A Knife’s Edge

The RAAM website is showing that Rick is on schedule to make the Mississippi time cut and that he will continue on to Annapolis, MD to become an official finisher of RAAM. Rick has poured his best effort into this race and I believe that we as Rick’s crew have given him our best. All of this said, it may not be enough, but Rick has chosen to measure himself against one of the most difficult sporting challenges. The suprise with RAAM is not that 50% of solo attempts fail it is that 50% actually succeed.
Follow us today on the blog as we record the push to the river.
Rick is currently focused on reaching the Jefferson City Time station.

Heading into the Ozarks of Missouri

At 4:27 PM EDT, Rick checked into TS31 at Weaubleau, MO.  A good stage average of 12.7 MPH, which lifted his overall average speed to 10.58 MPH.   He has less than 24 hours to cover 253 miles to the Mississippi River to get under the time cut there.  The crew is certainly well aware of this, and will be trying to strike  the right balance between riding and resting.

Today, the crew has been working hard to keep Rick engaged, to help fend off the ‘sleepies’.  Fellow PA Randonneur Andrew Mead has joined in this effort, and he forwarded some of Emily O’Brien’s limericks to the crew.  Here’s a small sample:

There once was a randonneur named Ruiz
Whom saddles sores almost brought to his knees
He had no chamois cream
But his need was extreme
So he used a whole can of Easy-Cheese

There once was a randonneur named Luis
Who for chamois cream once used Easy Cheese
But the preservatives therein
did badly irritate his skin
So he tried to salve his ass with bacon grease.

There once was a randonneur so inclined:
To use three jars of chamois cream combined
You could hear a faint “splat”
Whenever he sat
And he left a big grease stain behind.

Also along these lines, the following question was posed:  If one were to sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the wall” for the entire RAAM, how many bottles of beer would you have to start with?

And thanks to Emily O’Brien, the answer is: 116,640, assuming you sing at a tempo of 108 beats per minute for 288 hours.   116,640 bottles of beer on the wall, 116,640 bottles of beer, you take one down and pass it around, 116,639 bottles of beer on the wall….

Rick is now headed into the Ozarks of Missouri:


Current weather conditions at Weaubleau are overcast at 88F, and a NE wind at 6 … looks like some increasingly hotter weather is headed Rick’s way.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

On the way to Weaubleau, MO

Heading into Missouri from eastern Kansas

At 11:13 PM EDT, Rick checked into TS 30 (Ft. Scott) with another strong stage of 13.9 MPH, raising his average pace to 10.5 MPH.  As of 2PM, he’s just about at the half-way point to TS 31, 66 miles down the road in Weaubleu, MO.  I happened to be talking to crewman George Metzler, when Rick was taking a short break, and I got a chance to speak to Rick directly:

Rick taking a quick stop in eastern Kansas, to chat with his RBA

Rick sounded good, and other than the normal aches and pains you would expect after being on the bike for 1,700+ miles, he has managed to avoid the debilitating problems that have ended the rides of several other competitors so far.  The biggest issue right now, is dealing with the “sleepies”, as Rick calls them.  And being on the wrong side of a time limit is certainly a new experience for Rick.  But I’m confident that Rick and his crew will figure out a way to stay on track, and make the next cut off at the Mississippi River.

But as fellow PA Randonneur Andrew Mead observes: “…Many say that the race truly begins at the Mississippi.  Riders are tired, but should have reached a ‘steady state’ of fatigue. Terrain is definitely much tougher.  I’ve seen more individuals and team disintegrate in West Virginia [over the years]….  As many will observe, the western and eastern mountains are very different.  Long and gradual is not so bad.  Short and steep can be a killer, especially when there’s not much power left in the stroke. … I’d look for Rick to struggle to get out of single digit leg averages between TS45 & TS 47.  I’m really hoping I’m wrong.  Rick always seems to climb well so I’m hoping that his

struggle has been endless miles in the saddle without much cause to move around on the bike…”

Having seen Rick ace the hilly brevets out in eastern Pennsylvania over the years, I’d agree with Andrew that perhaps some “home turf” is just what Rick needs as a change of pace to deal with the struggle to stay awake.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

On the way to Ft. Scott, KS

At 9AM EDT, Rick was nearly half way along the 59-mile leg to Ft. Scott, KS.  This is the last time station in Kansas, before he heads into Missouri.  He then has to ride completely across Missouri  and reach the Mississippi River before 4 PM EDT on Thursday.

During the overnight hours, Rick took a 4-hour break on the way to Yates Center.  This did reduce his overall average speed down to 10.4 MPH, but he also moved back into 2nd place  in his division.

Crewman, George Metzler sent me a note this morning, expressing a twinge of bus-envy “…Our two minivans and conversion van have been serving us well as RAAM  vehicles.  We seem to have just what we need, but now I feel a little a bit short changed …..  Check out team Bandwidth’s tour bus:

Rick's support van, parked next to the Team Bandwidth bus

… I can only wonder at the budget line-item just for fuel, in order to just get that bus across the country!

Today, I’ll be looking for Rick’s overall average speed to build back up, and to also get well-positioned for the push to the Mississippi River, before taking his next extended rest.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Maize, KS

At 7PM, Rick checked into TS 27 in Maize, KS.  It’s been a great day so far for Rick.  He put together another strong stage, averaging 14.5 MPH over the past 77 miles — one of the longer of the 55 time stations.  This raised his overall pace to 10.6 MPH, and gets him right on track to make the time limit.  The RAAM website is projecting Rick’s arrival at the Mississippi River to be on Thursday, 3:16 PM.  This would be 16 minutes over the time limit, but Rick has a 20-minute time credit (probably due to some detours).  And due to the staggered, time-trial start, Rick has an additional 31 minute to the good.  So taking these adjustments into account, he is projected to make it under the wire by 35 minutes — it’s that close, at this point.

