One of the nice developments in randonneuring in recent years has been the advent of regional "chat lists" via E-mail. Local riders can stay in touch between brevets, compare notes after events, make shared travel arrangements, plan training rides, and the like. Here is another benefit: one can "watch" the local riders' progress at a big event like BMB or PBP. Todd Ashby is an Atlanta-area randonneur who attempted his first BMB last summer. Todd phoned his wife Christy on a regular basis during the ride and then Christy E-mailed some of their friends with periodic updates of Todd's progress. Outgoing Atlanta RBA Mike DeLong was lucky enough to be on this list and was thoroughly entertained by the updates. He shares it here with the rest of us. Even if you're not from Atlanta, it is a great tale that lets us see a 1200-kilometer grand randonnée through the eyes of a rookie randonneur and his very supportive family.

—Bill Bryant

Thursday 10:30 AM Hi everyone, I just spoke to Todd at 10:15. We spoke very briefly as his cell phone was not very clear. He said that Joe Fritz got sick and did not start. He did not know any details. Only that he turned around this morning and went back because he was sick. He also said that he arrived at New Salem at 8:30 this morning. Ken Davis arrived at 9:00, Melinda Dura arrived at 8:30, and Doyce Johnson arrived at 8:30. That is all the information he gave me. He said everything is going well. I will keep you informed as I hear more.

Thursday 11:45 AM Just spoke to Todd again. He arrived at the second control point, Brattleboro, at 11:30. Melinda and Doyce arrived at around 11:15. Todd thinks Ken is about 20 minutes behind him. He said that Greg Somerville is ahead of them. He also said the weather is overcast and windy with a temperature of around 70-75 degrees.

Thursday 5:00 AM Just spoke with Todd. He arrived in Ludlow, mile 163, at 4:36. Melinda arrived at 4:39. He didn't know where Doyce was but thinks he is ahead of them. They also don't know where Scott (Melinda's husband) is. He forgot his gloves this morning and went back and they have not seen him. The weather is still windy and overcast. Todd said it was a long 50 miles but not as hard as the Georgia ride. He feels that really prepared him. Brattleboro to Ludlow is supposedly the toughest leg going outbound, so thankfully he is there. His plan is to make it to Middlebury before dark and continue riding through the night. You know Todd, he is planning to ride all the way to Canada and back to Rouses Point before sleeping. That would be mile 428. I don't really doubt that he can and maybe will push himself and do it, I just hope he doesn't collapse if he does. I will let you know when he reaches Middlebury. That should be in 4-5 hours. After that it should be a smooth ride to Canada and back to Middlebury. Keep them in your prayers tonight!

Thursday 10:51 PM Just spoke with Todd very briefly. He and Melinda arrived at Middlebury, mile 228, at 10:15. Doyce arrived at 8:05 and Greg at 6:20. Todd's cell phone was dying so he only spoke with me for a few minutes and he said he would call me back in a little while from a pay phone a mile away. He said he was freezing and wanted to get some warm clothes on. He took his winter jersey and also his jacket with him. He said the descent was pretty dangerous and definitely should not be done alone, especially in the dark. I assume he was riding with Melinda. He is planning to rest a while and eat something. He said he is feeling worn out and will probably stay at this control point for an hour. At least the road to Canada and back to Middlebury is much easier than the mountains he has already crossed.

Thursday 11:30 PM Just heard back from Todd. His cell phone is dying so I gave him a calling card number and he will have to call me from pay phones from now on. He sounded really good. This control point, Middlebury, is at a city recreational center with showers. He had just taken a hot shower and changed into clean, dry clothes. He had also just eaten. He said the food at the control points is great. He had mac-n-cheese at Ludlow, and lasagna and cookies at this stop.

They were planning to head back out by 11:50. He is riding through the night with Melinda and a guy from New York. There were about five other riders there resting. He said he may need to get a mechanic to replace his brake pads tomorrow as he thinks he wore them out coming down the mountain at Middlebury. He said the road was in bad shape and there were so many potholes that they had to go so slow so they wouldn't hit a hole and go over the handlebars. He also said they went through some rain and that right now it is windy and cold. I told him that Mike DeLong thought I was crazy when I said that someone was on their way back already and he laughed. He said he was wrong. They were just some local riders! I guess Todd's brain is so tired he can't think straight. I guess no one is going 75 mph! Mike DeLong—Todd says you were right. The Georgia 600k brevet really prepared him for BMB. He said that nothing can beat Georgia mountains! They will go a little slower through the night so I hope to hear from him around 6:00 AM when they reach Rouses Point, mile 316. That is about 92 miles away. As Cassidy said in her prayers tonight, "God, please be with daddy on his bike on the mountain".

