Earlier today Tom and James passed this incredible milestone. The crew on the road were suffering from a lack of phone signal, so reports were coming through in fits and starts.
Word had come through on Sunday morning that Tom wasn’t feeling too good – the guys had been battering through the desert and hadn’t been putting in as much calories as they were burning off – however, we had only started to worry when this shot came through of him back on the bike
As the miles piled up and the tiredness started to take its toll it was quickly apparent that even the humungous truck’s two back seats folded down didn’t give enough room for a knackered cyclist to stretch out, so the crew improvised, with Fi sitting on the folded up front seat like a kid at the Christmas dinner table
Monday morning broke with the boys still in the desert, grinding out a steady pace as can be seen here from the follow vehicle
Having passed from Arizona into (briefly) Utah
and Colorado, Tuesday morning broke with some epic shots coming through of monument valley
As Tuesday morning drew on the Rockies could be seen looming in the distance, with both riders pushing on hard towards the major checkpoint at Durango
early in the evening of Tuesday, word came through that Tom was off the bike again – it turns out he had been fighting off a viral infection for the past few days, which explained his on-and-off illness. Crew doctor Gan prescribed paracetamol and rest. Which left James out on the bike to climb WolfCreek pass…
… Which he did 🙂 AND SOME
And for those of you who think he must’ve just jumped straight into the follow vehicle like a sensible person – oh no. Not James Harvey.
If you missed the start you can catch up with it again here.
SO! they’re off then! After a calm couple of hours hanging round a parking lot and dipping their toes in the pacific the boys started the race at roughly 8:06pm (UK) time Saturday night. Fiona was there to capture the start on Facebook live – check out the video here if you haven’t seen it (the quality is better than when it was live!)
After the 23mile unsupported section out of Oceanside, they took 1 hour pulls each up the coastal range with James taking the infamous glass elevator calmly in his stride
Once into the desert, the boys switched to taking short 15 minute pulls each to minimize the effects of the heat and were looking strong as night drew in and the temperature began to fall.
One of the first major challenges for Tom and James is the descent into the desert at Borrego Springs on day 1 – just 70 miles or so into the event. Known as the “glass elevator” teams drop 3600 feet in 9.5 miles reaching speeds of over 50mph as the temperature soars to 45 degrees on the desert floor. Coming so early in the race there is a saying amongst racers that while you “wont win RAAM on the glass elevator, you can sure as hell lose it there” as Stefan Schlegel famously nearly found out in 2014 when a puncture sent him hurtling into the guardrail.
Tom and James went out to recce the route yesterday and sent back some truly amazing footage.
The boys discuss their test ride down the mountain here.
want to hear what a carbon race bike doing 47mph on the flat sounds like?
Stocking up on final last minute supplies for RAAM, Tom and James visited a military surplus store (which I have to say kinda reminds me of a certain store in a certain movie)
– so what did they bring back? Camo gear? Karabiners? Shock cord? All of these are important for survival on the road, but I’ll let the guys tell you themselves…