Common Mistakes I Hope To Avoid: Stage 1

This Is The Only Goal That Matters

Medals are given in 29 Palms, not California City.

As I said in an earlier post, I’ve seen this race now from three perspectives: crew chief, racer, and race official. Each one of those positions gave me some valuable insights into the race. There are some glaring errors and missteps that I have seen and hope to avoid. Many are tied directly to my goals. But some are unique to my own psyche and are just things I know I need to avoid in order to get the most out of my body. Will I finish the 508? I can’t guarantee anything. There are too many variables at play. But that finisher’s medal and jersey are the only goals of mine that honestly matter. This is a race where finishing IS winning. With that in mind, here are some (not all) of my observations (some of my own riding experiences, some from watching my rider/teammate struggle, and some as an official roving the course) to help get me (and hopefully other riders reading this blog) to that finish line. God, what a feeling that is to see Chris at the end and hear him say “good job.”

Stage 1

Mistake 1: Going Out Too Hard

I set a goal of being in the back at the start line, and to also be near the back when we turn into San Francisquito. This is my own approach. I ride harder when I know I’m in front of someone else. I obsess about when he or she will overtake me, and I push much harder than I should. I’d rather sit back and move up through the field at my own pace.

Mistake 2: Testosterone Poisoning

It’s a race. I know. But it’s a really long race. The chances I’ll bury someone on that first climb, never to see them again, are slim to none. That really only happens at the front of the race, where the freaks of nature who can finish this race in 28 hours are riding. For us mortals? The race is farther back, and will be a competition solely between our legs and the pavement under the wheels.

Mistake 3: Missing The Route

In 2010, a couple of solos and teams missed the fork in the road, and riders took off in the wrong direction. Those riders lost hours, not to mention confidence. Some of them never recovered. The psychological impact at that point is difficult to overcome. Know the course. We’re only without support crews for 24 miles, and it’s not like there are a lot of turns to navigate. A little homework here is necessary to avoid an obvious blunder. Oh, and watch the descent off that first climb. The road ends in a t-intersection where you take a left to meet up with the crew. As officials, we were asked to slow riders down right there, because the stop sign comes up quickly.

Mistake 4: Worrying About Position

This one goes a little bit with the first couple Mistakes. It is easy to get caught up in the race to California City. The problem is that a lot of racers got demoralized by their arrival times/positions. The reality is that there are few issues a rider can’t recover from over the duration of the race and the entirety of the course. I honestly hope to be into California City at a certain time/placement. That said, I firmly expect to be the last solo racer straggling in right there.

Mistake 5: Lunch

There’s no reason to stop in California City. Yes, there’s a restroom and a Subway and a Kwik-E-Mart and lots of other shiny distractions. Let the crew take advantage of them. Seriously. Whatever the crew needs/wants at noon on Saturday, they should get. There are plenty of long stretches when they’ll have to be spartan. But stay on the bike (this goes pretty much for all time stations). I got in the habit of stopping at “rest stops” when I rode double centuries. The Furnace Creek 508 is not a double. Time Stations aren’t rest stops, they’re time sucks.

(To be continued…)



  1. Steve Said:

    Great advice and good luck, look forward to seeing you out there next month.
    Steve (Team Wild Hare)

    • zombee508 Said:

      Thanks, Steve! I was a little insecure giving “advice.” I don’t want to come off as someone who knows all there is to know about The 508. I just want to finish, and these posts are as much about reminding myself as giving advice to others. I’m glad it was well received. ~ZomBee

    • Gary D. Kliewer (KUDU/Jackalope) Said:

      I like your attitude and maturity towards the 508. Good common sense comments. Stay on the bike….that’s the best advice. Every pedal stroke turned is one less stroke to the finish. Also it is tempting to stop in Baker. Don’t! Go slow “up” the grade out of Baker. If you feel your brakes are dragging out of Baker just look back. 2.5% up grade is deceiving. Gary “KUDU” Kliewer. 2 solo and 2001 2 man team Jackalope finisher/winner.

      • zombee508 Said:

        Thanks for stopping by, Gary. I appreciate the read, and the comment. It’s one thing to give advice, but another to follow it myself. We’ll see if I can do that next weekend! ~Rob

  2. Bob (Spike the Wonder Dog) '09 4X, '10 2X, '11 2X Said:

    Rob James, see you in 29 Palms, big fella. You have trained hard, your improvement is amazing, and it will be fun to be on this journey with you!

    • zombee508 Said:

      Bob! I’m looking forward to seeing you at the start. I’m looking forward even more to seeing you at the finish. I can guarantee at least 1 of those two locations. 😉 Speaking of training hard, it’s great to get to ride so often with you and the others in the Bay Area. You’re a true friend on and off the bike!

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