Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WE Finished!

Sorry for the delay in posting. Internet access and finding the time to post was a challenge indeed.
Team H2Ope finished in 7 days, 21 hours, and 31 minutes.

I will post pictures soon on our blog. Albums can be found under The Team Hope Facebook Page.

Thank you everyone for your support of our team and our cause St. Charles School in Uganda, Blue Planet Network, and Drink Local Drink Tap.

We could not have done it without you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

One More Day

At 2pm Pacific (PDT) The Team Hope will cross the starting line in Oceanside, California and begin the journey of a lifetime to Annapolis, Maryland hoping to finish in 7 days.

The last few days is a balance of organized as our crew chief Kat and her family have opened up their home to 4 racers and 14 crew members. we have a full size RV and 2 vans plus Kat's CRV which will act as our chore vehicle probably driving her neighbors crazy yet have been very supportive once finding out what (us) all these crazy people are up doing.

Today is our last day "TO GET SHIT DONE" This has become my new favorite saying over the past few days personally.

Josh stepped up with creating the schedule today and delegating the last minute tasks including switching out our RV due to something wrong with the dry shaft or something of that nature. I would go into more detail might I do not know trucks.

Ruben, Ociel, Nick and others are working out some issues we had with the PA system this past evening during a full out practice session. It was a great learning experience and well done for little experience. From the racer perspective, I felt very safe and comfort with communication between my immediate follow vehicle. Lessons were learned it will only help us work better as a team.

Several other crew members are WORKING-to clarify not just working. I mean hauling ass.

Over the past few days I finally been able to meet in person this random group of people that has been emailing constantly back and forth for months. It has been such a great experience and everyone brings something unique to the table. I think it was Ociel who said it is like the Real World. (I am a 21 yr old. It is a stupid reality show that puts people in a house together). Anywho...We will be taking video and pictures 24/7 so I guess that is like the The Real World confession room?

Yesterday the whole team went down to Oceanside and we will return today again as a team for the team meeting this evening. I will apologize now. Re-reading my sentences back and I feel like I am back in Elementary school failing my writing class. As you might imagine, the logistics of such an event is hard to even describe. Over the past few months, my life come to be solely about RAAM with school and a thing called a social life outside of cycling on the side. I am excited yet stressed and filled with anxiety rolled into one. Take this as my explanation of this rambling blog post. Welcome to my thought process right now of a 21 year old endurance junkie racer.

Tomorrow hopefully our crew members will be able to post updates and I hope you enjoyed getting some insight and a 'behind the scenes' look to my adventure in Race Across America. Safe travels to all RAAM participants.

Ride On.
Sara Harper -Racer


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


No one knows better how much RAAM prep work needs/has taken place more than our Crew Chief Kat. Kat along with some the California based crew members worked over the weekend beginning the prep work on the vans and RV. A good portion of the team is present though today to help make everything happen

So far- paperwork is being finished, the RV, CRV (chore vehicle), and our 2 vans our going through "Pimp My Ride". Larry and myself (Sara) will be sharing one van since we are on opposite shifts. Tupperware containers will help keep us organize for the 7 days will be living in it between our 4 hour 30 minutes on and off the bike. Alex and Andre will share a vehicle as well racing on opposite shifts.

How it works: Andre and I (Sara) will trade off in 4-30 minute tempo rides where our opposite vehicles will pick up and drop us off the road waiting for the next rider exchange to occur. After our shift, we will make our way to the RV where 4 crew members will be sleeping at any given time. The racers will shower up, eat, sleep, then after 4 hours-we will make our way back to our vans. Then the opposite team will be off. Starting Saturday, we will have a racer on the road 7/24.

To-Do List Getting Crossed Off: The vehicles were outfitted with decals for RAAM and sponsors while being installed with a PA System today as well. I'm sure there's so much else going on in Kat's house today that I don't even know about.

Tonight a few of us will make a trip to San Diego, CA to pick up Emily Monahan who is flying form Erie, PA.

Pictures will be uploaded soon. Stay tuned for more exciting RAAM blog posts!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Help Support Team H2ope!

Updates, updates..where to begin! As the starting line quickly approaches and it just 6 days away everyone has been hard at work preparing for our big day NEXT Saturday June 18!

Our race might end in 7 days but our cause-Blue Planet Network and St. Charles School in Uganda will always continue. We will continue to being awareness to the global water crisis with our partnership with Cleveland non-profit Drink Local Drink Tap. Their outreach program promotes drinking tap and giving back while bringing awareness to the water crisis. Erin Huber, Drink Local Drink Tap, joined our conference call this evening to brief the team on the upcoming details regarding the St. Charles well building.

Erin and her crew will be traveling to Africa while we are traveling across the country documenting their trip. Building a life-sustainable well is just one step, they will work with the community to educate them on safe drinking water and how the well works. The headmaster of St. Charles School has welcomes Erin and her team with open arms. The documentary will have several aspects such as showing the children how to use cameras.

