Journalism 101 says never bury the lead, so I won't: Rob had to withdraw from the race after riding 484 miles in about 31 hours.
The reason is nerve damage in his hand. This has been a recurring problem for Rob since his first RAAM in 1996. Over the years, after each of his five RAAM starts and three finishes, as well as some of the 500+ mile races, it would get a little worse and take longer to heal. After his seventh place finish in RAAM 2010, he had such serious nerve damage in his hand that he had to have surgery. It took almost a year to recover.
Heading into this race, it was on his mind and, sure enough, he started feeling the telltale symptoms this morning. It is caused by a combination of things: road vibration, constant gear shifting and the weight he puts on his hands, forearms and elbows, depending on riding position.
Today, it got progressively worse through the day and right after night crew came on shift, we went through the Cottonwood time station and Rob pulled over. He told us what was happening and we talked over the pros and cons of continuing for almost two hours. Rob also consulted by phone with Kate as well as day crew and we all agreed that his longterm health and ability to continue serving as a police officer (who needs two functioning hands to carry out his duties) far outweighed the need to continue to Durango.
While this is an immensely difficult decision, it is an entirely unselfish one and it does not diminish how great Rob did over the past two days. I can count all the people I know who can ride a bike like Rob on one finger. We had a great time out there and every one of us would crew for Rob again in a second. All he has to do is ask.
I don't think he will, though. This will not be the end of his riding a bike, but it is likely the end of his ultra-distance racing. After 18 years and - literally - tens of thousands of miles, it may finally be out of his system.
He appreciates all the comments and support. If you happen to be out for a bike ride and Rob rides up next to you, feel free to ask him all about all his races and his wins. Just make sure you pick up your pace or it will be a very short conversation. He's that fast.