Jay Costley and Kevin Shrier join the Steph Challenge by Jay Costly

Day 1, June 13

We are not worthy and “what would Steph do?”

He would get up early – so we boarded a plane in Chicago at 9:30 am.

He must pay close attention to diet and hydration – so we hit the training table at Mothers in New Orleans soon after landing and washed down massive Po’ Boy sandwiches with ice cold Dr. Pepper.  After beignets and chicory coffee at Café Du Monde and pralines from Southern Candy, we were on our way.  Pretty darn full still when we got to the hotel in Baton Rouge – we considered a nap.  Again, “what would Steph do?”  He had already traveled 2,400 miles across the country on a bike over two months in blazing heat and occasional driving rain.  Time to Man Up!  “No Nap!”

Katy & Jay riding behind Steph and the setting sun

We joined the challenge at an interesting time – just as Mark was making friends with a Louisiana State Trooper . Apparently they go about that in as very unusual way in the south and the process involves a lot of testosterone and creates a fantastic amount of tension – but  works like a charm.  We enjoyed a police escort for the next hour during a beautiful evening as we crossed the Mississippi River.Then there was another hour and another … approaching 7:30 pm and Mark had been on the road for over 10 hours.  Kevin and I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that we had been on the road FOR 3 HOURS and didn’t Steph realize we were a little uncomfortable due to overdoing it a bit at lunch?

We stopped at 7:30.  The cold beer roadside when you finish the days travel no matter how long or short is a great tradition.  Kevin and I ran some errands for team Stephan that night and grabbed a bite to eat while we talked about how sore (surprisingly) we were and what an unbelievably deep level of sleep Mark must be enjoying.  We were still having this conversation when we returned to the hotel at 11:00 pm to find Mark in the lobby greeting a couple of new arrivals.  We waved to the three of them and headed to our room to crash – We had a full day of riding ahead of us!

We are not worthy!


Day 2, June 14

Bjorn on the Bayou and a breakdown in the buddy system

Steph is the star of this drama but he has an unbelievable supporting cast:  Lincoln keeps the whole thing going and focuses on keeping Mark in line – tough job; Maria who takes care of Mark; Katy who had been on the road for 40 days recording the team’s journey; Shane who arrived when we were there to spell Maria and it felt like he had been there for the summer and Antonio and Agnes (I hope I have that right) who dropped in for awhile to help with logistics.  All have great attitudes, are passionate about what Mark is doing and work very hard to make each day successful.

Those who drop in and join Mark on the road can be another thing altogether.  A great deal was accomplished on Day 2:  we rode in blazing sunshine and during a break for lunch John McLendon felt comfortable enough to wear an outfit I have only seen worn before by Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat.  “We” would later ride through a Louisiana hurricane.  Steph channeled the priest in Caddy Shack and rode his bike through a rain storm I couldn’t drive a car through.  I pulled a jeep over to the side of the road and Mark continued to ride his bike.  Because he did, 12 other SC participants did as well. Crazy? – yes.  Kevin and I spent the next couple hours of the trip shuttling cars ahead of the riders – a critical and under appreciated job on the road.  Cowardly? – yes.

Man down – Steph alluded to this in his blog post earlier.  Two hours after the rain started and at the end of the day, as it was getting dark and the celebratory beers are being handed out, someone realizes that we are missing a rider, Tom Wiscomb, the Bjorn of this story.  We have his bike but we do not have him.  At that point his “close friend” John Olvany reports that his phone has been ringing for some time.  He has also been receiving text messages – the last one, “I am back here – come get me.”  We have left Tom in truly the Middle of Nowhere.  While not dressed like Sacha Baron McLendon (no chance for survival), Tom is dressed in a traditional bike outfit and therefore looks an awful lot like he escaped from a Swedish traveling circus.  After two hours “in the wild” he would have to be considered at risk.  We were able to find him, safe but a little shaken, standing outside a Dollar General store – they literally do have everything there.

Day 2 outstanding performance goes to Steph for his leadership during the storm – hey, it worked.  There were also a number of shameful performances – Costley and Shrier for hiding from the storm in cars; McLendon for the almost full frontal nudity when people were trying to eat and, most significantly, Olvany, for his total disregard for the “buddy system.”

Tomorrow, I will get to Day 3 and Beer with the Baptists and Bourbon Street…


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