Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Shift #3: New Mexico
From Eagle's Nest, NM to just short of the Kansas border.
This was probably my favorite part of the entire race (however, not the part that sticks out the most), and the part where I started thinking about doing this again next year.
We stayed in a small town called Eagles Nest in New Mexico after finishing our leg in CO. We got there, and although I was tired, I had a few hours of sleep in me, unlike the rest of the people in the truck. I let them go to sleep, went and got some food, tweet'd, texted Michelle, and just kinda enjoyed some downtime to myself, without the constant go-go-go feeling that is still very apparent even when not cycling. I showered, and then caught some z's for about 4 hours or so.
Standard protocol (for us anyways) was about 2 hours before our shift would start, we would call the follow vehicle to see where the current riders are, and to get an ETA on an estimated destination. Much to our surprise, Tobias got lost in the little town on Taos, NM. Below are some videos documenting the whole melee:
and a blog post on it: http://teamviasatraam2009.blogspot.com/2009/06/day-3-bicedenner-raam-2009.html
I think this is the point where the race really became REAL.
Barrie, one of our crew members, started brewing some ideas. He called the follow vehicle 20 minutes later, and Tobias was still lost (but his driver was trying to find him). There was some discussion about Larry and I starting early to help relieve Andrew since he looking to take on a long pull. Even though we have 15 hours "off", there is a lot that happens in that time - especially mental recovery. He asked us both if we could ride - mentally and physically - even though our bags were far from packed. Without question, I said "YES - IN". This was one of the coolest aspects of the race - to be mentally and physically ready 90 minutes beforehand to help out THE TEAM. We took off within 5 minutes.
After driving backwards for over an hour, we found them, and Larry and I each did two 10 minute pulls to help Andrew out. We could tell he was suffering (by the look on his face, not his average speed, which was still amazing). Just as we were starting, we received word that Tobias was found, and on his way.
Andrew was more than happy to see us - both to relieve him, and to see teamwork happening. Tobias was in the same boat, and grateful that we made the charge in. Once we realized they were good to go, we headed back to the hotel, finished packing, and headed back out on the road to meet them.
It was a 180 degree turn from the cold night of Colorado. I went from a low point, to helping out the team, and feeling much better mentally, and physically. My first few pulls had me smiling from ear to ear (which is really hard to do at 170HR). As the shift progressed, I just fell into a groove. What was gnarly is we were started at 8200ft of elevation, and made our way down to about 7,000ft-ish, but I wasn't feeling the effects. It was mostly flat, temperatures were about perfect (80's and dry), and as the sun was setting, all seemed right with the world.
Except for the follow vehicle, which got a flat:
This wasn't too concerning for us at first, since we had about 90 minutes until "night time", as considered by the race, which is at 8PM local time. The whole deal with night time is all rider exchanges MUST take place within the beams of the headlights. Normally, this is not a problem, but 8PM came around, and the follow vehicle was no where to be found, nor could we contact them. So, that meant our truck had to serve as both the follow vehicle, AND rider truck. This became a minor PITA b/c each rider would do his 5 mile pull, then simply pull over to the side of the road, with the other rider hopping out of the truck, unracking the bike, getting on the bike, and then taking off. This caused considerable speed loss, but hey - you deal with the cards you are dealt. Fortunately, this only happened for about 20 minutes or so.
The bittersweet part of the whole deal was that for the time stations that Larry and I rode, we were only 1 minute behind Team Type 1, which meant that had the follow vehicle not gotten a flat, Larry and I would have beat them for the 2 time stations. It's ok - its still bragging rights that we were only 1 minute behind them, even with our lack of quick transitions at night!
Below is a photo montage of day 3: