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Taos, New Mexico, 6/11, 17:45EST

Yesterday evening when I arrived at the Pagosa Springs Time Station, I was fortunate to find the women’s solo leader Janet Christiansen just as she was preparing to leave. I hadn’t seen her since Monday and she’s noticeably more tan than she was, “Just say that you found me being tan and healthy!” she said with a hearty laugh. A joke and a smile are typical of her. She always has something to say, even when I’m just hanging out of our media vehicle to snap a photo.

I asked how her day had gone and she replied, “I can’t use bad language, so---it really beat me up. Yesterday was easy because we had tailwind. But today beat the daylights out of me. That hard climb into Cortez, then I got a stomach ache and couldn’t eat for awhile. Then we got the headwinds, whee! Then we got the heat. I just almost expired where they were doing road construction in Durango just past the Time Station. I had to stop, but finally got going again but had to pedal with barely any effort. I got this big big night tonight. I’ve got to try to cover like 120 hilly miles and I’m not sure how that’s going to go.”

Her last sleep was yesterday morning, “I got three hours,” she said with a blissful smile, “I felt like I overslept!” She added that she planned to get an hour more sleep sometime during the night, “But I think it best to try to sleep during the hot, nasty, windy part of the day. You can’t ride hard when it’s that hot. Your body just tells you ‘no, I’m not doing this any more.’ I saw Jure (Robic) go by and I understand that he resting now (Tuesday evening) and I wonder 'Why is he resting now? 'Why isn’t he resting in the hot part of the day? Now when it’s cool, this is the time to kick it in and get going!”

A minute later she clicked in to her pedals to head toward Chama, New Mexico, but not before her crew showed her their latest “art.”
INSERT PHOTO: [RideJanetRide]
Janet Christiansen’s crew does what they can to keep her spirits up—like having fun with the dry-erase board.

I stayed over night in Pagosa Springs—unlike RAAM racers, RAAM media crew members like to get five or six hours of sleep here and there. I caught up to her again late this morning between Antonia, Colorado and Taos New Mexico. The wind was absolutely howling across the high plains. As I pulled alongside she waved toward the open plains and said (laughing of course) “What a great place! I want to build my second home out there…and my third and my fourth!”

Janet Christiansen gestures to the open high prairie where she joked that she want to build a home…or two.

I jetted ahead of her to a turnout and jumped out to get another shot. As she approached I could see her crew holding out the dry erase board, which displayed their latest message. “1000 miles complete, what a feat!”

That’s right. I happened to find her just as she was reaching her first thousand miles. And yes, what a feat. Many RAAM riders have reached that milestone over the years. But few have done it with as many smiles and laughs as Janet Christiansen. Let’s hope that she can keep her legs and her smile for another two thousand miles.
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