Monday, July 27, 2009

At the Finish Line: RAAM as an Act of Service

Mark Thul, Denny Voorhees, John Anderson, Pete Cowley, Bob Chaisson, Bob Avritt, Larry Cleveland, Bill Arnold - Finish!

And the crew....

Chaisson's foot- 7 stitches

Note the laughing, and the sleeping...

Julie from Arizona

Amanda, Kelsey, and Jen

Jess, tuning bikes in Colorado...

Chris, well, being Chris...

Late night navigating, Denny, Dave, and Tom...

Dave, a most energetic fella...

Jess, from North Carolina...

Chris, a Type1 Diabetic...

Kevin, the cruise director...

Tommy, rode his 'Bent from San Francisco to the start!
RAAM as an unconditional act of service; a subject I have been working on for a few days. I can tell you, that more than a few drafts have met the fate of the delete key. But, I have recalled the smart advice from my friend (and builder of the Fast Red Bike), Bill Cook. Keep it short, keep it simple, and only express one or two ideas. Smart man. Thanks, Bill.
My thoughts about this article seem to center around a basic premise; acts of service. From my view from the cheap seats, everyone that was on TeamType2 whether it was a rider, driver, navigator, nutritionist, manager, or utility crew; were givers of service.
The riders gave of their whole selves. They gave up better part of the year training, and then doing all the real work in riding 3020 miles in 7 days. They managed their diabetes, spread the word to the public about their disease, along with the everyday riding, racing, progressing across the country. It sure sounds simple from here in the back row. But when you see it up close, on the road, it becomes more amazing every day.
The crew; selfless, anonymous; hard working; sleep deprived, a truly great group. Remember, there are no finisher’s medals or jerseys for the crew. No special recognition on the RAAM web page. Of course, none of the 14 crew members ever expected any of those tributes. They were on the team to help the eight riders reach Annapolis in 7 days. It was a crystal clear act of service; as pure and simple as that.
Along with the total TeamType2 RAAM experience, there was one more benefit to this adventure that I wasn’t expecting. I managed to learn a few things about people, too. Specifically I would like to mention the young people. When I say young, I mean the under-thirty crowd. They were amazing! They could sleep anywhere, work harder, longer, and all the time with a smile. Also, they reassured my faith that the world is not going to heck in a hand basket. They were energetic, selfless, articulate, intelligent, and more than anything else, servants to their team and their communities. They reenergized me! For this, I thank them.
Please enjoy the photographs. I am sure I probably missed someone along the way, so forgive me in advance.
That’s it for me. One month later, it still amazes me. 3020 miles in 7 days, 7 hours, 23 minutes; enough said.
PS: I’ll be home next week. Soon, I’ll publish pictures of our new home and of finding good roads to ride in Palmdale.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RAAM as a Cultural/Social Experience

Please enjoy this Gallery, then the blog...

Sunset in Kansas...

Bob Chaisson's family met us with FOOD at 3 AM! (Bloomington, IN)

Jen's fiance' met us too, then drove all the way back to Louisville!

This Frenchman (RAAM Crew) was happily writing, I don't know what, he didn't speak english, and I don't speak french!

I can't recall whose parents these were, nice people though.

These two were touring from St. Louis to Oregon! (Fort Scott, KS

Race Volunteer, Blanchester, OH

This crewman from the Brazilian team developed his pictures in the motorhome!
(Montezuma Creek, UT)

Kevin's parents, it was their 55th wedding anniversary, and they brought us pizza. Lots of pizza! (Blanchester, OH)

Dave, Chris, Amanda, Kelsey, and Kevin (the Type2 crew boss)
... Amazing crew members

Kelsey and her new biker friends, Oceanside...
Hi all,
I decided to forgo a part two on the RAAM as a race topic in favor of pressing forward with my project. I have really wanted to write this next section, and enough has been said about racing.
Besides being a race, RAAM is truly a cultural/social experience. The experience began on the first day when our crew and teams gathered in Oceanside. It was interesting, 16 riders and around 50 crew members gathered, most of who had never met. The crew members came from all around the United States; Tallahasee, FL, Bend, OR, Wilmington, NC, Phoenix, AZ, Ithaca, NY; the list went on and on. This team had to not only function from the first day, but people had to basically shake hands, and get to work, and build relationships at the same time. As the week passed, friendships were built, and by the end of the race, the TeamType2 group was almost a family.
After the race started, then we really got to meet people! Let me see how many I can recall. We met complete strangers, people interested in our team, and willing to share their experiences with diabetes with us; we met family members who drove long distances to meet their team members or riders, sometimes in the middle of the night! There were tired race volunteers at the manned time stations who were so encouraging and generous. We met people on touring bikes who stopped by to wish us well. I spoke with an elderly woman in Blanchester, OH who offered her house (the hot shower specifically) to our crew; the gentleman who pulled up to our crew in Brawley, CA to see what we were up to. He gave us some rope from the back of his truck that we ended up using the entire week. And those are just the ones that come to mind as I write. I am pretty sure the whole team met people along the way. Did we meet any unfriendly people? I am sure we did, but I just put them out of my memory.
We got to see a whole lot of the United States. We got to see not just the countryside, but actually some of the fabric of the country, too. Let me tell you; this is a big country. And if you let your vision be narrowed by television, or Facebook, or text messages that serve as conversation, then you are missing a large part of this country. During RAAM, I became much more aware of the greatness of our nation. I would almost say I actually “get” America now.
Please enjoy a gallery of pictures from the “people side” of RAAM.

