"Here's the thing. Everybody wants to win. Nobody trains for second. So you're not going to pace yourself. Pace? Solve that, man. Tactics? I'm doing my own thing. Everybody who wants to win is going to go for it. It's just going to come down to who has alpha status tomorrow."
Creed had attempted alpha domination at this same race the year before.

"Didn't finish," he says. "About 30 miles from the finish, I just started throwing up all over the place."

"He basically rode himself into unconsciousness," a team member tells me later.

It strikes me that with stomach upset, lung-searing climbs, and snot-smearing descents ahead, there is cause for pre-race anxiety. One pants-wetting switchback descent on the course, with sheer 1,800-foot drop-offs, was dubbed "Oh-My-God" road. If there were a better opportunity for a cyclist to emulate ET, I hadn't heard of it.

When I ask Danny Pate, a heavy-lidded fellow with a scraggle of blond hair, whether he worries about that descent, he shrugs.

"Last weekend on a descent at a stage race, Svein [teammate Svein Tuft] was doing over 100K," he says, poker-faced. Then Pate beams. "And I blew Svein's doors off. I was probably going almost 70 miles an hour."

Fear, apparently, isn't a factor.

Race day begins with a short 7:45 a.m. team meeting at the Super 8 Motel. The six riders, half-dressed, sprawl across chairs and beds as Prime Alliance general manager Kirk Willett goes over the racecourse, strategy, and riders to watch. The room is quiet. Several riders appear to be sleeping with their eyes open. Creed stares at a small radio in his hand.

Willett's role in the day's drama quickly becomes clear - father figure to a pack of adrenal-loaded offspring. A former pro rider himself, Willett will drive the course, orchestrating the team's moves via a two-way radio, issuing instructions to the ears of his headset-wearing riders.

"I don't want to wear a radio," mumbles Creed.