The only thing that is less spectacular than the start is the finish.
The Team, L-R:
Back/Short people row: Me (vertically challenged), Kevin Hunter, Andrew Danly, Larry Bice, John Tyner
Front/Tall people row: Tobias Panek, Jeremy Gustin, Brad Exmeyer
The start is a mess. Teams barely know what they are doing, the format changes year to year, and there is about 100 people there to watch, and half of them are the teams crews. It's basically hand waving for the camera, and then "see ya in a week!".
But I like that about this race. It's the anti-Ironman / triathlon. There is no nervous tension, 4am wake up calls, early morning grogginess, people running around asking for body glide, serious faces, people showing off, and everything else that you already know about.
So, we took pictures, waved our hands, did a little 6 mile ride as a team out the 76, and then got picked up, where Tobias and I were going to start our first shift at 8pm about 15 miles east of Borrego Springs.
I really like this picture of Larry (my riding partner from last year). Larry is solely responsible for ViaSat even being involved with RAAM, so any experience I have in RAAM, can be attributed to this man.
The drive out there was nothing spectacular - 4 dudes laughing, goofing, trying to one up each others' farts (arguably one of the most competitive parts of the race), talking strategy and all that road trip type of stuff. We got to our projected start place about 75 minutes ahead of time, and we slowly got ready to start our shift. I was checking the times, and Team ViaSat was in the lead by about 3 minutes at the first time station at Lake Henshaw. Sweet!
About 45 minutes before our shift started, I heard some guy come ROARING by with a disk wheel. He must have been going 35 mph. He was from Team Type 1, our biggest competitors. A mere 15 seconds later, Jeremy (our team) came BLASTING by at about the same speed.
We are RACING ladies and gents, and all the sudden I got REAL nervous. IT WAS ON. But, we were also way behind we were supposed to start, so we got in the truck and floored it!
Andrew digging deep as we drove past him:
It was a little concerning because somehow TT1 made up over 3 minutes on us in 20 miles. I later found out that when Andrew hit the bottom of the glass elevator, his wheel came out from under him on some loose gravel, and he went down... hard:
8pm came around, and it was time to take over, with TT1 in sight. SH!T!