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June 29, 2010 / teamoperationprogress

RAAM Day 6 “Storms”- Crossing the Mississippi River

Day 6 Crossing the Mississippi/Rider’s on the Storm

The smell of  midwest smoke pit barbeque fills the mid morning air as the riders all fantasize about a normal meal rather than their Endurolite drinks and APEX bars that have become the norm for their road chow.  Grandma’s wave us on while cutting three foot high switch grass on their tractor mowers as we drive by.  Team OP  & Crew meet in a parking lot at 12:00pm, two and a half hours before the cutoff for the Mississsipi River and we all rejoice at the fact that they have made it 4 hours before the cut off for the second and final checkpoint before the finish line in Annapolis. Parading across the rust colored mighty suspention bridge with the mighty Mississippi River beneath them, all the riders feel a great deal of accomplishment and confidence that they can finish this race within the time required.

RAAM has funny way of putting the ego in check as soon as rider thinks they have beaten the course.  With all four rider in rotation through the afternoon a snafu occurs.  Kristina’s wheel chair flies off the roof of the Toyota Sienna after a bungey cord holding it down snaps.  The look of dejection on her face was heartbreaking. One comment she made was that is was like loosing her legs.  Luckily, her crew was able to bend the wheel back in place and get the chair to at least roll around although wobbly.   As night fell the corn and soy fields we illuminated by dancing fireflies and the fog rolled in as baby frogs hopped across the marshy bayou.  Thunder crackled in the distance and the only three riders on the course were Nancy, Mark and Kristina.  At 2:00 am a huge thunderstorm starting dumping on the highway and forced the riders into their car for 30 minutes.  Once the severe lightening passed, the three riders rode strong, as needle like rain drops pelted at them.

Morning broke and a tree that has fallen down in the middle he road backed up traffic and delaying the team for 20 minutes.  The storm lifted and all three member looked to Fran to ride two-hour shift while they rested.  Fran has not rebounded from her earlier incident and can only do one-hour shifts. The crew chief Joe Meyer began to question whether the team could make it to the Annapolis finish line before the official cut off time.

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