TS12-TS15 We Might Have Hit a Turning Point…???

Susi HuschleTraining

First a word about Time Stations (TS). The RAAM race route is divided up into 54 Time Stations (TS). In our Route Book we have explicit directions and descriptions from one TS to the next. At each TS, once the rider has passed through, a member of the team must contact Headquarters (HQ) to report the TS accomplished. Now that we are out of the desert, it will be much easier to blog in TS segments rather than daily segments.

A word about time. Time is a funny thing on the RAAM adventure. First of all, we are on the go 24/7 with extreme adrenaline rush for the team and extreme exertion for Michael. Long roads that blend together, highway after highway, night into day and back into night again. In addition, we must report to HQ in RAAM time at all times, which is East Coast time. We need to always know local time due to the 7:00PM to 7:00AM direct follow rule. And then we hav shift times which might span over two different time zones. Time is definitely confusing. Each car has two time pieces, one set to RAAM time and one set to local time. Our crew conversation last night was laughable in that we all were saying the same thing but each of us used a different time reference; RAAM time, local time Mountain Standard Time, and our old familiar California Time (PST). It could’ve been the new “who’s on first routine”. We got it all worked out now, but moving forward I will be referencing TS instead of Dates or Days.

TS12-TS14 was quite a wild ride. This stretch started in Mexican Hat, UT and ended at the Durango time cutoff in Colorado. There are three time cutoffs. Durango, Mississippi, and the Finish Line in Annapolis, MD. Through this stretch finding a way to meet the cutoff was the primary focus. Sandy, our crew chief had already talked with HQ about needing some leeway and they granted him some extra time due to the extreme heat, it was becoming clear that Michael was not going to make it even in that time frame. Emotions were raw for the crew.

And while Michael is pedaling away the wind begins to gust – big gusts. Back at the ‘vansion’, watching the dust storm go by, running out to bring in tables and chairs as they were getting blown across the park, we could not fathom how MIchael could possibly stay on the bike, but he did. This man is an incredible cyclist.

More than once from Montezuma to Cortez, Michael got off the bike and questioned whether to continue. Each time a heart to heart would ensue and back on the bike he would go. At some point, something clicked, the crew says “he just got pissed”. Michael said, “Well, I guess I am going to ride”. And then he got on his bike and began riding as we are used to seeing him ride – strong and smooth. Oh! He still hurts, its still unbelievably hard, but things are looking better. However, at this point it is still unknown if he will be allowed to continue. It was calculated, he was 12-15 hours beyond the cutoff. At Cortez, the last TS before heading to Durango, he took an hour nap ate some food. During this time, Hopecam Hero Kip – the one who he met at the start line – sent him an encouraging video, giving him reasons to keep going.

The body and the mind can send many loud and resounding messages to stop. Yet, the power of the support and encouragement of the kids he is riding for, his family and friends, his crew, and of course his inner drive to complete what he left unfinished in 2018. So far it is these factors that are overpowering the body and mind messages that are encouraging him to stop and so we go on – he keeps pedaling, knowing full well HQ could say ‘No” you are too far back.

Halfway through the TS heading into Durango, Sandy got word they would let Michael continue. Relief was felt throughout. The real work is now ahead of Michael and the crew. We must give it 150% to get below the time cutoff and finish this race. Good news is the weather is due to cool. Michael is an excellent hill climber and there are a few good passes ahead.

While the roller coaster ride was a wild one, in the end, we just tighten our belts and keep on rolling.