Featured photo for Furnace Creek 508: We Did It!
Photo: AdventureCorps

Furnace Creek 508: We Did It!

EPIC. It’s an overly used word in the ultra-endurance world, but that’s the first word that comes to my mind when thinking of the Furnace Creek 508. It included 10 mountain stages including many 10-25 mile climbs; 15% grades; 510 miles; and in my case, just 10 minutes of sleep and 39hr15min of biking. My stellar crew of two—Raquel and Tori—barely slept more than I.

Yet it turned out to be one of the greatest races I have ever done, one I got to do while taking in the stunning desert scenery on a magical 27-year-old French bicycle, with two of my closest friends following in a spunky eco-friendly Ford Focus behind. It culminated in an age group Classic Bike course record, and was an adventure for the ages filled with memories that will not fade any time soon.

I never got around to writing a full report, but you can read the Twitter feed below to get a sense of the race as posted in real-time by the Crew Goddesses.

From https://twitter.com/#!/_felixwong :

Asiatic Wildcat has the smallest support vehicle! Crewing goddesses waiting to hand gatorade bottle off 24+ miles in. #fc508 – October 8 at 8:26 a.m. PST

The second smallest vehicle is also from Colorado: totem Black-Tailed Jackrabbit. Woohoo! #fc508 – October 8 at 9:36 a.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat approaching 43 miles. Looking strong. Nice flat reprieve after hills @ beginning. #fc508 – October 8 at 10:06 a.m. PST

10:30 a.m. 49.5 miles in. About to start climb up to windmills. Smiling still!?! #fc508 – October 8 at 10:32 a.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat done with stage 1. 12:40 p.m. 83.6 miles done! #fc508 – October 8 at 12:42 p.m. PST

Two women have been following me in a car for 3 hours. Stalkers. Climbing Townes Pass now. Steep. #fc508 – October 8 at 9:12 p.m. PST

Stage 3 in Death Valley Natl Park. The crew says I kick butt on hills. #fc508 – October 8 at 9:20 p.m. PST

Just passed a Spotted Ass on the pass. #fc508 – October 8 at 9:26 p.m. PST

Still on pass, passed by Spotted Ass. Giddyup! #fc508 – October 8 at 9:52 p.m. PST

Finished Townes Pass last nite at 10:38 pm. #fc508 – October 9 at 9:16 a.m. PST

Completed stage 3 Sat morn at 1:15 a.m. #fc508 – October 9 at 9:18 a.m. PST

Finished stage 4 at 8:00 a.m. Strong climbing on Salsbury. Smiling again after some snacks and caffeine. Working on stage 5 now. – October 9 at 9:21 a.m. PST

Clydesdale and Asiactic Wildcat playing leapfrog approaching Baker #fc508 – October 9 at 10:58 a.m. PST

Asiatic wildcat checked in and left baker ts5 at 11.20a…off to the next hill #fb #fc508. P.S. My crew rocks! – October 9 at 11:31 p.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat and crew in race for 29hrs so far, working their way up to Kelso. #fc508 – October 9 at 12:12 p.m. PST

What’s up with the busted up road to Kelso..goes on forever. Busted up road on classic bike = so not fun. #fc508 – October 9 at 1:46 p.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat through TS6 at 2:11 p.m. Working up mtn section nine now. #fc508 – October 9 at 3:08 p.m. PST

Watch out for a sandy descent in stage 7. #fc508 – October 9 at 3:34 p.m. PST

@torifoco and @raquelnotrachel are the best support crew ever – October 9 at 4:51 p.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat checked in TS7 at 5.05p, took a break and started the final stage at 5.30p. Taking this one nice n easy. #fc508 – October 9 at 6:12 p.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat working up sheep hole summit as our 36th hour on the road passes. Last mtn section! Hooray! #fc508 – October 9 at 7:06 p.m. PST

Moon and temps perfect for the riders still working the field! #fc508 – October 9 at 7:08 p.m. PST

Asiatic Wildcat crew just saw Felix polish off the final mountain stage. Twentynine Palms lights visible from descent. So close. #fc508 – October 9 at 8:06 p.m. PST

Furnace Creek 508, done. Asiatic Wildcat did great! #fc508 – October 9 at 10:32 p.m. PST

