Saturday, June 12, 2010

*REPORT FROM THE ROAD: 6-12-2010 3:30 PM EDT*

Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine

 - Sheryl Crow

 Climbing up Wolf Creek Pass, 6-12-2010 (Photos by: Mike Perron)

Rob's thinking about buying this land with his RAAM prize money

 "Hey Kate! Look at me! I'm on the top of the continent!"

Rob is up and over the Continental divide and through TS 17 (South Fork, CO) at 2:00 PM EDT. Luis Ramos said they stopped at the top of Wolf Creek - not to pee, but to put Rob in some warm clothes for the descent. Rob knows the descent well and has done it at 1:00 in the morning with sleet falling, so he must be grateful for the daylight and the (relatively) warm temperatures.

Speaking of weather - being in first place has its price. There is a video on the RAAM web site of Robic, probably somewhere near Durango, riding in a driving rain. Rob, on the other hand, has been experiencing near-perfect conditions. The temperatures through the desert were fine (never broke 100) and he has not seen a drop of precipitation thus far in the race.

Some important things happening in the next few hours:

- Rob is approaching the three day mark at 3:48 PM EDT. I expect his total miles to be about 1,000 (give or take) for three days. 333 miles/day for the first three days is simply outstanding. There is no other way to describe it and I know he will be pleased when the crew tells him.

- A high school friend of Rob's (an ex-girlfriend, actually) is planning to drive down from her home near Denver to see Rob at the Trinidad time station. (Calm down, everyone. They dated like 30 years ago, when we were all in 10th grade. Plus - I have this theory that she was just using Rob to get to me...) Julie is a great person who is driving down with her husband to support and cheer for an old friend and I know that Rob will be thrilled to see her and for the temporary diversion. He will also be touched that she would do such a thing, especially considering that I expect Rob to be at Trinidad some time between midnight and 3:00 AM, race time, which is 10:00-1:00 local time in Colorado.)

- Crew member John Browne will be getting a ride back to Denver airport with Julie and heading home, his work done. John was originally not able to go on RAAM this year and then, at the last minute was able to commit to going through Trinidad. I know Rob was thrilled to have him for this long, as his experience, calm and sense of humor go a long way to making RAAM a success. Same goes for Sal Dicello who departed earlier today from Durango. Rob said - straight out - he could not do it without these guys.

- Midnight EDT marks the first of three very important cutoff times in RAAM. Any solo rider who has not reached Durango by midnight is out of the race. At this point, I see three riders who are in danger of missing the cutoff.

- Once Rob departs Trinidad, he starts a rolling downward glide through the Comanche National Grasslands of eastern Colorado (this is VERY desolate country) and on into Kansas. At this point, the RAAM course is still identical to '96 and '97, but once he leaves Walsh, CO, he is no longer on those old, familiar courses, which went into the panhandle of Oklahoma for a more southern route to a Savannah, Georgia, finish.

The plains present a whole different terrain challenge and a good part of it is mental: endless miles of Kansas farm fields and roads going straight to the horizon for as far as the eye can see. Combine that with potentially fierce headwinds, broiling temperatures and, of course (just ask Dorothy and Toto) - storms.

But with about 1/3 of the race down, Rob can be proud. It's going by the text book thanks to his courage, training and the support of a great crew.

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