This year’s Race Across America started in Oceanside CA. with a time trial start each rider was announced then went down a ramp to start the race. I remember standing on that stage with 20+ of the best ultra cyclist in the world thinking I didn’t belong up here, I just Show up and Suffer! We had unofficially named ourselves the Cutters from the movie Breaking away. The Riders from Europe and there crew all had fancy uniforms. Our uniform could only be called Extreme Casual!! I was scared I would fall going down the Ramp!! But Down the Ramp I went and and Suffer I would, over the next 161/2 days till I completed the Worlds Toughest Bike Race! ( 3000 miles with 100,000 feet of climbing.)
The first day went well I hit the 100 mile mark at 7.5 hours felt I was staying within myself. I was now in the Mojave desert with temp. hitting 95 degrees. I picked up a nice tail wind and completed 285 miles in the first day. I slept for about 2 hrs.
The Temperature rose to 107 in the desert on the second day. I had been testing getting more calories in me for this race. But consuming 500 calories an hour caught up to me in the desert. I was nauseous all day. I was going extremely slow and being forced to take lots of breaks to calm the nausea. To this day that whole day is a blur. I can’t remember it!
When I came out of the Desert and into the checkpoint at Congress Arizona. The volunteers looked at me with that look!! I have seen it before they had sorrow in there eyes. They thought I was done! I asked them if I was in last and they said yes. I said how long since second to last left there they said at least 2 hrs ago. They had a waiting pool there that I laid in to cool my core!! I watched as they started cleaning up the aid station. I felt some what refreshed after getting in the pool. I stood up and in the twilight of dark looked up at the Yarnell mountain in front of me with its famously steep 9 mile climb. As I climbed on my bike I saw the surprise in there eyes. As I started to Climb Yarnell grade the last thing I heard was” Go Bill!”
I ended up completing about 185 miles for day 2. Well behind the 250miles I needed to average to make the cutoff. I had put my self in a big hole.
For Day 3 I cut my calories back to 300 an hr. and managed to complete 260 miles. However I was now in the Rockys so I was working extremely hard!! Climbed some really tough Mountains. The climb out of Sedona Az. took 41/2 hrs.
As I went into day 4 I would need a miracle to make cutoff. I had been sleeping about 2 hrs. a day up to this point and was on the bike seat 20hrs. a day. My plan was to try to go 24 hrs. with no sleep and try to pop a huge mileage number. The only problem was I was still in the mountains and I was exhausted!! I could feel I was slowing down!! I was going down a down a slight grade at dusk and felt like I was peddling in mud!! I looked over at Adam in our support van, as I peddled as hard as I could and asked him how fast I was going? He looked at me and told me I was going a solid 10 mph. to try to put a positive spin on it! I knew at that moment there would be no Miracle!! I would not make the cutoff!
I needed to regroup get some sleep and find my Mojo! I slept for 2 hours and would up my daly total sleep up to 31/2 hrs. a day. I felt strong as I Moved into the 1000 mile check point. When It had been obvious we would not make the thousand mile cutoff, the RAAM officials had notified us to take off any signage that said RAAM on it. As we were no longer in race and they didn’t want any liability. I kept my name and number on the van and My WBE sponsor sign but no mention of RAAM. We were truly the Cutters!! When we hit the check point the owner of RAAM was very nice and came over and talked to me with a camera crew and asked if I was going to go on? I said absolutely these cut offs are set up for very Elite Riders. I am just a guy with average talent who doesn’t like to quit! I am not doing this for any medals or to be in any record books. This is my own personal challenge to see if I can complete the World Toughest Bike Race!
I was definitely entering a extended state of delirium. I would typically sleep about 2 hrs. at night usually around 2am or 3am. Sara my crew chief had the unenvious job of waking me. Well one night around day 7 she tried to wake me. I asked her where I was I had no idea. She said “I was in a race” I said ” What Race!!” She looked at me puzzled that I was this out of it!! And said its Called the RAAM!! I then replied” well where is my goat?!”
Another night a few days later. I was again riding down a slight grade in the middle of the night and again had that feeling I was riding in mud!! I again asked Adam how fast I was going? He said a solid 11mph. I said oh no not again. I went and took a 10 min. power nap jumped on the bike and again was told I was still going 11mph. I said I must still be real tired I need to sleep more! Then Adam shined a flashlight on my front tire and told me I had a flat!! I had been riding almost an hour on a front flat tire and hadn’t known it!! Can you say out of it!
The Relay teams started 3 days after the solo riders so as they caught up to me they were very supportive!! One time in particular around the 7 th day really got to me!! I looked up the road and saw a big RV parked on the side of the road. It was probably supporting a 8 man team. As I got closer I watched everyone file out of the RV and stand on the side of the road. They all began to clap for me as I went by. This brought tears to my eyes!!
A heat Wave hit on Day 8 in Kansas that sent the heat index up to as high as 114 degrees. I was not used to this high humidity. It was torturing me!! The Heat wave followed us for 3 days into Missouri. I remember climbing a hill and feeling I was boiling up from the inside out. On the 3rd night of riding in this Heat I hit a big time low It was 2am. and I was still pouring water on my head to cool down. It was still 89 degrees with high humidity!! My mileage that day would dip down to only 160 miles that day! I said I am tired of being boiled please bring on the next torture!
Fortunately the heat wave ended. The next Big low I hit was on the night of Day 14 when I entered the mountains of West Virginia my mileage was slowly dropping every day as my body got more exhausted. I was down to about 150 or so miles a day. The whole state of West Virginia is one big mountain Range. I talked to my sister and told her I was running on fumes with the Mountains of West Virginia ahead of me!! I had been on the Bike riding night and day for over 14 days and 2600 miles. I was the only rider left on the course and I felt cooked!! My sister Karen who had been twittering updates and pictures during the race. She sent out out a request for some motivating tweets and told them I was in a low. Friends and supporters who were following me on twitter and Facebook sent out an overwhelming amount of motivating twitters back! Sara was reading them as I climbed strong all through the night! It was a Huge lift!
Ron an Ironman Triathlete from New York who had been following me on twitter jumped in his car and drove 6 hrs to Annapolis and Started riding The Course backwards. He reached me at 2am. est. and road the last 50 miles with me this also was huge. I knew my family was staying awake waiting for me to finish so I cut my last sleep break in half. We kept talking, this was the only thing that kept me awake. I finished at 6am. Est!
The Cutters had done it! We had finished the Worlds Toughest Bike Race in 16 Days and 15 hrs. I averaged around 185 miles a day on about 3hrs. of sleep per day. I averaged somewhere between 17 and 18 hrs. a day on the Bike seat. Of the 28 Riders who started 13 finished official and I would be one of 2 unofficial finishers!
I want to thank the other Cutters, my Crew for there excellent job they were Amazing! Following me across the Country and supporting me for over 16 days is an Epic Feat!! Sara a Rookie crew chief and masues for me was huge!! Not to mention partime therapist, remember I have issues!! How she held us all together as a team for over 16 Days is an unbelievable feat!
The Cutters on my All Star Crew were Adam, Moon, Ciff, Jim, John and of course Sarah. Impossible to make it without you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for staying with so long to see this through! The Cutters Rock!
Thanks to my family and WBE for there HUGE unwavering support!
And Thank you for your support!!
P.S.: To keep my butt in check I road 3 bikes with three different seats. I would ride one bike till my butt was killing me then shift to the next bike. I also used almost one jar of Assos Lube a day! The Cutter motto was never pass up a chance to Lube!