RAAM is full of beautiful scenery, and I know there’s lots of competition up ahead, but for now I’m thinking the stretch of road between time stations 7 and 9 in Arizona might just be the prettiest place we’re going to see. It covers Prescott through Flagstaff and includes the amazing Mingus Mountain descent, the little town of Jerome perched right on the edge of a cliff, and of course the pink canyon walls of Sedona.
Of course all this scenery is great if you’re a film crew and you can just stop on the side of the road, set up a shot, and soak it all in while you wait for a rider to come through. But do the guys and gals on the bikes actually get to enjoy it? It depends. When you’re riding on zero sleep and you’ve still got 2500 miles to go, it’s a little hard to ooh and ahh over every mountain that comes by.
But now and then the riders really do get a chance to look around and appreciate where they are. We came across soloist Ron Skelton the other day in a canyon just north of Sedona and he was really enjoying the surroundings. Skelton came all the way from New Zealand for RAAM and had never been to the area before. The proud Kiwi was riding his own race, not overly concerned with the standings, just chugging along strongly and soaking up those famous Sedona vibes. In a race that’s all about cranking through mile after mile after mile, it was nice to meet a rider who was gaining energy from the endless road, rather than losing it.