RTL: Qualifying attempt story JIM SOWERS, Team Yam! Power, part 1

heather rachel Asley jim Yam Power!
That’s Jim Sowers on the far right with team mates (l-r) Heather Noone, support, Rachel Kalmar, and Ashley Foster, at the end of RTL, June 19, 2008. Photo: tholub
In his blog, Jim wrote:
" By late summer (2007), there was a buzz about RTL, people were starting to form teams, and thankfully for the East Bay riders, Tom Holub decided to enter RTL. I say “thankfully” because Tom is the guy who organizes most of the East Bay unicycle events–the Berkeley Juggling & Unicycle Festival, weekly unicycle basketball, and MUni rides all over the place. This is why I call him “the Hub”.

1st Attempt

So, in the Fall, Tom organized a number of training rides which were to be topped off with a Friday-Saturday set of rides, right after Thanksgiving, which would serve to qualify the participants for the RTL., and to burn off some turkey and stuffing. I took part in a couple of the training rides, but needed to be out of town when they were doing the actual qualifier. My dad had knee replacement surgery and I stayed with him for a couple of weeks during his recovery.

By the time Tom and friends were doing the qualifier, my Dad had been out of the hospital for over a week, and I could leave him alone during the day. Thus, on Sat., the day Tom was doing the 2nd day of the qualifier, I decided to go on a ride from my Dad’s house (Laguna Niguel) to Newport Beach. Along the way, I got the idea that I could do my qualifier that day and the next.

I learned a few things during that day: it is a lot more fun to ride with some friends, and start early! I got home that night and I was beat. I had a cramp that I developed taking part in a charity Unicycle-a-thon a few days earlier (which involved riding around a track as fast as I could for an hour). The scene at my Dad’s condo was comedic. He was stretched out on the couch with his left leg swollen and in a compression stocking, and me on the floor in agony. Someone knocked on the door, and I literally could not get up; I managed to get on my hands and knees and started to crawl, but my Dad was now up on his walker with wheels and beat me to the door.

Finally, I got on Google and mapped my route Google Maps to calculate distance. Then I plugged those numbers into the RTL calculator along with the adjustments for night-time riding and my estimate of the ascent and descent of the ride. It turned out to be 126 — just one point over the minimum, and with very little carryover.

I was disappointed because I was really hoping to be well over the minimum to make the next day a little easier. Nevertheless, I planned to go for it the next day and get my qualifying done. When I got out of bed the next morning, however, my legs sent me a message: “It ain’t happening today!”