Tuesday, June 30, 2009

RAAM Start

One of the cool parts about RAAM is that it is a pretty low profile event. It doesn't get the hoopla that Ironman does, and I like that. The start, and (anti-climatic) finish were no different. Below are some pics and videos from the start of this trans-continental endurance race (Thanks Jeff - I love that term)

Navy SEALS making an entrance at the solo start (a few days prior to the team start)

The route. Rather daunting huh?

Team/Crew Start Pics:

National Anthem courtesy of "Metal":

Part of the "peleton" leaving the pier

All the teams departing ... for Annapolis

Photo Montage, courtesy of our amazing crew:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Andrew "Metal" Danly

One of the dudes on our team was Andrew "Metal" Danly. I am gonna go on a limb and say that he received his "tough" nickname based on his cycling ability, or his preference in guitar strumming, or some combination of both. I had never met Andrew, except for one week prior to the race during our pre-race meeting. The next time I saw him, he did his own rendition of the national anthem. Check it out below. I was in tears laughing at how cool this was to start the race!

Also, check out the latest post on the Team ViaSat Blog: http://teamviasatraam2009.blogspot.com/2009/06/return-to-reality.html He couldn't have summed it up better. Period.

Race Across America Race Report

Yeah right, you think I can sum up a 3,014 mile race in one post?

Each leg is going to get its own post since each 5 hour shift was really it's own "race". But, below is the general gist of it all.


That was the hardest, coolest, longest, most fun thing I never thought I'd wanna do again, but sometime in the middle of the country, thoughts of wanting to do it again next year jumped into my head.

It really hasn't hit me that I was part of an 8-person team that just traversed the country via bicycle. Seriously. The week was a blur. When I was hanging out on the east coast, it really didn't feel like I traveled to the east coast. When I got back to San Diego sunday night, it felt like I left, but it certainly wasn't the usual feeling of leaving and coming back. Weird!

Race Across America marked the second time I have traveled from coast-to-coast, not by plane, and in the fastest manner possible. The other time was when I first moved out to San Diego, a little over 5 years ago, with my dad and I driving from MA to CA in 2.5 days.

There were 2 things I really wanted to do/experience during the race, and I got them both: climbing a part of the rockies (although, they got a piece of me too, which I will talk about later!), and riding my bike, at sunrise, while other people are too busy hitting their snooze bar or worrying about how much coffee they have to drink to start their day!

Obviously, there were many other things I was looking forward to, but all I kept hearing was "expect the unexpected" (which happened), so I didn't want to expect too much!

The video feed: Yes, I realize that the video feed wasn't working much. There are a lot of moving parts in this system, but one of the main limiters was line of sight to the satellite over florida. Mountains, trees, hills pretty much block the signal. There was considerable discussion over whether we are using the right satellite technology or not, and we definitely hope to get it better for next year. Personally, watching the video feed back in 2007 is what made me want to do the race!

Overall, the race was an absolute success. We averaged 22.23mph, beating last years time by about 4.5 hours with a total time of 5 days, 15 hours, and 53 minutes.

What an absolute incredible experience!

ps- This was my first official bike race! How 'bout that!

Top Songs from RAAM

Sometimes, whether it be monotony, or just going at full tilt, I just needed a little extra oomph to get me through a 5 hour shift. Below are some of the songs that helped light a fire under the rear over the course of the week:

Justice - DVNO

Eminem - Rabbit Run

Justice - D.A.N.C.E.

The Crystal Method - Name of the game

The Crystal Method & Matisyahu - Drown in the now

The Chemical Brothers & Q-tip - Galvanize

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Ok, here is anything and everything you could possibly need to follow Team ViaSat Race Across America.

LIVE Video Feed: http://www.viasat.com/raam (there will be outages from time to time depending on satellite location).

AmateurEndurance.com is also going to broadcast the ViaSat live through their website as well.

My Twitter updates, which are located on the right side bar of this blog.

Team ViaSat Twitter Updates, which are also located on the right side bar of this blog (this should be updated often)

Team ViaSat RAAM Blog, which also has posts located on the right side bar of this blog (this will be updated often)

Projected Riding Times of each riding group.

Youtube channel (Really?!?!)

Start Time: 20JUN09 @ 2PM @ Oceanside Pier. I will NOT be starting at this time, but will be there for photos, hand waving, and seeing Ken and Jeremy off since I won't see them until we get to Maryland. My shift doesn't start until Midnight, so I get to go home, chill out for a few hours, before we take off for our projected start place, in Blythe, CA (talk about long day!)

Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Holy Kit!

My response upon receiving our Team Kits this past Saturday sounded very similar to the title of this blog post. After taking everything out of the bag, and then trying it all on - I am still dropping "Holy Kits" all over the place! Dude, these things are ridiculous/amazing! Check 'em out...

Jersey (we get two of them)...

Bib Shorts (two of these also)...

Back of Jersey...

Skinsuit (my fav!)...

and a vest, knee warmers and arm warmers to top it all off...

Holy Kit!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Simulation & Specificity

I realize that no matter how much I train (physically, and mentally), the adage "Expect the unexpected" will certainly come into play during RAAM. But, that doesn't mean not to at least attempt some conditions beforehand.

