Sunday, September 1, 2013

RAAM 2014?

The Race Across AMerica (RAAM) is a truly unique event.  There isn't really anything else in the world, at least that I know of, like it.  The obvious comparisons to the Grand Tours aren't really valid, nor is any comparison to any multi-stage cycle, running, or even motorsports event.  Once RAAM starts, the clock never stops until the rider(s) complete the entire distance, basically it's just one stage.

Any type of Grand Tour, rally, or even events like Paris - Dakar, London - Sydney, or the old Camel Trophy's all allow time to rebuild, repair, and rest each night.  RAAM is likely better compared to any of the 24 hour races like Daytona, Le Mans, or Nürburgring.  Once the event starts, everything counts, and any time spent not moving forward is time and / or distance that your competitors are getting away from you.

What RAAM does have in common with any of these large scale, cross country events, is that all the personal and materiel have to be successfully moved and utilized across a large area.  And the team never has an opportunity to do any repair, recovery, etc. at a 'home base'.  The entire circus has to be supported in a mobile environment.  If a team averages 20 mph, then every 24 hours the entire operation has moved 480 miles from where it started.  The logistic challenge that starts with getting 3+ vehicles, 10+ bikes, 18+ people, plus all the materiel to support an 8 person team, to San Diego, then continues for 6 days trying to keep up with all the above moving east nearly 500 miles each day.

So why do it?  RAAM does provide the average person to participate in something that is an what can best be described as an adventure.  Not only an adventure, but one that not very many people have participated in.  In 2013, 162 people finished RAAM.  The most people to summit Everest on a single day was on May 23, 2010.  That day 169 people reached the summit.

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in RAAM in both 2010 and 2012 with The Georgia Chain Gang (GCG).  Like many teams, the GCG used RAAM as a fundraising tool for a charity.  RAAM is such a big event that goes across the entire country and takes 5+ days to complete, that teams have a bigger marketing footprint than many other events.  Anyone that knows me or anything about he GCG knows that The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) has been the benefactor of all the fundraising that the GCG has generated each year that they did the event.

For 2014 I may have another opportunity to participate with an 8 person team, again raising money for LLS.  At this point I'm not sure if I'll be riding or crewing, or if the effort will happen at all in 2014.  But, I believe it will happen, and if it does, I'm hopeful that I will be participating in some function.  Even if it was completely up to me, I'm not sure if I'd be happier riding or crewing.  I feel that I could make a meaningful contribution in either capacity, so... don't know.

For know, I'm going with the assumption that the 2014 effort is going ahead.  Which means my primary source of fundraising, bike repair, is back in business.  In both 2010 and 2012 I did a lot of work on a lot of bikes.  So, the shop is open.  Hopefully between repair, moving some Ebay fodder, fundraiser's, and just plain beating the bushes for donations, I'll be able to crack the fundraising.  And if I'm going to ride, the training is going to have to take a serious upturn.

Stay tuned...