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1 Stage, 3005 miles and a pillow waiting for me back in Sitka

1 Stage, 3005 Miles, and a Pillow waiting for me back in Sitka


The Race Across America (RAAM) is considered by many to be the most difficult bicycle race on the planet(If you are seeking adventure and tremendous suffering this may be the event for you). When the cyclists roll out of Oceanside, California the stopwatch will not stop until they cross the line in Annapolis, Maryland. Pedaling east, the 3,005 mile stage will include over 100,000 feet of climbing, temperatures that can range from freezing to 105+ degrees, physical exhaustion, illusions, wicked weather and yes, a major overdose of insomnia.

This past summer was my third RAAM as a crew member. It is a very novel way to spend a vacation. So much for a normal holiday time on the beach. Our RAAM train will zip through 14 states, take lots of cool pictures, assist heroes on bikes, make new friends, promote a cause and stash some wonderful memories en route. The crews are a vital link for the riders survival. We take care of the details so that they can crank the pedals 24 hours a day.

Team Type 2 consisted of eight riders with Type 2 diabetes. Eight dedicated, determined men cycling with a mission & a purpose. There would also be a Team Type 1 with cyclists who had Type 1 diabetes. I am hard wired to the cause of both teams as I have Type 1 diabetes and run events through my diabetes adventure group – No Limits.

This year was the largest field ever. 30 solo riders and 210 racers on 39 teams. 19 countries were represented. Solo riders found some of the worst weather in RAAM history as storms seemed to follow them across the country. On the other hand, teams, which left 2 days after the solos, were blessed with excellent weather.

For the solo crusaders, if you choose to sleep then you are losing time to the competition. Grinding the pedals for 22 hours a day is not unusual for the soloists. The teams are able to alternate riders and snatch a little bit of zzzzzz’s, but as the RAAM t shirt so aptly states, “This Ain’t No Tour”. 24/7 for the crew and the cyclists who a putting their sweat and heart on the pavement of backroads America while dealing with a rather challenging disease.
Our crew, assembled from all parts of the country, gathered in Oceanside, CA for a crash course in RAAM 101. Not stated, but soon to be evident, it would not be unlikely to piece together only about 20 hours of sleep during the week that we are bouncing down the roads. It is a challenging task, but it is an opportunity that I cherish and I will catch up on some sleep………later.

19 crew members, all volunteering their time, seems like a small army but we are all on the game board as the pieces move along the route. We all have important tasks to do that need to happen. In the 5 vehicle procession there are drivers, navigators, a massage therapist, 3 nutritionists, a crew chief and many assorted, vital tasks to be done by all to make the race as doable for the troopers of Team Type 2.
Team Type 1 would win the 8 man category for the fourth time in 5 years with a time of 5 days 10 hours and 48 minutes. Team Type 2 would span the country in 7 days 14 hours and 53 minutes. Just behind the time posted in 2009, but just ahead of the dog chase that was created by the 8 man team Friar’s Club who were nipping at our heels and tires. 3005 miles and it was decided by 2 minutes. This definitely ain’t no tour. Not a chance.

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