RAAM 2006 Part I
I've spent a long time thinking about how to write about my experiences in RAAM 2006. Many of the issues that I need to cover stem from problems I generated. Mostly, they were poor planning decisions, poor training of the crew, and poor communication on my part. I assumed I would be easy to support. Wrong. I assumed I would be able to communicate coherently to my crew. Wrong. I assumed I would be able to give directions on the road in lieu of training. Wrong.
I spent my time in San Diego adding signage to the vehicles, getting the bikes ready, and stressing over the little details(like paperwork, inspections, getting the RV and getting to rider meeting in time). Obviously, I needed to fly the crew in a bit earlier to help out. I spent too much time at the start line banquet. I did the food shopping right after the banquet at the worst food store I could find (not intentionally mind you). The morning of the race I spent my time rearranging the follow vehicle so that stuff would be more accessible. I should have worked with my crew on this a day or so ahead of time. I had some seriously jangled nerves lining up on the pier. An official came up to me and asked if I had gotten my missing paperwork in...I freaked. Jason took control and told me to relax.
I had been ready for the race to start for the past two days, so when everything was taken care of and we were ready to go, I was actually calming down a bit. Once we started, I was feeling pretty alone. It seemed like the other riders were pairing up and talking. I eventually struck up a conversation with Rob Lucas and Jim Kern. It was actually quite funny rolling along, people were pulling over here and there to relieve themselves. Then when we hit the bridge on Old Highway 76 for the actual race start it seemed like everybody was relieving themselves. Then when the race restarted, people were leaving like it was the start of a 40k. They were strictly enforcing the 100 meter rule(if passed, either pass the passer or drop back 100 meters), so I chose to drop back whenever passed, no sense in sprinting so early in the race. I was having some fit issues with my Litespeed, so I switched to my Softride at the first time station. Basically, I had only put on 130 miles on it since I rebuilt it from what is now known as Miss Fortunes 100 miles on January 1. I had zero miles on my Orb Pedals in the past 3 months or so(both were stupid mistakes).
My cousin Mike and his friend Pat were in the follow vehicle for the first two time stations and they did a great job with the leapfrog support. When we hit the Borrego desert, they handed me a commercial waterbottle (think aquafina or dasani) and then pulled over at a convenience store. The temperature was a bit over 100 degrees and it was DRY. I passed David Caples (my other crew member) in the center of town. The terrain was pretty flat ground, so I was humming along. About a mile outside of town the bottle of water bounced out of my cage(it was too small). It didn't have a top on it, so the contents went everywhere. I continued on thinking my crew would be behind me shortly. Roughly 6 miles past where I last saw my crew(I'm guessing around 20 - 30 minutes), I was getting pretty desperate for water. Luckily, Jean Marc Velez's crew happened by in their RV and kindly stopped to offer aid. They gave me a bottle of water and asked if I needed anything else. My crew caught back up to me about a mile later, but the damage was done. About 7 miles outside of Salton City, I stopped to pee, then sat down because I was dizzy, then threw up. I was getting sick of perpetuem and switched to plain water with endurolytes. This would rehydrate me, but would pose a fueling problem (no calories). I had brought a dozen 24 oz. Specialized waterbottles(for my money the best on the planet), but somehow I kept getting these short(16 oz) no-name water bottles that kept cutting into my lip(I have no clue where they came from). As I mentioned earlier I had assumed I would be able to communicate my wishes(specialized water bottles with ice cold water) and advice (close support in hot desert areas) during the race, but I was dehydrated and unable to think clearly, obviously better training of the crew by me beforehand would have avoided this.
At 8 hours and 33 minutes race time, I had arrived in Salton City, CA (113.6 miles). That was a respectable 13.29 mph average so far, despite the dehydration and fueling issues and considering I was trying to stay in my aerobic zone.