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Back Home in Reading PA

To all, a note to let you all know that our wonderful team and I arrived safely back in Reading PA very early Sunday morning. After much consideration of our intended goals, plans, and personal commitments, we collectively decided to terminate our adventure near Newton, IL. And as fate would have it, Russ’ mighty Windstar follow-van gave its last effort furthering us to Terre Haute, and with the engine light, ABS light, and airbag warning lights glowing on the dashboard, finally encountered electrical system failure requiring an alternator replacement Saturday morning.

Team AFU and I extend our most sincere best wishes to all of the participants, organizers, officials, and volunteers constructing this amazing event, and to all of those we encountered – both along the road and online – much appreciation for your genuine support and heartfelt passion.

Sincerely,

TEAM AFU / REX RACING

Rick, Annie, Bep, Russ, George, Katie, John, Julie, Kerry, Eric

…and Tom R, our team master strategist and communications director

“Only those who will risk going too far …

…can possibly find out how far one can go” (-T.S. Eliot)  As of 6:30PM EDT, Rick Carpenter has gone over 2,139 miles, from the Pacific ocean, across the desert, over the Rockies, across the plains, and beyond the Mississippi River. Rick prudently decided to temporarily suspend riding, after blurred vision and seeing double made it unsafe to go any further today. He and his crew are currently checked into a hotel for the night in Newton, IL.

Although the goal of reaching Annapolis as an official finisher is now beyond his grasp, Rick and his crew are not finished with their RAAM journey yet. They are looking forward to achieving additional goals beyond what they’ve already accomplished.  Indeed, one milestone they reached today was going beyond the total distance of the Tour de France.  And there are certainly other worthy ones down the road …  Rick and his crew will assess their options after a good nights rest.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Illinois Afternoon

Shortly before 11AM today, Rick checked into TS 37 at Effingham, IL: 2139 miles completed and 866 to go.  With about 77 hours left to cover that distance, Rick needs to maintain an 11.2 MPH pace to officially finish. This certainly is still within Rick’s grasp. But on top of all the miles and neck pain, the heat and humidity are probably the highest Rick has seen since the start. Temperatures are in the 90’s and the dew point is a staggering 78F — that puts the heat index up around 106F.  And for any exposed sections of the course, the on-road temperatures will be even hotter.

Update: NOAA Heat Advisory posted:

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LINCOLN IL
1157 AM CDT FRI JUN 18 2010

...HEAT INDEX VALUES OVER 100 DEGREES THIS AFTERNOON...

ILZ062-063-066>068-071>073-182130-
/O.NEW.KILX.HT.Y.0002.100618T1800Z-100619T0000Z/
CUMBERLAND-CLARK-EFFINGHAM-JASPER-CRAWFORD-CLAY-RICHLAND-LAWRENCE-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...EFFINGHAM...FLORA...LAWRENCEVILLE
1157 AM CDT FRI JUN 18 2010

...HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 7 PM CDT THIS EVENING...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LINCOLN HAS ISSUED A HEAT
ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 7 PM CDT THIS EVENING.

* TEMPERATURE...HIGH TEMPERATURES WILL BE IN THE LOWER 90S...WITH
  HEAT INDEX VALUES RANGING FROM 100 TO 105 DEGREES INTO EARLY
  EVENING.

* IMPACTS...HEAT EXHAUSTION CAN OCCUR QUICKLY IF PROPER
  PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE.
DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN AIR CONDITIONED ROOM...STAY
OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS.

The Spot Tracker data is showing Rick battling on in these horrendous conditions.   But not surprisingly, progress has been slow as Rick heads to TS 38 in Sullivan, IN.  To stay on track, Rick would need to arrive before 6 PM EDT, but his current pace has him arriving after that. There’s a 20% chance of thundershowers in the forecast — those would be a welcome relief right about now!

