The stifling humidity was absolutely disabling as I struggled for every milliliter of oxygen my lungs could extract from the sticky Alabama air. “My bike won’t roll through this,” I said in an appeal to my crew for some form of assistance. The officials had told them that a rider will say anything to get off his bike at this point in the race so don’t fall for it. “Shut up and keep pedaling” came the unpleasant response. I decided to investigate this disturbing situation myself so I rolled to a stop, lifted my front wheel, and attempted to spin it. It froze. No rotation at all. In a rage, I bellowed at my crew to get my other bike. They quickly and apologetically responded and I was back on my way with a bike that would roll. Any requests that followed were expeditiously accommodated. Things were quickly going from bad to worse though, as I was growing more and more discouraged. It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, I still had a stick holding my head up and I was exhausted. With only 141 miles remaining, I seriously doubted as to whether or not I could make it. I went down for another sleep cycle in Camden Alabama as my crew carefully ascertained Stefan’s position and state of condition. “When Allen wakes up Stefan will be about 5-10 minutes behind,” they surmised. I awoke and took off up the last of the 3000-mile courses hills with a tremendous amount of energy, a long but generally gentle grade. My crew inserted the CD that my wife and daughter had made for me in our recording studio prior to the races commencement. I knew of its existence, but had yet to experience it. Words of encouragement and various audio clips from my favorite movies resounded from the outdoor speakers atop my support van. Adrenalin once again surged as my wife and daughter’s words implored me to press on to the end.

Again I was hammering the pavement with speed unprecedented at this point in the race. However, my tank was running on fumes. As I approached the final summit of RAAM, the fuel expired. I swerved, first right, then left and finally back to the center of the road where I stopped, with nothing to support me. I toppled over as if I had just kicked the bucket. My crew frantically ran out to check for pulse and breath as they drug my seemingly lifeless body off the pavement and into the support van for an unplanned, but obviously unavoidable sleep break. “What now?” they asked each other. “He needs sleep, a lot of sleep and Stefan is right on his tail.”

I was only asleep for about 10 minutes when in a dazed state of panic, I sprang up to determine my whereabouts relative to Lau’s. “Go back to sleep he’s still behind you,” a reassuring reply came.

Shortly thereafter, my crew witnessed an unpleasant sight. Stefan was coming. They had parked off the road as to not be visible to him or his crew and give them a mental advantage if he did indeed pass. “Now what?” My crew knew my goal to be rookie of the year and Stefan was also a rookie to RAAM so allowing him to go by unchecked was not an option. They didn’t have much time to ponder this interesting development as I again woke in a panic with two words on my lips. “Where’s Lau?” Bewildered and somewhat indecisive, Larry knew I needed sleep and Lau being in front of me was unacceptable. “How could Allen just wake up on his own after only 20 minutes of unconsciousness?” Larry thought to himself. “Where’s Lau?” I repeated somewhat perturbed by the lack of response to my first inquiry. “He just passed you about 5 minutes ago,” Larry hesitantly replied. “Get me on my bike, I gotta go,” I said sternly. “No you need rest,” came the reply.” “Get me on my bike,” I demanded. “I’m not going to give up rookie of the year period, I can and will beat this guy, let me back on my bike” Fear, excitement and adrenalin were now pumping through my veins. “Ok, but only if you can answer some questions first,” they agreed collectively. “Who are you? What are you doing? Where are you? I answered all accurately and without hesitation, I had a German to catch.

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