Brian recaps his recent adventures of RAAM and racing his bike for 6 days and 22hrs straight

#8 Was it fun?

Type I Fun: Something that is supposed to be fun that actually is fun while doing it. Examples: MTB ride, 5k with friends or sitting on the beach.

Type II Fun: Something that should be fun, but is not fun until later when it is over. At that point, it is remembered fondly as “fun”. Examples: marathons, high-altitude climbing, Ironman triathlons, bike touring sometimes etc.

Type III Fun: Something that should have been Type I or Type II fun but is not fun during the experience and is never remembered as fun. It might even make one queasy just remembering it.  Example: TBD.

I’m not going to lie. I thought I found Type III fun.  I was standing on the side of the road outside Pagosa Springs on the lower flanks of Wolf Creek Pass puking and I was thinking to myself that this was zero fun.

I was doing Race Across America as a 4-person team with my wife Carrie Ward, and friends Mike Bishop and Aaron Bishop. It started well with Mike and Aaron climbing through the California coast range and I dropped down the Glass Elevator into the blast furnace oven of the California desert. Carrie and I did long hot block through the California desert with a short break where Mike and Aaron took over before a long hot block in 121oF Arizona hills. I was in trouble. We were not even 24 hours in and I was already throwing up and struggling to eat.  I had trained well, I was fit and I was mentally prepared, but the long pulls in the heat had sent my body sideways with my mind right on its heels.

As I stood on the side of the Colorado road waiting for what felt like my execution, I was giving myself a you-have-got-to-get-it-together pep talk, but I was starting to doubt my ability to finish. I got in a couple short pulls on the 10,000 ft. Wolf Creek pass, but at some point Carrie and our sympathetic crew (my sister Andi and her husband Scott) decided that Carrie was riding well and was going to finish the climb and I would ride the descent. As Carrie pounded out essentially the whole climb, the Leap van buzzed to the top and I put on all the clothes for the chilly descent.

I shivered the whole way down but as we dropped massive elevation in long sweeping, glorious turns I realized that the heat had broken.  I got hope that I could get back on track. After the descent, we ate and took a short 2-hour nap while Aaron and Mike rode. I awoke as a new man.

In the wee hours of the morning, we were back on the bikes. We railed the 10,000 ft. Cuchara Pass and descent and quickly switched to time trialing across eastern Colorado. Swapping blocks with Aaron and Mike, we morphed into blazing across all of Kansas. It was still hot, but with a cross tailwind and the combination of an Ares6 front and Disc rear, it was low altitude flying. What was that feeling? Type I fun? Whoa! From there we seamlessly shifted to rallying through the traffic, crap gutters and gravely shoulders of Illinois and Indiana. It was the kind of riding we would normally complain about, but we were having fun. Type I fun.

By the time we hit Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland we were in a rhythm. Mike and Aaron drew the short straw and got the busy narrow roads while Carrie and I garnered the climb of the race leaving Grafton, WV for Ft. McHenry, MD. Somewhere along there crew member, Jason, pointed out that we were going to be done around noon on Saturday. That was a good feeling.

The hard part of cataloging fun is that Type II fun has a way of being remembered as Type I fun – fun all along.  RAAM might be one of the only events long enough that something that was firmly Type II fun can change into Type I fun before the race ends.

We’re still on the lookout for Type III fun. Considering Comrades ultramarathon with the Bishops next year. That could be fun. 

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