We stayed in South Fork Colorado (I like calling it sofoco) that "night", around the area where we expected to pick up Jeremy and Andrew. I got in some solid sleep (by RAAM standards), and I woke up around 1000am (early) for our 2pm shift so I could grab some breakfast.
When I came back to the room, Tobias was mentioning that he felt like he needed to vomit, and was asking me if he should - not exactly the question I would have expected (despite having to expected the unexpected) to answer. I told him that's what he should feel like that during a shift (from riding so hard)- not before or after! He kept saying his stomach was acidic, and and made the executive call to go for it. I grabbed him some V8 (alkaline liquid) and some antacids to help calm in stomach. Without going into detail, he was much worse off than just vomiting - he simply couldn't absorb/keep in any liquid or solid food. The V8 and antacids, were helping a little, and he said he was feeling somewhat better. I was mildly relieved.
Andrew and Jeremy flew by our hotel (literally) earlier than expected (as usual), so we packed up the truck and got on our way.
While we were on our way to catch Jeremy and Andrew, I noticed Team4Mil looked like they dropped a few hours behind. I figured either something happened, or RAAM hadn't updated their website yet. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I will talk about this later.
On the look out and all ready to go whenever we see them:
We took over from Jeremy and Andrew just past Alamosa, CO, and I was ready to rock. The first 60 miles of this shift were on arguably the flattest roads of the course, with a rockin' tailwind.
With racers going at maximal effort on every pull, the first pull is always one of the hardest because you have been at rest for 15 hours, then all the sudden you just blast out on the bike. Having a tailwind seemed to help ease into things.
Southern Colorado may flat, but has many 14'ers within sight:
A couple hours into the shift, Dave was telling me that Tobias was feeling like crap. This is one weird thing about RAAM: despite Tobias and I being riding partners, we never talk to each other during a shift - we always talk through Dave. I was feeling good, so I told Dave that I could shoulder some of the load for now.
Shortly up the road was the La Veta pass, peaking at 9,300ft. I let Tobias get the downhill to the start of the climb, and I said I would get the 5 mile / 1,500 ft pass myself. Normally, this is horribly in efficient to let one rider take that much at once. Ideally, we would have split the 5 miles up into 1 mile intervals to maximize speed, but with a warrior not firing completely, I took it on.
I opted for my new road bike on the climb to crush it...
... and descended down the other side.
Last year, I did all of RAAM on just a TT bike, and never really felt like I was at a major disadvantage. But then again, the third group barely gets any climbing. This year on the second group, I wanted to bring a road bike to my arsenal, and having it for this climb and descent was almost worth it alone (that, and the fact that I felt more like a "roadie" - gasp!)
When I handed it off to Tobias near the end of the downhill, I WAS CHARGED UP!!! There is a pretty funny video of my reaction (that our media crew is editing) that I will have to post once it's completed. I was feeling on top of the world.
There was another exchange with Tobias, I took another downhill, and took the right towards La Veta, where I continued to fly downhill. Just another amazing view of a few 14,000ft peaks in Colorado:
I got into this little village, took a left, and all the sudden, I heard the follow vehicle honking at me. We missed a turn about a quarter mile back (the clock is still ticking), and just like that, my mood went from great to pissed. I was cursing anything and everything, but chilled out after a few minutes. Grrr....
The next hour was tough. It was raining with the occasional sleet, cold, windy, and the wrong turn just took the wind out of my sails. We were approaching our second climb, La Cuchara pass at 9,937 ft, and I knew it was time to let go of the wrong turn, and crush this climb. Tobias was still feeling like crap, so Dave and I were strategizing on where to do rider exchanges to make it easy on Tobias:
I told him I'd take the majority of this climb again.
An exchange - you can see how unhappy T looks:
AMPED halfway up the climb!
Having a little fun seeing where we just came from:
In case you're wondering...
Crushing Cuchara near the 9,937ft summit - it really is that beautiful out there...
and about to hit the top:
There was one long ass descent after this climb. Tobias and I did a few more exchanges, and we handed it off to Larry and Kevin. One of the few times you get to talk to someone outside of your truck:
With Tobias firing on a few cylinders, our times against TT1 didn't really fair well (8 minutes at one Time Station, and a whopping 29 minutes at the next), but it happens.
I was so glad that I had a road bike for this shift. The climbing was awesome, and the elevation and descents were epic. Fortunately, I didn't really feel the effects of being near 10,000 ft at all.
This was also the shift I was looking forward to the most. Most people know how beautiful Colorado is, but I never saw it last year because I was riding in the dark, bonking, and sleeping. I wanted a piece of the Rockies last year, but they really got a piece of me. This year, I wanted to crush them, and see how beautiful CO really is. I wasn't disappointed.
I took a few minutes after this shift to reflect on what just happened, and took this picture to remind myself:
Colorado is absolutely beautiful, and this picture, as much as it doesn't do the justice, is a good representation of CO (in my opinion). Green, undeveloped land, really tall mountains in the background, some clouds, and sun. Just absolutely beautiful. God's country.
I was also really happy with the shift. My riding partner was down, but not out. Despite having a knee injury that was still a little unknown, and not putting in the training I wanted to, I handled a tough shift very well - mentally and physically. The element of teamwork was at play, and I was diggin' it. This is part of what RAAM is all about!
We started making our way east towards Pratt Kansas after a quick stop in Trinidad for some food.
Sun falling over our machines in the back:
One gnarly ass rainstorm that we were about to drive through:
Sunset to a great day on the bike - I love this stuff!