Pen here. So here we are at the time station in Weaubleau, a slightly random town in Missouri. In an ideal world we would have been far closer to the next soft cut off point in Mississippi, but RAAM doesn’t take place in the ideal world.
My interview with the guys from RAAM media explains the situation reasonably well…. unfortunately my neck decided to be weak and unmilitary again despite changes of bike position, rehab, a treatment strategy and more sleep than it had on RAW last year. This time I recognised the signs earlier (in the penultimate stage before Durango, the finish of RAW and the first RAAM cut off) and we were able to get in and and get on it. The boys (lead by Crew Chief John in his element) fettled me a head rest out of a Pringles tube and with some intensive treatment from Zoe in a carpark under a waterfall, I made it up and over Wolf Creek Pass, an iconic part of RAAM.
Pringles tubes have few aerodynamic requirements in their normal life and both that and the alternative upright position on the Orbea meant that progress was slow, albeit forwards. A battering from the wind in the Rockies also didn’t help either the neck or the average speed and the race to Mississippi was on. The deeper you dig with lack of sleep, the potentially slower you become and my biggest challenge became staying awake and not dozing off into oncoming traffic.
Last night I did the maths with John and Kyle and set off in a mammoth bid in an attempt to hit the cut off. The intention was to do it, but it became obvious that I would need to bury myself to do it and probably have no neck for the last 1000 miles anyway (and also no bottom as the different position has rubbed in ways I won’t describe!)
Reflecting on this and the journey I’ve had with the team, we took time to enjoy the support at TS30 in Fort Scott. I had 3 hours sleep in the car and we then made the decision to ride the 4 miles to the Missouri border and cheer on the Help for Heroes team, all v British.
I removed the chin rest from my bike and rode one final official stage of RAAM as I would have liked to ride the rest, strong and at a decent average speed in a position that the bike is designed for. It proved to me that I’ve still got the legs for Annapolis but definitely not the neck and I’m back to staring at the tarmac. Making the call to Race HQ to DNF was not an easy one but definitely the most pragmatic. My RAAM 2017 journey ends at mile 1844.
Many thanks to everyone who has followed the journey. We have had an incredible adventure and it’s not over yet. After the necessary kit admin, we will be heading to Annapolis to give out full support to the Help for Heroes team who frankly put what I’ve done into stark perspective. I would ask you to root for their little flag as you’ve followed mine. I also want to see Sarah Cooper cross that finish line with her crew. Please keep these guys and all the other racers and crew in your thoughts, above all that they stay safe out there
I cannot express my thanks to my crew as I would like to have done in Annapolis and photo on the finish podium and words cannot express how grateful I am for everything they have done for me on this adventure. I will write more when there is a bit less emotion and a bit more data signal but for now, thank you to Kyle, John, Adey, Daryl, Zoe, Dave, Wes and Shane for keeping me safe and for everything we’ve shared.