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Transplant Athlete
Saturday, July 30, 2011
  Travel Home

Woke up early, couldn't sleep after 4:45am. Walt had an early flight and he was catching the 6am shuttle to the airport. I had breakfast, showered, shaved, repacked my bag. My train wasn't leaving until noon. I caught a cab in to the Amtrak station and had to wait for the ticket window to open so I could check my bags. Once I was free of my luggage, I wandered around town and found a farmer's market. Lots of organic produce and crafts, but also food trucks. There was even a wood fired oven on a trailer. I had to have a pizza and it didn't disappoint. I'm determined to build my pizza oven by next spring.
I still had lots of time to kill, so I did a little more shopping.
The train is slow. I've been onboard for 4 hours now and we haven't even gotten out of New Mexico. It feels like we're doing about 40 mph and occasionally hitting 60 mph. The seats are really big not really that comfortable though. No one patted me down to get on board, so we'll see how it goes.
 
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  Santa Fe To Albuquerque

We rolled out of the hotel individually, buyers on coagulated into large groups. We had great tailwinds and some descending for miles. We were spending a lot of time over 20 mph. There was some chip seal which I didn't like (I got hit in the face with a chip). We had some smooth fresh pavement and we had clean shoulders.
We had a great descent after the first rest stop, some flat areas and we went through a couple one horse towns. I got a slow leak flat about 3 miles before the second rest stop. I tried to ride with my weight as far back as possible. My odometer was slightly off, but I knew I was close. With the flag in sight, I could tell there was no more air in the tire, but the rim was riding on the tire, so I just rolled in.
Phil helped me fix it, but everyone who saw me was aware of how many flats I had yesterday, so I was taking some ribbing. My tires were pretty shredded at this point and weren't doing much to protect my tubes, but I only had 40 miles or so to go and I didn't want to buy new ones. From that rest stop, I had started drafting Bruce, but I just couldn't keep up. I made it the 12 miles to the next stop. It was downhill from there, but I was alone. I missed the "hidden right turn" at the Travelodge. I saw the Travelodge, but I thought I had to go another mile or two. I made a right a couple miles further and was able to pick up the bike trail. I have to say, Albuquerque has a great trail system.
At the hotel, lunch was leftovers, we were really early, so rooms weren't available. Lon encouraged us to pack our boxes by 4 pm, but I think we were done by 2. I showered and Barb gave me a massage. I didn't want to be sitting on a train for two days with sore legs. I then explored old town Albuquerque. They were also prepping for a concert in the square, but we were having our PACTour banquet from 6 to 8 at Little Anitas. The slideshow was great, I hope Susan sends out copies. We had a great time. Susan gave out the plaques and she really should have been a stand-up comic. Kevin Kaiser won the official Map signed by everybody on the tour for $1200 at auction. The proceeds go towards the charity work that PACTour does in Peru.
 
