I just wrote thousands of words (about 8 grand) to describe the Race Across America from my perspective. Sometimes those words come easy, and sometimes I know that whatever I type, it simply doesn't do the justice. I wish that everyone could experience something like RAAM. It's just so frekkin cool!
Everyone has asked me how it compared to last year. It's hard to say - last year was my first year, and everything was new. This year, I tried to improve upon what I did last year, and I also rode a different shift, despite their being overlap between my shift this year, and my shift last year. This year meant more in a way because of the challenges I had just getting to the start line, and the challenges we had during the race with Tobias. But also too, I knew that I gave it my absolute all this year, mentally and physically, and had more fun in a way because I knew I wanted to enjoy & document it a little more.
Was it a success?
We were faster this year, by a whole .01mph / 44 minutes. At first, this is a little disappointing since we were a much stronger team than last year. But, it was a different course this year, arguably more challenging because we stayed in Colorado for some more climbing, as opposed to dropping down into New Mexico. Although staying in CO is less miles to travel south to NM, RAAM also added a 50 mile stretch in AZ that wasn't there last year.
Also, even though TT1 beat us, they beat us by less this year, 4h15m, as opposed to 7h last year.
Then there is the minutia of comparing time station data from 2009 and 2010.
When Tobias was feeling good, all I know is that TT1 and us held each other to within a few minutes. Sometimes we beat them, sometimes we beat them, but it was never by more than 5 minutes.
Like I said before, it was great having Team4Mil so close for the first third of the race. This brought a nice element of actual racing that was a lot of fun. Their team captain was interviewed by the durango herald, and he said this:
"We were doing a fine job," he said. "We were right on the verge of catching the second-place team, and we were probably 45 minutes from catching the first-place team, which previously set a course record."
Yes, 4Mil was definitely doing a fine job, but there wasn't a chance in hell that they would have caught us, or TT1 (Even James Stout from TT1 thought the same). When J&A handed off to us in AZ, we had a 3 minute lead, and when Tobias and I were done, we put 15 minutes into them. Larry & Kevin, then Brad &John continued to do the same. But that's OK, because I like it when people talk trash through the web, just as TT1 did a few times.
Communication during RAAM is comedic. Andrew and I would text about shift changes sometimes. At a shift exchange, sometimes we would converse, sometimes we wouldn't. Then, Tobias and I would talk through Dave when on shift. When we should do a shift exchange with Larry & Kevin, again, sometimes we would talk, sometimes we wouldn't. Then with Brad & John, we conversed more via facebook than anything. Hell, when we parted ways in O'side, we said "See ya in Annapolis" because that's really the next time we would!
100,000+ ft of elevation gain
54 time stations
Apx. 700,000 pedal strokes
7GB worth of pics and videos
Lifetime of memories
Ever wondered what the course profile is for RAAM?
The race is basically 5.5 days / 400 miles of threshold work for me (A "crash" block in Joe Friel speak). My legs felt like they could have pedaled through a brick wall about 3 days after the race - bulletproof. It's a great feeling let me tell you! Recovery is actually very easy - just sleep as much as possible for as long as it takes.
Back when my knee was acting up, I wasn't cycling everyday, and I sure wasn't running. So, to get some exercise, I was swimming quite a bit. Chuckie (half jokingly) called me "the fastest swimmer ever to do RAAM", telling me that no one shows up to Le Tour bragging about 10K swim weeks! We laughed at it then, I still laugh at it now.
We had a great team this year, all of whom have bios here. They are:
Jeremy "Toro" Gustin
Andrew "Metal" Danly
Tobias "Turbo" Panek
Larry "The Godfather" Bice
Kevin "Quasimoto" Hunter
John "Tynee" Tyner
Brad "Gorilla" Exmeyer
I can't thank these guys enough for being my teammates. A big thanks goes to Kevin for giving me the final push to be "in" for this, and for having my back when my knee was troublesome.
Without our incredible crew (funny bios) none of these would be remotely possible. A big thanks to Dave our driver.
Talking about RAAM, especially with those who have done it this year and last, never gets old.
Would I do it again? If we could ride to win, WITHOUT A DOUBT.