Devils Playground – The sunrise from here is amazing – a lot like watching the sun come up from an airplane window. We are 12,750 ft up on the mountain. Micky is running from here to the summit. After the sun rises the bugs appear – non biting, so it’s not a big deal, but Micky starts coming back into the pit looking like a rider from the Isle of Man – bugs splattered all over him and the bike.
The air here is so thin that the bikes don’t breathe well. They get blubbery and feel slow compared to what the rider feels lower on the mountain. We watch as the other teams struggle with engine tuning, something that rookies to this race are especially prone to chasing. We’ve been there, done that, so instead of trying to make the best of an impossible situation, we continue to do what we’ve been doing the past few days – Micky works to master the course. It’s been a few years since he last raced here and this paved section is entirely new to him.
Bit by bit, run by run he starts to weave the turns into a narrative that he can follow. Watching him as he does this is a really, really special thing. A couple of times after a run he comes into the pit and sits in the back of the van. Closing his eyes, we can see him replay the run in his mind. His hands are out as though they are on the bars. His right hand twists the throttle and his feet make the shifts. I got only one photo of him doing it – a bad one shot into the sun, but I want to share it with you because it just seems so very cool to me.
Today has been a long one – there are other things the team has been doing, and we’re getting pretty worn out. If I have a chance I will tell you about them later – but for now, I will get this and a couple photos from the day posted.
Tomorrow is qualifying!