Day 2 of the race started much earlier than day 1. It also started with a little surprise. I woke up, got dressed in my tent, got things organized in my bag and then got up. Once I was up and got my teeth brushed, I saw a familiar person walking up. I finally realized it was my old co-worker and friend Shannon! She was supposed to get there the night before but it had rained and I went to bed early and with the lack of service, I hadn’t heard from her. I found out that they had got in really late because the 3 hour drive from Denver for them had turned into a much longer time due to a rockfall on the highway.
I was able to visit with Shannon for only a short time until we had to load the buses at around 9 am. The bus was going to take us up the mountain to the new starting line for the day.
The ride up was not scary at all to me. It reminded me of my sister’s old driveway in Colorado or the many roads we had gone up on my visits there. Pikes Peak roadway up was much worse than this one, but there were people on the bus that were totally frightened. I’m not picking on them or judging them in any way here, because we were up high and being on a bus made your field of vision over the cliff that much better, or scarier, depending on who is telling the story.
Once we got unloaded my team got ready to go. As we came in last place the day before we would be the first team to go. Before they started us off Billy, the man who planned the race trails, told me that today was for me. I didn’t fully understand exactly what he meant, but I knew I was gonna have more fun because we were going downhill at the start.
Once we started it was on! There were a few areas in which I had to be hooked up because I needed their help by being towed a little, but for the most part, I was hauling butt! That part didn’t take a whole lot of physical effort, but it took mental focus. I couldn’t allow myself to get going too fast or I would slide when trying to break around the switchback curves. I had to focus on the flatter parts of the road and stay on those areas, and I definitely had to keep my mind from wandering what it would be like to lose control and fly over the edge. One thing I’m thankful that I did was to look up from time and time, and take in the view from the top of that mountain.
Once we got down the mountain we arrived at one of the hardest things we would face. An uphill trail that was the steeper than anything we would come across in this race. There was a rope that the person in front had to use to hold on. We decided Lindsay was the best person for that job. She was out front, with my bike tied around her waist. My other teammates were behind me pushing my handcycle, while I was cycling to the best of my ability. This was probably one of the scarier moments for me. The chances of me tipping were quite high and the chances of all of us tumbling backward was pretty high too. Teamwork, mental focus, and motivation from each and every one of us successfully got us up that trail. And the feeling of accomplishment was one I don’t think any of us will forget.
From there we went back to some trails. These were kinda rough and fun for me to maneuver. Quite a learning experience for me with the handcycle. I was finally starting to feel really comfortable in my new toy! That trail led us back to a road. It was a gravel road, but somewhat back to what felt like a little of civilization. At the mouth of the trail to the road, it was a bit rough and that was the part that I almost tipped over. I was able to catch myself and my teammates quickly ran to my aid to sit me backup right! I remember being a little bit scared the second time I tried to go up, but a little focus went a long way out there. Once we did it successfully the fear disappeared and the confidence came back!
But, it was then my handcycle started having issues. My chain had come off. Thankfully, the mechanic was right there because this was a checkpoint where they had water and what not if we needed to refill. He came right over and got me back in working order. So off we went. Down the road on our way to the river.
Not far down the road, my chain came loose again. We flagged down a car and told them to send help once they passed our people. Tex, the cycle mechanic, got there right away. This time it took a little longer to fix but he got me going again. They followed us down the road to make sure it kept working until we got back onto a trail that led us to the river.
When we made it to the river we had to split up. Two members, Whitney and Loretta, hiked to the Argentine Trail, while Erika, Lindsay and I rafted down the river to a sandbar where we would pick them up.
After we picked them up on we rowed to where the zip-line, rock climbing, and repelling would take place. The zip-ling was what I was most excited about and getting to see the others repel. Once we got there, the hike up the cliff I was repelling from was very steep and scary for me. Erika ended up putting me on her back because it was too steep and narrow for them to two-man carry me. And I was a little to shocked once I got in the harness I was a little bit scared! As soon as he let me go it was fun as could be. I went much slower than I thought I would. What a cool view that was to have of the river!
