Well, I didn't make it. No shame, but I am disappointed.
Sunday morning at 7:30am, as I was fighting a 30mph headwind in Badwater, after having battled it all night, I dropped out of the Furnace Creek 508. I was about 20 miles from the base of the Salsberry grade, which meant another four hours of spinning in 1st gear at 5mph, and I couldn't handle it. I might have been up for it physically, but my head gave out. I began looking for reasons to stop instead of reasons to continue.
I was very nervous when the ride began, very conscious that I had never done anything like this before, and very aware of everyone's advice to take it easy. I did. The first leg to California City featured some climbing and some headwinds, but it was steady on, and I felt good. It sure is wonderful having a support vehicle right there with bottles and food and everything. The second leg to Trona featured a little more climbing, and some tailwinds (yay!), and again it was steady on, and I felt really good. The third leg from Trona to Furnace Creek had three distinct parts:
So then leg four. I woke up, ate a little, and was pleased to note the wind had [apparently] settled down. We took off for Badwater, and bam! the wind hit again. Big time headwind, 30mph gusts, blowing sand, tumbleweeds, you name it. It was 40 miles from Furnace Creek to Salsberry grade, and at 5mph that was going to take me eight hours. What seemed on paper to be a mild little cruise through Death Valley became a nightmare. After four hours we reached Badwater, my head exploded, and I couldn't take it anymore. Maybe next year I'll be mentally ready.
I want to thank my most excellent crew captain, Joani, who did an amazing job of supporting me, she was a veteran of two previous 508s, and her experience and calm demeanor were perfect. I also want to thank Greg, the other half of my stellar crew, for his yeoman work. In addition to filling bottles and reading maps he also took a bunch of pictures which I have yet to edit; stay tuned for those...
So this year there was no joy in Badwater. But wait 'till next year!