Not my weekend.

From Dave. After end of my race.

I want thank everyone for the well wishes, both on the blog and privately. I will respond in due time, but am posting this before I have been able to read them.

I gave it my all, but again came up short in this difficult event. I went 308 miles at which time it became apparant I would not have time to finish the remaining 200+ miles before the end of the event..

My day started fine, I rode comfortably, conservatively, and felt good. My plan was to go very easy the first day, to be strong in the night and second day. I did that exactly as I planned. By mile 70 or so, I was feeling some weakness in my legs, which I attributed to almost continual headwinds. The whole first day, into the night I was fighting headwinds that were draining my energy.
It was also very cool, then very cold at night. I train almost exclusively in Florida heat, usually the hottest part of the day, and this cool air had me coughing and hacking with an asthma like cough. I literally could not take a full breath.

At mile 200, I managed to climb 5000 foot Townes Pass, bundled up in all the clothes we had and started the 18 mile descent about 2:00AM. Toward the end of the descent, I was falling asleep on the bike. I was dozing off, and would wake up veerying across the road.
Traveling 35-40 mph. Steve and Willy were wantiing to stop me, but were afraid to pull up beside me with my erratic driving. I did make it down, and we agreed a nap would a smart thing for me.
We took a long break, but at this point, were getting dangerously close to putting ourself into a position where it would be impossible to have enough time to finish.
I had the help of a partial tailwind heading south through Death Valley, but my legs were not strong. By the time we arrived at Furnace Creek, I told my crew my calculations were putting a finish out of reach. They disagreed and convinced me to continue. 18 miles later at Badwater, we stopped, and again I explained I did not have the strength to do the remaining 235 miles at the pace needed. After some debate, I was back on my bike.
Three miles later iI stopped and told them I was done. A friend of mine crewing another racer, saw that something was going on, stopped. After a talk with him, I removed my bike computer watch, an all time/distance tracking devices. I would get back on the bike, and just ride. Ride hard, enjoy the scenery, be happy to be in the California Desert. I got on my time trial bike and cranked the next 30 miles of rolling desert at 24-26 mph average. As I started the climb out of Death Valley, I started throwing up, then dry heaving.. I stopped and ate, recovered, and continued climbing. I worked hard for another hour to climb Jubilee Pass. I got to the top made the short descent after it, but my pace was slow. Eventually, we all realized that it was impossibe to complete this event. I saw no honor in prolonging the suffering, just to say I rode 350 or 400 miles before the end of the race if a legitmate finish was not possible..

We packed it up, and started driving the 200 miles to the finish line. We stopped and tallked with many racer/crew friends on the course. Stopped and gave additional inner tubes to a Dutch team that had had multiple flats, and was out of spare tubes.

I honestly do not know what went wrong on this day. My bikes performed perfectly, my crew was perfect and never missed a beat, I rode exactly the way I wanted early on, and my training has been SO good. The headwinds and cold contributed I’m sure, but for some reason, my body just wasn’t performing at 100%.

I’ve attempted this race twice now, and both times come up short. I do these crazy events to find my limits, and in this case, I’ve found it. It was an adventure, but not one I’ll be repeating again. Thanks so much for all the well wishes!

9 Responses to “Not my weekend.”

  1. Wendy Waldroup Says:


    Finish or not, you did an amazing job and should be very proud of yourself! I hope that you are feeling better and are able to take some time to rest. Take care of yourself, tell everyone hello for me, and know that all of us here in Arlington, TX are very proud of your accomplishments!

  2. Ashley Harper Says:

    I know you tried your best. And I am proud of you dad!!!! For you to stop on something, I know it was for a good reason. You have completed some amazing things, and have inspired many people. I cant wait until you come back home! 🙂

    I Love you!!!

  3. dad harper and gayle Says:

    totally proud of you. you are an inspiration and a wonderful son relax a little now we love you dad and gayle

  4. Kelly Ridgway Says:

    Dave, I am so sorry that you didn’t accomplish want you had trained so hard for. You are a hero in everyone’s eyes and a wonderful inspiration to all your family and friends. I understand how you must feel. I’ve been there and done that. Take time to relax and know that you did your best. It just wasn’t your day. I’m sorry.

  5. Bob Gentile Says:

    Dave 308 miles is long friggin way to battle against head winds and the cold weather… Way to push it!! and most importantly glad ur safe and now on to another adventure in your life. Good job!

  6. Todd Henderson Says:

    Dave you are an inspiration to many people. Not many folks could even fathom the thought of doing something like this. Its people like you that keep us all pushing forward!!!

  7. Chase Squires Says:

    Rock on Harper … nice ride, and a bummer you didn’t get to the end, in so many of these events, I know that without time cutoffs, you’d just bull your way through to the finish if they let you … Andy and I were talking about you Saturday, how you always overcome adversity … There are more events out there, anyone thinking Canadian Death Race next July? If you’re in, I’m in …


  8. Tiffany Says:

    GO Dave!!!! Run Strong and let me know how it goes.


  9. Corrine Says:

    I went to the website and the final entry – sorry to read that Dave didn’t finish as he anticipated. A valiant effort nonetheless and worth being proud of – most of the population could not even START this race – much less complete the lion’s share of it. He can look to many triumphs and most notably, his remarkable running ability and accomplishment with Badwater in August.

    Don’t lose the faith on this, Dave – you are still one tough road warrior!