Photos not created by Felix Wong may be subject to copyright.
Nice shot of the bike's shadow while driving down Interstate I-70 through Colorado on the way to California.
The Gitane the night before the race, all set to go.
[Race day, 6:06 a.m.] Felix Wong ready to roll to the start of the race in Santa Clarita.
[6:49 a.m.] Just 11 minutes to go until race start.  The tall man on the right is NBA great and ultra-cycling fan, Bill Walton.
[Mile 0, 7:00 a.m.] The race begins!  Adventure Corps race director Chris Kostman leads us out in a DeLorean as this year's race theme was "Back to the Future."
(Mile 24) Crews await the racers at the top of Mountain Stage #1.
(Mile 24) The Asiatic Wildcat crew vehicle awaits my arrival at the top of Mountain Stage #1.
(Mile 24) Topping out Mountain Stage #1, which was a 20+ mile, 2500' climb.
Photo: Raquel Engel
[Mile 40, 9:58 a.m.] Cruising along on about 16 miles of flat land between Mountain Stage 1 & 2.
The Asiatic Wildcat mascot.
[Mile 58, 11:04 a.m.] Cresting the top of Mountain Section 2.
Photo: Raquel Engel
I slept almost the entire way from Colorado to Las Vegas, where we stayed for the night before continuing on to Santa Clarita, California.
[Mile 59, 11:07 a.m.] Windmills near Mojave.
Photo: Tori
[Mile 102, 1:54 p.m.] Gradual descent from California City to Garlock.
[Mile ~109, 2:25 P.M] Tori and her makeshift curtain.
Photo: Raquel Engel
[Mile ~127, 3:36 p.m.] On a nice decent after Johannesburg and Mountain Section 3.  Heading towards Trona.
Photo: Raquel Engel
[Mile 167, 6:28 p.m.] It was getting dark a couple miles from the top of Mountain Section 4 (an 8.4-mile, 1270' climb) from Trona to Panamint Valley.
[Mile 310, 6:52 a.m.] Heading up Jubille and Salsberry Pass (a 15-mile, 3600' climb) and feeling great!
Photo: Raquel Engel
(Mile ~200) Heading up Mountain Section #5--Townes Pass, a 13-mile, 3800' climb featuring grades >13%. (2011-10-08; Photo: AdventureCorps)
Photo: AdventureCorps
[Mile 324, 7:53 a.m.] "Thanks for Experiencing Your National Park."  I'd say I experienced the Death Valley National Park all right.
Photo: Tori
[Mile 324, 7:54 a.m.] Raquel and the Asiatic Wildcat crew vehicle await as I exit Death Valley National Park.
Photo: Tori
[Mile 324, 7:54 a.m.] Almost to Shoshone, 10 miles after climbing Jubilee & Salsberry Pass.
Photo: Tori
While I slept, Raquel (and Tori) did an amazing job driving through snow and storms!
(Mile 417) Coming into Kelso after a 21-mile, 2500' climb (Mountain Stage #8) and a 1-hour, 10-mile descent on one of the most beat-up roads I have ever ridden.
Photo: AdventureCorps
(Mile 417) Spotted: the Asiatic Wildcat Crew Goddesses in the most eco-friendly crew vehicle of the race. (2011-10-09; Photo: AdventureCorps)
[Mile 444, 4:22 p.m.] Riding down a 16-mile descent to Amboy.  It was supposed to be somewhat treacherous with soft shoulders so Raquel & Tori followed closely behind in the crew vehicle.
(510 miles and 39hr15min later) Finished!  Made it in one piece!
Photo: AdventureCorps
The Gitane did great with not a single mechanical problem.  She did her French roots proud.
Photo: AdventureCorps
Felix Wong with Chris Kostman, founder of AventureCorps. Finishers got a blue finishing jersey.
Photo: AdventureCorps
Magical race, magical ride.
1st place Classic Bike, age group course record. One of the greatest races I have ever done, and best crew ever!
Photo: AdventureCorps
Furnace Creek 508: Done!
We (well, Raquel & Tori) had to drive through blowing rain and snow on the highway most of the way to Las Vegas, where we slept the first day en route to California.
Tori gave me a fortunate cookie from lunch at Panda Express: "A solid challenge will bring forth your finest abilities."
After applying signage, the Asiatic Wilcat crew vehicle was ready!
The crew vehicle being inspected for the race.
Three of the four "fathers of ultracycling"---Lon Haldeman, John Howard, Michael Shermer, and John Marino---reminisced about the first Race Across America in the pre-race meeting.  They'd all race again in this year's edition of the Furnace Creek 508.
Adventure Corps founder Chris Kostman invited all racers up on stage while he said some final words.  That's me to the side of him.
Within hours of picking up the rental car, I had located, purchased, and installed all the mandatory safety equipment for the crew car.