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA
p.s. Several of the previous posts have been updated … as you check out anything you may have missed, be sure to look at the very nice comments that followers have been leaving!

illinois morning

Rick accomplished his goal yesterday of reaching the Mississippi river in time to continue RAAM. Rick and crew are both pretty worn out. Because our future in the race was in doubt yesterday, it now feels like we need to regroup and recharge for a final push to the finish line.

Rick continues to battle the Shermer Neck with dignity and grace. We’re currently along side US40 (near St Elmo) and administering therapy to Rick.

As of 10 AM EDT, we’re back on the road and about an hour away from TS 37 in Effingham, IL.

Current weather conditions at Effingham are: 76F but very high humidity – dew points are in the 70’s, which is nearly tropical.  Forecast for today indicates some tough cycling conditions: sunny and hot, with temperatures in the 90’s. The on-road temperatures will probably be around 100F in any open exposed areas, and combined with the high humidity, those mild days in the desert will seem pretty good in comparison.

Illinois

After crossing the MS river Rick was treated to 4 hours in a hotel room plus his third real shower of this 8 day adventure. Rick is back on the road as of 11:10 pm. Thursday night.

Mississippi River

At 6:06 PM EDT, Rick reached a big milestone: after 2,041 miles and over 194 hours, Rick is at the Mississippi River – a great accomplishment.  The good news, according to crew member George Metzler, is that “…Rick is cleared to continue the race.”

But the bad news is, as the saying goes, “… the real race has just begun.”  This is probably as true for those looking to be an official finisher as it is for the front runners.  At this point, Rick’s average pace is 10.5 MPH … just slightly above the 10.43 MPH pace he’ll need to hold to make it to Annapolis as an official finisher.

On behalf of Rick and the crew, thanks for all the encouraging comments… the crew is reading them to Rick as they trickle in, and it’s really helping him get down the road!

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

2000 Miles Completed – Just 1005 Miles to go!

As Rick races to the Mississippi River, he reached the 2000 mile mark:

1999.9 Miles ...

2000 miles in the can!

… congratulations to Rick and the crew for reaching this milestone.  And just further down the road is another big milestone … As of 4:30PM EDT, Rick was on pace to reach the Mississippi River between 5:30 and 6:00 PM.

Rick’s wife, Lora Beth forwarded this to me earlier today: “…I heard a wonderful story about the kindness of the people on the route.  Apparently Rick wanted to stop for something to eat and the whole team pulled into the restaurant.  They gave Rick his food for free and gave the team a cream pie….”  A very heartwarming experience for sure!  Lora Beth adds: “… Rick is making a superhuman effort to get this far.  The magnitude of this accomplishment for Rick can be simply stated;  at the 2000 mile mark Rick doubled his personal best.  While performing this incredible feat, his team mates say that he is a true gentlemen on the course and an amazing athlete.  His entire family is very proud of him and we are wishing him the best for the remaining trip to Annapolis.  Kudos to the team for being a vital part of this accomplishment …

Crew member and NJ Randonneur, Katie Raschdorf posted this recap of the past couple of days: “…Day 4 or is it Day 5? I have no idea…. I’m very tired it’s 5am RAAM time or maybe its 3am local time I can’t remember all I know is I slept in a teepee in a town called Mexican Hat and it SUCKED! :? I’m just kidding, or at least I don’t mean for the above to sound like I’m not having the best time! because I am! (other than sleeping in that teepee). I’ve been incommunicado for the past few days as we’ve been riding through some pretty desolate areas. the scenery is breathtaking and the views are awe inspiring.  Rick reached the summit at Wolfs Pass at the Continental Divide this morning. it was an amazing journey to the top of the summit. … he stood the entire way, I of course reached the summit as a seated climb in the comfort of the repair van. :lol: After the early morning summit it ended up being a really tough day. Rick is feeling the toll of the road in his hands but most of all in his neck. Schermers neck is rearing its ugly head. I was tasked to come up with a solution working with fellow crew member Julie Bay, together I think we nailed a “go fast contraption” that seems to be giving Rick some of the relief he desperately needs.  He’s in bed now for a long sleep of 4 hours with a Tens unit on. We are hoping he wakes up in one piece or at least a little less fractured than when he went to bed.  Crewing is hard psychically and mentally. for the most part things are moving along as expected. I’m having a great time (except for the whole sleeping in a Teepee thing). I hope you all know what day it is today. lest you have forgotten IT”S MY BIRTHDAY!!! :bday: …”

