Friday, June 22, 2012

Onward To The River That Made Samuel Clemens Famous

We let Cassie sleep until almost 4AM.  Except for her sick day in the desert, it was the longest time that Cassie had spent off her bike.  It wasn't easy trying to get her going.  She was sore all over, especially around her butt and adjacent areas.
 Cassie downing breakfast drink.

Cassie applying protective cream before heading out.

We headed out on the first leg of the day.  It became apparent that it was going to be a difficult day from the get go.  After several minutes on her bike, she radioed for a saddle change.  We stopped and Tommy hopped out to change the seat.  Kat became alarmed, mentioning riders in the past who had similar difficulties.

We moved forward and had a late shift change.  Mike and Kat2 took over direct follow while Tommy, Kat, and I met Rachel and Kristy at a motel room that had been used by them and Mike and Kat2 before them.  Talk about hot bunking!

Kat set up a new crew rotation while there and I now became paired with Kristy.  When crew change occurred, Kristy and I moved to #2 and headed to Fort Scott with the dirty laundry, the concept being that the crew and especially Cassie would have something not-too-stinky to wear for a few days.  After the laundry was finished, we parked at the Fort Scott Visitor's Center.  I went in for a chat with a local Rotarian and Chamber of Commerce head while Kristy opted for some shut eye.  After a quick walking tour of the fort, I returned to the van and found Kristy ready to go. We positioned ourselves to cheer Cassie on as she passed by the time station in Fort Scott.

We then went into leapfrog mode, passing our heroine up, finding a parking spot, and then cheering her on as she rode by.  I also called ahead to a motel in Camdenton, MO, reserving a room for the night.  Kristy and I were going to have clean sheets instead of used sheets!

Cassie was struggling at crew change but we felt that she should make Camdenton by morning or at least be nearing it.  Kristy and I left for the 75 mile ride to Camdenton feeling pretty good.  Cassie had done some amazing things, including overcoming sickness in the desert and then pushing forward to make the Durango cut-off with time to spare.

We were gratefully asleep by 1AM and woke up to the 3:30AM alarm.  Kristy checked on the progress and we were shocked to find out that she was just then approaching Weaubleau, nowhere near her time schedule necessary to meet the Mississippi cut-off time.

We dressed hurriedly and set off in the direction of Weaubleau, hoping to meet up along the way.  Sadly, we had to drive all the way to Weaubleau.  We found her sobbing and surrounded by the rest of the crew.  Some were trying to talk her into continuing.  A relative of hers who actually lives in Weableau looked at me and just shook his head.  

I moved next to her, looked her in the eyes and asked her if she was done.  She nodded, sobbing the whole time.  I then asked her if she felt that she had done the best she could.  She nodded again, telling me how sorry she was for letting everyone down.

How wrong she was!  She let no one down!  Those who were with her had the amazing honor of watching one miracle after another take place!  Many male riders never made it through the desert, let alone do it while sick!

We put her bike on the rack and Rachel called race HQ, letting them know that she was done.  Knowing the type of person that Cassie is, they insisted on hearing it from her.  She could barely squeak the words out.  Tears were streaming down her face to match those pouring from the rest of us.

We drove to Camdenton where I took an extra room and we let her shower and then sleep.  We were ready to do whatever Cassie would ask of us when she woke up.

It was the absolute very least that we could do for a woman who changed our lives.

Next up:  The Epilogue

1 comment:

  1. I would like Cassie to know that just reading her story has changed my life. I was planning on being along the Blanchester route in Ohio when she crossed that because it was only 30 minutes from my house - I wanted just to occupy the same space and breathe the same air as of such a courageous person... Cassie you will remain my HERO!