I have a really bad feeling about this, said Eric Nordenson of Concord, Mass The heavily veined man with shrewd, closely-set eyes sat appraising me across the geological maps spread out on the table between us. Have you talked to any Australians about Hans Tholstrup? His reputation is not good.
Eric had cycled alone a year earlier across the Nullaboor plain to the south, carrying 30 liters of water with him as he frontaged the rail line through the region. Did this feat qualify him as an expert on cycling in Australia, I wondered, or merely impeach his sanity? I prompted him to explain.
The Army wouldn't give him a water truck. So we'll have to carry bottled water. One place it's five, six hundred miles between places to get water. With 100 cyclists and hangers on, we'll need more than four tons of water every day. Where is it going to come from?
The blood coursed through his hairy forearms as he kneaded his hands, and bulged in culverts shallowly buried in his furrowed brow.
But surely he wouldn't endanger our lives. He makes a living promoting events. There is always some risk behind this sort of thing, but I can't believe he's as irresponsible as that.
I've been here two weeks. And I've talked to people. There's a lot of skepticism being voiced about his ability to pull this whole thing off. Hey, I don't want to die somewhere out there because someone didn't mark a turn in the road, or because no one bothered to count heads one night. I'm 50 years old. I've taken a lot of risks in my life but I do my homework, and I've always been in charge. I don't feel good about putting my fate in the hands of someone with a reputation for reckless glory-mongering, poor organization and the habit of pissing off nearly everyone he comes in contact with. He doesn't even know anything about bicycling. How can he put on a bike race? There's no bike mechanic coming, no doctor, no water trucks. There hasn't been any publicity or pre-race hype here. No one here knows about the race, but everyone has heard of Hans, and what they've heard is bad. The whole thing has a fly-by-night feel. Something is terribly, terribly wrong.