Monday, June 30, 2014

Illinois to Ohio

The next shift from Illinois to Indiana was crazy. Like even crazier then the last shift! It seems like if your odometer gets off it means your whole shift is going to be nuts and that totally proved correct. We were on our toes with turns and finding places to park and cars whizzing by that I didn't take very many pictures! It was even with my Dad too :( We did get a few though. This was my attempt to get a "Welcome to Indiana" sign- ya it wasn't working so well.

Here was a small gathering to assess some physical issues that Troy was having. Riding a little tiny seat across the country can hurt your bum!
Here was Troy's way of handling it...
Pippa was out on the course the same time as Dad and we caught her cheering him on! One of my favorite parts of RAAM is all the cheering that the teams do for each other- they are all so friendly!
The biggest craziness of this shift was when Kelly totally drove the car into the ditch. It could have been much much worse, we definitely had angels looking out for us. In Indiana there are tons of little turn outs where peoples mailboxes are and they make a great place to pull into for a rider transition. We found one, got all settled, and Kelly decided she needed to pull forward a little and then back into the spot to give the other van more room behind us. Noble cause. We pull forward and start backing up when all the sudden the front of our van is totally tilted to the passengers side and the back drivers side tire is in the air! Kelly has quick toes and pushed on the brake right when she felt the tire sink down so there we were, stuck. I had no idea what do and Dad was asleep in the back of the van. Kelly was freaking out a little at this point so we just sat there for a minute to figure out what to do. Kelly was nervous that Dad would freak out if he woke up and we were stuck- but I knew Dad would know EXACTLY what to do so we just needed to wait until it was his time to wake up. He had two minutes left so we were just going to let him sleep those two minutes. Being a crew member you try and let the riders get as much sleep as possible and we didn't want to wake him up an earlier then necessary. We called Chris in the mean time and let him know the situation when all the sudden a cop pulls up behind us. Well, apparently Kelly doesn't do well with cops because she just started freaking out "Is he going to give me a ticket?! I can't talk to him! You have to! He's going to give me a ticket!!" I tell her to CALM DOWN and I'll talk to the cop and he is so not going to give us a ticket- we're stuck! She rolls down the window as the cop walks up and says "Well that's not a good start to a day is it?" haha we've got a comedian. He was a very nice police officer though and walked around to assess the damage. Apparently we had driven into a drainage ditch :( My Dad popped his head up to the voice of the cop and asked what was going on. We told him we were stuck, a police officer was here, and we were good but his time was up so he needed to get ready to get on the bike in about 10 minutes. Another cop pulled up and we got pretty nervous- the look on the cops face made it look like we were going to need a tow truck. The other officer comes around and they decide if Kelly taps on the gas and they push- they'll be able to get us off. He did add to not hit his car behind us. The cops lifted, Kelly gassed it, and out we popped from the ditch- and Kelly didn't get a ticket. 

We got out right in time for a very smooth rider transition! Win for us! The rest of our shift we were extremely cautious when it came to where we turned off on the road- we were pretty nervous after that! 

At this point, we noticed that Dad was looking pretty weak on the bike and we were starting to get little worried for him. We talked to over with the other van and riders and it was decided that the riders weren't getting enough quality sleep and we needed to give them some. We got a hotel room in the next town and were going to let Dad and Troy each take between a 3-4 hour nap. Troy was going to be on the bike for about two hours and then they would both be off the bike for an hour, then Dad would ride for two hours while Troy got his sleep. We booked the hotel and were on our way when Chris called with a new plan. He had called dad's buddy Keri Ryan and they were pretty nervous that if Dad went into the hotel room we wouldn't be able to get him back out. The most sleep he needed/could have was 2 hours and after that we got into the risky business of body recovery. We pulled into the next transition spot and I was so nervous to tell Dad our new plan. Before he went to sleep he had scarfed down more food then I had seen him eat all week and we think it was because he knew he actually had time to eat instead of putting off the solid food in order to get sleep. He woke up and I let him know Chris talked to Ryan and they were afraid if he went into the hotel he wouldn't come out. He had slept for about an hour of sleep at this point and he had about 30 minutes left before we were going to get him up again. This meant he had more sleep then had been getting, but he wasn't going to have the 3-4 hour nap. He had complete faith in Chris and Keri's decision and went back to sleep for a few more minutes. We headed over to CVS pharmacy to get some caffeine tablets to help the riders on the bike. After CVS we pulled into the back to let Dad take a shower and waited for the hotel van and Troy's van to do a crew transition. 

The hotel van pulled up and since we had some time before Troy's van was going to here I hopped into the hotel van with Kyle and Mom and we stopped at a few different stores to get some food for the riders. We ended up with about 6 chicken sandwiches, 7 mango soothies, 3 frosties, a bunch of chicken, and potato wedges. It's amazing how much food they can go through in 12 hours. Some of this was for the crew, but a lot of it was for the riders.

