On a gas-lit, cobblestone street along the banks of the Savannah River, a celebration was waiting to begin late Monday night. Mayor John P. Rousakis was there, ready to present the key to the city.
Meanwhile, 22 miles away, Bob Fourney sat in a motor home, waiting. He was about to win the 1990 Race Across America, but first he had to sit out 45 minutes in penalties.
Fourney's crew had been penalized twice for improper procedures, and now he was forced to kill time. Though he got only 13 hours sleep during that time, Fourney appeared awake and alert as he met with reporters during the penalty wait.
"I feel pretty good," he said. "The toughest part of the race will be getting going again."
After the rest, Fourney rode the final 22 miles and reached the finish line at Rousakis Plaza along River Road at 9:09 p.m. (PDT) Monday. Forty-three minutes were taken off his time because of a parade start in Irvine, 2,922 miles away, making his official winning time 8 days, 11 hours and 26 minutes.
"Mostly, I just want a hot bath and a cold beer," said Fourney, a 32-year-old map maker from Denver. "I want to have a big fandango . . . whatever that is."
Fourney rode into Rousakis Plaza on the warm southern night with his first RAAM victory in his fourth attempt.
He dropped out of the race in 1986 and '88, and finished fourth in '87. He was one of four members of a human-powered vehicle team last year that went coast-to-coast in 5 days, 1 hour and 20 minutes.
"The big difference this year was the experience I have," he said. "I didn't do stupid things. Well, not too many."
Fourney's crew had been penalized for having two pace vehicles on the course at the same time and for a light problem.
Bob Kish of Port Orange, Fla., who finished in second place, also received a 15-minute penalty for a light that went out. He completed the race at 10:20 p.m.
Fourney's time failed to beat that of 1989 RAAM winner Paul Solon of Tiburon, Calif. Solon raced from Costa Mesa to New York City in 8 days, 8 hours and 45 minutes.
The transcontinental record was set in June by Mike Secrest of Flint, Mich., who rode from Huntington Beach to Atlantic City, N.J., in 7 days, 23 hours and 16 minutes.
Fourney had been among the top five riders since reaching the second time station in Desert Center, Calif. He moved into the lead late Tuesday night as the riders headed into his home state of Colorado.
Fourney proved to be the superior rider the next day on a ride that included an eight-mile climb up Wolf Creek Summit, altitude 10,850 feet, and a five-mile stretch up the 9,941-foot Cuchara Pass. The two grades are 39 miles apart.
Fourney held an eight-minute lead over Kish, who preformed well on the mountain roads despite no training on such long, steep inclines.
Kish regained the lead Thursday and continued in front Friday as the riders moved through nearly 800 miles of plains and rolling hills in Texas.
Fourney found his way back into the lead Saturday as he and Kish battled about 100 meters apart for much of that afternoon in Louisiana.
Fourney finally took the lead for good about 60 miles shy of the Mississippi River. He stretched his advantage to 1 1/2 hours on Sunday, despite being bothered by a sore neck that forced him to ride with his head down most of the day.
Monday, Fourney expanded the lead to nearly five hours at one point as he and Kish moved along mostly farm roads. They rode along Georgia Route 280, which runs through the center of Plains, the home of former President Jimmy Carter.
Fourney passed Billy Carter's filling station just before dawn with 245 miles remaining. He spent the rest of the day widening his lead on the way to his first RAAM victory.
Jim Penseyres of San Juan Capistrano is in Russell, Miss.--2,366 miles into the race--in 11th place.
There were no changes in the women's division standings Monday. Nancy Raposo of Newport, R.I., continued in the lead, about 160 miles ahead of second-place Cheryl Marek of Seattle and 207 miles ahead of third-place Michelle Grainger of Portland.
Raposo, who is near Jackson, Miss., has 661 miles remaining and is expected to finish early Thursday morning.
The tandem team of Bob Breedlove of Des Moines, Iowa, and Roger Charleville of Cincinnati were 2,580 miles into the 2,922-mile race, near Marvyn, Ala., as of 9 p.m.
RACE ACROSS AMERICA FINISH
Temperature: 92 degrees
Conditions: partly cloudy
Winner: Bob Fourney, 32, Denver.
Location: Savannah, Ga., 2,922 miles.