Friday, July 17, 2009

RAAM as a Race

A rider heading out... SW Arizona...

One rider in, one rider out...West Virgnia.

Sunrise over the Missouri. Jefferson City...

Racing at dusk in Oklahoma...or Kansas (Not sure)

Team transition, Fort Scott Kansas...

The ready box, for the rider's van...

Denny and Bob...near Sedona, AZ...


Dave, awaiting a rider....
The next pull. That’s what crystallized the experience of riding RAAM for me. The act of riding at racing speed for 3-6 miles; resting and recovering in the rider’s van for about 45 minutes, then getting back on the bike for another pull; repeating this routine for eleven to twelve hours.
For two days I had been performing my duties as an RV driver, dishwasher, navigator, and like the rest of the crew, taking care of whatever was needed to get our guys down the road. I found I was relatively separated from the actual rider experience. Sure, I had seen our guys come and go at the transitions, but I hadn’t actually gotten my mitts into the race.
That all changed on the third day. On the third day I was pressed into duty as the rider car driver for the pull from Prescott, AZ to Tuba City, AZ. The shift would be about 180 miles, with several huge climbs – from Prescott over Jerome to Sedona, and Sedona to Flagstaff. It was during this 12 hour outing, that I learned what it’s like to be a rider on RAAM. For those twelve hours, I got to be up close and personal with RAAM; watching the four-man teams take shifts climbing, rocketing downhill on power descents, and just ride hard. It was like some sort of weird dream; driving, un-racking bikes, racking bikes, in the van, out of the van, driving, over and over again. But, still the riders rode; they pressed, they encouraged, they raced!
As the week passed, the routine rarely varied. 4 men in, 4 men out. Riding, racing, eating, resting, driving, and sleeping… at all hours of the day and night. On the last day, one of the riders, Bob Chaisson, stumbled and gashed his ankle, earning 7 stitches. What did he do when he returned to the team? He kept riding of course! That one act typified our team.
Thinking back on RAAM, it’s not as much the riding that intrigued me, it was the mental focus. Imagine if you will the focus you try to attain before a big ride. It could be a race, a citizen’s century, a 300 km brevet, or just a training interval. One does their best to get focused, get mentally ready to ride. Now, imagine turning that focus on and off like a switch. Every 45 minutes to an hour, get out of the van, get loose, and ride hard. It’s something to think about.
Well, enough for now. I think I will write a part 2 to this section!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

RAAM and TeamType2

TeamType2; Great athletes, all.

Denny Voorhees, Who got me on this adventure...

The bikes, racked and getting ready...

The follow and rider vans...

Lots of wheels to true...

The Boss; Dave Eldridge...
Hi all,
The 2009 RAAM has come and gone. In the spring, there was anticipation and excitement of the race to come; the adventure before me! Then, as quickly as it came upon me, it was over. Something all encompassing, then, like a flickering flame, just a memory.
Since the end of RAAM, I had been reluctant to post as I was in the process of moving, and to add to the delay, I could not make my card reader read my SD card. I know that true writers can paint pictures and give clarity without the use of pictures. But for me, I have always included pictures with my minor attempts at writing. In the meantime, I have been thinking and putting some ideas into some logical order. So, with apologies, I am now able to download pictures, and write some of my RAAM experiences to you.
The best place for me to start is with how I got involved. Early in the spring, I was lucky enough to be selected to be a crew member on the TeamType2 8-Man team. The team, made up of riders with Type 2 diabetes had one goal: 8 riders in 7 days to Annapolis. With sixteen members on the crew, there were teleconferences, mailings, phone calls, and E mails. Dave Eldridge our race director did a fine job of putting us all together as one team. For me, the only thing I can say about being selected to the team: “Denny, thanks for having me.”
Where does one start writing on a subject as expansive as RAAM? What stories should I tell from a bicycle race across America? If I wrote all my ideas in one article, all the ideas would get all jumbled up in the fray. So, I decided to divide my posts into three subjects; RAAM as a race; RAAM as a social/cultural experience; and RAAM as a gift of service. So, bear with me as I together some ideas and pictures to share.
In the next post: RAAM as a race.