I have written this report a thousand times in my head, starting as soon as my rear hit the seat 17 miles from Cortez Colorado when I realized I was not going to finish. There are many great quotes about failure. The quote that keeps coming back to me is "Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed."
The entire RAW experience was great. Our family will have memories that we will share forever. I will have stories that my friends will get tired of hearing for the 100th time but I will never get tired of re-living. I knew this was going to be a tough ride but I guess I was not ready for the pain. Saddle sores were a big concern of mine and I did many things to try to limit the occurrence but evidently not enough.
I rode more miles (491) and more hours (35) then I ever have without taking a break. I did more climbing in that 35 hours then I ever care to do. But most big ups have really great downs. I learned that I feel pretty good after 3 hours sleep. Even two nights in a row. I only cramped once and that was the first night on some small rolling hills. It is amazing what 1200 mg of sodium an hour will do. My family got to see more of the country in two weeks then many people see in a lifetime and can be together in a vehicle for two weeks without killing each other. My wife would make a really great nurse. I have friends and family that support me no matter how crazy I am.
I could list many more positives that I have taken from this adventure. The tough part is that several time each day I question my decision to withdraw from the race. I broke an ultra-distance rule by looking at the big picture (275 miles left to ride) instead of breaking the ride into little chunks (50 miles to the next time station). Once the justification of stopping entered my head there was no turning back. Hindsight is 20/20 but I believe withdrawing was the right choice at the time.
Will I do this again? That is a tough question. I really enjoy long rides. It is a great feeling to see the sun come up, go down and come back up while riding. I love riding at night and how it is so much different then riding during the day. Each turn is a surprise that forces you to not anticipate but just participate in the ride living only in the moment. I will be looking for other, questionably sane, but closer to home, riding adventures before I decide if RAW is in my future. I think 2 person or 4 person team Race Across America would be a blast. Riding near the four 75 year old cyclist of team grand pac masters was truly inspirational. That means that I still have almost 30 years to complete a team RAAM.
Thanks to everyone for there words of encouragement before, during and after the race. They really made a difference. I hope you enjoyed following along on this crazy ride and maybe I motivated someone to get out and enjoy bike riding.