Back in the early 1980’s I roomed with Bob Babbitt. Bob was, and still is, a wildly creative and fun guy and a pretty good athlete to boot. Back then Bob started what he called “Ride and Ties.” These were based on two person endurance relay races wherein each team consisted of two people and one horse — except in Bob’s races you used a bike instead of a horse. In those days the races were mass starts with cyclists and runners all beginning together in one big crazy melee.
One person would ride the bike while the other ran. When the rider got an indeterminate distance ahead of his teammate. He or she would drop the bike by the side of the course and begin running. The other teammate (hopefully) would find the bike, get on and ride until they’d overtaken and put some distance on their now running teammate before dropping the bike and regurgitating the whole process. In this way they’d leapfrog each other over the entire course. The only real rule (other than not sabotaging other teams and their bikes — and yes, it happened — was that both members of a team had to finish together.
One Thanksgiving Bob and I teamed up for a race. It had bucketed rain the night before turning the hilly 12 mile course’s clay fire roads into wheel-sucking, shoe-swallowing madness. Bob was the official starter for the race — which he did wearing his customary turkey suit — and also the first rider for our team. At the start I went out running hard and it wasn’t too long before the field had thinned out. I’d been running for 20 minutes or so and still hadn’t seen Bob ride by me. I guessed he’d had trouble getting out of his costume before attacking the muck on the course.
I got to the turn around point in 43 minutes and still no Bob. I ran back in 43 more minutes and there he was, at the finish line handing out frosted gingerbread turkey cookies to all the hungry teams. Apparently he’d only ridden a couple of miles and tired of the adventure. Besides as the official-unofficial course starter, course marshal and all-around finish line guy he was needed back at the start/finish area. I was about to bitch to Bob about being a one-man team when he flashed me a big smile, congratulated me on a great workout and handed me a cookie.
How could I be mad?