Scott Brown, the Elk Grove resident, who started riding a road bike 6 years ago, spent 45 hours in the saddle to finish the 2011 Furnace Creek 508. He did that from October 8 to October 10, 2011. It is a rather amazing race.
This column followed Scott and his crew throughout the race. What’s next is a follow-up interview about his thoughts and feelings durning the 508 mile ride, and what effect it has had on him. It’s not every day that we get insights into what it takes to ride for 45 continuous hours and cover 508 rugged miles through the desert.
An obvious first question is whether this was the hardest race he’d ever been in. He had ridden the Everest Challenge and The Terrible Two, plus the Death Ride, but this is, hands down, the most difficult ride he has ever done. It’s about the same as riding 5 stages of the Tour de France or the Amgen without stopping.
Next was this question: Where along the route did you hurt the most? How many miles into the 508?
Scott: I ran into digestive distress and uncontrollable chills around mile 230. I had a difficult time stomaching solid foods and eventually found Cup of Noodles and Chef Boyardee cans the best food source–my normal foods just simply stopped being palatable. I sort of regained my composure around mile 300. From mile 300 to the finish I remained strong but certainly felt overall body fatigue and exhaustion from sleep deprivation.
He finished in 45 hours, 32 minutes, 18 seconds, in 44th place. This is out of an initial group of 66 solo (no teammates riding) riders, with 50 finishers and 16 DNF’s. The overall group of riders in all categories was 200.
Did he have any mechanicals along the way?
Scott: The bike (Colnago C-50) performed beautifully. I didn’t even have a single flat tire the entire race.
Before the race, Scott told this rider/writer that the C-50 was simply the best bike on the planet. Apparently his choice of bikes was perfect.
My next question to Scott was this: At what point in the race did you think that you were absolutely barking mad to have gotten involved in the 508?
Scott: The feeling of madness and insanity never really crossed my mind. I did have to dig deep for some resolve at around mile 480. The final 28 miles had an unfavorable road surface and a 25 to 30 mph head wind to the finish.
I don’t like riding in the wind either, and when I hit mile 480, it’s because I’m driving somewhere. His inspiration at that point was this: he could see the lights of 29 Palms in the distance. They got brighter as he got closer, and finishing was within his grasp.
Did he ever consider abandoning at any time? Did his crew ever think that he was past his limit?
Scott: I never thought of abandoning the race. Crew never doubted my ability or desire to finish. Everyone was committed to completing the race.
How many sleep breaks did he take?
Scott: I took one sleep break at mile 230 when I had the problems. The sleep break was for approximately 30 minutes. Other than than, no sleeping the entire race.
How does he feel now? How about the day after the race? This was asked on October 19.
Scott: I feel almost completely recovered now; still have some general body fatigue, but really no sore muscles to speak of. The day after the race I was completely wiped out with major soreness in my legs and complete and total body fatigue/exhaustion.
What occupied his thoughts while he was riding?
Scott: I generally thought about the following:
Beauty of the desert–amazing landscapes;
My level of fitness and desire to take on such a difficult race;
The love, commitment and support of my wife through this whole ordeal;
The support of my family, crew, friends, and colleagues;
The donations people made to my charities;
The time, effort, and sacrifice I made during the year (started in February 2011) to prepare for this race.
After the race, Scott slept, then flew home. He went back to work that Wednesday. Tired, but happy with what he and his crew had accomplished.
He said that most of the riders were in their 40’s, with 49 about the median. The race was “stressful”. The lack of sleep was hard to manage, but all went well.
It’s likely that Scott will mount up for another ultra ride in the future, and when he does, you will be able to read about it and follow it here.