It took two years and four attempts, but I've realized the dream. Finally, I qualified (and just received the official invite) to compete in Race Across America as the first ever solo handcyclist!
After coming up short on several qualifying attempts, I am so happy to have stuck with this goal.
If I'm honest, it's been difficult to go through so many grueling miles and still fail each time. For one, that should be easy relative to RAAM. It also made me rethink the purpose of all this and wonder if efforts aren't better spent elsewhere. I still don't know with certainty but I can say that sticking it out feels good and I've learned invaluable lessons and had priceless experiences along the way. Quitting my first attempt was one of the best things to happen for me as an athlete. I've always learned the hard way - so why should this be any different?
I just did 401miles in 31hrs and 2minutes (toot, toot) over 20,000feet of climbing mountains, through the desert night and up "middle finger" hills.
Please note: this is well beyond what I ever thought I'd be able to do, especially when I was just getting started and training on a 2.8 mile lake loop. Honestly, I never thought I would even aim this high.
Progress does NOT ignore dedication.
Thanks to all of you out there for supporting me and encouraging me when I get discouraged and confused by this Quixotic quest I'm on. Much love to you and to my 3 dedicated crew members - Matt Hoffmann, Jared Wylie and Kat Henning (nice pic Kat!) you should have seen (heard) us out there ;) Most people have no idea how big of a team effort this all is. Everyone grinds hard.
Specialized Bicycle Components and Phil Wood & Co. have been incredibly helpful. We made some adjustments and gear choices after some time in the Specialized wind tunnel and team mechanic Kyle Hayes completely rebuilt my drive train which massively improved efficiencies. They even teamed up with LeRoy at Phil Wood who built out a set of Roval hoops on Phil Wood's legendary hubs.
Thanks to you both, we did it!
One final big thank you to the RAAM officials for being creative with me to find another way to qualify. Having a freak mechanical 12 hours into my last qualifier (bike suddenly snapping in half) was unusual and they know how badly I wanted this. They agreed this was a fair solution and I hope it shows my worthiness to take on this awesome challenge.