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  Chama To Santa Fe

Second to last day. The weather is good, should be a good day to ride. We backtrack to 84 south. Lon's running the first rest stop. Some people are talking about how many flats they are having and I think to myself, I've been lucky. I had one flat the first day. I had one flat out of Lake Village, although the patch failed and I put in a spare tube, that flatted, I patched it, and that failed. That was the last major tire drama I had on the tour. I was thinking it was all due to my Continental 3000 GP tires.
Two miles past the rest stop, boom. My rear tire went flat. As I rolled to a stop, I could hear air escaping from the front tire. I pulled them both off and fixed the front first. I inflated the tire with a CO2 cartridge and noticed that a small pebble was jammed between the tire and rim, I had to deflate the tire, pull the pebbles out and re-inflate it. I fixed the rear tire, and while I was re-inflating it, the tube failed at the valve stem. I stood up to put the wheels on and noticed the front wheel no longer had air in it. I fixed it again. I was last on the road, so no riders passed me while I was fixing my tires and Lon hadn't passed yet with the SAG van.
Once I got back on the road, I felt like I could make up some time. Lon passed me and I should have flagged him down for new tubes and a floor pump to get my tires up to full pressure, but I didn't react quickly enough.
We were generally losing altitude, so I was able to go pretty fast, but around mile 40, My front tire flatted. It was a snake bite flat. I fixed it and soldiered on, although it was getting really difficult to fix the flat and move on, it was just killing my momentum. I was almost at mile 44 when my rear tire went flat. I pulled over to fix it. I pulled the tube out and realized the patch had failed. I was just thinking about what to do when I saw the PACTour SAG van pull up. Bill had come to rescue me.
I asked for two tubes, and he offered to bring me uph to lunch so I'd have time to fix the tires. he said I wasn't far behind the other riders, but we passed his stop and Lon's next stop without seeing any other riders, that means I was at least an hour and a half behind everybody else.
I ate lunch and then fixed my flats (so my food would have time to digest) and then stopped at a gas station to use the rest room. As I exited the station, Ron, the Brits, and Anne pulled up. I drafted them as long as I could. They pulled off for a bathroom break and I continued on. They caught me and passed me. I made it to the last rest stop, which was something like 12 miles from our hotel. It was getting really hot out.
Andrew encouraged me to jump on his wheel as he passed, but I just didn't have the power. We hads some climbing to do to get into town and we were on an interstate. Rain clouds rolled in and it took some of the edge off the heat. Mercifully, a few rain drops dropped out of the sky. It was enough to cool my skin, but not enough to merit a rain jacket. Near exit #168 I got a snake bite flat. I patched it, but the patch didn't last long. I replaced the tube and limped in to Santa Fe. I saw Drew in town and he was a little lost. I went slowly so he could follow me, but he didn't catch up. He had gotten a flat in town and that's why it took him so long.
I went to dinner with Lon, Susan, and John Lake. We had wanted to eat on a balcony overlooking the town square but it really started raining. I had a spicy beef enchilada and the red sauce was so hot, my lips were burning. Afterwards we went for ice cream which is the popular choice on PACTours. The rain stopped and a concert had started in the town square. John went in search of a pharmacy, while Lon, Susan and I walked up to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. We heard the band sing "Big River" Lon and Susan went looking for a little shop and I went back to the square to listen to the band. They did some of their own songs and then did "Jackson"
It was a nice night.
 
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  South Fork To Chama

It was a cold morning in South Fork and we were leaving early. I took yesterday off to rest. I was having "Seat Contact" issues, but they felt completely resolved. With fresh legs, we charged up Wolf Creek Pass from the east. The first rest stop was halfway up the mountain, I rode right by it, I think most people did.
The second rest stop was at the top of Wolf Creek Pass. Kristin Ames turned around there and headed back to the hotel. Her tour was over. The rest of us blasted down the other side of Wolf Creek and on to Pagosa Springs. Just before we got there, we turned south on 84. I was pretty much on my own into the lunch stop. They had made meatballs and pasta for lunch and they bought some good ciabatta bread in town. It was really good and I wanted to chow down, but that has always prove to be a mistake (usually there's a climb or some other hard effort after lunch) so I kept my portions small. I didn't recognize any of the roads going in to Chama, so the 2008 RAAM route must have been on a different route.
As usual, I was near the back of the pack at the last rest stop. I pedaled on in solitude. Then I started seeing construction signs. Then I spotted a group of riders at the front of a long line of cars and a pilot car coming the other way. I sprinted up to them and it was a group of the really fast riders. The flagman made us wait until all the cars had gone through, then told us, "catch up." I sprinted off, but it turned out to be a really long construction zone. Big Mike passed me and I tried to jump on his wheel, but it was like trying to draft a tandem. He flew downhill and motored across the flats. I could almost keep up with him on the uphills, which meant I was off the back in short order.
I felt pretty good when I got into Chama, so I rode downtown, bought some gifts, stamps, and took pictures of the train and station. The hotel didn't have a washer or dryer, so I rushed off to dinner at the High Country Saloon, then rushed back to skype with the kids.
I had to do some laundry, so I put all my dirty clothes in my camelback and rolled out. The laundromat was supposed to be 1.2 miles away, but it was closer to 2 miles away.
 
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
  Durango To South Fork

I felt awesome this morning. I think we had a slight tailwind, I averaged 15 mph to the first rest stop. It followed the RAAM route, or maybe the RAAM route followed a route laid out years ago by Lon. I made it to the second stop still feeling really good. I joked with Ron Dunlap about tackling Wolf Creek Pass. On my way to the third rest stop, around mile 50, I just ran out of gas. I couldn't put any power in the pedals. I struggled to reach the third rest stop.

