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Chris Benchetler getting it good. photo - Peter Morning
Team Clif Bar Blog
Jun 14, 2006
Following Kenny Souza on RAAM, Day 3

Kenny riding through the desertKenny emerges from a short rest in the early morning of the third day of Race Across America (RAAM). Not dawn mind you, but still early. After riding through most of the night and arriving in Mexican Hat, UT at 4 A.M. I suppose a few hours of sleep is deserved. At the end of Day 2, I wished for a good third day for Kenny. In all honesty, he wasn’t to have a stellar day.

Kenny takes off and gets the legs moving while the crew takes care of his every need. They feed him, pump up the tires, maintain bikes, apply sunscreen, and provide encouragement. Encouragement is arguably the most important ingredient to a successful RAAM. Much of the encouragement is provided by Kenny’s son Dalton. He spends a good bit of the day barking kind words into the PA system mounted on the follow van. "C’mon Dad, keep going, you’re almost to the top," he shouts. Dalton is a chip off the ol’ block, I dare say, as he possesses many of Kenny’s best qualities, not the least of which is that he’s a tremendous athlete.

Kenny looks good for the first few hours of the day. He covers ground reasonably well, and holds his position in the race. I leapfrog around Kenny capturing photos as he passes by. The scenery in the South West is splendid and the morning light provides the perfect color palette for the expansive, if somewhat daunting, terrain (at least to the cyclist). I try to capture that feeling in the day’s photographs.

At mid-day, I take a break to find a computer connection to download images and send out updates. Mid-day light isn’t usually the best for photography anyway. The nice thing about RAAM, from a photographer’s perspective, is that we get to shoot in both early morning and evening in the best light if we choose to do so.

When I meet up with Kenny and the crew again, it’s late afternoon in Cortez, CO. Kenny is en route to Durango, CO, and has 50 miles to go, but there seems to be trouble in paradise. Kenny is’nt feeling well. His "behind" is hurting and the dry throat that plagued him on the first two days has gotten worse. There’s no more power in the legs. Kenny seems clumsy at the rest stop while walking. While it looks grim, it isn’t unusual for RAAM competitors to go through this with unfortunate frequency.

Ned to the rescue!Kenny struggles to make it to Durango. He’s slowed but somehow still turns the pedals over and finally makes it. It’s hard to watch him. I wish I could help in some way but I can’t. However, Ned Overend can. Ned is a Mt. Biking legend who lives in Durango. He’s a friend of Kenny’s and has heard that Kenny’s rolling into town. Ned meets Kenny a number of miles out of town and rides in with him. This gives Kenny the motivation to finish strong and get himself to Durango.

The Enduro division, in which Kenny’s racing, requires a mandatory two-hour stop in Durango. Kenny takes the two hours and has a massage therapist tend to him in the mobile home. But after the two hours have passed, Kenny tells his son Dalton and Crew Chief Gretchen that he’s in no shape to ride a bike. The decision is made to get a hotel and put Kenny down for about 7 hours. While he’ll fall behind a bit in the race, this is the only way that he’ll get back on track. Sending him out into the night on a death march would be dangerous...and cruel. I wish a good recovery for Kenny and a strong Day 4 where he’ll attack Wolf Creek Pass west of Pagosa Springs, CO.

I’ll keep ya posted. Out…

For more photos from Kenny’s race, check out

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