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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Brawley, CA. 00:35EST

Night has fallen and as the three solos on course edge toward Arizona they’re riding with lights. It’s still warm for night-time, but not as stifling as some years. The two women and one man underway in this 27th edition of RAAM have so far enjoyed cooler conditions than in recent years with temperatures in the Borrego Desert being merely in the 80’s instead of the 90s and 100+ mercury readings so common for June.

Janet Christiansen is currently out front, a position she’s held since about Ramona, 30 or so miles into the race. By the Lake Henshaw time station at mile 58 she held a ten minute advantage over Caroline Van de Bulk, with Richard Rupp pulling in at the same time as Van de Bulk.

In the miles before that station riders and crew were curious about the huge presence of local sheriff vehicles traveling in caravans of three to five squad cars. “Are they doing a disaster training, or something?” one crew member inquired. Not quite. As it turns out an outlaw motorcycle gang is having its annual “social gathering” at a campground just west of Lake Henshaw, a gathering that in previous years has been violent.

From Lake Henshaw the course climbs over a 4200’ ridge before plunging down to the desert below. Smooth pavement and wide sweeping turns inspired Van de Bulk to let out a hearty “woo whoo” as she passed your roving reporter. Who says RAAM is all suffering? Meanwhile 47 year old Christiansen held position, stretching her lead out to twenty minutes by Borrego Springs, spurred on in part by the green stuffed iguana she has perched on her handlebar stem. Like I said about RAAM and suffering. Although I must say that as the sun set and she switched bikes I was disappointed to see that her second bike was sans reptile. Come on crew, would it have been so hard to get one for each bike?

Here in Brawley Van de Bulk has just ridden past, nearly 45 minutes behind Christiansen. Hopefully Rupp will be along soon too.

I’m going to head up the road to get some night photos of the two women and then bed down for a few hours of shut-eye. By first light I’ll be up and at it again and will no doubt have to chase down the riders. Hopefully as the days go by I’ll be able to convey to you readers how grueling it is just to be a RAAM reporter. But the sheer physical torture that these riders endure, I’m not sure there are words that could ever communicate that.

No stopping for Janet Christiansen at this time station. She just grabbed a bottle and kept on rolling.

Carline Van de Bulk and Richard Rupp pulled in to the Lake Henshaw time station just seconds apart.

Carline Van de Bulk enjoys a hard-earned descent as she drops into Borrego Springs.
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