Friday 1:06 AM Just heard from Todd for the first time since about 11:40 last night. He said that since his cell phone died this is the first pay phone he has found to call me. He and Melinda and the guy from New York are 15 miles into Canada and 35 miles from the turnaround in Huntingdon. So they are about 15 miles past Rouses Point. They rode through the night and reached Rouses Point at 8:30 this morning. He said Greg reached Rouses Point at 1:20 and Doyce at 3:20. He said it was a cold night. They stopped twice and slept for a little while on the side of the road. It took them 8-1/2 hours to make it from Middlebury to Rouses Point. The temperature right now is good, about 70+. He also said they saw Doyce about five miles ago on his way back from Huntingdon. Todd says Doyce is about 90 miles ahead of them. Todd sounds really good and strong. He really doesn't sound too worn out or tired. They only stopped briefly to call me and then were on their way to Huntingdon. He is almost halfway through! I am not sure what his plans are once gets there.

Friday 4:06 AM Finally heard from Todd. Without his cell phone he is having a hard time getting in touch with me. He reached Huntingdon at 1:30. Melinda reached it at 1:40. Doyce reached it at 7:10 AM and Greg was even earlier at 5:15 AM. Kevin Kaiser is about 40 miles behind Todd. Barb and Linda are about 50 miles behind Todd. Todd left Melinda and the guy from New York at Huntingdon because he said he didn't want to stop and rest. He said if he did his legs would tighten up and you know Todd, he said, "I just want to hurry up and finish." He is about 20 miles from Rouses Point. He said he probably won't reach Middlebury until sometime after midnight which concerns me because I don't want him heading to Ludlow in the dark by himself. He said he might just pedal slow and see if Melinda and the guy from New York catch up. I don't know. He said it was real windy in Canada and he just wanted to get out of there. He said he is very tired but his voice sound good and strong.

Friday 9:27 AM I spoke with Todd around 6:45 this morning. He got to Rouses Point at 5:15. Melinda and the guy from New York (believe it or not, Todd has been riding with him for miles and still can't tell me his name!) reached Rouses Point at 6:05. Todd showered there and changed into clean clothes and ate chicken and rice, a jelly sandwich, and fruit. He still sounds very strong. He was calling me from Lake Champlain, about five miles past Rouses Point. He said he is riding slowly so that Melinda and the guy from New York can catch up. They are planning to ride through the night together and catnap on the side of the road if needed. He said they are going to keep going as long as they can. He also said he has terrible saddle sores that are really bothering him. Somebody gave him a sample of some type of cream, but they are still very painful. He said that it takes about ten minutes for him to get past the pain once he starts riding again after stopping. I don't know when I will hear from him again. I assume it will be some time in the middle of the night.

Saturday 9:30 AM I heard from Todd this morning at 5:25 am. He, Melinda and Glen Reed (yes, the New York guy has a name!) arrived in Middlebury at 5:15. He was worn out. He said he has been hallucinating from exhaustion. The weather was cold and very windy and rainy. He said he was freezing and wet and that he couldn't wait to take a shower. The only problem was that he had no more clean cycling clothes in this drop bag because he used them on the way out. Luckily he thought of using Ken's from his drop bag since he would not need them. Ken is such a great guy that Todd knew he would not mind.

Getting to Middlebury was hard. Todd said they came down the mountain so fast in the dark that they could not see anything. It was at that point that he realized this was crazy and that they had to stop for a while. Needless to say, I could not sleep after that conversation. He said he would hopefully be able to call me after they rested and before they head back out. Todd called me again this morning at 9:20, still from Middlebury. He said he slept from 6:00 to 8:30 on a cot there at the Recreation Building. He sounded much better than he did last night. He said he took Ken's shorts from his bag and was able to make do with his jersey. He said the weather is still very cold and rainy so he was going to put on his leg warmers and other warm clothes before heading out. We only talked for a few minutes as Melinda and Glen were waiting for him to call me. He said that they received word that Scott, Melinda's husband, had dropped out when he reached Rouses Point on his way back. I am not sure what time that was. I spoke with Anne, Ken's wife, this morning and she is on her way up there as she had already scheduled. Ken is waiting in Brattleboro for her. She will take the subway to Newton and then drive to Brattleboro, which should take a couple of hours. She is hoping to arrive there around 5:00 or 6:00 tonight. If all goes well, she should be at the checkpoint when Todd comes through tonight. She has strict orders from me to see him and call immediately so I can get her opinion on how he is. Ken and Anne are great. I know I will feel better after she sees him plus when she does he will be heading for the home stretch. I should hear from Todd around Ludlow so I will let you know how he is then.

