Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shift #1: The California Desert

In another minute or so, I was well into the 180's for HR, but I didn't need a HRM to tell me how much this hurt. Ouch. Totally expected though. Fresh legs ("Supple" as the Hammer would put it) and adrenalin will easily make for unsustainable pacing. The second pull was no easier, and in fact harder, and I think by the third pull, I just changed the view of my Garmin so I wasn't even bothered with it. This ended up being a subtle, yet crucial decision. I admit that sometimes I can get carried away with the quantitative aspects of technology and training/racing, but falling back on my laurels and relying on Perceived Effort in a race always puts my mind at rest, and allows me to focus inward. Save the brainpower and geeking out for after!

Hammering out 350W per pull
The first third of this shift was kinda boring honestly. I spent more time dodging debris in the swirling winds in the "bike lane" that is the break down lane of CA-78E. Of course, the fun part was hearing how the Hammer was doing. This, mind you, was in two word spurts during exchanges, or better yet, through John (our driver). Needless to say, he was having fun, and killing it!

Then we hit a wall. It wasn't a real wall, but I've never felt anything like this before - even having done this shift 2 years prior. I can't remember the exact point, but it was somewhere just east of Brawley. I'm in the middle of a pull in the hot and arid CA desert, and then all the sudden I hit a wall of humidity that I swear started to slow me down. It was the gnarliest thing. It wasn't too long after that I started getting a headache. No amount of salt or water was helping, but whatever.

As we exited the farm country of Brawley, we got into the rolling hills of the desert. Then, out of the blue, the media crew rolled up and it was like the Calvary coming to save the day. For whatever reason, I wasn't as jazzed up on this first shift as in years past, and these guys put me on another level. Chuck, Dave, Connie and Toby all barreled out of the media van, and were posting up all over the place, laughing, cheering and having a TON OF FUN! That's what this is about, right??

1,000 words - pick yours

Through the rollers, and I passed the 4Mil second shift bus, and they were all out clapping and cheering me on as I ripped down a descent. To 4Mil - thanks for that - it was pretty cool to see good sportsmanship out there!!

Then, mini-crisis #1 started. Everyone knows RAAM is not easy on equipment, crew members and riders. Oh yeah, it ain't easy on gas either. Out in the middle-of-freaking nowhere, John says "Uh, we're getting low on gas". No cell service, no people, no nothing where we were. Fortunately, out in the middle of nowhere was a gas station. Whew, crisis #1 is out of the way, and laughs were shared.

The rest of the shift was spent battling through a headache that never got better (same thing for Hammer) in the very hot darkness of the desert. We handed off to Hazard and Crossfire about 20 miles before the AZ border (and Hammer handed off $20 b/c of a bet!) and we were off to our hotel in Tuba City, AZ for the most epic shift in all of my RAAM's.

Rough progress made from our first shift from TS2-TS3:

  • ViaSat Projected:   27.50mph
  • ViaSat Actual:        27.18mph (not as windy as expected)
  • 4Mil:                      25.88mph
  • Strategic Lions:      23.71mph

Total distance covered in 5 hours: 133 miles

To anyone driving or riding that stretch in south western AZ:

Next 2,500 miles

1 comment:

Daniel Dziubski said...


I have not heard from Chuckie since July. I figure he is hiking some epic trail also.

How did RAAM go.