Jim told me “Al, I have an idea, just give me some time.” As I sat there utterly defeated Jim and Dave looked for the desperately needed support stick that Jim was lacking to see his idea come to it’s fruition. But here we are in the middle of Oklahoma in the middle of the night and 7-11 just doesn’t carry what we need. We needed a miracle, and we got one. In a place where there was nothing besides grass, dirt, wind and manure, Jim found an old surveyors stick lying in the ditch. It was the absolute perfect stiffness and weight, possessing the necessary strength as well. As Jim and Dave jumped for joy at this discovery it was apparent that prayer was at work again.

Reluctantly I remounted my 2-wheeled steed and continued on while Jim fervently went to work crafting the new contraption. A fishing pole like device that would attach to my lower back via duct tape, go up my back over a foam spacer block and provide a place to secure my helmet via nylon rope. The idea was simple enough, to hang my head off a pole as to not place stress and pressure on my vertebrae, but would it work?
I pulled off the road and once again tireless support crew working as busy little bees attaching this newly constructed brace to my back surrounded me. Upon completing the task at hand Jim wondered, “Oh my gosh, what have I done?” as I stood there resembling a criminal restrained by some new fangled immobilizing device with my face pointing straight toward the stars. Unable to even see the ground, let alone my bicycle, my crew aided me in remounting. I clicked into my pedals and off I went. Despite the obvious drawback when I was off the bike, I was able to get into my aero bars and look right down the road, a position I’d not known for days. After about 5 minutes Jim asked, “how’s it going?” My response was unexpected, thumbs up, BIG thumbs up, this was going to work. Shermer neck was not going to stop me. Shouts of joy and triumph echoed through the Oklahoma night skies as we continued on past Slapout and into Mooreland.

As daylight broke and the full detail of Jim’s apparatus could be defined, it was quite the work of art. Word of the “Traction Contraption” quickly spread and became the talk of the race. The OLN film crew once again found an interesting interview along with some much appreciated comic relief as they approached this strange looking creature on a bicycle that more resembled a physically handicapped person rather than a competitor in this world class sporting event. Yes, I was quite a sight to behold, but I wasn’t riding to look cool, I was doing what it took to see the finish line. “Laugh if you will, but don’t get in my way, I’m going to Pensacola.”
Oklahoma went on for what seemed like ever. With the most mileage of any state traveled by this year’s course I new Oklahoma would be the make it or break it point. “If I make it through Oklahoma, I’ll make it the rest of the way” I would say often. I was still feeling pretty good, but there were areas of my body that were protesting quite loudly concerning the demands placed on them.

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