Tuesday, July 16, 2013

huntsman 140 aka the day that should have never happened

Way back on June 15th, Aaron biked in the Huntsman 140 mile non-competitive bike ride. He signed up to ride from Salt Lake City, down 70 miles to some little tiny town south-west of Utah Lake, and then back again. For several days leading up to this, I was seriously wondering how this was even possible. The day itself turned out to be stranger than I could have imagined.

Aaron was supposed to be in Salt Lake at the Huntsman Cancer Center at 7:00am. He woke up and was all ready to go at 5:30, kissed me good-bye, and left the apartment. Thanks to the fact that we were still sleeping with our windows open, I could hear him get in the car and... not start it. He tried several times, and I started trying to wake myself up enough to figure out what was happening and what the problem could be.

Aaron came running back upstairs, as I was already making my way out of bed to go see what the problem was. Yes, he informed me, the car wasn't starting. We both stood there for a moment in anxious wonderment, having driven the car home last night together, not knowing how to proceed next.

"Can you call your grandpa and see if we can borrow his car?"
"It's 5:30 in the morning! I don't want to scare him half to death!"
"There's no other choice! I don't know what to do! I'm going to be late and miss the race!"

It was a strange few minutes. Well, realizing how wonderful my grandpa is, I--still a bit frightened--gave him a call. He picked up immediately, sounding just slightly worried. I explained, kind of, what was happening, and he agreed to loan us his car for the day. (Only later I learned that he really had no idea what was going on or why Aaron desperately needed to be in Salt Lake.)

The next part is the strangest part of the morning. Instead of Aaron riding his bike up the short distance to my grandpa's house and leaving from there, or having Grandpa drive down to our apartment, load up Aaron's bike, and then have Aaron drop him off again, or even have me ride up on my own bike to get the car and bring it back down to Aaron, I laced up my running shoes and, nearly 6 months pregnant, took off for a brisk morning jog at 5:45am.

Grandpa was standing in his garage, and asked my why I didn't ride my own bike. I didn't cross my mind. Unfortunately, everyone involved was a little too sleepy and anxiety driven to think of a better alternative. So, back down to our apartment I went, Aaron packed his stuff in the car, and he took off.

I told Aaron that if he died that day, I would never forgive him for not listening to the car gods who tried to prevent his travels.

By this time my adrenaline was pumping so much that there was no going back to sleep. Which was actually fine because it was only an hour or so before I had to be to dance class. I had actually already arranged for a friend to pick me up, since Aaron was originally intending to take our car. I didn't even try starting the car again before I left.

From dance class, I tried to find someone who was going up towards Salt Lake, figuring I could combine hitch-hiking with riding the Trax to make my way up in a decent range of the Robison's so that Aaron's mom could pick me up. Luckily, there was a girl at class that day who also needed to head up to Riverton right after class. Hallelujah! I got dropped off at South Town Mall, picked up by Aaron's parents, and spent the day hanging out with Kaye.

I was tracking Aaron via Find My Friends (thank you iPhone!) as soon as he left our apartment. He got started about an hour late, I wouldn't learn why until later, but was making his way down towards Utah Lake and beyond. We saw him get to the end of the road--the point at which they turn around and head all the way back up to Salt Lake--and then he didn't seem to move for quite some time. I thought, his phone can't be dead, oh wait, he wasn't driving our car, so he couldn't charge his phone during his drive up. Blast, his phone is dead! How will I know when he's near the finish line?

Kaye and I decided to try to go find him. We knew the route they were taking, and eventually we found other bikers and race guides at corners directing the bikers. We saw a couple bikers in Qualtrics uniforms coming up to one of the rest stops and decided to ask them if they knew where Aaron was. They did, he was somewhere behind them. A few minutes later, we found Aaron and his biking buddy coming up on the rest stop. He was dead beat and later admitted that he just wanted to jump in the car with us.

But instead, he continued.

He said they thought they had about an hour and a half left, so Kaye and I planned accordingly to try to be at the finish line.

About 45 minutes later, as we were on our way back up to the Cancer Center, Aaron is calling my phone. His phone hadn't died, but he had turned it to airplane mode to try to save battery life, and it's a good thing so that he could make this call.

"I'm dead. I can't move my legs! Come get me!"

We found him, laying in the grass on a busy street corner in Salt Lake, resting in the shade of a Walgreens sign. He was pretty delirious and nauseous feeling as we put his bike in the small car and drove the rest of the way to the finish line--about 8 more miles, all up hill.

He kept mumbling things about his biking buddy, "He's so fast. He's so strong. He's so good and fast. I have to go give him something. He's so fast." Mind you, Aaron's longest bike ride before this point was about 35 miles, and he was able to get about 120 miles in the blazing sun that day! I kept trying to tell him how amazing he was, but he said he never wanted to see his bike again, and that this ride was the worst idea ever.

(That eventually wore off, and he does still love riding his bike.)

We got back up to the Huntsman Cancer Center, switched the bike into my grandpa's car, and took off. I convinced Aaron that we should pit stop at his parents house, get some water and food, let him take a shower. I thought he would run for the shower, but no. He laid on the couch for about 2 hours without moving, just sipping some water.

Aaron admitted that he was dead and done about halfway down the first leg, before even turning around. But he pushed on.

He said that once he was past Utah Lake, couldn't even see civilization anymore, just dry, hot desert, he just wanted to scream, "I HATE CANCER!" He also wanted to cry. I told him he should have done both, but I guess that's not very manly.

Eventually the shower was taken, some food was eaten, and we headed back down to Provo to drop off Grandpa's car. Well, when we got there, we discovered that somewhere along the way, we had lost Aaron's front wheel. Where? We have no idea. Kaye even drove all the way back to the parking ramp in Salt Lake the next morning, and it wasn't there--though I'm not sure it would have survived all that time just sitting in the parking ramp.

We chatted with Grandpa for a moment, discussing all the weirdnesses of the day, and decided that this day was perhaps never supposed to happen.

The next day, I woke up and expecting to have to walk to church, left Aaron asleep at home, and headed out a little early. Might as well just try the car, though, I thought.

Try I did, and the car turned on.