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I Love the smell of Monument Valley in the morning
Rider or Figurehead?
Game On
T minus 22 Hours 30 minutes
Close Call
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Lou's Blog: Transplant Athlete

. . . Tuesday, July 05, 2005 . . .

I Love the smell of Monument Valley in the morning
Posted 7/05/2005 03:38:00 PM EST by Lou Lamoureux

Somewhere in AZ, after my pull, I fell asleep on the couch in the RV. They had just started to make pasta and chicken. I woke up what felt like hours later, the RV was quiet and dark, Catherine was the only one up. I hadn't eaten after my pull and I was seriously jonesin' for some food. I walked out to the gas station we were parked at and bought some muffins. There was a huge McDonald's sign out front and the clerk told me that the McD's was 1/4 mile down the road.

I felt like I had burned 20,000 calories, but had only replaced 2000, so I started walking (my bikes were on the follow vehicles and the spare bikes were locked to the back of the RV). If I had been thinking clearly, I would have woken up a crewmember and asked for food, but I was seriously bonking. The walk was more than a 1/4 mile, and I saw lots of stray dogs wandering around. I ordered 2 quarter pounders and some fries. I figured there was lots of salt, fat, and protein in them. I was a bit wary walking around with a half pound of beef and so many dogs, but as I got back to the RV, I could see that it was ready to roll. I'm not sure what they thought when they realized I was gone, but Bill said they made it sound like I just got pissed and walked off. If I had been thinking clearly, I might have left a note.

So, while I was having issues getting enough calories in, another rider was having his own problems getting sleep in the RV. For the past couple of pulls, Martin had been unable to sleep during his rest break. The RV was too hot, or noisy, or got to the point where he desperately wanted to get a hotel room.

I think Bruce and I started our pull somewhere between Tuba City and Kayenta, Arizona. Bruce says we started at Midnight which means Tuba City. Martin and Bill were coming off of a long pull. My first quarter pounder was digested and I was riding well when we got to Kayenta. I had the pleasure of riding into Monument valley at sunrise. There were monuments on either side of the road like giant sentinels. I got into a good tuck to pick up some speed and Jacques felt I was a bit skittish on the road. We started to reel in larger teams though (6 and 8 person teams).

When we got to Mexican Hat, Martin our former Army Ranger had gotten less than 1 hour of sleep and he had warned me the night before that if he didn't get any sleep, he wouldn't be able to continue today. So I told him to go back to the hotel and sleep, Bruce and I would take another pull. Bill (our Navy Veteran) jumped in the van ready to go. We decided to do a three man rotation until Martin joined us. I was under the impression, that it would just be to the next time station, that would give Martin at least another hour and a half to sleep before he had to jump in the van and get shuttled up(it would take us about 2.5 hours to get to Aneth). The time station at Aneth, Ut came and went and no Martin. We gradually shortened our pulls to 20 minutes because the day was really heating up. We had no choice but to press on to Cortez, CO in the three man rotation. By Cortez, Colorado (another 3 hours down the road) Bruce and I had pushed to the point where we were pretty tired and would need some recovery time. Bill had been out for nearly his full pull, so theoretically, we should have been relieving him within an hour. And Martin was still AWOL.

At Cortez, Bruce made the decision to drop me at the RV for sleep and food, this was after about 12 hours on the bike. It was around 2pm when we got word that Martin was nearly in Cortez. Martin showed up at Cortez and then went off to join the rotation. Bruce stayed in the minivan and they dropped him off in Durango. He had spent nearly 14 hours in the rotation. Martin claimed to have only gotten an hour of sleep on top of the first 40 minutes. I then started using that as a running joke, "I can't sleep, can we get a hotel room?" The reality was, I was sleeping very well on the RV couch, in fact, Mike

had to drop a bag on my head to get me to wake up. That's Mike on the right. If you see him on the street, buy him a Red Bull or hit him over the head with a suitcase, whatever strikes your fancy.

In Durango, Bruce's friend Sheila was genereous enough to give us a place to shower. I've been fighting a cold since a couple of days before RAAM, and now its a full blown sore throat and hacking cough. Sheila made me some tea. We likes Sheila, don'ts we preciousss. Golum, golum.

. . . Tuesday, June 21, 2005 . . .

Rider or Figurehead?
Posted 6/21/2005 08:54:00 AM EST by Lou Lamoureux

I was shuttled to Time Station #2, Bruce, Martin, and Bill had been in a three man rotation for over 120 miles. They had had gone off route for around 5 miles and at some point had gotten a flat. They were out there a long time. I was fresh and ready to go and I was waiting. The guys pulled into the time station and spent nearly 10 minutes putting lights on their bikes. For that 10 minutes we lost ground to the other teams. I was ready to go, I had lights on my bike and I was fresh. My biggest fear before RAAM was that I would get shuttled from time station to time station across the country, that I was just along for the publicity. It even seemed like that was really happening when we got word from Bruce that I would be shuttling up to Time Station #3 (another 40 miles down the road).

I'm a team player, so I did what I was told. we then settled into our 4 hour pulls.

Game On
Posted 6/21/2005 08:49:00 AM EST by Lou Lamoureux

Did I mention I got carded buying Playboy at the Dulles Airport ... I must have repeated myself three times, "You're carding me for Playboy?" First of all, its Playboy people, not a bottle of Absolut, or a pack of Marlboros, or even Naughty Asian Sluts. Do they even have nude layouts in Playboy anymore, I think MAXIM is probably more hardcore than Playboy is these days. Second, while this is tuff for me to admit, I don't look 17. And Finally to set the record straight, Yes, I did buy this for the Lance Article.

