People who have participated in RAAM know that the hardest thing to do is trying to get to the starting line. For Team Hope, we have been getting to the starting line since September 2009...and it's been a long journey. Throughout our journey, we've met some amazing people, learned a lot of lessons and have really embraced the mindset that "things happen for a reason."
While the team was not able to participate in RAAM 2010, I had the opportunity to participate for a 4-person recumbent team, Team Bent Up Cycles. The crew consisted of 15 people, with the infamous Lee Mitchell as the crew chief. It was a HUGE learning experience for me as my previous experience with RAAM was in 2009, crewing for female soloist, Janet Christiansen. OMG...believe me when I say this: crewing for a 4-person team is soooo different compared to crewing for a soloist. Sure, the route is the same, you have the crew supporting the racer(s), everyone's tired and sleep-deprived. But that's about it (well, in a nutshell. A really SMALL nutshell). Crewing for a 4-person team is soooo much faster. I mean, if you think about it for a second, errrr or maybe a minute or ten.... you have two pairs of racers who alternate shifts every 4 hours. So while a pair of racers are sleeping, you have the other pair of racers alternating every 15-30 minutes with his own follow vehicle in tow. After the racers finish their 4-hour pull, then they switch spots with the racers who were sleeping and now have to sleep for 4-hours. Were you able to picture that? Seriously, stop and think about it. Our bodies are not designed to function that way - 4 hours "on," 4 hours "off" and repeat?!?!?! Don't forget, the 4-hour time frame while you're supposed to be resting includes: taking a shower, trying to consume some calories, trying to sleep in the back of a moving RV and then getting up for the next pull. And that's just what the racers deal with! With the crew, you have a 16-hour shift of doing direct follow or leapfrogging the racer, followed by an 8-hour sleep break in a moving RV (and half-way through your sleep break, you hear the racers doing their shift exchange). And of course, I can't fail to mention that all of this is going on while:
- Making sure everyone is safe
- Ensuring each member of the team is following the RAAM rules, as well as the traffic laws
- Trying to NOT get lost
As crazy as all of this sounds, it IS truly an AAAHHHHMAZING experience. If you ever have the opportunity to do RAAM, as a racer or crew member, do it!!! You won't regret drinking the RAAM Kool-aid!