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Peggy and Steve

One of the guys doing the race is Steve Smith, his wife Peggy is on the crew. He is a really nice guy, and his wife is a sweetheart. His story is quite amazing. Evidently, Steve used to be overweight and had 4 back surgeries. Peggy it turns out was severely overweight, she was doing weight watchers and wasn’t seeing too much results. She took a spin class and got hooked on cycling. Unfortunately, because of his back he couldn’t do a regular bike because it hurt his back.

To make a long story short, they saw someone on a funny bike (recumbent) in which the rider rides in a prone position and there is less stress on ones back. He hopped on and was instantly hooked, his wife also got hooked and they are long distance randonneurs, this is his first RAAM, and his wife is so psyched for him, that she came to crew. She so wants to do the race also, but not this year, maybe next year.

Their was some kind of mixup on the course, and I had to pick them up. It was so nice how concerned he was about her because she has been awake for 36 hours straight and is dead tired, and she is concerned about him, he need to drink and get his nutrition because he is the one racing. It was really sweet as they went back and forth, with each other.

I thought that is what a marriage is about. Each sharing something in common and the genuine care and concern for the other. I can’t say that I can remember the last time I felt that way in my marriage. I won’t go into specifics, but it is something that I wish I had, someone who genuinely cares about my well being, my thoughts, feelings, etc.

We had a pretty good day in the gofer van. We really got involved in the race and the racers, had to shuttle them in and out and even made a rescue–lol! We did more shopping, keeping this little village that we have is a big task. We went thru Sedona, AZ, Flagstaff, AZ, right now we in the Navajo Nation, waiting for the riders to switch over for the next four hour shift.

There was a little bit of an issue this morning, with the crew getting used to one another. Well, everyone says that it happens on RAAM people getting used to one another. Although I am an extremely minor part of the ultra cycling community, I think RAAM brings me into a family that is very exclusive. Most of the people here have crewed or ridden and finished RAAM! I so want to participate, I am not putting it out of the realm of possibilities since anyone who knows me knows I am all about the adventure!

RAAM, is expensive to do, it would cost at least $10k for each person, the ony way I would do it, is as a four man team. Hell even the entrance fee is $5k, well worth it in my opinion. It is amazing what we have seen so far, I think people will live years and years in the US and never see what we have seen, and it is only the second day. I believe tomorrow we’re going into Monument Valley, if you don’t low where that is–if you remember the movie Forrest Gump, the part where he stops running and everyone who was following him are like–‘WTF!’. THAT’S where we’re going tomorrow! I can’t wait, seeing asi am in the gofer car, I will get a hotel room near there and enjoy the day!

Anyway, as we wait here for our riders to come in, I can only think about the future. It seems bright right now and I am excited to get back and make it happen!

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Borrego Springs, Ca

So we’re sitting here in Borrego Springs, Ca. It is in the middle of the desert, I don’t see how people live out here but it’s beautiful! We are waiting in Christmas Tree Circle, surrounded by the desert there is this lush oasis rig in the middle of it, really weird!

Evidently at the last time check we were the last team in, don’t feel bad for us, it’s only the first day and we’ve only done about 70 miles, there is still 2,930 miles to go! The days was spent shuttling racers around. After the ceremonial start where one of the first people to do RAAM started then all the teams went off in 1 minute intervals.

We headed back to the car, the route starts by going down a bike route which passes Camp Pendleton, at the end we would pick up Alex and Steve to shuttle them to Borrego Springs for the changeover.

Unfortunately we had to go shopping and buy food again, remember we are 18 people constantly rolling in a 24 hour a day event, they have to feed us. Unfortunately for me I have been eating like crap, I am trying to be good, but still end up eating things I wouldn’t normally eat at home. The guy in the car with me is even worse, all he does is snack, I have been strong,I am sticking to my cranberry, nut mix, but it is getting tempting!

The place we are is in the middle of the desert but it’s really pretty here. There is a certain calmness and it’s serene. Oh, I forgot to tell you, I should get the hero of the day award, evidently, one of the racers from another team took a wrong turn, I chased them about 2 or 3 miles down the road and told them. Yes I should get a pat on the back! As I was saying, it’s so pretty out here, but who the hell would live out here! How would you even get to work, it is a haul no matter which direction you turn it’s going to be a haul to get to wherever, right now it’s 99 degrees! It’s not hot at all, it’s a dry heat as it is so cliche to say.

Soon, we will be headed to the comfort of our hotel room while the rest of the team makes due with either the car or the RV (he said with a devilish grin)! Tomorrow looks like more shopping and who knows after all I am n the ‘Gofor’ van.

Today is the day…

Well, today is the day, we finally leave for our great adventure. Last night we went to the race briefing, there are so many 4 man teams, it is ridiculous. There were a lot of 8 man teams also, this looks to be a fun race. I have to keep in mind that this is indeed a RACE, hence the name of the event, we are trying to set the record for recumbents crossing. It doesn’t look like it is a major priority to do that, but it would be nice. After all we are riding the fastest bikes out there anyway!

We leave today at 12:00 noon, they will announce the racers and there is a ceremonial start, I believe Allan the other gentleman in the car with me was originally supposed to ride. He had to have knee surgery and had to drop out at the last minute, that really sucked. These ultra cycling people really take the sport seriously. Did you know that in the 27 years the race has been in existence, there have only been 250 people to complete it doing it SOLO–ONE PERSON, 3000 miles, usually in about 10 days.

One guy on our team, Kevin completed it, 10 days 17 hours, his brother is racing this year on out team. We met a legend of RAAM and ultra cycling in general Tim Woudenberg (Tim by the way has competed in RAAM 6 times, several times as a solo rider which he holds the record for as a recumbent rider, and he has also completed it as a team rider), really nice guy, I was supposed to crew for him in 2007, but Glenn Druery (another legend) had a fall and couldn’t complete the race. Tim was telling us that Glenn convinced a tattoo artist to tattoo flames around his nipples yesterday, we were laughing so hard, but that’s how Glenn is–he’s a fun loving Aussie!

Last night I had the glamorous task of dong laundry for the team, no big deal, everything I do won’t be sexy, but man to find a laundromat at 10:30 PM in Oceanside, CA, you think it would be easy, but it really wasn’t! Anyway, found it and did what we had to do.

I haven’t worked out since Tuesday, I feel really crappy and FAT–LOL! I am going to it the gym hard when I get back Andy am sure my ‘gym rat’ friends won’t mind killing me also. I am jealous Kati & Gabriela are doing Crossfit today, I’d love to be there but I am on the other side of the country! Well, I am sure there are more Crossfit classes to go to, so no use ‘crying’ over missing this one!

It’s a waiting game now

All the vehicles are ready, the signs are on, the grocery shopping has been done, the practice has been completed, the racers are resting, pretty much everything has been done by now. Well, once we begin there will be more stuff that probably has to be done too, so now we wait.
Ty
Waiting seems to be the hardest part of of this trip. We seemingly got here earlyhttt, we all arrived on Wednesday and started to prep since then. Speaking to some of the veterans who have done this they thought it was one too many nights here in Oceanside, but who am I to complain, it’s on their dime. T.
T
I really would like to make an attempt to complete RAAM, today I met Time Woudenberg, a ‘legend’ in RAAM, he has completed the race 6 times and is well respected in the ultra cycling community. I was supposed to crew for him in 2007, but unfortunately one of the riders on his team Glenn Druery had a horrific fall, he feel and slid for about 75 feet from what I understand he has terrible road rash on his butt and legs, and he was going to ride across country. Fortunately for him, common sense prevailed, they still rode to the first checkpoint n Arizona and then stopped racing.

That was the first time I was supposed to crew. The second time in 2010, I was supposed to crew, I gave the crew chief a little bit more lip than I should have and we mutually agreed it probably wasn’t a good idea to crew. I still wanted to crew, when I found out Dana was looking for people to crew, I contacted him and luckily this time I was chosen. I have to remind myself to just sit back and shut up, just listen and do what you’re told.

Many of my friends that found out about this actually think I’m racing, I have to explain to the, that what I am doing is actually crewing, rider support for the uninitiated. The riders need our help to cross the US as much as we need them to ride in order to crew for them. It is a great honor and privilege to crew which many don’t understand and although I say that I would love to do this on my own–can I do it? I would want to do it as part of a team, the stories you hear about these guys is just amazing, the ultra cycling community is a strange bunch to us mere mortals. These guys will ride and ride and ride for hours and days on end for the sport.

Consider that these guys are riding 24 hours a day, for the next 6 days, they are doing 1/2 hour pulls, and then switching out every four hours, fromCalifornia to Maryland. I am extremely psyched to be part of this great undertaking.

I know I haven’t always been…

I know I haven’t always been the best. I am a constant work in progress. I have not been the best husband, friend, worker, you name it I haven’t always been the best.

At the age of 43, I think I may have gotten it, I have lived a great life had many fabulous adventures done a lot of cool things. One of the things that in retrospect I may have been too cavalier about was getting married. I married a very nice lady, I thought we were right for one another but now 13 years later I fear it was a mistake. She has done nothing wrong, we are just two people who are the exact opposite of one another. Whoever said opposites attract was full of crap.

I have made due all these years because good Indian boys stay married and just make it work. I was happy to do this for a long time now and I am at a point where it just doesn’t work for me anymore. I can’t continue to live the life I have been living because I am extremely unhappy. I know I will get a lot of crap from the ladies because I look like an asshole and I am taking the easy way out, but in all honesty I did try, then I gave up, my fault–YES, ABSOLUTELY! Can it be fixed, probably not at this point, furthermore I don’t want it to be fixed as I am just done, what’s the point?

I have undergone a drastic physical and mental change in the last several months and I definitely have a different outlook on my future. I don’t want my life to stay the same, I fear if it does I will only revert back to my old life in which I was extremely unhealthy and toxic. Some may not know it, but I am an extremely affable guy, the last few years have taken a lot out of me. The turning point was when my Mom died, I took it harder than I thought I would. I never realized how much she meant to me, until she was gone (which is what she always told me), but it did make me realize I can be gone tomorrow, why am I making due with what I have. I want to live!

I don’t think I have been a good friend either, my friends seem to go all out for me, but I feel that sometimes I took that for granted. I have surrounded myself with less and less people as I grow older, I have lost many relationships with people I do care deeply for because I just didn’t value them as much as they valued me. Some may say I am cocky, well, I would have to say they are right (just by making this statement and agreeing with it, isn’t that a fine example?). But, I realize that I do need these people, and it may be too late for me–or is it?

So, as I sit here in Oceanside, CA I wonder what the future holds? If I die tomorrow I can’t say that. I have many regrets as I don’t I have had a wonderful life and experienced a great many things. One thing that I never experienced was the joy of becoming a parent. When I was in college, my girlfriend at the time Jennifer had gotten pregnant. We didn’t give it a second thought about terminating the pregnancy because it just wasn’t the right time, we both agreed–that was over 22 years ago.

Fast forward 22 years later, Jenn has two young boys one is 11 and the other is 13, she was able to start a family. I on the other hand never did, don’t get me wrong when we married we tried and tried, but to no avail did anything happen, I thought it was my fault, maybe God was punishing me for what I did all those years ago(Jenn thought the same thing at first also, as she had problems conceiving at first), who knows but it didn’t happen. It saddens me, because although I don’t know what type of father I would have been my wife would definitely have been a great Mom, as she loves kids and is just a good person in general. Does she resent me for that, I don’t know and I don’t think she would ever tell me at this point.

At the age of 43 I don’t think I want to have children, although people are living longer lives I just don’t think I want to be chasing around a toddler when I’m 50 yrs old. Selfish, maybe so, or maybe I just haven’t found the right person that I would ever want to put myself through that with, who knows.

I do feel my future is bright and there are many more challenges and obstacles to overcome and things to chase. Will it make me a better person, well that remains to be seen, but all that I can say I am a constant work in progress…I am sorry Pat.

RAAM starts in less than 40 hours…

So today we had out final inspections. In RAAM as with any organized race there are certain rules for signage, setup, vans, chase cars, etc. it’s amazing how thick the rule book is, for something you think is so simple. Of course all those years ago when those 5 guys decided to swim, bike and run and creat the sport of triathlon,who knew it would turn not the industry it has turned into. Same for biking, used to be when you jumped on a bike you were just going from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ without walking.

I see this too in my own life, when I was 10 or11 we would go out early and ride my single speed Kia (no not the car) all over NYC. We would go out 10 or 11 in the morning and come back at 6 or 7 in the evening as if it was nothing. Now God forbid I don’t have a minimum of 30 gears, my helmet, my spandex, etc, I won’t even got out!

So I am here at RAAM, and with all the stuff I have going on at home, I am still motivated to do this race. My roommate Leroy is over 60 years old and has qualified to do a solo RAAM. In order to qualify for a solo RAAM, you must be able to complete 400 miles in 24 hours, evidently he holds the unofficial record for his age group, unofficial because he didn’t have an official in the chase vehicle to verify that he hadn’t ‘cheated.’

So, I sit here and contemplate, what does my future hold, on many fronts?

Options

So, I am sitting here at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, AZ. I am so hungry but what to eat? There is a dearth of healthy choices at the airport, you would think it might be different in the southwest, but it doesn’t seem like it.

In the last 24 hours I have gotten no sleep at all. I was driving into the airport and felt myself dozing off at times, it was a little scary, but who the hell else is driving me to the airport at 6:30 AM! I used the train for the first time, I usually park at the airport, but wanted to try the train this time, it really wasn’t that bad.

I am excited to be joining the rest of my team in Oceanside, CA. This is the start of a great adventure, I was supposed to crew last year but because of my big mouth, I was asked to leave. It’s tough to be a type ‘A’ personality. This year I am tempering myself, I’ll be like a male model and ‘just do what I’m told!’

I am hoping to get a workout in tonight at the Irvine Equinox, seeing as I am not out here to workout, but to work, I’ll have to watch my proverbial ‘p’s and q’s,’. I have thus far had phenomenal results, when I weighed myself yesterday I had lost another 5 lbs, I was surprised and not surprised as I know how I busted my ass for it. Turns out Gabriella and I were in the gym all SEVEN days last week. I didn’t even realize that. Obviously, this is juxtaposed to not being in the gym for the next 13 days or so, I spoke to Angela, and she is teaching a Whipped and Kettlebell class tonight which I’m going to try and get over to.

I am just hoping I can stay on track with my nutrition and get some kind of workout in while being on the road across the US for the next two weeks. I can’t believe how this has certainly become part of my lifestyle, if you asked me about this four months ago I would have said you’re crazy, but being in the reality and living in it, I surprise myself with my progress. My goal is to be down to 190 pounds by the end of the year, but if I keep it up, I may hit my goal by the end of the summer, and the summer hasn’t even begun.

I met Latisha, one of Gabriela’s friends out in Brooklyn Hts Equinox, she lost 120 lbs, basically she lost a human being! I thought that was so cool. Then I started to think, can I lose100 lbs, hmmm, I would love to but certainly would be tough. I keep thinking about all the ancillary things, like I’m going to have to buy new clothes, then again, now I can fit into all those clothes that I couldn’t look at before. All this sounds expensive! Well, just think of all the money I saved from not buying food.

I just got into San Diego, damn it is chilly here today. I will meet the rest of the members of the team and embark on yet another adventure!

I was surprised

You know yesterday I went and did a Studio Cycling class at 44th St and 5th Av Equinox, I did my class and then I was supposed to meet Gabriela at 72nd St Equinox to do METCON3, I didn’t think anything of it, I figured I would just jump in a cab and get there and do my class. Much to my amazement, I couldn’t get a cab–WTF! I was surprised, but then again I feel a little naiive at the same time to think that in the middle of rush hour I would be able to hail a cab to go 1.5 miles. My spin class ended at 6:30, and my METCON3 class started at 7:00, no big deal right, but I ended up getting there 15 minutes late, I didn’t want to walk in during the middle of class, even though Gabriela suggested that I should just come in. I was a little embarrassed and quite frankly getting ready for the class, involved getting a lot of stuff, I thought it was extremely obtrusive. I was so angry, I couldn’t believe how angry I was!

It occurred to me–why the hell was I angry? I mean 4 months ago I would have been happy that I didn’t arrive in time to do a fitness class–lol. I am so committed to this that I am upset if I don’t get a workout in each day, usually TWO if I can help it. I don’t think I am burning out, but I am motivated to say the least. I think I am in the upward side of the bell curve when it comes to wokring out, as I speak to many of the instructors I realize that I must temper my enthusiasm to stay motivated for the long haul. Can I do that? I am so pleased with the results thus far and I just don’t want to be that ‘big guy’ again, don’t get me wrong, I am still bigger than I want to be, but still I am 47lbs lighter due to all the work I have done over the last several months!

Tomorrow it’s Cardio Conditioning and Boot Camp–oh boy, I get my ass kicked for 1.5 hours and then have to go and deal with all these whacko renters, I know it sound like fun right?

I just got home, it’s 10:49 and I am slightly tired, I have to leave the house by 7:30 at latest and go to Hoboken, from Hoboken I will park and then take the PATH and MTA to Brooklyn Heights–I am committed or at least should be committed right? I spoke to Michael today we’re going to do Whipped on Sunday evening with Gerren Liles-can’t wait.

Been thinking about some stuff…

I am constantly a work in progress, I think we all are, isn’t that what makes life interesting? Seeing my new found fitness, there seems to be so many other things I am ready for. Spin has helped me to ride better on my road bike–so much so I went and ordered a new Serotta road bike! The 40 lbs I no longer carry leaves me with more energy, as I do a lot of walking at my job, so it’s a relief. I still don’t get enough sleep, and I don’t know how to get more, I get home and instead of being tired I am still wired and can’t sleep. I go to sleep around 1:00 AM, and wake up promptly at 5:00 AM–WTF!

It reminds me of a story, when Greg Lemond was racing they peloton used to joke that his butt was so big it would flop over the sponsors name on the back of the seat. That’s kind of how I always felt, until about the middle of the summer when I was ‘in riding shape,’ it makes me laugh because what I thought was in riding shape is nothing compared to how I am now. It’s certainly easier climbing without those 40 extra pounds, maybe I can work my way back to riding in France–it’s been so long.

I think I’ll try the Death Ride again next year, last time I completed three passes, this time I am going to go for all five passes (30,000 ft of climbing), OH BABY! I am still hopeful to keep up with my fitness, I think I will always have to worry about it, as I always worry about what I am eating everyday. I don’t want to fault anything because as of now everything is working and I am humming along.

I’ve been thinking more and more why I didn’t do this before. I think it boils down to good old fashioned laziness to be quite frank, plus I have an amazing team of supporters. I definitely don’t think I could have done it without them, because they keep me on track and keep me going. I will be in California from next Wednesday for RAAM, think I’ll be able to work out until Friday, but after that it will be tough 24 hours on the road and constant motion, hmmm, I guess my cortisol levels will be going thru the roof.

RAAM here I come (Race Across AMerica)

You know I’ve been very lucky in my life for the most part. I always lead an active life, mostly cycling, and adventure vacations for the most part. I have ridden EVERY mountain stage at Le Tour de France between 1994 and 2005, I have ridden various stages of La Vuelta de Espana, numerous Vermont bicycle tours, RAGBRAI, I once rode from Lands End to John O’Groats (a ride across a country I don’t even like), why–because it’s there!

Anyway, I look forward to my next great adventure, I will be sure to a lot of pics and post them!

In 11 days I am embarking on one of my greatest adventures RAAM, Race Across America, I am on the support crew for one of the most fantastic and incredible unltra endurance races in the world. Personally, I feel any serious cyclist should at least once in his/her lifetime attend the Le Tour de France, attend The Giro d’Italia, attend La Vuelta de Espana, attend the world championships, ride RAGBRAI, and ride RAAM. Obviously I am not riding across America, but I am supporting a wonderful Team Sarcoma powered by Bacchetta Bikes our riders– Dana Lieberman, Christopher Kaiser, Alex Miller, and Steve Petty. I am proud to do this, but since my physical re-awakening now I want to ride this.

It is obviously too late for this year, but next year I would seriously like to participate in this event. One of the reason I am crewing for this edition is I want to see the logistics of doing the race, I really believe that I can do this and will seriously pursue participating in the next edition.

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