Rick will want to certainly build up his time margin, and he’s off to a good start by keeping his stop at Maize short… by 7:45 PM, he was back on the bike and headed to El Dorado, KS.

Two other riders in the under 50 men’s solo division  DNF’d today.  Surprisingly, one of the riders was front runner Mark Pattinson, who until today, was in 3rd place, and in the hunt for a podium finish.  From his crew’s twitter account, the explanation given was: “…Just had to DNF. Neck problems too severe. Can’t lift head at all and today became clear its not going to get better…

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Pratt, KS

At 1:43 PM, Rick checked into TS 26 at Pratt, KS.  His average speed on this segment was 15.7 MPH — a very fast result we haven’t seen for several days.  Along with his 282-mile effort yesterday, these are very promising signs that Rick is making a good recovery and working through all the aches and pains.  His overall average speed is just short of 10.5 MPH, and very close to the 10.6 he needs to maintain.

It looks like Rick kept riding right through the time station at Pratt without stopping.  The motivation to keep moving, was that the half-way point to the finish is just 15 miles beyond Pratt —  and as he reached it, George Metzler sent me the following message: “… Please send a shout out to the blog  that Rick has reached the halfway point (in miles) of his RAAM  journey. Only 1,502 miles to go.  Rick says thanks for all the  interest that you have shown throughout this adventure.  This has  been a good day so far…

Bep and John with Rick at halfway point

Congratulations to Rick and the crew for reaching this fantastic milestone!
Rick is now on a 77-mile stage to Maize, KS:

Pratt, KS to Maize, KS

This is another stage that trends downhill, and another one with endless corn and wheat fields on long straight roads that keep going as far as the eye can see:

Rt 54 east of Pratt, KS -- half-way point

Current weather conditions in Pratt are: mostly sunny, temperature 81F with a high of 85 predicted.  Winds are currently calm, with 10-13 from the south in the forecast.   This is much better weather than what the lead riders endured earlier, when they came through here.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Ford, KS Sleep Break

Rick will be down on a 3 hour sleep break until 10:00 am. EDT. He is resting from yesterday’s 282 mile effort. Last night we played word games over our radios to keep him awake. I’m not the sharpest tack in the box but it really smarts to get beaten by someone who has ridden 1400 miles on 13 hours of sleep. While we are waiting for Rick to sleep the speedy German rider Komscher has pulled into our rest area. He always looks good.

One note for those of you following the progress on the gps tracking system. The tracker is in the follow car not on ricks bike. During the day the follow car is allowed to leave Rick for a short time to check road conditions or buy him coffee. I thank you for being interested but RELAX! This is stressful enough.

Thanks again for all of your comments on the blog. We read you greetings to Rick while he is riding and it is a huge encouragement to him. Please keep them coming.

We have a time cut to make at the MS river. We are cutting it a little closer than we would like but we have a plan and we are going to make it.

New Fashion Statement- The Neck Bra

Rick is sporting a new piece of equipement today. Crew member Julia Bay created a device to help support Rick’s head while he is riding. Many Raam competitors suffer from a painful condition known as Shermers neck. After extended periods of cycling with little recovery many cyclists lose the ability to lift their heads up.

Julia’s device is working great and Rick is still going strong as of 8 pm central time.

A Bike Race, at RAAM?

In RAAM you can race for half a day without seeing another competitor but this morning three of the 50-59 solo men’s racers started from Trinidad, CO.

Rick traded places with Komescher (GER) and Paul Carpenter. The competition was real but the comradrie between the racers is even stronger. The crews cheer for their competition at every oportunity. We respect just how challenging this event is and celebrate each other’s success.

Komescher put the smack down on our guy Rick Carpenter and his close competitor in the afternoon. He opened up an hours gap from Time Station 21 to 22. Much later in the day we found the elusive Woudenberg blowing away the field in his recumbent. I have to think will need as big a gap as possible when that bike hits the appalchians.

Paul Carpenter is on course outside of Alamosa, CO

Rick Carpenter is being stalked by Paul Carpenter

Gregor Komescher was the 2nd in the 50-59 age class to reach time station #21

Rick is considering firing his crew and hiring Gregor's people...something about the Germans being efficient and doing everything right the first time

Any question as to why Timothy Woudenberg is winning the 50-59 division through the plains?

Walsh, CO

At 6: 47 PM EDT, Rick checked into TS 22 in Walsh, CO.  It was another strong stage for Rick, despite taking a one hour break at the previous TS in Kim, Rick’s average speed for this leg was 12.7 MPH, raising his overall average one tick to 10.4.  By my estimate, he’s about 2.5 hours down on the time limit.  But he has until about 3:30 PM EDT this Thursday to reach the Mississippi River, so there’s still plenty of opportunity to bank some time.

Rick probably has another two time stations (103 miles) to go today, before he can take an extended rest. Next up, is a 53.8 mile stage into Ulyssess, KS:

Walsh, CO to Ulysses, KS

Another one that trends down.  Winds are currently out of the east at 7 MPH.

In addition to all the nice photos he posted today, Juan Salazar has added a tab to access the Spot Tracker info — thanks Juan!

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA