Now that I have ... ... ... ... more oxygen in my brain, I will write about my experience with the Counting Coup. First and fore most, the Thank yous!! Thank you to Chris Vargas who is responible for creating such a wonderful organization, the Warriors Society and who is responsible for putting on this awesome test of will for each of us to participate in. Thank you to the WS members and volunteers who supported us out there along the trails and the aid stations - you all are the bomb! Thank you to the Trail Angel cheer leaders who were patiently waiting for each of there sisters to cross that finish line - who had warm dry clothes, beer and food other than Gu, Hammer Gel, Cliff Bars, or Cytomax!! You ALL ROCK!!! Thank you to the STR family members who too were at the finish line with "adult beverage", welcoming smiles and loud cheers!! Thank you to John and Jordan for all the finish line photo's, as well as all the others who took pictures. Hugh, thanks for the Uncrustable - sorry I didn't catch it at the parking lot of Holy Jim, but I was on a mission to finish...it was my first time doing something such as this "race" and I really wanted to do well!! Sam thanks for the beer, chair, and table for me to eat my chicken dinner on at the park!! My day started at 3:20am - when the alarm went off. I wanted to get breakfast, then head to the starting line in pleanty of time - more to organize myself than for any other reason. Once there I ran into Tim (jasonmason). It was nice to see him all calm and collected. It really helped me stay calm too. As more and more people started to show up, I started seeing so many others who were doing this "adventure" - Dave, Chris Taylor (ta), Jacke (ta), Carrie (ta). I was looking all over for Deb (db250f) my wonderful, beautiful friend who I trained so hard with. I wanted to wish her and Donna the best of luck...but as luck would have it - I never saw them. It was time to line up, and get ready to roll. When the buzzer rang, and all the bikes took off I had to keep telling myself, don't get sucked into a pace that is not yours. Don't try to keep up with somebody who is riding harder....Ride your own ride. With my asmtha I try to keep my heart rate, believe it or not, below 160 so I don't wheeze. That's right...,my climbs are only maxed out at 160. Although I would have liked to ride Blackstar faster, especially this ride - I made it to Beeks in 1 hour 13 minutes, about 5 minutes slower than my best. Just tells me I have some time to make up somewhere else. As I started up the MD, I was accompanied by an old friend of mine who was doing the CC on his SS. I was surprised to run into him, it had been over 6 years since I have seen him. We rode for a while, then eventually started playing leap frog. When he would have to get off to walk a steep section of a hill, I would drop down and still spin up. Eventually thought he was gone and I was left to my own thoughts and the music playing in my head. I kept thinking how perfect the conditions were, and how beautiful the clouds were laying in between the mountain crevases. I remembed all the training rides, the amout of vacation days i expended in order to get an extra ride in, and all the times I thought to myself...ARE YOU CRAZY!!! When I reached the Motorway Tim (Switchback) was there chatting with some other riders. I rolled on not wanting to stop as I knew I had a nice down hill where I could hopefully make up some of that time from Blackstar. I have only rode the Motorway one other time, it was when we had our guided ride an I have to say THANK YOU to Gene, Ned, Matt, Chip and who ever else worked on it before the race. It was in GREAT shape. I flew down!! :lol: Thank you too to the riders who moved when they heard me coming. Thanks to Reed for lifting my bike over the crazy barrior the FS put up last week.....whew, there is the Aid station 1!! Here I topped off my water, had Andy (Rut) put a Ben-Gay heat pack on my lower back, stuffed a sandwich in my face and basically took off. I think I was there a max of 8 minutes. Sister Trail Angel Chris Taylor was there re-adjusting too, we took off at the same time. She is a strong climber, and was out of my site in no time. Dang!!! Maple Springs was about as thankless (the paved section) as I remembered it when we did the guided ride. Again, it was another first for me during the guided ride. I stopped about 2 miles into the pavement to take some advil. My legs were still feeling good, the last thing I needed was to have them start cramping so I chewed up some tums while I was there too. At about a mile from 4 Corners, Tim from Switchback rolled by again - I asked him 1) If he knew what time it was ( I was really getting worried I wouldn't make