From 2008: One Lap of Hell with 155 and The Cowboy
Bostrom knew he would have faced this same fate, had Spies not been there to get him food.
Ben Bostrom was struggling with some very bad news. Pedaling thru the closing hours of the 2008 Moab 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race, Ben knew a podium finish was within his grasp, possibly even a victory. Hoping to solidify a top 3 finish in the premiere Men's Solo class, he cranked out a 1:25 on the penultimate lap - nearly ten minutes faster than anyone else. For the past day, he had been chasing the iron men of mountain biking, pro riders like Josh Tostado and the legendary Tinker Juarez. Now, the top 3 guys were close. After a hurried pit stop, Ben rushed out onto his last lap, hoping that the fast time he had set would be enough to vault him to the front. Soon after beginning his last circuit, it was announced that the race had already been decided. The Top 3 pro riders were "credited with an additional lap", making a podium finish an impossibility for Ben.

The sense of relief was short lived, as the shrubby vegetation couldn't be used as toilet paper--no TeePee, no Wipee.
"That really popped my balloon," said 155. "The finish money didn't matter, it was like $1400 for third. But to have a photo of me on the podium with my heroes, I'd cherish that." Bostrom had survived a grueling night on the bicycle, pushing his endurance to the limit, nothing left in reserve. Temperatures had dropped near 20 degrees; the wind blew bitter cold across the rugged terrain. After losing feeling in his fingers, Ben crudely banged gearchanges on the bicycle, skinning his palms raw. Shivering badly and on the verge of hypothermia, he had lost the ability to speak coherently. Although the results had been decided, Bostrom still needed to finish his last full lap - another hour and a half on the bicycle was in front of him. Disappointment quickly turned to concern when Ben realized that in the mad rush of the last pit stop, he had changed jerseys, and the one he was now wearing had no food in it.

This was a very serious problem. Food is fuel for a mountain biker, thousands of calories are burned on every lap. At each pitstop, Ben had pasta, trail mix, and protein bars into his mouth, and always had a snack in his jacket for when he needed energy on the course. Now, with a full lap ahead of him, 155 knew he'd be bonking hardcore, physically breaking down in the middle of nowhere. There were no racers or course marshals in sight. He didn't have much left in his tank, either. Sick to his stomach during the morning, Bostrom had jumped off the bicycle, urgently removed his jacket, gloves and shorts to avoid soiling himself, and squatted on the trailside. The sense of relief was short lived, as the shrubby vegetation couldn't be used as toilet paper - no TeePee, no Wipee. Empty, he pulled up his shorts and rode on, staying up & off the seat to keep "monkey butt" to a minimum (or perhaps more accurately, "chunky butt"). Now, hollow inside, nothing in his pockets and with no one to help, Ben Bostrom wondered how he would make it thru this one last lap in Hell.

After taking a physio test a couple of years ago, Ben was surprised to learn that his endurance and fitness levels were similar to that of a typical Tour De France competitor. Bicycles entered Bostrom's life late; he only got into mountain biking within the past year. "I kinda hated bicycles, then I was forced to get one for training in 2004," he said. "I Iove the way everything goes slow-motion when you're riding, and you really have time to think. Mountain biking just did it for me. " Bitten badly by the bug, Bostrom enters the occasional competitive race, but he had never tried anything as hardcore as the Moab 24 Hour. Crazy endurance tests like Moab have a way of showing tough guys, the most formidable of athletes, exactly what they are made of. Many riders don't finish, some end up in the hospital. But mountain bikers are a unique bunch, far more scruffy and down to earth than the road bike crowd. They've got a sense of humor about the crashing, the cuts, broken bones, and retching. You'd never find Lance Armstrong squatting at a TDF stage, pinching a Pain au Chocolat while the peloton pedals past. This type of easy, dudes- on-their-bikes esprit d'corps is part of what attracted Ben Bostrom to mountain biking in the first place.

