If no one has said it before, let me say it now.
The United States is actually massive.
And that Race Across America thing was pretty massive too…
Like, “over 3,143 miles” massive. “170,000 feet of climbing and felt like more” massive. The challenge was bigger than I could have imagined. The commitment to pedaling, to be "in it" at all times was maddening. The pain, delusions, and joy that brought me to the edge of madness. Endless climbs, no sleep, even with mostly beautiful weather - it was all massive.
And if you’re curious? Yes.
Yes I would do it again.
Really quick, the big shout out. I only got through this race with the support and enthusiasm of family, friends, and organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I owe you so much. To every one of you following my journey, sending me prayers and messages to lift my spirits: THANK YOU!!!
The question I want to answer comes to the core of who I have become:
How do we overcome the impossible?
For many people, even with my string of accolades as an endurance athlete, my bid at RAAM as a solo handcyclist was a futile effort. It had never been tried, might never be done. But I did it. How?
First, prepare by DOING, not by thinking. I knew I was ready for RAAM because I failed my first two qualifiers. In order to be allowed to race, every rider must qualify. The most basic one is the 24-hour race. Rack up 400 miles from dusk, through the night and the following day, and you’re in.
RAAM was a beast, but it never hit 400 miles in a day. Figuring out my nutrition, handcycle setup, efficiency plans were crucial to making it work. I hit every bump on the way - including one in Borrego Springs that literally broke my handcycle in two - but in the end I did. And having tasted failure, I knew I wouldn’t need to a second time.
And second (my personal favorite), when rolling off that start line, shut the brain off and follow your heart. I didn't think of the enormity of the continent before me and thus it couldn’t scare me. Every day, I had a job to do. My job was to pedal, all day, and every break from pedaling had to be justified. It didn’t matter what lay ahead - hills, storms, descents, mechanical bugs, barreling semi-trucks, fatigue, heat, cold. It didn’t matter. Carry on and ride it out, or go home.
So simple, your brain can call it quits by the time you roll off the line!
Thank you to my crew of merry fools: Colin, Brad, OP, David, Jen, Darwin, Matt, Chris and Jackson. You were a pleasure on those lonely roads with me. I am eternally grateful for your friendships and commitments.
Thank you as well to Specialized, Phil Wood & Co., and Campagnolo for the gear upgrades that made all the difference. If RAAM felt smooth, it was because I everything I needed to succeed. You made this possible.
And now, time for some well-earned rest!
“Live With Heart”