From there we rowed and rowed and some more. I had this pain that started in my elbow and every single time I rowed I felt it. I had to take a pause and skip a row every now again when I felt the tears coming. I short little break and then back at it. On the raft is where my favorite thing happened. It was a few moments of highs and lows, but it was most likely the funniest thing I have ever experienced. I sure hope I can make it as funny as it really was with using written words. I much rather tell this story while speaking. But, I’ll do my best.
So, we are rowing down the Colorado River nearing the end of the whole race when Erica realizes, she doesn’t have her pack. Like any human would she begins to panic. We all start looking on the raft and Loretta is certain she had it. She was saying how she remembered Erica giving it to her when I had to get on Erica’s back when she carried me up that steep mountain. Erica said something about her phone and how her boyfriend was going to kill her! I said, if your boyfriend is mad over a phone that we refused to raft up river to turn around and go get you need to find a new boyfriend! (This is a part of the story that is just funny, no judgment on the boyfriend, he is really a nice guy!) Erica really did want to turn around and go back upstream to look for this bag, but in reality, we all knew if it was left behind one of the volunteers there would grab it. This pack was not going to be lost for long so the rest of the team a big no on turning around. Erica was not happy, and I don’t blame her because I would have been upset too. So we all just got quiet and continued rowing and gave her some time to simmer down.
A few minutes later Whitney tells Loretta if she could lean forward more she would stop hitting her in the back when she rowed. That’s when it hit Whitney. She shared her discovery when she said something along the lines of, “Guys, I love delivering good news”. I was thinking she was about to tell us we were almost to our next trail because I was ready to get off the awkwardness of the boat but instead she says, “Erica, you know that pack you are upset about, Loretta is wearing it!”. We all completely DIE in laughter, but not Loretta. Loretta is mad and yells, “Someone told me they didn’t have names on them and I could put any of them on!” Now, this was true. Loretta did have that conversation with me about the life vest. Loretta was thinking she had Erica’s life vest and still had no idea Erica’s bag was found. So I quickly corrected her. I told her, “Loretta, that was the life vest, but you know that bag Erica was just pissed off about? You’re wearing it!”. Loretta burst out into the best sound of laughter and yelled, “That is the funniest shit ever!”. It really was. It really was the funniest thing ever. We thought Lindsay’s GoPro had caught it and oh I wish it had.
We were one of the teams that struggled the most, but we kept the best attitudes. and this was one time that it really could have went south, but in the end, we all got the best laughter ever. That will always be one of my most favorite stories to tell and I think I will laugh every single time I tell it. I completely just laughed while I typed it sitting here at home alone!
Once we got to the trail we had yet another steep slope to ascend. That’s the one that got my bike. I broke my chains. Thank goodness there were volunteers there to help. And the came Jon. He rode his bike to help push me along. We didn’t have much further uphill and the finish line was downhill. We had to all make it to that finish line together.
And we did. Whitney had Pink playing on our last little march down the mountain. Lindsay was out front leading the way. Everyone was there to great us back right there at the finish line. What an amazing feeling that was. Let me take the time to remind yall here, I have never done any type of race what-so-ever. I picked the hardest one for my first one and oh how good I felt that I didn’t give up.
What an absolute experience. I was so excited to be done and now to spend some time with all these awesome people. I looked forward to hearing the adventures of everyone else as well. Lindsay and I didn’t waste any time. We got right to the celebrating.
What an experience of a lifetime. World Team Sports is truly made of some of the most awesome people on the planet and I am so very thankful I was introduced to such an organization. I also have to thank everyone that donated to help me to go. Thank you to my friends and family for donations and to SOAR and my mom and dad for being sure I had all the equipment and clothing I needed! Definitely most importantly, thank you to my teammates for being awesome!
I can’t wait for next year!