The RAAM Chronicles Continue

June 17th, 5:51 am. Day 3: Durango, Co.
Time Station 15 is complete. 39 more to go.

It became official around 7 a.m. that we needed to change from a 4-person to a 3-person plan. What did that look like? From a rider perspective, it meant they would now have roughly 20% more mileage (about 200 more miles) to contribute each. The original plan was for each rider to ride about 750 miles. With three riders, it would mean about 1,000 miles per rider. So, giving some credit for sticking it out for 36 hours, it’s now about 900-950 miles per rider.

The reality check of that news can be a punch in the gut when a rider has already been getting kicked around for the first 36 hours. It’s like swimming through a school of angry jellyfish within the first 400 meters of an Ironman. (It’s going to be that sort of race huh?) So, the riders would have to find their way again. The riders also had to decide if they could trust the crew to resolve our issues. With the tailwinds and the lack of experience with this race, we were getting our teeth kicked in trying to keep up and keep things on schedule. For example, within the first 24 hours of riding, the riders were about 100-120 miles past their estimated time checks. That’s a massive difference when you think about checkpoints for where to meet up.

At this point, Group A had left Durango about 2 hours prior and wasn’t privy to the knowledge that had just unfolded in the parking lot. And I wouldn't let them know the news until I talked with the crew and figured out a solid plan. Shane was around when this happened, and after about 5 mins, I looked at him and said go to sleep, and I’ll have a plan for you when you are up. (I could tell he wasn’t ready to call it quits).

As Aaron, Luke, and I huddled around the parking lot while the rest of the crew slept, our thoughts and perspectives were about how we could regroup, inspire, and keep them moving forward so they could finish the event. So, we tried to focus on the positive once we took a second and gave the idea of “quitting” the middle finger. The positive was that it allowed us to consolidate space for us and the riders. It also allowed us to try to keep the riders in the RV whenever possible. Since the tension in the room was no longer present, everyone could start to work together instead of walking on eggshells.

I began to do what I should have done before we left Oceanside. I started cleaning out all crap we didn’t need. It was donated. When you don’t have a fridge and start with an over-packed RV, things get tight quickly. I knew if the riders were going to finish, we needed to get more organized, which meant we needed to make more room in the RV. So, about 3 hours later, we donated everything that could be bought at a gas station to the ladies working at the hotel's front desk. Space became more plentiful, and it was time to wake up the rest of the crew. Tell them what happened, tell them the new plan, and GTFO and get up to the riders.

We are now entering Alamosa, Co. This is the moment, a crappy reality sunk in for all of us. We needed to catch up (the story of RAAM), and I was excited when we did. I was in a clean RV filled with room, and we had a solid idea of how we would press forward.

Then I saw Dede sitting in a Subway parking lot up against a light pole, looking like she was at death's doorstep, while DJ was in the following vehicle with Ice all over him, with a 103-degree fever. And suddenly, I felt like an asshole. How could I have let this happen? What could I have done better? How on earth are we going to press forward?

If you’re lucky, experience teaches you to listen to the wiser voice in your head: “If this sucks for me, then it’s got to suck for the others,” instead of the voice that says. “This sucks how you can continue.” We aren’t the only ones getting our teeth kicked in.

We quickly found a more prominent spot in another parking lot, and all were parked around the following vehicle. Shane was in the RV looking like death, and the medical director started getting ready to set up our mobile hospital. We knew no one was going anywhere anytime soon. So, Spoon and Luke began working on getting a diesel repair company out to get this generator up and running , Amy (or Crew’s mom), was taking everyone’s laundry to the laundry mat in the shopping mall and Aaron had IV’s started on Shane and DJ. Dede was hanging out on the phone and then talking to our good friends Lilias and David.

While getting our generator fixed, we realized that the RV needed an oil change (like bad). WTF, I thought. So, after the generator got a new fuel filter and the guys got it working, I asked the diesel repair guys if they did oil changes and if they could do it while all these athletes were sleeping. At this point, Dede is teasing the boys because she feels better than them. So, we drove the RV with Shane and DJ asleep.

While the oil change happened, I got Dede a Slurpee, and she and I got caught up. The rest of the crew headed to an RV park where we would let the athletes sleep until they wanted to start moving again. The oil change was done quickly, and Jordan was able to start cooking an authentic meal for everyone. Shane began to walk around with his bibs on. (3 hours prior, he was throwing up like a crazy person) I was like. Oh, are we moving? We got to start sometime, he said. I looked at our medical director, who gave the thumbs up, and we began to prep the following vehicle.

Everyone (except Dede) sat around a picnic table and went over the plan (Dede was now almost dead in bed with an IV) the new plan. Make forward progress. At this point, we needed to remind everyone we were only 4 hours behind, so there was no need to panic. Shane and DJ got into the following vehicle to go the ¼ mile to get back on the course. Dede was in the back of the RV sleeping, and I would get more than 3.5 hours of sleep. Yes, that was the amount of sleep I had had since we started almost 54 hours prior.

I'm out like a light. Then BLARGH!!!! BLARGH!!!!!! was the sound I woke up to. I jumped up.

Internal dialogue: OMG WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!

I’m grabbing a towel and rushing back to Dede. I'm thinking about how I’m about to clean up a lot of barf.

To my surprise, Dede somehow managed to place her entire head inside a double-lined trash bag and didn’t spill a drop outside of that bag. All I could think about was how on earth I could get her to teach my kids such a skill set. She kept telling me how sorry she was. I was like. Dede, you’re doing great. Keep it up ? I take the bag and put it in another bag. Spoon is asking me if he needs to stop, and I say when you see a trash can. I ensure Dede is okay, and then I go back to sleep. BLARGH, BLARGH. Holy crap, this lady can barf. Same thing. Perfectly into a double-walled trash bag. I lay back down and went to sleep. I wake up to us parking, and Spoon tells me we are done for the night. DJ and Shane had gotten in about 4 to 5 hours of riding, and we had found a cool park in the small city of La Veta, CO, to crash until dawn.

I got Dede into her normal bed, and everyone else grabbed a blanket and found a place in a car or roof tent to sleep in. Waking up was a breath of fresh air. I had managed to get about 4-5 hours of sleep-in total, Dede, Shane, and DJ looked like Jesus on Easter morning. Everyone started to figure out where to pee, and Jordan was cooking breakfast. Some really nice locals stop in and welcome us to their town. One guy even told us to come by for breakfast. (We should have stopped). The day was bright and sunny and the riders were ready to ride.

Moving forward, the plan was to ride like a two-person team. (At least, what I thought was a two-person plan.) We would try to get in 20 hours of riding in a day. We would ride until the riders couldn't ride, and then everyone would rest. Rinse and Repeat. The main thing was to take this first day slow. The athletes really needed to go easy. They had all been throwing up ( which actually was a good thing because they had all just suffered heat exhaustion which means their stomachs had shut down, which is why they all blew chucks after they got IVs) So now that the unprocessed food was out of their system we could get new food and calories in them and if they just eased into the day their body would start to process calories normal again. And ride smart was just what they did.

Up next? Rain, a bike crash, and more RV repairs.