At 4:30am, they will walk the 4.5 miles with the children that they take every day to receive buckets of drinking water. It will then go through a process in a makeshift shack to use the water. Every child at St. Charles School has a voice and that voice should be heard. We can help give them that chance.

Through the film and our day is done it will live on. We can tell the stories of these children, the global water crisis, and for Team H2ope-to do our part. Every and any donation can make a life-changing impact for another-here's your chance to be a hero. We are racing our bikes to bring awareness, what will you do?

For more information on Drink Local Drink Tap, visit

Other Team Updates:

The California-based crew have been extremely hard at work as well prep the vehicles for Race Across America. The RV and supplies have also been picked up!

On the Cleveland side, Larry did an awesome job pulling together the Cleveland's Touring Club main event called the Sunday in June tour ride! This ride brings out an estimated 1,000 riders to tackle 25, 50, or 100 miles! Josh, Andre, Trish, Larry, (Debbie-Trish's awesome helpful friend :) ) and myself representin talking about St. Charles School, Blue Planet Network, and Race Across America.

As things continue to develop, we will be sending out information through our twitter (see the top of the blog), Team Hope facebook page!/pages/The-Team-Hope/249965686468, our website, and of course our blog site!

Once the race begins, make sure to follow our updated progress across the RAAM route on the RAAM website! Based on our estimated pace, it can even calculate where will be in let's say Ohio.


Okay well we ain't cool...but we are cycling for a COOL CAUSE and the Berea Sun Newspaper thinks so too! Check out Larry Smith's interview below :) Way to go Larry!
Berea high grad cycles across U.S. for fresh water causes
Larry Smith
BEREA -- Larry Smith, a 1988 Berea High grad, has ridden a bike since age 5. He began racing BMX bikes at age 12 and rode in many endurance races in later years.
But this month’s cycling endeavor is beyond any ride so far.
Smith will be part of a four-rider, 24-hour team who will travel across the U.S. covering 3,000 miles, climbing through the Rocky Mountains in 40-degree weather, descending into valleys at more than 90 degrees, facing potential storms — all in an estimated 7½ days.
"Why? It’s an awesome opportunity," said the former Berean whose mother, Lorraine Smith, still lives in the city. "We’re helping to provide sustainable, fresh water to villages in Africa and even towns in Ohio where there is a fresh water problem. It’s going to be a pretty amazing ride — and accomplishment."
He is part of Team H2Ope participating in RAAM — Ride Across America. The team is riding for a charity, Blue Planet Network. He is accepting donations that will go toward the charity that helps the fresh water cause.
Smith, a teacher at Carl and Louis Stokes Central Academy in Cleveland, said a fellow teacher from Africa explained the need for fresh water. Smith said there is a village called St. Charles in Uganda that has an orphanage of 300 children. He said the children walk two to three miles each day for their drinking water from a river.
"The sad thing, children who go to get the water on a daily basis fear of being physically assaulted. And some of the young girls even get raped on occasion to get that water," he said. "Even if that occurs, they still bring back the water."
His group also has partnered with the village and Drink Local, Drink Tap, the latter a grassroots effort to reconnect people in Northeast Ohio to their Lake Erie drinking source.
Smith, with the other riders, will begin the race June 18 in Oceanside, Calif. They will ride through Ohio hitting Oxford, Dayton, Chillicothe and Athens as they travel to their final destination — Annapolis, Md.
The riders will break up into two-person teams, each having a four-hour shift. They will ride for 30 minutes, rest of 30 minutes and return to the bike over that four-hour shift. Each will ride about 700 miles to cover the route. Smith has ridden 400-500 miles over a four- or five-day weekend.
"It is not above and beyond me but the way we are doing it, it’s a huge challenge — but for a great cause," said Smith, a Twinsburg resident.
His teammates are Andre Husain of Garfield Heights; Sara Harper, Strongsville and Alex Galindo, California.
Donations are accepted at and click on Team H2Ope’s link. Follow the team at
See more Berea news at

Saturday, June 11, 2011

USA Today RAAM Article

The ride stuff: Race Across America marks 30 years!

