The phenomenon of complete muscular failure in the necks supporting structures (named after Michael Shermer, one of the races 1st competitors and the first person to abandon the race due to this condition) was nothing new to RAAM racers. But I was only halfway into the race and this was a serious problem. Many a rider had been forced to DNF due to this problem, with a few deciding to fight their way to the finish line in spite of the obvious setback. “Had anyone ever ridden 1500 miles with this condition?” I asked myself. “Would this improve if we can find a way to rest the muscles?” I thought further.

I was still riding along on my way to Walsenburg, holding my head up with one hand on my chin while my elbow rested on my aero bar pad. “This won’t get me to Florida” I realized. I radioed my crew and informed them of my condition. I requested they locate duct tape and a bungee cord. I had heard of a rider who had bungeed his helmet to his shorts and thought about this for a few moments. My plan was different. I chose to secure the bungee cord to duct tape wrapped around the bare skin of my waist in an effort to nullify any effects of clothing sliding up or my shorts delivering a fatal wedgy.

When my crew was ready, we quickly stopped to try this, the first Shermer Neck relief support. It didn’t take long as they taped the cord to my waist and attached it to my helmet. It was apparent that the helmet would also require secure attachment to my head, duct tape to the rescue again. “This otta do the trick,” I said. My crew stood there in disbelief of the sight they were witnessing. “What’s he doing?” “Will this work?” Everyone was aware of the seriousness of the situation. As seeds of doubt and many questions raced through their minds, one thought rose to the top. “Can Allen possibly make it to Pensacola in this condition?” Florida was a long ways from here, but rather than share their concerns and doubts, they chose to continue to encourage me to press forward.

By the time I arrived at Walsenburg the severe stress and pressure the bungee cord was placing on my upper vertebrae was unbearable. We would have to find another solution. The balding and silvery bearded Jim “MacGyver” Miller, my old high school math teacher and long time trusted mentor, was already at work on device number two. Jim was largely responsible for my involvement in many outdoor activities including cycling. I guess it’s safe to say that Jim was partially responsible for getting me into this mess, but I thought it not fair to hold him accountable after all these years. He devised an aerodynamic support box fashioned out of corrugated cardboard taped to my aerobars. Outfitted with foam pad from my vans bed, it would provide a soft support to rest my chin on.

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