Dr. Steve Morton, immediate past president of the AOAO, recently completed yet another herculean, if not insane, bicycle ride.
The ride, titled “No Country for Old Men” was 1,000 miles in the Big Bend National Park area of Texas. Flat terrain would have been great, but this wasn’t and he had 49,000 feet of vertical climb! Dr. Morton finished in 5th place with a time of 94.5 hours.
An endurance ride of this length involves some serious challenges. It must be completed in 96 hours, so a rider must go day and night. Sleeping only an hour a night, Dr. Morton found sleep deprivation was tough. Monitoring his bike computer helped to keep his mind occupied during long hours of constant pedaling, although it only worked half the time because of poor cell signal in remote areas.
Breaks were few-and-far-between, but critical. He rested only about an hour at night and an hour during the day. “You know it’s time to rest when you start seeing things!”
Riding at night had its own “ups and downs”. The lack of perspective in darkness made climbing hills seem easier. But he also found “doing rollers at night can mess with your head”.
The physical difficulties of maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration (he lost 10 pounds over the race), overcoming lack of rest, and dealing with butt soreness were expected.
What wasn’t expected was Shermer’s Neck! This is a creepy condition where the neck extensors simply fail from fatigue with little warning. “With 80 miles to go I was unable to lift my head. Fortunately, I had an airplane pillow in the support car and was able to reverse it and fashion a make-shift collar that got me through the race”.
An endurance race of this magnitude requires a team effort. Traveling with him in two support vehicles were his father and Carol in one car and two friends, Adam and Louis, in another. The race was grueling even for the support teams!
Louis and Support Van
With the help of his teams, I think you will agree Dr. Steve Morton has accomplished something pretty incredible!
Support Team, Left to Right: Louis, Dr. Morton, his dad, and Adam. Carol not pictured.
Shermer’s Neck is a condition where the neck muscles fail from fatigue and can no longer support the head. It is not gradual either; after feeling the first symptoms, the neck will usually stop functioning within two hours.