Joe Tansill and I rolled out from his house in Gilbert AZ at about 9 am on Friday morning to start our 2011 Whitney Classic Adventure. We left an hour later than planned, but had plenty of time to get to Lone Pine for dinner and the Friday night worship service. I took the first pull behind the wheel and Joe took over just outside of town so I could fire up the laptop, Blackberry and justify not taking a vacation day!
|Friday night worship service|
Many of the riders, staff, and volunteers were there and the weather was perfect for a nice evening of worship and fellowship. Tom Smith, executive director of Summit Adventure, shared some scripture and encouragement for the event. We retired early, knowing that we would have a long day on Saturday.
|Panamint Springs Resort|
Last year the Panamint Springs Resort became a Whitney sponsor by providing the rider brunch in addition to hosting a SAG stop. This year they continued that tradition and served a great pancake brunch. We completed the meal and rider/SAG briefing and were soon motoring up Towne Pass toward Death Valley.
|Your humble correspondent in USNA kit at the Start|
Video from the start and finish!
By the time we arrived at Badwater the temperature had climbed to 112! We prepared the bikes, had the pre-ride photos taken and at 3 pm sharp we were off. We decided to ride together for the first mile or two, then Joe circled back to the start to hop in the Suburban and leap frog me to set up for the next leg. Our main objective was to maximize the amount of time each of us could spend in the SAG stops to visit with the Summit staff and volunteers. So when we were 5-10 miles away from a SAG stop, one of us would proceed to the stop in the vehicle to have about 20 minutes to visit and get ready for the arrival of our partner. When he arrived, the other would take off and then that rider would take 15-20 minutes to visit and reload in the SAG, then leave to catch the other and continue taking turns. Our strategy worked great and both of us were able spend quite a bit of time at the SAG stops.
|SAG stop #2 in Death Valley|
The weather was quite unusual with lots of scattered thunderstorms, some of them actually let loose with hail, wind, and rain on several of the SAG stops! The benefit was the cloud cover and great views, the only negative was the heavy headwind on the climb up Towne pass.
Throughout Death Valley and on the Towne Pass and Panamint climbs Joe and I were able to keep with Team Dinosaur and Team Outlaw. It was very enjoyable riding with various members of the teams and there were always many SAG drivers and other team members cheering us on!
|Awesome storm clouds from Wild Rose SAG|
As usual it was quite cold at the finish, and as usual the Summit staff had a spare sleeping bag or two to get into while we waited for Team Outlaw to finish. They arrived within 30 minutes and we cheered them on to the finish! We had planned to wait for Team Dinosaur, but when I started to get too cold we decided to head down the hill to Lone Pine, we stopped to encourage Team Dinosaur just a couple of miles from the finish as they changed riders on their way to the finish line.
|Home Sweet Home (in Lone Pine)|
Back at the hotel, we broke out the Heineken and tuned in ESPN Sports Center to catch up on the college scores. We finally had lights out at 4:35!
I woke up at about 7:30 and headed down to the Suburban to assess the mess and start packing for the trip home. Rick Wallace and his family (Team Storm) were also in the parking lot packing and we were able to share stories about the ride and catch up. Rick is a Summit Adventure Board Member and has ridden the Whitney MANY times including the unofficial hike to the summit of Mt. Whitney. His Team Storm was the top fund raising team!
Joe came down shortly and we had breakfast at the cafe we discovered on Saturday. We were able to get a late check-out and finished packing the Suburban and retired to our room until the Pizza Party and award ceremony at 1 pm.
The worship band was performing and the weather was perfect. We enjoyed many slices of pizza and the awards ceremony. God, Guts, and Glory went to Erica for her persistence in completing this year's Whitney as the only solo rider. Your faithful correspondent was the top individual fundraiser due to your faithful support!
Joe and I headed back after the ceremony, and since I had business in Las Vegas, we drove through Death Valley again. I took the first shift while Joe napped and we switched drivers at Death Valley Junction NV. I napped until we hit the outskirts of Las Vegas. I dropped Joe off at the airport and I checked in to the Wynn Encore Hotel. Just a little more upscale than the Dow Villa!
So far we have raised just over $10,000 (including a matching grant in process from the Dell Foundation - Thanks to Mary Gibbons) for Summit Adventure. If you would like to donate click here and note Atkins WC in the comment section.
Thanks again for your support,
Phil 4:13 “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me”