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