We got back to CVS Pharmacy, crew transitioned Bob's van, and were on our way to transition Troy's van when we realized that we had forgotten Kathy at CVS! Ooops! Sorry Mom!

Our crazy shift finally came to an end, I woke up in the van just in time to catch a picture of this crazy cool Mural somewhere in Ohio.
This was Troy next to me in the van. Always sleepin'. ;)

Ohio brought in lots of rain for the next crew. The riders seemed to be doing much better with a few longer transitions and the crew would drive up, park, and then get out of the car so the riders could each get some quality sleep.
 Troy stopped at another CVS to get some more stuff to help his achy body. He asked the pharmacist if there was anything he could use over the counter to help with his bum. She told him that if he just road for awhile the pain would go away. Obviously she meant more then 2,500 miles o_0.

Missouri to Illinois

After Missouri and Kansas RAAM gets kind of fuzzy for me. I'm pretty sure that this is in Missouri. Missouri seems to last forever for some reason. Mom and Colleen waiting to transition somewhere. 
 Back East the bugs are really bad- in order to keep ourselves and the riders bug free we use lots and lots of bug spray!
 This was somewhere in Missouri along the route- Kyle got a picture of some kids that were waiting for Pippa to come through their town. Poor kids, they probably didn't know the chances of seeing her riding in a team of 8 was pretty slim. 
 Dad got stopped by a train for a bit. It was probably because he beat it last time. Touche' train.
 This is what the back of the van looked like a lot. Both Troy's snoozin' away.
 Next up was my shift again. Kyle had to go be the Hotel Driver so we got put on seperate shifts again. I was back with Doug for a bit. Here is Troy just cruisin' along. Something fun about Troy- this guy is always happy. Even when he's been on the bike for like 2,000 miles- he's just a happy guy!
 This was a typical list for crew to pick up for the riders. Sometimes they had random cravings that we would need to run and go get- but if we took too long the craving was gone and we were out of luck. 
 This time station got pretty sketchy for Doug and I. We missed a turn at the very beginning which threw off our whole odometer. This was even where we got the "highway" but felt much more like a freeway to me. This was the most nerve wrecking part of the whole race for me. There were cars everywhere, the road was pretty dirty, and we weren't even sure we were supposed to be on there anyway. Luckily, we saw a few other RAAM racers so we were pretty sure we were in the right place. 

My Dad has a joke that anything that could go wrong usually happens in Missouri, and let me tell you, we had one eventful day. Anything from Dad's chain messing up, his front derailer, odometer getting messed up, the bike boxes on the roof shifting a little too much for comfort, no cell service, bad transitions, and the list goes on. 
 To throw things off a little more, Troy even decided it was his turn to hop in the drivers seat. Troy's job for this RAAM was to help the rider Troy in the bike of the van and make sure he had everything he needed when it came to food, water, nurtition, and laundry- he was pretty much Troy's Wife for the trip :) It probably got a little boring back there and he asked for a little change in his schedule.
More of Smiley Troy. 
 We went through the coolest towns along the route. We don't go through very many big towns/cities so we really got to see small town America. The architecture was pretty cool. Everything was SO green!

 With everything that went wrong on our shift, go figure that the other crew was having some kinks in their plans too. The uncoming shift had to wait for some medical supplies to get mailed to the hotel. They had worked it out with Fedex that it would all get delivered by 10:30am that morning. 10:45 came around and there was still no package, so they called Fedex to see what was up. Well, the address was missing a number so the package was on it's way back to Arizona. The got everything worked out, got the medical supplies and everything, but now they were going to be a little late to crew transition and everyone was in a hurry to get back on schedule. We met on the side of the road along the route to transition and everything seemed to be back in order. About 20 minutes after transition we got a phone call from Troy that he was on the side of the road and his van forgot him!

When we crew transitioned, we transitioned Troy's van when Bob was supposed to go out, which meant Bob's van was supposed to go pick up Troy and Troy's bike. Well, they picked up the bike but Troy went into the woods to use the bathroom so each van thought he was in the other van and they took off. Troy called his wife, chilled for a bit, and then decided we weren't coming back and he should probably call us. The hotel van turned around and rescued him :)

After an extra long shift and little sleep for the past 5 days, I slept like a baby in the van. I woke up in Illinois and just in time to see this massive cross and take a picture. Those trees beside it are HUGE trees, gives you a little perspective. No sure what it's there for- but it was a reminder to see that there is still good people and Christianity in America.
 With Dad getting dehydrated Crew Chief Chris decided a nurse probably needed to be in the van with Dad at all times in case he needed any medical attention. We had two nurses on crew, Kathy D. and Kelly, so they had to work the schedule a little bit to get a nurse in with him. I tried to work it in that I would be the next hotel driver (to get in on the same shift as Kyle), but that didn't work out :/ It did work out that we would be together again the next day, so that was better.  
 I'm ALMOST positive this is Troy going over the Mississippi River into Illinois. It's always a good day when Missouri is over!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Colorado to Missouri

My next shift was with Kyle again- yay! We took over just outside of Kansas where we found Pippa Middleton (Kate Middleton's, the girl that married Prince William, little sister) who was on an 8 man team. Kelly is a royal fanatic and was too nervous to get a picture with her so she took a picture of Pippa and Troy. 

