Waking up on day 4 was amazing. Mack and I survived the cold wind and rain and I felt refreshed. Honestly, I believe the good sleep was from not getting any the night before. Also, seeing the Rocky Mountains is very reviving in the morning. After taking some pictures and saying our goodbyes, we departed for the nearest coffee shop to wake up more and get some internet.
As I sat there staring out at the mountains I couldn’t help but think about which one was Pikes Peak. I then researched it, mapped out the distance, calculated my fuel loads, time for the day’s travel, and calculated the risk of climbing Pikes Peak in the World’s First 5 fueled truck! The fastest Pikes Peak climb record in a vehicle was reset in 2018 so I figured I’d make another record in 2018. The difference between me and Volkswagen is that I set a world record in a vehicle that was self-built from a passion for doing good for others with essentially no media coverage and very small funds…and I’m just one American dude who designed and built the World’s first 5 fueled truck to make a statement and hopefully an impact?
Anyway, despite the risks of breaking down, starting on fire, driving off the mountain, and the lost time from the drive up the mountain, I decided to do it! I made sure my fuel tanks were about half full for natural gas and propane. I only put 10 gallons of gasoline in the Blazer of Glory back in Chattanooga, so I didn’t really need any gasoline. I knew going up I would use natural gas as far as I could, then switch to propane when it started losing power or running rough. As we ascended in elevation I kept a close eye on all my computers and fuel trims. I knew that this would be the most challenging tune of my life driving up Pikes Peak.
Somewhere about halfway up, the natural gas was not happy. It needed more air per fuel ratio and as we drove up there was less air, less power, and the engine was not performing at 100%. I could have kept tuning on natural gas, but I switched to propane and restarted our journey to the top. Once on propane the truck was much happier although I would continue tuning the whole drive up, leaning out the fuel mixture to make sure the engine was running great!
As I climbed higher and higher it got colder and windier. I ended up wearing all my coats and hats to keep warm as it was in the 70’s just a few moments earlier. This is why Pikes Peak is so challenging – the vast change in climate and elevation makes it very difficult to get a car perfectly tuned to race up. As I tuned I drove and that’s when I saw them: 2 Ford Model T’s driving up Pikes Peak together! It was an amazing moment for me as these trucks were innovative for their time, are convertibles like mine, and were still driving so well they could climb Pikes Peak. I felt the importance of the mission and my purpose for the truck. I am taking the memory of the Fallen 5 with me wherever I go and I feel they and God are watching over me on the trip especially when things go wrong. They also seem to create moments such as following these 1925 Ford Model T’s up Pikes Peak, then to park right next to them and compare almost 100 years of automotive technology. How amazing!
After getting too cold and excited it was time to head back down! For this decent Mack and I enjoyed ourselves on the mountain taking in the views, the moment, and capturing photos/video to share. We stopped 2 times to cool our brakes, raised the solar panel to become an aero-brake, drove through a snow-storm, and ate a bit of lunch about ½ way down. After finally getting off the mountain and back on the road it was already 4:00 pm – much later than I anticipated.
As the sun was setting we drove through the Rocky Mountains at almost the same time as last year. Some places were cooler than others we experienced in the openness of the truck. At this point the changes in elevation, temperature, or weather seem to have little affect on my comfort. Mack and I were used to being outside on our 4th day.
After calculating my mileages, fuel loads, fuel stations, and time I set a destination of Salt Lake City, UT. Driving into the night is unpredictable since you don’t actually know how far you can mentally or physically make it. Setting goals and making the mileage no matter the hour is vital to this mission’s success. Sometime after driving countless miles I began thinking about companies and other stops I could make to have a greater impact on others and to honor the Fallen 5.
I researched Ready Gunner in Orem, UT and Black Rifle Coffee Company in Salt Lake City, UT to plan where I would wake up. I chose to sleep at Ready Gunner since I love guns and coffee so what better than to wake up at a coffee / gun shop owned by veterans! The only problem was that I hadn’t had a shower in 4/5 days and I drove so long that when I got to Orem, UT the sun was coming up. I quickly stopped in a Flying J to take my much needed first shower of the trip before arriving at Ready Gunner.
Mack and I were quite tired so I made some shade from one of our American flags and tucked into my sleeping bag. I woke up maybe 2 hours later as the sun rose over the Utah mountains! It was epic! And so calming.