When I got there, Rebecca said she was out of ice and it was getting hot! I pulled away on to Rte 160 E and just melted. I was overheating, I couldn't put any power into the pedals. It was only 26ish miles to lunch, but I knew it was going to take a looooong time. I passed through Pagosa Springs and decided to pull over and get some ice and a snack, but then I remembered I pulled the money out of my saddlebag yesterday. I raced through the older part of town.
I ran out of liquid and I had about 15 minutes of pedaling to get to lunch. Not really a problem until I got to where lunch was supposed to be and it wasn't there, it was moved a couple miles further east. I was without water for about 30 minutes by the time I found the lunch truck.
It started to rain, so I grabbed some food and took shelter inside the red trailer. It was around 2:30pm. The climb is about 8 miles long and would take me almost two hours, but I'd need to recover from the water shortage first. The crew was scrambling to tear down the rest stop in the pouring rain. I made the decision to SAG in to the hotel. I was very disappointed I didn't tackle Wolf Creek Pass. Still, I covered 89 miles under my own power.
I got a massage at the hotel. I'll take tomorrow off. It's an optional 123 mile ride to the top of Slumgullion Pass, which according to my topo map tops out just under 11,600'.
 
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Sunday, July 24, 2011
  Montrose to Durango

We started out into a headwind. I was suffering alone until Ragan came along. He pulled me into the first rest stop. My chest felt like I had been punched, I'm guessing it was from the day before when my heart felt like it was going to pound its way out of my chest on the climb. From there we took a bike trail Into Ridgway, then jumped on 550 South again. We had gentle climbing to Ouray, but the big stuff started at the far edge of town. Lon was situated a couple miles up the climb with the support van. Karl had a flat but went through a couple tubes trying to fix it.
The climb was beautiful, but also a bit scary. There was no guard rail at all. In several places, if there was a shoulder it was very small. Looking over the edge you can see a thousand or two thousand foot drop to a creek down below. I got dizzy just looking. It was a long climb topping out at 11,018 feet. So yes, I had trouble breathing and yes I was one of the last people over. We had a fast descent into lunch, but then more climbing to Molas pass, which topped out at 10,910 feet. We dropped 1000 feet, but then had to make that up in 3 miles to get through Coal Bank Pass which I believe topped out at 10,600.
Barb was waiting there to support us. She said the front group got rained on, but I hadn't seen any rain. We had around 35 miles to go to get to the hotel. Luckily it was mostly downhill and there was a little tailwind. Bikeroutetoaster.com says there was 8400 feet of climbing over 112 miles. My time was around 9 hours in the saddle (my computer wigged out at about 85 miles) so that's a guesstimate.
 
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  Grand Junction To Montrose

I have to start off by saying the cue sheet was twice as long as all the others. There were a lot of turns to get out of Montrose. I would almost have preferred to just jump on I-70. We did eventually end up on I-70 for a short section. Once we got off the interstate, the terrain was pretty mellow. Of course we were climbing, but it was really gradual. It was also really beautiful, the canyon walls were carved by the little stream running along the road. We left the interstate with about 16 people in our pace line, but guys would go up and take a pull, then just drop off the back. I got dropped a couple miles from the first rest stop and the group that dropped me was just 3 guys. From mile 33 to mile 53 we climbed about 6000 feet and topped out at 10,829 feet above sea level.
I was pretty much the last one over the climb. I booked down the other side and when I got to lunch, I just filled my bottles ate a little pie, and jumped back on the road. The pie might need a little explanation...A couple days ago Susan asked me what kind of pie I liked. I said, "Apple." She went out and bought it, so I had to at least have a piece, but I skipped the rest of lunch. It was 99 in the shade and it was getting late, so I rolled out right after John Lake. I was feeling ok, just really hot, so occasionally I would squirt water from my camelback (which was iced) onto my legs to cool them down. Our route into Montrose followed a charity bike route, we could see their turns and they had written slogans on the pavement. The rough sections of pavement were dubbed "the cobbles of Montrose"
It was a long day, my bike computer said I was in the saddle for 8 hours and 45 minutes.
 
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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