-Tom Rosenbauer

Eastern PA RBA

Racing to the Mississippi River

At 11:50 AM EDT, Rick cleared TS 34 in Washington, MO.  That segment had some pretty stiff climbs as the roads weaved up and down the river valley.  The past 16 hours have been a tough battle against the elements with all the night riding, rain showers, and hilly terrain — that would certainly slow down any cyclist (even one without 2000 miles in their legs already) .  And although Rick took a very short rest stop this morning, he is currently in a very tough position to reach the Mississippi River cut-off before 4PM (which is when his allowed race time of 192 hours to reach TS 35 ends).

However, the RAAM rules regarding the cut-offs do allow for some flexibility: “… If a Racer does not reach the indicated Time Station within the allowed time …, the Racer will be disqualified from the race. In the event a Racer is very close to cutoff times, the Race Management, in conjunction with Race Officials, may grant an extension of time taking into account all race circumstances…

I can’t tell you if RAAM HQ will grant any extensions.  But I can tell you that it’s probably going to be close… Rick is racing his heart out, and the crew is fully behind him as he pushes on. While Rick was climbing out of the Missouri River valley just past TS 34, I was on the phone with crewman George Metzler. He indicated that Rick was climbing strongly.  In fact, Rick has been climbing great the entire race — it has been the long, monotonous flats that have been the bigger challenge for Rick.  I’m sure Rick is looking forward to riding in the Appalachians of West Virginia –which is more like his native eastern Pennsylvania terrain he’s used to riding in.

Crossing the Missouri River

As of 2:30PM EDT, Rick was about one-third of the way along the 70-mile stage to the Mississippi River:

Washington, MO to Mississippi River

The steep climb out the Missouri river valley is behind him … ahead: a series of rollers and then a pancake flat 35-mile run to Mississippi River.

The weather forecast is calling for 90F and winds out of the south at 9 MPH.  But thankfully, current weather conditions are overcast, which is holding the temperature down to the low 80F’s.  Humidity however, is almost tropical — dew point of 73F! … that has pushed the heat index up into the high 80F’s.  Some other riders have commented that Missouri has felt hotter than the deserts.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Looking back: Rick’s starts in Oceanside

On the way to Washington, MO

At 9AM EDT, Rick was about half way along the 77-mile leg to TS 34 in Washington, MO:

Jefferson City, MO to Washington, MO

As you can see, the route follows the Missouri River. There are some impressive looking thunderstorms just to the north of the river, and there is a flood watch all along the Missouri River between Jefferson City and Washington, MO.  According to to a NOAA weather bulletin, one inch of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours with more on the way.

Crewman George Metlzer just checked in with me: “…Rick is emerging from the fog after climbing a steep section along the  Bluffs along the Missouri river.  He spent the night dodging  spectacular thunderstorms.  Rick continues to be alert and fully engaged in his quest to be an official RAAM finisher. We are halfway to time station #34 in Washington, MO and then hello Mississippi River.  Speaking of Rivers…we have a route note telling  us that it is acceptable to give your rider a ride in the car where  the water covers the road. While we appreciate the compassion…aren’t there usually advisories  issued against crossing roads covered with water?

Riding along the Missouri River to Washington, MO

Over the past couple of days, a number of riders have been delayed by closed roads, and the RAAM organizers are making time adjustments when this happens.  This may certainly come into play as Rick makes his run to the Mississippi River.

Looking at the Spot Tracker data, I’m estimating Rick’s arrival to TS34 around 11 AM.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA