Are You Ready for RAAM?


I still haven’t come up with an answer to the question that I hear most often, now that we’re just a few weeks away from the Race Across America.

In a way I answered it back in August, when I submitted my registration, wired and exhausted in my hotel room in St. George Utah – a few hours after finishing Hoodoo 500 (on a 2x team).  And earlier, in Durango – at the finish of Race Across the West – I felt strangely good after 880 miles. More, maybe much more, was seemingly within my grasp.

Before that,  June 2012 in Annapolis, my path began to take shape. Still giddy and wrecked after our blistering 8X team RAAM experience – on the same night as our team finish – I watched Christoph Strasser arrive to a hard fought second place, well after midnight. Pained and solemn, he rolled onto the quiet city dock. The weight of the moment was palpable. I drew from that passion and emotion and felt what was in store for me down that road.

Years ago, RAAM was just a distant dream – an ideal more than a race, far enough from my own reality and my own capabilities, that I didn’t seriously think it was in the cards for me. Instead I followed those hardy few with awe and admiration, vicariously living their passions as they braved the world’s toughest race.

They must have it all figured out, I thought. Not like me. I was pushing myself to ride farther, harder – but was always on the brink of losing it. Riding long exposed all my weaknesses, and I was both frustrated and engaged by the challenge of making my body do what it clearly did not want to. I couldn’t finish a 200 mile ride without feeling sick, vomiting, or cramping. I couldn’t fathom riding through an entire night. I could ride fast, but felt so fragile.

If I ever reached that distant prospect – actually racing RAAM – I’d have it all figured out. I’d be UCI pro lean. I’d have worked out all my flexibility issues. I’d have smooth, perfect form. I’d have found a way to set aside work for months before the race to properly prepare. I’d have all my funding lined up, and all I would need to do is show up and race.

Life keeps moving. We progress and improve, but the ideals we are striving toward may always be just around the bend. Over the past 10 years I’ve pushed progressively deeper into the vast world of endurance cycling. I’ve stumbled and faltered, but always regained my footing, and never lost my desire to press on. I’m not the perfect racer that I was in my nascent RAAM dreams. But through my success and failures, I’m well enough equipped now that there’s no more to gain by delaying. I’ve found my way here with a full life of which RAAM is just a part.

Despite all the things that could be better – I have the experience now that makes the race, if not reasonable, at least possible. I have the support of my family and friends – and a dedicated crew that will embark on this journey with me, shepherding me across the country. I have prepared to the best of my ability – and now it’s time to set aside all the doubt,  fears, and hesitation. I choose to take the big, scary step into the unknown – to break past the paralysis that comes from focusing too hard on perfection, and turn my dream into a reality.

Yes. I’m ready for RAAM.