Saturday 4:00 PM Wow, I am starting to breathe a tiny bit easier each time I talk to Todd. I am beginning to hear some excitement in his voice as the end is drawing nearer and nearer. Todd called at 3:30 this afternoon. He, Melinda, and Glen reached Ludlow at 3:19. Kevin Kaiser reached Ludlow at 3:30 and Doyce went through at 7:30 am this morning. He said it has been rainy and cold all day. They were planning to stay at Ludlow for about an hour to clean up, eat and rest before heading to Brattleboro. Todd and Glen have reservations at the hotel in Brattleboro but are planning to give one of the rooms to Ken and Anne (who previously cancelled theirs) and just use one of the rooms to shower, clean up, rest a couple of hours and then head to New Salem. It is about 54 miles to Brattleboro so hopefully they should be there well before midnight. I will keep in touch. From what I am hearing, once you hit Brattleboro you can place your sights on the finish!

Saturday 11:00 PM Todd called about 10:55. He reached Brattleboro at 10:30 along with Melinda, Glen, and Kevin Kaiser. Doyce arrived at 11:40 AM this morning. He said it is very cold tonight. He also said that last night was the worst night of his life because of 6-1/2 hours of rain, wet clothes, and freezing cold. He also mentioned how exhausted he was last night and how he was hallucinating. I asked him if he felt much better tonight and his words were, "Oh yes, I got two hours of sleep last night". That just sounded a little comical to me. Anyway, he sounds good and strong and anxious to move on.

They changed their plans and are only showering, changing clothes, and eating in Brattleboro. They want to be back on the road by midnight. He said they were not going to try to get any sleep until they get to New Salem, which is only 37 miles away. He said he would try to call but did not know if he could find a phone there so he would call me as soon as he finds a pay phone. After I hung up with Todd, Anne called me to give me the true update on how he looks and she said he has some bags under his eyes from a lack of sleep but that he looks great and is very coherent. He was talking to Ken and eating some type of stir-fry and rice when she called. She said she saw him look worse on one of the Florida rides. Anne also informed me that the "guy from New York," who I just found out is named Glen, is actually not even from New York but Massachusetts! I don't know— I just write what he tells me! One last night of BMB.... Can you believe it?

Sunday 8:15 PM Todd called this morning around 5:30 and said that they reached New Salem ten minutes earlier. He said with the poor conditions of the roads you are forced to go so slow at night especially on the descents. He said they were going to get some sleep there before their last leg. I asked him if I would hear from him before I leave for church at 8:30 and he said probably not, but I just heard from Todd while typing at 8:10. He said they (Melinda, Glen, and Kevin) got up at 7:45 and are leaving now for Newton. Yes, NEWTON. He sounds tired this morning but eager to reach the end. He is hoping to reach Newton in 4-6 hours, so stay tuned...

Sunday 3:00 PM Yes! THE END is finally here! I just heard from Todd and he finished at 1:20 this afternoon! His total time was 81 hours, 25 minutes. This morning after we spoke, he, Kevin, Melinda, and Glen headed out for the final part of the ride. Mike DeLong sent a great E-mail this morning that I read to Todd when he called me just after 8:00. He said it was Mike's E-mail that filled him with adrenaline and he and Kevin broke away from Melinda and Glen and pedaled with all they had. He and Kevin finished at 1:20 and Kevin's total time is 79:25. (He started 2 hours after Todd.) He doesn't know for sure where Melinda and Glen are but guesses they should finish an hour or so after them. He also said that Greg's total time was 64:30 and Doyce did 66:24.

He sounds great and at the moment only has one problem. He can't wait to shower and change into some "real" clothes but.... his luggage is with Ken and Anne, who are still in Vermont about four hours away. They are not planning to return to Newton until after 7:00 PM tonight. There are BMB shirts for sale that he can use but he has no shoes, socks, underclothes, or shorts. The last thing he wants to do right now is shower and put back on dirty cycling clothes, but that may be his only choice. The organizers are supposed to have all the drop bags back to Newton around 5:00 and he had some extra clothes in them, only no shoes. Anyway, he's getting settled right now and then I should hear from him again.

I am so proud of him and I know you are too. Thanks for all of your support and if you want to send him an E-mail please do as I know he will enjoy reading all of them when he returns home tomorrow. Todd just called back. Melinda and Glen arrived in Newton at 2:45. He also said that Kevin loaned him some clothes so he is going to shower and rest before going to the picnic.