For the race weekend, Moab looked quite similar to a refugee camp, thousands of tents and cooking fires sprawling outwards in every direction. Bostrom brought along a big entourage, including Yamaha crewchief Ollie Hutchinson and his brother Eric, who competed with other friends on a 5 person Co-Ed team. They wore Reno 911 style police outfits and sported 70's style facial hair. Miguel Duhamel was present, a doppleganger for "Deep Throat" cast member Harry Reems. New Yamaha signee Ben Spies and his cousin showed up early, in a massive motorhome 5 times the size of anything in the paddock. The vehicle was quickly dubbed Spiesers Palace, and became home base for fresh coffee, Eric's huge pasta dinner, and drunken screenings of "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". Spies and Bostrom had never really spent much time together, their interaction mostly limited to respectful nods to each other in the AMA paddock. But the crew got tight very quickly, venturing into town each night to McGill's for a massive M.O.A.B. - Mother Of All Burritos, washed down with "mas tequila". It was the kind of intense hang where new friendships are born, existing ones are strengthened. During the race, the freezing black night, all of these people took care of Ben as he came into the pits, fixing his lights, working on his bicycle to keep it going, and making sure he ate enough to keep him going.

Now, out on his final lap and without food, Ben wasn't surrounded by friends. Crushing pedals up an incline of small broken rocks, his ability to think straight ebbing away, Bostrom caught something moving in his peripheral vision. Eyes blurry with dirt and sweat, he squinted and saw a cowboy, sitting on a hillside, seemingly waiting for him to arrive. The cowboy got up and started walking his mountain bike down the embankment. Suddenly Bostrom realized, "That's not a cowboy, that's Ben Spies....I'm just staring at him thinking please let this guy have food or I'm in trouble, my jaw is frozen, and I'm too hungry to speak, but I guess I asked him what he was doing out here." Spies had been running the race as well, in a different category. "So Spies says, "I figured I'd wait and ride the 25th hour with you as you do your final lap," and I was like shit, what a stud, it's on." Just by looking at Bostrom, Spies knew that he needed food badly. "So no matter who came by us, Spies was like "Dude, do you got any food?" These bikers are hilarious, a guy stops and is like "Yeah dude," pulls out a carrot and raisins, all these riders had the weirdest conglomerations of sh*t, and I'd wolf it down."

Bostrom continued, "Spies pulls an avocado and turkey wrap from a corner worker's mouth, and just crams it down my throat, and I don't even eat meat. He also got 3 mars bars, so I stuffed them under my bib and kept riding. We come up to a big hill where we have to push the bikes, Spies says "Gimme your bike", and pushes it up the hill, I'm just walking behind him like I am hurt. So this guy comes behind us and again, Spies says "Got any food?", and the guy reaches into his pocket and pulls out a bag of weed! And he laughs and goes, "Oh, wrong pocket, sorry man, unless you want that? "And we're like no dude, so he reaches into the other pocket and pulls out some gels, and i thought that just sums up the mountain bike crowd, just a good weird group of guys."

Later on the lap, Spies and Bostrom encountered a Japanese rider, curled up on the ground. "He was running #32 and I recognized him because thats my brother's AMA number, and he's dressed all in blue, so he looks all Yamaha, and he's laying on the ground, dry heaving, and we said "Dude, you need food?" And he said, "I can't eat". Thank God Spies was there, because he pushed the guy all the way back. Ben Spies saved us both. Yuki from Japan, the guy's first 24 hour race, wasted himself, he had nothing left." Bostrom knew he would have faced this same fate, had Spies not been there to get him food.

When they finally pulled back into the pits, there was a feeling of elation. Everyone was waiting for them - the team of Eric, Ollie, Anthony, Tom and Casey had won their 5 person Co-Ed race, lapping the 2nd place team, so the group would enjoy a podium celebration after all. Bostrom had locked down 4th place in Men's solo, beaten only by guys who race mountain bikes for a living - quite an achievement. Lots of funny pictures were taken. After coffee, a hot shower and a quick nap in Spieser's Palace, Ben was up and ready for another M.O.A.B. burrito and margaritas. "I only slept 45 minutes, didn't wanna let the guys down! There was so much heart from everyone, McGill, Kid Rock, Casey, Morgan, Anthony & Sean, the Supermoto crew, Spies and his gang, cousin Jeff - they're pretty special guys."

So Spies and Bostrom, always polite respectful competitors in the AMA paddock, are now fast friends. The cowboy had pulled 155 thru that last lap in Hell. "I didn't know how big a heart Ben Spies had until we got to hang together, and now, I honestly love the guy, he was like Clint Eastwood," said Bostrom. A few weeks later, at the Portimao World Superbike races, Spies expressed mutual admiration for Bostrom, and awe at the depth of his endurance. "I can go out and crank pedals as fast as anybody for a few hours, but Ben Bostrom, he can just keep going and going. The guy isn't human, he's a machine, and a really cool guy."
— ends —
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