A big thanks goes out to Ye Olde Bike Shop on University Ave near La Mesa. They hooked us up with some small parts we couldn't find at other bike shops and they even handed over a slightly used front derailleur that is working out great on our backup bike.

The race organizers are only letting 1 person per team ride on the parade route, a 13 mile stretch through the streets of San Diego ending at a Jack In The Box. I will be representing Team Give Life, riding with Team Donate Life, and a few other transplant athletes that have gotten permission to join us for the parade route. Bruce will take over at the Jack In The Box.

Gentleman Start your Engines
The start line was packed with riders and spectators, the riders were chomping at the bit to get going and I'm sure the spectators were wondering what we were thinking riding our bikes across the country. We rode along the parade route at a leisurely pace. A rider got a flat within the first half mile or so. Another rider turned to me and said, "that's kind of a bad omen." I looked up and said, "Not as bad as you think, we're right in front of Dirty Dan's Topless Bar."

I chatted with a guy who's father started the Saturn National Donor Days. I also rode with Jason from Team Donate Life. The weather is spectacular and the parade route was relatively flat up to the Official Race Start. Bruce took over according to plan and I jumped into the Jet Truck. Chris and Xuan (Swan) shuttled me up to Time Station 2. We stopped near El Centro to use a rest stop. When my buddy Bill Wohl told me that if I wanted to get acclimated to the heat I should stick my head in a pizza oven, I thought he was just making a joke, until that rest stop. Ohmigod, its hot.

. . . Monday, June 20, 2005 . . .

T minus 22 Hours 30 minutes
Posted 6/20/2005 05:58:00 PM EST by Lou Lamoureux

A big thanks to the Redfields - Will, Michelle, Jared, Andrew and Annie for putting us up in San Diego. They have graciously opened up their beautiful home in the hills of La Mesa to nearly a dozen strangers.

We've registered and we had our video interviews today. They asked me to take my glasses off so they wouldn't reflect the lights, which scared me...I like to look people in the eye when I'm talking with them and without my glasses I tend to squint, which doesn't look very good on TV. I think I got the message down on tape, whether or not they use it is another story.

There is less than 23 hours to the race start and after the video interviews I was a bit amped up and that started getting me worried. Spending the rest of the day on the edge is a bit rough on the system and would leave me cooked by tomorrow. That's when GG showed up. He was on a mission travelling the country to tell 200 people a day that they were welcome in Jesus Christ's Kingdom. Something about him calmed me down. He handed me a sheet that had this written on it:

Today and Tomorrow:
I will be positive in all my thoughts. I will be a blessing to all those I encounter. I will walk in integrity and honor. I will be creative and dynamic in my work. I will concentrate on solutions not problems. I will be thankful for all that I do have. I will act on decisions that I have made. I will smile more than I did yesterday. I will think about my daily vitamin. In Jesus Christ's name

Regardless of your religious preferences, that strikes a cord. I remember feeling so blessed after my transplant and I remember during a bicycle trip across the country in 2001 with PACTour frequently just looking out over the landscape and feeling blessed to be able to see such magnificence. GG's note reminded me how lucky I was to be here.

. . . Thursday, June 16, 2005 . . .

Close Call
Posted 6/16/2005 08:42:00 AM EST by Lou Lamoureux

I went for a 6 hour ride today. I was just noodling around, nothing serious. I went up to La Mesa, where Bill's cousin will be putting us up for the weekend. That's a great ride up into the hills. I then rode down University into the Downtown area and scoped out the restaurants. I found a great sub shop (Grab N Go). After Lunch, I went up towards Mission Beach and got pretty lost, so I decided to head back to the hotel.

On my way past the Airport, I was cruising in the aero bars at 25 mph when a BLUE Van coming in the opposite direction decided he/she/it could make a left hand turn in front of me. For those who don't know, it takes a couple of seconds to get out of the aero bars and grab the brakes. I slammed on the brakes and locked up the rear wheel. I saw that BLUE sheet metal getting closer and closer and I braced for impact. I shed enough momentum that I could steer around the back of the van. Time to change the shorts. I spent the next 15 minutes shaking and wondering how I missed the van.

I read this month's issue of Outside Magazine on the plane and it has a look at the "up and coming" US racers. Craig Lewis is supposed to be the next Lance and during the TT stage of the Tour de Georgia, he was in the aerobars and cruising at 40 mph when a 65 year old retiree pulled his SUV into Craig's path. When he woke up at the hospital, his first question, scribbled onto a pad was "When ride?" Lance himself has been hit by cars 6 times. So, with all of these close calls, I'm starting to get the feeling that my number is coming up soon. BTW The RAAM start line is set up.

P.S. Papa Johns won't deliver to this hotel, yet another reason why this hotel sucks.

. . . Wednesday, June 15, 2005 . . .

Welcome to San Diego
Posted 6/15/2005 08:39:00 AM EST by Lou Lamoureux

I arrived in San Diego nearly a week early for RAAM. I was severely disappointed with my hotel. Orbitz said the hotel would have a courtesy shuttle, AM/FM Clock Radio(what time is it here?), Courtesy car (haha), Business Center (no internet access for me), free local calls (they hit me up for a buck fifty when I checked out), and a coffee maker in the room. NOT! And Oh Yeah, Its in the hood, right alongside Rte 5. What a BAIT AND SWITCH. I could have been at a Days Inn with a pool. Thank God they had the complimentary breakfast (not that it was that great). I would have been really pissed. Once you factor in the shuttle cost (They raped me, I would have been better off taking a cab or renting a car), my hotel price jumped nearly $10 per night. Its an America's Best Inn at 1801 Logan Ave, San Diego, but it seems to be also branded as an Econolodge. Do Not Stay Here.

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