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June 18, 2010 / teamoperationprogress

RAAM Update – We’re not in Kansas anymore

Day 4: Over the Rocky hump and into the Mid Way Kansas Wind

Hitting the inconceivable target of completing more that 400 miles per day, Team OP and its crew, has its’ aim set on conquering the final phase of the Rocky Mountains before opening up into the longest descent of the race through the windy farmland of Kansas.  Ambition and determination coupled with sleep deprivation and burnt out bodies are a dangerous combination for Team OP who must dig deep to find the strength to keep the pushing the pedals to the pavement.

From La Vida Colorado to Trinidad is a deceptively beautiful climb over the  Chucura Pass. Anticipating the exhaustion, the crew captains relied on the freshest legs of Mark and Nancy to push the team over the Pass.  Nancy, who earlier in the day, had experienced a nasty fall off her bike reaching the top of Great Continental divide left her hip bruised and limping. Nancy’s true test of character was put to the test as the crew advised her to not feel obligated to climb over the pass.  Determined to not let the team down, she decided to ice her hip numb and climb through the majestic but grueling Churcura pass without blinking an eye. Greeting her at the bottom border town of Colorado called Trinidad was Kristina, who then began her descent into the night.

Nancy and Kristina’s drive to ride despite her injury is testament to how one individual has the ability to motivate the entire crew to keeping moving on and head toward the half way point of the race in Kansas.

Lighting storms ignited the midnight skies of Kansas as all four-team members charged in three-mile intervals the Great Plains state of Kansas with a 20-mile per hour tail wind assisting them. Despite the ability to use nothing more than her body from the chest up, Kristina took advantage of her aerodynamic trike catching drafts that increased her speed up to 30 miles per hour with occasional minor descents.

As the crimson dawn finally emerged, wind swirled through the rows of wheat fields crackling the grains against each other in the heart of the nations breadbasket.  Huge white turbine driven windmills cranked along the road as the riders battled thirty mile per hour headwind trying to keep up the pace of 15 miles per hour in order to finish the race in time without being disqualified.

Two days earlier in the race a driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and veered of the road to fatally hit a biker outside the half way point of the RAAM journey, checkpoint 25, the small town of Greensberg, Kansas.  Nancy, upon hearing about the tragedy welled up and consoled her husband John as she shared a similar experience losing her son from being hit by a driver 15-year prior.  She then went one to tell us that her personal tragedy was the catalyst behind getting involved with competitive bicycling as a means of cope with her devastating loss.

Despite the barren terrain, the people of Kansas are some of the nicest most generous folks we have had the pleasure of encountering offering us free ice and waters at multiple checkpoints in Kansas upon hearing about our mission with Operation Progress. This is a testament to how Kansas, although divide by the jet stream is united in its intent to help get Operation Progress across the finish line in time.  Please join in your support as we make out way into the “Show Me” state of Missouri.

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