(Originally posted in 2017)
Most of you know that I returned to San Diego to participate in the 2017 corporate Race Across America 24HR (RAAM) corporate challenge a week ago Friday. I had a great time and wanted to tell the story.
I arrived in SD on Friday and my brother picked me up. We went to JT’s new store (Moment Cycles in Point Loma) because I wanted to check out JT’s store and I had forgotten my helmet and needed a new one.
John took me to the Erik’s house on Sat. morning to start preparing for RAAM. I wouldn’t see John until Wed. morning. Sat. morning was spent getting the race vehicles and bikes ready for the race and packing enough food for everyone. Then the team went to the start of the race for inspections, pictures and a team meeting followed by a dinner. And then the fun started.
On the way home, 4 of us where in the follow van when we commented on how loud the straps holding the big metal sign RAAM has supplied were making a big racket when everything got quiet…. Roger them made the statement: “There she goes….” And we heard the crashing of the sign hitting I-5 at about 60mph. When we managed to stop, the sign was basically being drug behind the van by the serial cable that supplied power to the hazard lights. I saw the reflective safety triangle in the middle of I-5 and actually got to play real live FROGGER to retrieve the safety triangle.
Next on the agenda for the night was fixing the sign. Erik and I went to Home Depot looking for new suction cups with no luck. Then on too Bed, Bath and Beyond. Nice place and me being a new home owner, couldn’t help to do some shopping for my new place. DUH….
We woke up on Sunday and did final RAAM prep. The race started at 9 and we did a ceremonial start with the whole team. Then it was game on. I was in the climbing van and we had the first section of the race. We covered about 90 miles from SD to Borrego Springs. We accomplished this by relaying riders. One rider would pull for a little while and then another
rider would pull.
As we were nearing Palomar Mtn., Roger – aka VooDoo – crashed on his pull and unfortunately broke his hand. We dropped him off at a fire station to get his hand fixed and continued the race. The bad news was Roger broke his hand, the better news was that he was able to rejoin the team after we got to I-10 about 100 miles later. His wife and kids brought him out to rejoin the team. It was great to get Roger back and really raised the spirits of the team.
After pulling to Borrego the other team started their pull through the desert. Nothing like riding your bike in 103 degree desert heat. My truck went about 60 miles ahead and stopped at a gas station.
We started our next section of pulls and thankfully it had cooled a few degrees and we pulled over a mountain pass to get to I-10. We passed several riders and I caught and passed eventual Solo winner Jure Robic. I have a ton of respect for the solo riders. No way I would ever consider riding across America Solo.
We made it to I-10 in good shape and the other truck took over for several hours. Our truck took over just as it turned dark so now we were racing in the dark. We pulled for a while and I did some long pulls over some big hills. On thing that helped the riders was that the follow vehicle had radios and we could communicate with each other. It was good having the follow vehicle talking to us to keep our spirits up. It was crazy riding in the dark on an Interstate with cars and trucks whizzing by. That and dodging debris made it very interesting.
I think we pulled until about midnight and the other vehicle took over. At this point we were in the desert and it was awesome. We could see every star in the sky and the Milky Way. We pulled over to rest and the idea was to sleep but someone told a dumb joke and the next thing I know, we’re all laughing so hard we are crying. We did this for about an hour until the other team passed us.
We drove to Hope, AZ and started pulling again over the Yarnell pass. Tom (aka Bionic), Jon (aka Sleeper) would pull for a mile and then Tom would pull for a mile. Then it would be my turn. I was so tired at this point that I could barely keep my eyes open in the truck between pulls. I actually felt better on my bike than in the truck. It was cool riding as the sun came up.
The next part of the ride was the hardest getting to Flagstaff. It was probably about 80 miles and we ended up working both trucks together. It was brutal going because we had to battle a stiff headwind on poor roads surfaces. The road just sucked the energy out of us. Big props to the other truck as they pulled the last 40 miles.
We rolled into Flagstaff and finished the RAAM corporate challenge as a team in 25 hours and 30 minutes. We averaged 19.5 mph for the event. That’s not bad considering we started at sea level and ended up at 7000’. We all had a nice dinner that night and did some bar hopping. On Tuesday, Erik, Jon, Tom and I rode from Flagstaff to Sedona. It’s a fun downhill ride and the
scenery is awesome.
The best part of the trip was forgetting about ‘life’ for three days and hanging out with a great bunch of guys. I forgot about everything and was able to just ride my bike, laugh, talk, and get to know a great bunch of guys even better. Finding times like these are tough these days and I am thankful that I get to experience these kinds of things. Especially when you consider that the team was also raising money for Neuroblastoma research. Our team was racing for Sam Hutchison (http://www.teamsam.com) who has Neuroblastoma. I did think about Sam while riding and it put things back into perspective for me. It’s easy to take things for granted sometimes, simple things like good health, but not everyone is so lucky. If you get a chance, check out Sam’s site http://www.teamsam.com and if you can, make a small donation. I know Sam and his family will really appreciate it.
As for the rest of my trip, I spent a lot of time with my brother, got to ride with some of my old riding buddies, caught up with a lot of my friends (sorry I couldn’t see everyone), and slept a lot. I’m back in Charlotte now and ready for the rest of the year to unfold.
Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing from you.