Off the bike and time for a shower in Congress, AZ! Kat, one of the crew in charge of the RV, takes my lunch order while I hop into the shower that measures about 1.5 feet deep by 2.5 feet wide. It’s not really a shower…to conserve water as much as possible, we get wet quickly, turn off the water, soap up before the water evaporates and then rinse as quickly as possible. This becomes even more challenging if the RV is actually moving (most of the time Rich, our driver, checked to make sure that we were finished. But a couple times he forgot…). Then, time to try to sleep.
Sleep isn’t happening for either of us. Bounce, bounce, bounce…did I just get airborne? Sleeping in a moving RV is not easy, especially when you are hyped up on adrenaline! After a few hours of restless sleep, we start realizing that something is wrong. Apparently, we forgot about an area where the RV could not go, and we ended up missing our riders. Quick, back up the road a different way, one of the vans comes out to meet the RV about 15 miles off the course to shuttle us back and forth, and the reinforcements (us) are sent out to rescue poor Willie who has been out on the road for two hours!
We intercepted Willie about 9 miles outside of Cottonwood…boy, was he happy to see us! We do an exchange and I start up a gentle climb towards Sedona.
I’ve never been to Sedona. I now want to go back to Sedona. I recall cresting that first rise and being absolutely blown away by the red canyons, mesas and rock formations that surrounded me! To say it was beautiful was the understatement of the race! I rolled over a few small hills before cruising down into Sedona proper where we did an exchange. It was a short 20 minute pull of 4.3 miles at 12.6 mph, 172w, 179 normalized power.
JV rode through the tourist area and started up the climb to Flagstaff. We started doing exchanges up in the canyon. I must say, it was quite hard to focus on climbing when it was so beautiful, but I stayed as focused as possible and tried to keep the three teams behind us at bay as we climbed and climbed and climbed 3000 feet over 20 miles up to Flagstaff. The climbing was gentle, for the most part, but got rather steep in the last couple miles. During this section, we operated out of one van instead of two to minimize the amount of shuttling that needed to be done and to give the RV as much time as possible to get to Flagstaff.
The last pull was weak. We had reached the top of the climb and I knew we were coming up on Flagstaff. I crested a few rollers, trying to keep another rider at bay (unsuccessfully), and started riding into the outskirts of Flagstaff. The problem was (a) I had already been out for about 25 minutes and (b) I had no idea where my support vehicle was! I was weak and starting to get a bit pissy…I didn’t want to make a wrong turn and get lost and I had no idea where to go. Fortunately, there were still enough RAAM vehicles around that I could follow them.
A couple miles later, Lee and the crew show up just before a turn and start directing me through town. After one turn, they tell me to stay on this road and they will see me at the RV at the TS a couple miles up the road. No problem…one mile, two miles, three miles…where exactly is the TS and why I am missing every single light? I finally notice the control up ahead (I can see some RVs), and I expect to see JV or someone waiting out there to rescue me from a shift that has gone from amazing to crappy over the last hour of riding. Nope…nobody there…I keep riding…a few miles later as I start bombing down a hill, they decide to do an exchange while I am doing close to 40mph. To be honest, I almost kept going just out of spite! I was hungry, tired and quite grumpy, to say the least! The last pull was 17.42 miles over 57m of riding time, 18mph average, 150w, 160w normalized. I actually think this was when I decided to add the Perpetuem to my routine as I was wiped!