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Flat tires don't slow Dunn and Bazemore

By Rob Geiger, NHRA.com

Riding in an 800-mile cycling test across central and south Florida known as Gator Hell Week, Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore and former driver-turned ESPN announcer Mike Dunn completed their third consecutive "century" Tuesday. A "century" is what avid cyclists call a 100-mile ride.

The pair had to overcome three flat tires during their ride from Brooksville to Tavares. Dunn suffered two flat tires, while Bazemore had one that was so severe it bent the tire's rim.

Tuesday's route was scheduled to be a 101.7-mile jaunt but the extra miles Dunn and Bazemore put on their bikes while they waited for each other to change the flat tires pushed them to a grand total of 110 miles each on the day. Overall, they have now ridden just over 318 miles.
Organizers say Dunn is getting stronger and faster as Hell Week continues.

As soon as the group left their motel this morning they entered the Withlacoochee State Trail, an area of Florida that features lots of wild animals. On the other end of this national preserve they rode on to Center Point, which as the name suggests is the geographic center of the state. The final stretch included the last real elevation challenges of Gator Hell Week and another picturesque lake. According to event organizer Nick Gerlich, the climb over Sugerloaf Mountain was brutal for all of the riders involved, especially since it came near the end of Tuesday's lengthy ride.

NHRA.com has been keeping up with Bazemore and Dunn via an online diary chronicling their impressive adventure.

Baze and Dunn's Hell Week: Day 3
Bazemore has to get out of the saddle to push up one climb of Sugerloaf Mountain, which was once part of the Florida State Cycling Championship course.

Bazemore: It was the second consecutive day of Florida Mountains and it was hard on all of us. By itself, Sugerloaf Mountain isn't much. It sure isn't Mount Everest. But after riding 290-something miles to that point in less than three full days, it sure felt like we were climbing Mount Everest. That was a brutal way to end the day.

It's hard. It's very hard. But it's also a lot of fun pushing yourself like this. Going 110 miles in one day is a new personal best for me. It's little accomplishments like that during the overall ride that keep you going. It feels really good to get that done.

I knew today that we'd end up feeling very confident or very concerned. I'm glad to say we're much more on the confident side. When you finish with a brutal hill climb like that and you make it, you really get a charge.
The longest climb of the day takes it's toll on Bazemore (foreground), Dunn (in orange), Dave Buegler (leading the way), and all the other Hell Week participants.

I'm especially happy about Mike. He actually got stronger towards the end and I think he's feeling stronger overall. That's pretty awesome because coming into this deal he'd never even ridden one century. Now he has three in row in the bag.

Unlike the first two days we actually rode by ourselves for most of the day. The way this deal is set up they leave you to your own pace because there are people of various skill levels all riding through this thing. Nick gives us all a sheet with turns and mileage and you just kind of go at whatever pace you want. We like to push our pace so we start later than most people and then see them along the way.

We did run into Dave Buegler, who is an awesome, semi-pro rider. He was clicking along at about 25 miles per hour so we did a little mini time trail with him and rode that pace from about the 60th to the 70th mile. That guy's an animal.
Bazemore trys to stay
limber during lunch.

I have to admit I did miss my Matco Tools crew guys today. Between Mike and myself we flatted three times, Mike twice and me once. On a deal like this you could call the support vehicle but we didn't want to waste that much time so we just used the spare tubes we carry with us and changed the tires ourselves. Everyone carries a couple of tubes and a small air pump.

We even had to use our mechanical minds today because when I flatted I also bent the rim and tore the tire slightly. I was able to get the rim back in shape good enough with the edge of the air pump to the point where the tire would seat itself. Then we wrapped the inner tube with a couple of dollar bills to protect it from the torn area on the tire. It all worked out.

We're seeing some beautiful parts of Florida, some really off-the-beaten-path areas. You see lots of animals out there but so far no alligators, which is a bit of a bummer. Hopefully, we'll see some before we finish, and we will finish this thing.

Related stories
Day 2: Overcoming initial saddle soreness on Day 2
Day 1: Baze & Dunn begin their bike trip across Florida
Pre-event: Bazemore and Dunn prepare for hellish holiday
Route information from www.HellWeek.com

This story is copyright 2003 National Hot Rod Association. It may not be reprinted or retransmitted in any form without the express written permission of NHRA.com.

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