Friday, March 30, 2012

The Company We Keep

The first night of CorpsCamp includes a group  dinner at the Furnace Creek Inn, where we meet our fellow cyclists and reconnect with old friends.

This is my second CorpsCamp, and I'm always struck by the variety of the participants it attracts. Most of us are over 40, some significantly so, some a bit younger. All shapes, all sizes - but mostly very fit, very determined people.

In fact, Dave and I are quite ordinary compared to our CorpsCamp friends. We're both enthusiastic cyclists, for sure. But those around us, including the ones sitting around our table at dinner that first night, are  exceptional.

Georgeanna at mile 25 - with 25 to go...
There's Georgeanna and her husband Grayson, both ultrasport athletes from Florida. Georgeanna is an ultra runner and has crewed for the Badwater Ultramarathon twice. She paced one of the runners during the race: 4 hours in 127 F heat. (We would see her the next morning, arriving in Stovepipe Wells, looking fresh after running the 25 miles from FC Ranch. She would soon turn around and run back to FC, then ride with us the next day).

Then there's Chris, who we met at last year's Spring Century. (Chris actually finished that ride under his own volition, unlike me, who finished it in a car.) Chris is a regular bike commuter in his hometown of Toronto. He's also an Ironman Triathlete, and a participant in Race Across the West (part of RAAM). Oh, and he turned 60 a couple of weeks ago. And his dream is to someday run the Badwater Ultramarathon.

Chris,  at Stovepipe Wells

Of course, you already know about Tim Marks if you read this blog. And you certainly know about Jill, a super strong rider in her own right, and Tim's 508 Crew Chief Extraordinaire. Her determination is at least as remarkable as Tim's. She logs his miles, schedules breaks, coordinates the crew, turns into a drill sergeant when required. She makes Tim get back up on his bike when he appears to be faltering. In other words, she makes sure he across the finish line (twice now, soon to be three times as of this October).

The SAG staff are all 508 finishers or crew, and even the organizer, Chris Kostman, is an accomplished multisport athlete many times over.

Other riders talk about their cross-country trips on recumbents, their rallies across entire states, their race histories and miles logged in one year. Some of them talk about ordeals that they bring upon themselves in the name of sport, that I don't even have the space in my brain to understand. Certainly not the mental whatever-it-is that permits somebody to do these things.

Like I said, Dave and I are possibly the most 'ordinary' riders here, but it's always enlightening to be around  people who hold such high ambitions. In the meantime, I think maybe I can learn a little about believing in the impossible, and making it happen.

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