The Fireweed 100 is still a blur of memories passing through my mind.
The pain of riding alone most of the race after fooling myself into believing I could catch that small group ahead of me.
The pleasure of the brief spells when I found other back-of-the-pack riders to work with for a few miles, and the mixed feelings when I left them behind.
The cold rain, and hands numb from rough roads and wind chill. The words "chamber of Hell" repeatedly going through my mind during the climb to Eureka Summit in the fog of road spray from RVs and pickups passing 5 feet from my shoulder at 55 mph.
The guy who stood in the rain by a highway in the middle of nowhere playing bagpipes for every rider, no matter how isolated and alone they were as they suffered in No Man's Land.
The woman who stood in the rain at Mile 76 just to hold my bike while I gulped food and Cytomax, and dashed into the Rent-A-Can. All the real racers were already back at their cars changing into dry clothes, but she held that bike ready for me as if it was the most important thing she had to do all day.
Racers earn free water bottles and T-shirts.
Volunteers deserve medals.