for me in an Adventure Race…throwing up. This is not good for our time! This will definitely put us behind! I can’t believe I’m getting sick. This sucks.
I’m lying on my back in a rock pile and it’s strangely comfortable. I have to get up though because we’ve got a race to finish. I grab my bike and begin pedaling along with the rest of the team. I’m dragging behind and not happy about it. Colleen has also fallen sick by now and we decide to set up camp before we get worse. Throughout the night, she’ll get worse, Danny will catch it too, and I’ll start feeling better. The three sickies squeeze into Danny’s two-person tent while Tom decides to stay away from us and builds a quick shelter using a space blanket. Once inside, there’s no room to move but I don’t care. I’ve got a very large rock jabbing me in the back, but it doesn’t matter either. I just need to sleep, and I do. The tent is furiously unzipped and zipped throughout the night as sick people come and go. I wake slightly to hear the commotion but quickly drift back to sleep. I’ve had the least amount of sleep of the team at approximately 8 hours in the last 96 and the rest is badly needed.