June 21, 2012
Glad midsommar till alla våra svenska vänner! And if you are celebrating midsummer here in the States, happy midsummer to you too.
You might wonder what happens to a biker when he/she exposes him/herself to the rigors ultra-cycling. Henning Larssen, one of the Danish racers has developed Shermer’s neck – which means that his neck muscles can not hold his head upright. This happens to long-distance bikers and there are various ingenious ways of propping the neck up and letting the bicyclist sit on the bike and keep on pedalling. Other problems can be saddle sores (go figure), numbness in the hands and feet, swelling in the feet and legs, dehydration due to lack of electrolytes, and blisters in the mouth or a coated tongue. Not to mention problems in the upper or lower digestive tract. And of course exhaustion. I should have named that one first. Every one of the solo cyclists will experience these problems to some degree.
But most of these cyclists are biking for a cause – to raise money for some charity or another. Just listen to some of the team names: Above + Beyond Cancer; Docs & Jocks – Racing to Prevent Childhood Obesity; Tli Cho Landtran – Food First; Ohio CycleWorks Charities; Believe & Achieve; Liv 4 Life; 4HIV Hope; We Race For Kids, etc. It’s inspiring to realize how many cyclists are biking to help other people. There is a team of Wounded Warriors out there, missing arms or legs, who are out biking for themselves and to raise money for wheelchairs and artificial limbs for others.
There is also a feeling of camaraderie and friendship among the bikers and their crews. You feel it when you are in the chase car and another team’s crew honk and cheer as you and your rider pass by. Or when you meet other cyclists and their crews at time stations. We felt this one-big-family feeling at the start and will probably also experience it at the finish, when there will be a lot more stories to tell.
Gunnar took a 3-hour rest after reaching the Mississippi and then pushed on through two more time stations. He is currently pushing on towards TS38. He was making good time through TS36 and TS37. But I’m sure he will be pooped by the time he calls it quits for today.
I can report that it is not quite as light at night in Ellingham, Illinois as it is in Järvsö tonight. Glad midsommar!