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For anyone who’s ever raced a longer stage race, there’s a sense of physiological familiarity that happens somewhere around the third day, and it compounds, like interest. Getting out of bed becomes harder. Walking is laborious. Stairs are devastating. Mental faculties deteriorate. Sleep is precious, and the growing mountain of sheer exhaustion makes it difficult to get there. The familiarity is fatigue. The human body is not designed to fully drain itself, day after day. On the bike, it manifests itself in pure lethargy. Like a car with a slowly dying alternator, it becomes harder and harder to kick the engine into gear, taking longer and longer. But, unlike an internal combustion engine, the motor of homo sapiens is a little more variable. Some two-plus months on, I look over at my journal from the Escape From LA for day five. It is mostly empty, but has one over-dramatic line scrawled in all-caps from my mechanical pencil: “WE ARE BROKEN.”

Words: Nate King

Image: Embry Rucker

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