my cut off) and 2) if he had seen Deb (db250f) and Donna. He told me they were about 30 minutes ahead of me. I just kept praying Deb was on a schedule that she would make her cutoff at WHT. When I turned the last corner and could see the trucks and people at 4 corners I had this completely overwhelming feeling come over me, I instantly started crying knowing I had made my second cut off. I was so happy. Thinking back at what I had accomplished - and the work it took me to get there. I was just elated.....really, reallu HAPPY!! I stopped at 4 corners just long enough to stretch my back, then I was gone. I remembered what Deb told me about the rest of the way to the peak. For me it was not easy terrain, but it was mostly doable, an when it was not, I walked. My back was tight and it just felt better to walk some of it. After the first set of towers, and coming around the bend to see the large peak I was in awe.....the clouds were so thick and fluffy, it looked like you could float if you walked out on them. It was beautiful. And to see sections of the mountain sticking up here and there made the entire scene look, majestic. When I came around the last corner on the peak and was descending the backside of the mountain I was almost giddy, with a re-newed energy!! It was sweet!! I thought, this is it...UHJ, LHJ and your done....whoo hoo! When I dropped into UHJ, I managed to get around a few of the switchbacks and then ran into Tim (jasonman) - checked to make sure he was ok, then continued down. Tim was right behind me when we came out onto the road and headed over to LHJ. We all walked the drop in...then headed out - pretty fast...well, fast until I heard my tire pop and go flat. YEP....I flatted on LHJ. I was bummed, completely bummed for two reason....1) I really really wanted to do a GREAT time for my first attempt at the Counting Coup and 2) It was my rear tire and I've never, ever changed my rear tire before #-o I know, I know....I just have always been fortunate...or so I thought, that there was a trail male to help. Well.....several people went by and ask if I was ok...I told everybody yes, and they kept on. I, in the mean time proceeded to take my wheel off, then got the tire off....got the tube in ... and then I had a brain fade....I'm chalking it up to the to fact I lacked oxygen!! Anyway....this nice guy comes by, this one my Saving Grace....or should I say my Saving tbowren....Yes, it was me you saved!!! and YES!!!, he is right, I did tell him....I have never ever put a rear wheel on before and I get confused with the chain and the derailure, etc. But I also said that I didn't want to mess up his time. He was nice, said UHJ already did that and he helped me finish with my tire!! He was awesome...and sir, I thank you for helping me. He took off while I gathered my stuff and got everything together. I tried, with full desperation to flatten the bad tube so I could roll it up and put it in my pack, but as luck would have it....it would not flatten so I decided to wear it around my neck the entire way down HJ. All I could think of was..."I wonder what would happen if a branch snagged the darn thing" :-k thankfully I never found out. So, now that I"m on my way I start hauling A*$ down. I had a lot of time to make up. I was so happy just a short time ago that I made my cut offs, and now this!! I'm not sure where I passed tbowren....all I know is once I left the HJ trail head, I was flying. There was nothing stopping me, not even Hughs Uncrustable :bang: at the parking lot. I flew past him cranking in my top ring. I didn't care about the mud in the road, or the water crossings, or even the huge holes in the road...I just peddled and peddled and peddled. The mud was flying up in my face, I had no glasses on.....but nothing was going to stop me....nothing until the fire trucks were in the road. Dang, what was I to do...I slowed down and theh tbowren pass me. I thought, heck if he can do it so can I......I tried to catch him, but he was definitly on a mission.....We both had to manuver through more cars, but all in all Trabuco Road is a blur to me. One thing that I will keep etched in my mind forever, the crowd at the end of the road. All the friends who were there to cheer us on...the cowbells ringing....and my feather, my first Counting Coup feather. \\/ Most of my thanks are done, however, I do owe one more. I thank God not only the strengh and endurance he gave me and my friends on this day, but for the strengh and endurance he gave to each and every rider. It was memorable day for all!! PS - the best way to overcome your fears is to face them....SO, today I cleaned my bike and even took my rear wheel off...and put it back on.......:clap: Love and peace to all!!