I knew this was going to be a tough course. I knew there was going to be sand and I knew I’d have to walk at points, but none of that knowledge helped keep my cool as thoughts of throwing in the towel crept in way too early. I couldn’t hold any speed or keep one tire in front of the other. We were only 20 miles in and I was already sinking into those dark places you wouldn’t normally experience in a long race until after you’ve had 3 flats and you’ve been out of water for hour.
Around mile 120, we were treated with a break from the sand and hills as we rolled through the outskirts of Wellston but the relief was short lived. Something punctured my tire on a short paved descent down highway 55. The telltale “tick-tick-tick-tick” indicated whatever I hit was lodged in my tire and would require remediation sooner than later. The offending object was discovered to be a short length of ~1/8th in. cable complete with ferrule end. I pulled the cable from my tire and watched a geyser of sealant spray onto the shoulder until there was none left to plug the hole. I would have preferred a ride without a getting a flat, but a mosquito free stop was pretty okay. The remainder of the middle 100 miles was relatively calm save for the headwind we encountered as we headed east.