It’s hard to explain what I experienced, what I saw in the Race Across AMerica; but here’s a tale of something I saw in Janet Christiansen, the solo racer I crewed for on the RAAM.
I’ve played with this blog a bit. I hope it still reads well.
Upon a bit of reflection, I realize that what I witnessed in Janet was the ultimate in raw will and determination.
But also something more.
When there was nothing left, there was determination.
And when I say nothing, I mean riding non-stop for days and days and days, and every once in a while you get to stop, and maybe sleep a bit, but mostly, as in 21 hours a day you are riding; that kind of nothing left.
But there was always, the determination, the drive to move forward, even when exhausted beyond compare.
Janet forged ahead.
Mostly, she did not complain, but occasionally had a cursing fit. Interestingly, it has recently been found that cursing can be a type of pain reliever, and she did indeed, go through pain (Endnotes 1, 2).
One rarely comes across this breed of human, for surely no human would put herself through such hardship, such challenge, such pain; and for what?
No, no, wasn’t that. It is, in fact, most probably a lot closer to exactly not that.
What was it that kept her out there?
What gave her the fortitude, the tenacity to move forward through bone-aching exhaustion and pain?
(Will someone please let her get some sleep?)
Stories of the other riders unfold.
So many more of them then you’d think.
Not many women though.
And for these Ultra-endurances-athletes, the ultra-cyclists,
for them the RAAM is the Holy Grail;
for soloists, the end all, be all race.
It is The World’s Toughest Bicycle Race.
Yes, it is.
Really. It is.
Start: Oceanside, California
End: Annapolis, Maryland
And each person’s reason for being there is very different, very interesting. And each rider’s experience was unlike anything else that’s ever happened, even if they’d done the RAAM before.
This is what EPIC means.
There is no prize money to be won, nothing but some chance at doing something very special, something that few have the capability to do. No wait, make that very few.
Janet is a smart individual. She’s a natural born problem solver and practical to the core. She cycled well through the bad weather in New Mexico,
the corn fields Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio,
where rain and thunder and lightning and hail caught up with her in the dead of night.
She’d been asleep for over three hours.
“don’t let her oversleep. She gets three hours a night.…”
“…and hail is the only thing that stops her. Otherwise, she’s on the bike.”
That was the advice I was given.
It was my turn to wake her. I was amazed and delighted when she arose immediately and with purpose. There it was again, that vibe of someone who was about to do something absolutely extraordinary. Without much coaxing, she was out of the van (where she slept), and on her bike.
I was watching her at a time where she had figured out “a system” for herself; she’d found her rhythm. And in the quiet, still, dark, rolling hills of Ohio,
Janet rolls her ride again…and again…and again.
“…cursing may ease pain..”