Shift #7: Maryland
Ah, the final stage.
Larry and I headed to bed around 6pm local time. Shortly before catching the most sleep we got all week, Larry asked me what time I wanted to wake up. Seeing as though our shift was starting at 2am, I said midnight. He looked at me with the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights-look, and asked "what time is that - 9:30 pacific?" I looked at him with the proverbial "WTF" look, and asked where the half our offset came from. I said 9pm with a laugh, and he just looked at me and said "oh yeah". It was obvious that both of us were at the end of our mental rope. The cliche "burning the wick at both ends" comes to mind!
Aside from the fact that this was our last shift, I thought it was going to be doubly cool that Larry and I were going to finish the race for the team - stoked! Only 92 miles? Damn, we could do that in our sleep (especially at that hour - we should be sleeping!)! We packed up the truck, and after a short SNAFU, Larry started the last leg for us.
Once I started, I was all sorts of jazzed up, excited and absolutely tearing it up. The roads I was riding on were pretty wild - they were kinda twisty/turny, and have just enough of rolling terrain where once I'd crest, and because it was so dark, it literally looked like I was going to fall of the face of the earth!
Before I knew it, I had the honor of actually doing a pull through Gettysburg. During the Pre-race meeting, the RAAM officials made a big deal about it, as did a few others on our team. I didn't realize it until I came up on this road, and noticed a pretty particular looking fence on both sides of the road, and then all the sudden - cannons everywhere! Very cool stuff for sure...
At some point later, I realized that Larry and I didn't have 92 miles to do in our shift - it was more like 130! DAMN. I thought it was 92 miles to go based on the bottom left hand corner of the route book that said 92 miles left to go in the race. I totally forgot to count the 40+ miles we had to do in the one time station section we were currently riding. I became very mentally deflated at this point. My third thing I wanted to do in this race (although it was unpublished and unofficial) was to be the last group to finish. the race for the team. I don't know why, but I was kinda bummed about it.
As we made our way through Maryland, the sun came up, which got me my second official wish: to be riding my bike at sunrise while the rest of the country (or just time zone) was waking up. Here it was:
However, this little bout of happiness was short lived. Riding at sunrise meant I had to deal with morning rush hour traffic. Since we were nearing the end of the race, we started getting into a little bit more populated areas. We were on this main road where cars go by at about 60mph, and for some reason, everything just seemed really LOUD. This quickly put me into an even more cranky mood!
About 4 hours into the shift, something got messed up (mainly me), and I missed a left turn. It was rather frustrating because I didn't think the turn was coming up so soon, and I couldn't hear the follow vehicle yelling at me, and there was traffic, and just shit. After a few louder-than-inside-voices words with the follow vehicle, I turned around and got back on track to time station #51. TS51 is where any person/team has to serve any penalty time if they incurred one over the race. We had a bullshit 15 minute penalty to "serve", and to be honest, I was happy to be off the bike. I got off the bike, laid on the ground, and munched on a clif bar while everyone else shared stories and strategies. Surprisingly, that video of me laying on the ground hasn't surfaced on the internet(s).
After my 15 minutes of lame, Larry started the final hour of our shift. I think I did 3 pulls in the last hour, and each one was just painful. I knew it was the last leg, and we were almost done yada, yada, yada, but I was just rather miserable!
We slugged out the last hour, handed off to Greg and Ralph to finish up the last 30 or so miles...