There was no escaping it, I had to take the bike through technical inspection and get my pass for the race. Saturated with anxiety, under the burning sun, but in the middle of the pre-race party, weaving my way through a sea of intimidating trophy trucks, scantily clad young women languishing on top of cars, dazed tourists and excited kids, I was one of the last ones to make it to the inspection. A very laid back, but rigid technical inspector went over the bike, ignoring all the hard work we had put into wiring the suspension bolts and noting that the rear light did not work (whaaaat??), tied a pink ribbon to the forks and a lead stamp to the frame.
Was it my imagination or did he send me on my way with a tear in his eye? Was that tear an omen of my upcoming demise or a sudden memory of him doing the same thing 3 decades earlier to an exact same bike??
I did not sleep much that night, so much going on in my head. As a relîef, the alarm clock rang. I was beyond fear, in fact I thought that I had taken the project far enough, I could now go home... But I did not. Slowly waking up while pretending to perform essential tasks such as checking for a wifi connection that I know did not exist, somehow I found myself riding the bike through the few miles of night into San Felipe.
As light came from the east, I mingled with the other soldiers of the upcoming battle against the desert, looking for the polite spot for my number 260X. Finally, some humans to talk to about the race. It finally struck me, in my obsession with getting the bike ready, I had just forgotten to learn about the other fundamental part of this adventure... the race itself. Beside some beautiful videos captured on YouTube, I really had no idea what was ahead ... today... right now... The conversations did not help...
"Hey, how old is this thing? Do you really intend to race it?"
"How many riders will you share the race with. We are doing three changes"
"This year is bad, there are lots and lots of whoops, huge ones, scary ones"
"How did your pre-run go"
"But hey, good luck..."