...and the fab four who rode it.
By John Lee Ellis
It's 6:15am on Saturday, September 8th -- a rain/snow mix is pelting down in Boulder, temperatures inching out of the upper 30's. Charlie Henderson -- route marshall for the Last Chance -- makes his first report of the day, from western Kansas. He says things aren't too bad at that benignly lower altitude -- just rain showers in the 50's. At this point, organizers and riders alike are glad that the Last Chance course didn't foray into the scenic Colorado Rockies, where it is snowing furiously.
Two days before, riders had coasted out of the starting gate at 4am, wafted by a balmy tailwind onto the Eastern Plains of Colorado, where it would hit the low 90's that day and hydration would be a hot topic. From rolling farmland, the course next bounded over successive ridges through Last Chance, then headed out through a flatter, more desolate, yet still downwardslanting ranchland. By evening, riders had reached a greener land of more trees and towns, and a hearty meal in St. Francis, Kansas, was the riders' reward. Friday still held good weather in Kansas, as riders reached the turnaround point at the Kensington P.O. Back in Boulder, driving rain accompanied a lone figure on a fixed gear bike out onto the course ...
Saturday's mild showers in Kansas gave way to wintrier rain as the riders climbed into Colo rado. Local Randonneur 5000km medalist Jack Herrick ducked into a hardware store in St. Francis, emerging with rancher Thinsulate gloves, a sheepskin vest, and Nebraska Cornhuskers cap, and farmerduty red striped white socks. Ron Himschoot, inured to the Seattle area's moist riding, had enough rain gear to pilot a schooner through a gale -- he was doing fine.
The mysterious cyclist, John Evans, had by now reached Kensington. A Cadillac pulled up at the contrôle -- the local postmistress. John politely asked if he could use the car's dipstick to oil his raincleaned chain.
Sunday morning, the main peloton woke to clear skies and frosty temperatures in Lindon. As daylight broke, they summitted a ridge west of Last Chance to regain sight of the Rocky Mountains, now glistening with fresh snow. The snowcapped Rockies greeted the riders the rest of the way in, as a light tailwind whisked them home.
The inaugural Last Chance 1200km turned out to be a success, albeit a tiny one -- everyone who rode it had good things to say about the event and the course. John Evans specifically chose this 1200km as fixedgear friendly. (Of course, it depends on who's pedaling -- John stayed on to climb Trail Ridge Road (12,000 ft.) and Lefthand Canyon (9,200 ft.) ... on his fixed gear.)
Bob Fourney -- our local RAAM champion, PBP veteran, etc., -- supplied the route concept and the impetus for doing the event in the first place. OuttoKansasandback was a favorite RAAM training route for Bob. John Evans spoke of the vast expanse. The route is not flat, but is fixedgear, recumbent, and tandemfriendly, and there is that vast expanse ... so we think the Last Chance has a chance... for the future.
John Evans, (UK) 76:00
Bob Fourney (USA) 70:30 (Unofficial)
Jack Herrick (USA) 85:27
Ron Himschoot (USA) 85:27