The birds began to sing and the sky began to brighten for a second time. We walked another hill. Pete and HB pulled ahead, but I stayed with Ben as his mood continued to deteriorate. Shortly after dawn, Ben and I came upon HB waiting for us at an intersection.
"Our navigator is gone."I was thinking of doing the same, but the battery on HB's GPS unit was just about dead. I offered what was left of my auxiliary battery pack, and we got it connected. We were off again, almost to mile 80 and a respite.
"Where is he?"
"I dunno. He took off."
Less than an hour later, my GPS ticked past the 80-mile mark, but we were clearly still in the middle of nowhere. HB seemed a bit defeated, and Ben clearly so. They decided to drop out at whatever town came along next. I asked HB whether they would be able to navigate from there. He thought so and returned my battery pack. I wished them good luck and took off at a swift pace. It was 07:00, I was 70 miles from the finish, and had to be there by 14:00. We had only managed an average of 8.5mph since Checkpoint Beta. The math was not encouraging.
It's remarkable what daylight can do for the spirit. I looked over at the shadow of my spoke cards making its brisk pinwheel mark on the gravel and was pleased to have picked up the pace. Unfortunately, I felt like crap. The caffeine that had kept me awake during the night was wearing off, and I was more than ready for a cup of coffee. What had been gas was turning into an urgent need to poop, but doing so in the field without a means to wash my hands and still having to eat was not an attractive prospect. My body was tired and beginning to get pretty sore. Desperation was setting in, and I remember passing a farm, yelling at myself,
"You. Are. Not. Giving. Up!"
This snippet comes from a three part account of a gravel road bike race in Iowa. You can read the whole account at this link.