It was now near midnight and my mental state had declined to the point of defeat. Faced with 30-40 mph headwinds and a neck that wouldn’t support my head any longer, I’d had enough. I stopped believing that I could make it any further, nor did I want to. Sitting in the van on the verge of abandoning RAAM, my brother decided it was time to call my wife Teresa back home. It was good to hear her voice. As I told here of my present condition it was all I could do to hold back the tears. “This is stupid,” I informed her, “I’m only halfway and I can’t hold up my head, there’s no way I can make it.” Teresa paused a moment before she reminded me of how hard I had trained, how badly I wanted this and how many people were praying for me. She spoke to my brother again and made him promise her that he would not let me quit as she was the one that had to live with me post RAAM.

My crew decided I should sleep there, but before they got to the motel I said “No, I have to keep going.” This was the farthest that I had dug down inside myself yet and I was actually surprised at my resolve. The prayers were definitely being answered. I explained that the next 40 miles to Trinidad would be very difficult into the wind, but if I could get through that I would have a good chance of riding with a strong tailwind for up to 150 miles to Springfield. There was a tornado warning that night and the winds were quite strong. With unwavering persistence, I forged my way into the unyielding cross headwind. My frail head was resting atop Jim’s box as the gusts would practically blow me over at times. It was all I could do to stay upright without the help of my torso and head to aid in counteracting the severe gusts of wind.

Right before Trinidad, the OLN film crew passed me. This was the boost I needed. As we pulled into the Trinidad time station they were eager for a brief interview. They learned of my Shermer Neck and seemed quite impressed with my diligence to continue. My spirits were lifted and soared even higher as the tailwind we hoped for was there. I went sailing across the eastern Colorado plains at speeds up to 40 mph on the flats. This was what riders live for. Only hours ago I was at the lowest point of my existence and here I was as high as could be. We learned that the 4th place rider, Stefan Lau, had last been seen passed out on the floor of the Walsenburg time station and now I was putting some serious distance on him as well. I took a short sleep break in Kim Colorado after having ridden for 21 hours pretty much nonstop.

As I arrived in Springfield, the wind that was so helpful the night before, had now turned against me. I had another 40 plus mph straight on headwind for the next 48 miles. This was not something I looked forward to tackling. Upon finding out that Rob had left Springfield only 30 minutes ago we decided to take a break, get cleaned up and get some solid food in me, a decision that I would later call a “rookie mistake.” I ended up wasting about two hours there before I battled the headwinds into Oklahoma and took a sleep break at Boise City. I had now stopped at three time stations in a row, oooops.

Upon leaving Boise city we tried device number three. Similar to two except that the support was given to my forehead to relieve the abuse my chin and teeth had been taking for the last 200 or more miles. This solution didn’t last long as it was difficult to navigate only looking straight down at the little white line. Mile after mile we went through the flat western Oklahoma plains. “Boy this place smells bad,” “What is that rotten stench?” I asked my crew. Before long it was back to the bungee cord equipped device number one. We were quickly losing any time we had made on Stefan as the stops were increasing exponentially. My neck was not responding to any of the attempted treatments. Somewhere in the isolated flatlands between Guyman and Slapout Oklahoma I fell victim to doubt and despair. In a moment of disgust I stopped, threw my $3,000 bike in the ditch and said, “I can’t make it, not another 1,200 miles without being able to hold up my head, no way!” Dave, the last of my close friends to join my support team, calmly said “Allen, if we can get this neck thing figured out, you’re gonna make it, just give us time.” Dave stood my height, about 6’2”, with sandy brown hair. Dave was determined to get me to the finish line no matter what and at that moment believed more in me then I did myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but Jim had already been designing device number four: “The Traction Contraption.”

Contine >


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