After navigating through a gnarly rain storm, we arrived in Pratt, Kansas around 2-3am. I realized that this was the hotel Larry and I stayed in last year in Kansas as group #3. But wait, as group 2 we would be riding about the same area as I did in Group 3 last year? This means we are already hours faster than we were last year. SWEET.
Tobias still wasn't feeling all that great and was still unable to keep in anything liquid or solid. Shift #3 was basically a recovery day for him, and it was appearing that shift #4 would be the same.
As usual, we underestimated Jeremy and Andrew, and they shot past our hotel, but we still started our shift on time. Unlike last year where it was 105 degrees with 100% humidity for third shift, it was only 85 degrees with 90% humidity for us riding 10am-3pm local time.
That doesn't mean it was "cold" though. In true nerd fashion, I was using the angled A/C vents to point right into my helmet when I was in the truck b/c it was too much of a pain to take it off and put it back on all the time:
I knew Tobias wasn't feeling well, and with the flat roads we had on this shift, I had no problem shouldering the load again. Unlike most people, I frekkin love riding my TT bike, and I love riding in the TT position. I am about the only person I know that enjoys riding in the aerobars for 5 hours at a time. Now, put me on terrain where I get to HAMMER in the aero position on flat roads? Word.
One little hazard about Kansas is the kamikaze bugs. Every once in a while, one would hit me in the chest or helmet, and it would literally feel like someone was hitting me with a rock! After getting beat up on one pull, I was telling Dave about it, and not one second after I finished, a kamikaze flew right into our windshield, where he stayed for the rest of the trip:
No offense to anyone from Kansas reading this blog, but there isn't much to see here. It's flat, there's lots of corn, and that's about it. I'm not gonna lie - the shift was relatively boring.
The highlight of the shift was when I was did a 30 minute pull. We were supposed to do an exchange right at a turn so that I wouldn't get lost, but unfortunately due to a course detour, Tobias and Dave weren't at the turn, so I was relying on the follow vehicle to guide me. I was out there for about 20 minutes (long by our standards), when I realized that something must have happened. I figured they made a wrong turn and got lost. Hey, it's a 3,000 mile race - this stuff happens. But, surprisingly, I was cool with that because I was firing on all cylinders, and then some. The follow vehicle was calling me a rock star through the bull horn, and I was lighting up the town of Maize KS (original, huh?). I was having an absolute blast! Eventually, Tobias and Dave drove past me, and Tobias stuck his head out the window and said "Hey, we got you a cheeseburger!" I wasn't really sure how to respond, but I was ready to get off the bike! They finally drove up far enough and we did the exchange. Dave said Tobias wasn't feeling well, and had to stop and use the restroom. He also confirmed the cheeseburger was for me. Being very lactose intolerant, consuming cheese in that weather would have put me in the same spot as Tobias, so I passed on it. The rest of the shift went really well - blazing through the corn fields and highways of Kansas.
After the shift, I did my normal recovery stuff:
* Take a "shower" using baby wipes in the backseat
* Consume premade bags of whey protein and amino acids with some high glycemic carbs
* Throw on compression pants
* Ice my left knee
* Stretch my legs
* Elevate my legs
* Self Massage
Being in the nosebleed (3rd) seat of our suburban, this is what a third of RAAM (basically, the driving portion of an off shift) looked like for me:
When I would feel a little saucy, I would really stretch out my legs to the roof:
It's a good thing a 5 hour shift can take a lot of you, or else I'd actually be bored!
Now, riding in the heat and humidity of Kansas, one would need to take some additional salt during a shift, which I did. But after the shift and my normal recovery stuff, I opened up a liter of V8. 5 minutes later, I killed the entire thing! DAMN! I guess I didn't take in nearly enough salt during the shift...
We stopped at a grocery store about an hour after the shift to get some food. Dave made his way to the deli portion of the store, and tried ordering a few things from the menu. Unfortunately, he was denied every time ("we don't have that"). So, he mulled it for another moment, and then asked "Do you have anything that isn't fried?" It literally took the woman about 10 seconds to respond, and all she had was a taco salad. This was the first instance of many where I said "We aren't in California anymore".
Here we are, looking like old men, hanging outside of the local store, eating, and watching the world go by:
Tobias was still feeling like crap, and we were stopping literally about every 30 minutes for him to use the bathroom. A few hours later, we stopped at a walmart for more food, and I finally suggested that we find a hospital for him. Everyone agreed. We tried stopping at a few ER's along the way to Missouri, but all were kind of crowded. We made the decision that the best course of action would be for Dave to bring him to a hospital at our destination (Washington, MO). It would be around Midnight, and there should be significantly less people waiting for doctors at that point. It proved to be a sound decision, since Tobias was treated immediately with 2 bags of IV.
The doctors realized that he had a stomach flu. After speaking with his wife, he learned that a bunch of people on their street had the same thing. Lesson learned: fence yourself off from society before any kind of race - especially RAAM!