 And into Kansas we went! Kansas is very flat. Like really really flat. There are just fields as far as you can see and no mountains to break it up. Very pretty farmland, but very flat.
In the midst of the flatness of Kansas it's hard for the riders to find stuff to keep their minds going and give them a little interaction. With mountains there is always stuff to look at and hills to keep them on their toes. Dad finally found something to give his hour pull a little edge- a train! They started racing a bit and Dad totally beat the train. The conductor started hooting the horn for him and waving- he had to give the cyclist props! He beat the train!
 Along with the flatness of Kansas comes not very many turns, which makes the navigators job extremely easy. Example- Right turn in 76 miles. No joke. When we finally got to the next turn we got pretty excited and went and marked it for Troy to make sure he turned at the right time. Here he is almost to the turn.
Right before shift change I turned the page to see what timestation was left and got super excited to see the Halfway point for RAAM! 3020 miles is a LONG time, so it felt great to see that we really were making some progress.
After our shift change we went and stopped at a little grocery store and spotted some yummy Klondike bars. It was just what the doctor ordered after a pretty uneventful day. Here is Kyle with his RAAM Dad enjoying their ice cream on the rocking chairs.
 As we were driving to our hotel we started asking a few questions about where it was at and who had found the hotel. Doug ensured us that he had booked the hotel and it was in the RAAM Hotel Book so it should be a good one. We googled the "Star Motel" and the reviews were a little sketchy, but we weren't took picky so we kind of laughed about the one where the owner had walked into their room in the middle of the night and chalked it up to an accident. A few minutes later Doug got a phone call from the owner asking if we were coming and he reinsured her we were. About an hour later we got another phone call making sure we were coming, and another 30 minutes after that we got another. The description of the lady on the review started making sense but it was all just part of RAAM for us. Kelly chuckled when she saw that on the reviews it only had 1 star and made the comment "I didn't think you could really only have 1 star, I thought that was just for like the really really bad ones". We laughed and laughed even harder as we pulled up to the motel. It was a little sketchy looking and all of us crew members were saying the same thing- are we reaaaallly going to stay here?? It was a typical whole in the wall motel with only about 8 rooms. The lady comes out of the office in full Missouri fashion with no shoes on. Someone mentions that we would like to see the rooms first and she goes inside to get the keys. She comes back out totally dogging me as I get out of the car, she can probably tell I'm really not sure of this place. I tell her that's it's Kelly that wants to see the rooms and motion to Kelly to get out of the van. She laughs and says "Oh okay, the princesses want to see the room. WELL, come on!" Kelly yells out from the van that she's getting her shoes on and she'll be out. The lady lets us know she always walks around barefoot "it don't matter". Kelly laughs and says "well, I'm from California and I don't want tetanus." "Tetanus? We don't have Tetanus, we don't even have the beach!" Ooooh goodness.

Kelly steps out of the car and the lady clearly thinks this won't be a problem. As we are walking up to a room the owner is yelling at one of her employees that she needs to go clean the room "I don't got time for that! I gotta go! I have stuff to do!" she yells back. This is getting better and better the longer we stay here. She tells us that she's giving us the big room, the nice room. "The boys room won't nearly be as nice as the one I'm givin' you". We walk in the room and at first glance it looks okay. Kelly and Doug need to use the rest room so Doug goes in and as he's trying to come back out the pocket door keeps getting stuck- it's hilarious. The room hasn't been dusted/really cleaned in who knows how long, there is dust covering everything. There is no dust ruffle under the bed and the beds have been around for a very very long time. We all just kind of stare at each other because no one wants to be the one to say "Um, I'm not staying here" but we are all thinking the exact same thing. The owner keeps looking at us like "So what do you think?" and we are all just standing there no saying anything. She finally takes the boys over to their room, which really isn't as nice as the girls. It was pretty tiny and very run down. The boys walk over to their bathroom and there is a cockroach dying in the corner and a few smaller bugs around the other corners. By the time we saw the bugs Doug and the owner were talking toward the office to go pay and the rest of the crew members are getting really worried that we're staying here.

