Quick Update Friday 2:30 pm
Hi everyone. I'm writing you from lovely Durango, CO where we just pulled in with the RV. 813 miles done, only 187 to go! (well, once the riders get here).
Things are going well. After I write this quick update I'll try to upload more photos in a photo blog. I should have some time to do this, as we're not expecting the rider team of Dennis and Scott to come into town until about 4:30 pm. They are climbing a big hill right at about 8000' elevation, so they will climb at a steady pace. As a reward, they get a great descent into Durango, and we are parked at a McDonalds. No one can figure out why Dennis told us this was the spot to meet (heh heh).
The Thursday night through Friday went by in a blur for everyone but we came through with good spped, good spirits and we are closing fast on a finish tonight.
Scott and Dennis did a leg from Flagstaff to Tuba City, AZ from 7:15 pm to midnight last night. That's a long leg at 4:45, but before you feel too sorry for them they had a loooong descent for 30 miles, but only going down 2400' in that distance. On a descent like that you could roll slowly but I'm sure they worked hard to keep their speeds much higher. Their whole leg was 72 miles. They came through it well. Good job guys!
Rich and I (Robert) started at exactly midnight (no we didn't plan it that way) and we pulled till 4 a.m. We had a flattish 10 miles at 4800' to start with the temps still in the 60's. But then we had a 50 mile climb of 1900' - so it wasn't steep but it was very constant and with a slight head wind. Temps went down to the mid 40's with wind chill someplace in the 30's. Good thing we had all our winter bike clothing with us! We averaged 15 mph. On a grade like that you can work as hard as you want, we worked hard but not so much that we would burn out since we still had 400 miles to go in the race.
We were slated to continue another 12 or 15 miles but I was hurting for lack of sleep, so I told the RV boys to arrange a trade out at the crest. (I ended up getting 4+ hours sleep between 4:30 & 10 am this morning so I'm feeling like 1000 dollars now).
Rich was disappointed to not get the descent! But he's a trooper.
Brian and Scott got the descent, which they loved, and then, the best part is the were riding into Monument Valley right as the sun rose at 5:00 am. Brian reports it was one of the best rides of his life! Monument Valley is where the iconic beautiful big red plateaus stick up out of the desert (I don't even know what they're called!).
Since I was sleeping I'm not positive as to the rider sequence, but I think it was Brian and Scott to Mexican Hat, Utah, where Dennis and Rich took over and rode to almost exactly the Utah / Colorado border on hwy 160.
Brian and I took over at that point and rode to Cortez Co, getting there about 2 pm (PST). It was some gorgeous riding. I was feeling great. Unfortunately, this morning and afternoon, both Brian and Rich are having minor GT (gut) unease... this is not uncommon on endurance events. They are still riding but are a little weakened. We are nursing them with lots of rest and (literrally) chicken noodle soup and other proven remedies (seriously, they serve chicken broth on Ironman courses - it settles the stomach and is packed with electrolytes.
Everyone is excited at the prospect of finishing tonight, I guess sometime between 12 midnight and 4 a.m. We haven't done any new projections. We still have 187 miles to go and there's a lot of climbing. The scenery will continue to be drop dead gorgeous. We'll pull out all our freshly charged night riding lights and winter gear, because we'll be at high altitudes tonight including a 'La Mang Pass', at 10,275', the highest point in the RAAM ride.
We and the other several teams doing the Race Across the West all get to stop and take a well earned rest in Taos, NM. The rest of the teams in RAAM all still have 2000 more miles to go. That so many of these teams are going just as fast as we are, or faster, is very impressive. We cheer them on whenever we can.
I might not get to post another update until Saturday. The plan is that we sleep in late in Taos, and then drive down to Albuquerque NM for everyone to fly out. My wife Andrea and daughter Rose are flying in at the same time, and the 3 of us will tour the Southwest for the next 5 days as we take the RV back to Los Angeles.
Here is Scott ready to start the ride in Flaggstaff AZ.