Last Sunday, Larry, Matt and I did a simulation ride. The route was about 80 or so miles (finished in under 4 hours) of some rolling terrain, complete with 5 mile "hand offs". I know when I described these hand offs before, it made some people say "wow, sounds complicated". It is, if you make it complicated, but it doesn't have to be.

I had two main objectives in this ride:
  • Practice the whole "hand off" thing. Both as a rider, but also planning when/where to stop. The rules of RAAM state that a vehicle must be completely pulled off to the side of the road during a stop. So, these 5 mile/20 minute-ish intervals aren't always 5 mile/20 minutes because there just aren't large patches of dirt at the same interval across the country. The 5 mile distances are just guidelines.
  • Pacing. These efforts are of the "very hard" variety, so I wanted to make sure I didn't blow up too early, and to gauge how sore I would be the next day (surprisingly, not much).
Below is a 15 second video that Matt took during "an exchange" between myself and Larry

The more elaborate 45 second video is here, complete with unracking the bike, and getting up to speed:

One of the main things I learned is at these intensities, I tend to have a little tunnel vision. It's not often one goes barreling through busy streets of Escondido with a HR above LT. I need to be especially careful of going at said intensity through towns/congestion, especially in the midwest where they simply aren't used to cyclists roaming the streets.

Tuesday, I knew, was going to be a long day at work, so I planned accordingly. I brought my bike, headlamp and tailight so I could ride home in the dark. It was wild! Even though I have driven and ridden the route a million times, it was hard not to be conservative, especially in the dimly lit areas. I ran it by some RAAM veterans, and they said not to worry because the follow vans' headlights provide a good amount of light. Definitely some good practice to get in for sure.

Oh, so when I said Clif Bar hooked us up, I wasn't lying. I got my "delivery" on Sunday. Check out what I, and each rider, got (complete with... socks!):

Bars, Blocks, Gels, recovery stuff.. the whole 9. Damn!

In other news, about an hour ago, I had my first "Oh shit, RAAM is in 9 days moment!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Music Recommendations?

So, I recently learned that our follow vehicle is equipped with some outward facing speakers. Although I have never ridden my bike with music (via mp3 player), I definitely plan on taking advantage of the music when I need a little something (anything!) to get through the night, hard times, etc.

So, with that said does anyone have any recommendations for great get-up-and-go type stuff?

I do know that the first song I will play is Crystal Methods Trip like I do (original album version, not the filter remix)

Hit Me!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Few Very Cool Updates

Nothing training related, but definitely some cool stuff happening!

A big thanks goes out to Kenny Souza (Duathlon Legend, and RAAM solo finisher), clif bar rep, for hooking us up with a TON of product for the race!

I stoked to say that Matt Simpson, owner of Oceanside's Rivet Cycle Sport, will be crewing for Team ViaSat. Specifically, he will be driving for Larry and I!

Media Frenzy! After talking with Larry, I learned of a few bad ass things that we plan on doing during the race. We will be having a 4 person broadcast crew (really?!) that will be in charge of the 24/7 live video feed, a website, twitter updates on the site (who is riding and where), conducting interviews, and uploading videos to youtube.com. I finally activated a twitter account and will probably update my facebook and this blog with how things are going (if I can ever figure out how to do it). Hit me up if you know how to do it!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Team ViaSat and Race Strategy

The second most commonly asked question I am asked after people hear word that I am doing RAAM is something to the effect of "So, how does it all work?" (or something to that effect. The first question is normally "Are you crazy?").

Here is how Team ViaSat rolls (Sorry, I couldn't resist):

We have an 8 person team that we split into 4 2-person groups. The group breakdown is:
  • Group1:Ken (Team Captain) and Jeremy
  • Group2: Tobias and Andrew
  • Group3: Larry and I
  • Group4: Greg and Ralph
Each group is "on" for 5 hours, and "off" for 15 hours. So, Group1 will ride for 5 hours, and group2 starts where Group1 finishes, and so on.

When a group is "on", each rider only rides for 20 minutes at at time, and the riders leap frog each other with the help of a car. Here is an example breakdown:
  • Larry starts our 5 hour on period after Tobias and Andrew finish
  • I am waiting up the road apx. 20 minutes from Larry starts
  • As Larry approaches, I start pedaling and get up to speed
  • The "handoff" is when we cross wheels
  • I then take over riding for 20 minutes
  • After the handoff, Larry gets off of his bike, racks his bike onto the SUV, and drives up the road apx. 20 minutes from where we handed off
  • Lather, rinse and repeat
The theory is that a cyclist can go very hard for 20 minutes, and recover quickly enough to go again shortly. This will be the fourth year we will employ this strategy. Each team is free to choose whichever strategy they want, so long as it is within the rules of the race.

As you can imagine, coordination, logistics, communication, and knowledge of the course are of absolute importance when determining when and where riders will finish - at the end of each leg, and each 20 minute interval. Meanwhile, there is a follow vehicle following the rider at all times. This is the cool part since we broadcast our race through a satellite uplink (an advantage to working for a satellite communication company), which I will give links to in the future.

Start time is 2pm on 20JUN09 at Oceanside Pier, with Team Introductions at 1pm (including Laird Hamilton doing it as part of a 4 person team!), with the team send off at 2pm!

More info to come soon...