Finally, Kyle says "Let's just go somewhere else." DEAL! Everyone starts getting into the van when I realized Doug is paying! I run up to the office and tell Doug to come back- we aren't staying here. The lady runs out of the office and is following us over to the car and just starts saying all kinds of stuff like "I don't have roaches! Those are waterbugs! There aren't any refunds!" I felt so bad for the lady, but we just couldn't stay there. Troy Yost can't stop saying "I'll pay for a Marriott. If we find a Marriott I will pay for it. I have points!" We are all piled in the van and Kyle is about half-way in when Doug puts the van in reverse and we squeal out of there. There is no nicer way to put it than we literally ran from the motel. As we are driving away everyone starts confessing their plans to sleep in the van that night if no one made the move to get out of there.

We found a nice little Mexican restaurant in the next town when we got a phone call from the owner. She was not a happy camper with us and Doug got an ear full. He took it very well and apologized and let her know we were just spoiled California and Arizona people. Poor Doug, he was such a trooper through it all!

Since we were always using Friend of Freedom money we had to get a receipt for everything we spent to show we weren't wasting money. We asked for a receipt from the Mexican Food restaurant and this is what we got. The title says The Iola Register, but it was really called Coronados. Gotta love small town America.

We found a hotel that felt like the Ritz where we all slept safe and sound- with no water bugs!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kayenta to Colorado

My next shift started at 3:00am the next morning. Since I was the hotel driver I got to switch crews and be with Kyle. One of the reasons I was so excited to do RAAM was to be Kyle's partner and we were finally together! Yay! Here is Yost and Kyle outside of Kayenta getting Troy's bike all spiffy for him to take his next hour shift.
We took the race all the way from Kayenta, through Utah, and into Colorado. This is on the top of a mountain in Colorado nice and early in the AM. It was pretty chilly outside!
 After a transition my Dad needed to do a little fixing on his bike. I'm pretty sure there is where he got another flat tire.
 After being in Colorado for a few hours Dad started feeling pretty down. He called his buddy Keri Ryan in California and chatted with him for a bit and it was decided that he was dehydrated and needed to take a quick trip to the Urgent Care to get some fluid in him. Troy was a great trooper and just started pedaling and taking it nice and slow. Kelly and Phil were with Dad while Kyle, Yost, and I followed along side Troy. He peddaled at about 15 mph for 5-6 hours until Dad joined in the race again. He came back feeling strong and better then ever. Good thing too- Next up was Wolf Creek Pass!

 This isn't something you see often, both riders off of the bike at the same time. Crew Chief Chris probably had a mini-heart attack when they stopped at the top to get a photo- but don't they look great?!

Day Two- outside of Blythe to Navajo Reservation

Our first crew transition went pretty soothly. The on coming crew tries to meet up with the crew on shift at the next rider transition so we can make sure the riders get to sleep for however long they can. It gets a little crazy making sure the rider backpacks and snacks get into the right vans, but it usually goes pretty well.

The crew got a quick snapshot of what was in their forecast for the day- headed to Prescott!

 Kyle and Mom had the next shift on with Troy Yost, Phillip, and Kelly. I'm pretty sure Mom and Kyle were in Troy's van.
Next up was Yarnell Hill! Here they are getting ready for a rider transition. Up until this point that riders had been doing 1 hour pulls. One rider would ride for an hour while the other sleeps and then they switch. During the big climbs they move into 1 mile pulls to help the hill go a little quicker.

Troy was obviously going down Yarnell Hill a little too fast- his racer number flew off! Yost used his creative thinking skills and came up with his own tag.
Coming back up the hill in Prescott, Arizona

Sometimes the crew needs to get together and talk about a little strategy. Here is Kelly, Yost, Kyle, and Phil

Back on the hotel shift where I was. Here's a photo of out cramped hotel room. It was a little squished was we made it work- RAAM style. Chris and I had a very hard time sleeping. He finally got a little shut eye around 8:00am in the morning and I was never able to get to sleep.

After each shift we have a crew member that drives the oncoming shift to their next hotel. It was my turn to be the hotel driver which meant I got to go to the same shift as Kyle- yay! We stopped in Flagstaff at Panda Express to eat some lunch and then headed onto Kayenta to sleep. After we got all our food at Panda we went outside to eat and it was way too windy so we all came inside. We walked up to a table that was covered in food and we all made the comment "Man it looks like my kids were here" because it was so messy. The worker came up and Kyle motioned to Yost and said "Sorry, we can't take him anywhere". The girl laughed and said "Ya, I can't take my Dad anywhere either". We had a good laugh that she thought Yost was our Dad. What an appropriate thing on Father's Day huh? Here's us with our RAAM Dad. :)

Here is Yost going out onto the Navajo Reservation.