"The Dream the Turned into a nightmare"

The Story of RAAM 2002

The training proved quite difficult. Not due to the intensity of the speed work or the number of miles, but to the amount of time I was away from my family. Hour after hour, day after day, mile after endless mile were separating me from time usually spent with my wife and little girl. The Pacific Northwest climate proved hostile and seriously deficient in preparing me for the variety of climatic conditions I would experience on RAAM. While other competitors were logging thousands of miles in the warmer southern states, I was out riding in temperatures as low as 15 degrees, which did little to prepare me for the sizzling heat and dense humidity of the southeast in June. Much of the time I found myself going nowhere as the severe weather forced me to the drudgery of an indoor fluid trainer. Little did I know, that this boredom would help prepare me for surviving the seemingly endless desolate highways of our countries plain states.

In June of 2002, my crew and I were assembled and ready to go in “the city of roses” Portland, Oregon. Although we lacked experience, we weren’t short on heart. It quickly became apparent that the competition was once again more prepared than I. With doctors, nutritionists and massage therapists, my crew, consisting of six people who loved me and were committed to the goal, seemed laughably inadequate to those “in the know.” 3000 miles of highway has a way of exposing all your weaknesses, whether it be the logistics of crew organization or deficiencies in ones training. Yes, we lacked experience, but in the end we would prove that it’s not doctors and masseuses that get a RAAM rider across the country, but determination and commitment to complete the race, whatever the cost.

The start line activities were invigorating with Outdoor Life Network conducting interviews, multiple meetings and press announcements. I could think of nowhere else I wanted to be. The festivities, exciting as they might be, did little however to ease the tangled knots in my stomach as gripping fear of the unknown invaded my thoughts. “Would I finish this race?” “Would I do well?” “Is it possible for me to reach my goal of ‘rookie of the year’?” Or, would I become just another statistic along with the other 50% of the riders expected to DNF (did not finish)?

The feelings were nothing new. Before my previous races, I’d experienced these thoughts and I’d went on to win. But this was a different ball game, a whole new level of competition requiring demands my body had never experienced. How do you know if you’re ready to cover 3000 miles on a bicycle in 9- 10 days on 1½ hours of sleep a night? As a rookie, you don’t. It’s not something you go out and just do for a trial run. My longest training rides had only been 24 hours over the mountainous Oregon portion of the RAAM course covering about 400 miles. Now I had to do that same 400 miles, sleep for an hour and a half, get back on my bike and keep going, for 10 days straight. This time I felt my feelings of fear were quite justifiable.

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