When John Marino, John Howard, Michael Shermer and Lon Haldeman straddled their bicycles at the start of the Great American Bike Race in 1982, they were embarking on a cross-country ride that would redefine their physical and mental boundaries.
It was the dawn of the endurance sports boom and there were few cyclists who could realistically race across North America and fewer still who wanted to try.
"This was a going-to-the-moon kind of odyssey," Haldeman says. "People would say, 'There's no way you guys are going to be able to do this.' The first people who did it, everybody thought you were absolutely nuts."
When the 30th edition of the event, now called the Race Across America, begins this week, the start will look a lot like it did in the '80s.
Though 45 or so riders will clip into their pedals in Oceanside, Calif., to race as solo entrants, all of them will be drafting behind the four pioneers at the opening of a transcontinental journey that will require nine to 12 days of grinding through 20-plus hours in the saddle.
"There is nothing else in the culture of sports like the RAAM," says Jim Lampley, who covered the first race and four after it for ABC's "Wide World of Sports." "To this day I still see it as the greatest undiscovered sports event on the planet."
Historically, half of the riders will complete the 3,000-mile test. Of those who do, many will need weeks or months to recover.
Thirty years on, Howard still feels the effects of the carpal tunnel syndrome that made it hard to turn doorknobs for weeks after the race. The extreme fatigue was temporary, but nonetheless devastating.
"I just didn't want to get out of bed," he says.
Marino was the driving force in conceiving the coast-to-coast contest. Drafted at 19 by his hometown Dodgers, he turned to cycling after a back injury cut short his baseball dreams.
Determined to make an impact in sports, Marino was perusing "The Guinness Book of World Records" when he came across the transcontinental cycling record of 13 days, 5 hours, 20 minutes set by Paul Cornish in 1973. Cornish also lived in Southern California and Marino called him to set up a meeting.
"I went to his house and told him I wanted to beat his record," Marino recalls.
A bike mechanic by trade, Cornish agreed to help Marino, receiving $500 for sharing the secrets of long-distance cycling. After two years of training and fine-tuning his equipment, Marino was ready. Setting out in August 1978, he broke the record by four hours.
An attempt to lower the mark the next year failed, but in 1980 Marino chopped nearly a day off his record, finishing in 12 days, 3 hours, 41 minutes.
During an interview to promote a book and film about his experiences, Marino was asked by a magazine editor if he'd make another record attempt.
"I said 'I'd like to do this again, but it should be a race,' " Marino says. The editor wrote an article laying out the concept of a "great American bike race."
With a name in place, Marino set out to find riders who could complete such a feat.
Howard was an obvious candidate. A three-time Olympic cyclist, he had won the third Ironman in February 1981 on the strength of a dominating bike leg.
"It was a timely venture," Howard says. "I had been successful in Ironman, so I was looking to do something different."
Haldeman stated his case for inclusion with an audacious double continental crossing in 1981.
Starting out from New York City, he took 12 days, 18 hours, 49 minutes going east to west into the prevailing headwinds, setting a record that still stands but failing to better Marino's time. Haldeman made an eight-hour layover and then "turned around at 3 a.m. to beat the L.A. traffic on the way out." He was back on the East Coast 10 days, 23 hours, 27 minutes later, breaking Marino's record and lopping more than 12 days off the double-crossing mark.
"When I finished the double I figured that's the last thing that I'm ever going to do. I almost felt depressed at the end," says Haldeman. That changed a few hours later, when Marino called to invite him to race across the country before ABC's cameras.
The deal with the network was the key to the race, and, once again, Marino had played a crucial role.
On the advice of his book publisher, he had hired an agent, Jerry Kushnick, who counted an up-and-coming Jay Leno among his clients.
"(Kushnick) had some clout, and along with the film we'd made, we pitched the idea to ABC and they agreed to do it," Marino says.
The Great American Bike Race was on.
Howard was considered the favorite given his extensive cycling resume and Ironman victory. Marino was tabbed the most likely challenger because of his record-setting rides and role in organizing the race.
Shermer and Haldeman weren't given much of a chance. Shermer had never crossed the country on a bike, gaining the race on the strength of his record-setting ride from Seattle to San Diego, and little was known about Haldeman despite his stunning double crossing.
Another unknown before the race was how long the riders planned to pedal each day. Given relatively equal speeds, whoever could stay in the saddle longest would win.
It didn't take long to find out once the race started.
"Some time very late the first night, it was after midnight — I choke up thinking about it to this day — I was on a freeway overpass in Blythe (Calif.) with Lon's girlfriend, Susan Notorangelo," Lampley says. "Lon had already put 15 to 20 miles on the other riders and I asked her, 'When is Lon going to sleep? She looked at me and said, 'We're going to New York. Aren't you going to New York, too?' That's when I knew that sleep deprivation was going to be a big part of the story."
Haldeman stunned his competitors and the ABC crew by riding through the night and most of the next day.
"I went the first 42 hours without sleeping, and basically had a six- to seven-hour lead at the end of the second day," Haldeman says. "It was the first time someone had gone that long without sleeping."
Haldeman credits Notorangelo, his future wife, with opening his eyes to the possibility by riding 600 straight miles in setting a women's crossing record a month earlier.
"That's what gave me the confidence to try it at the start of the Great American Bicycle Race," he says. "After that I was gaining an hour or so a day. I never really had a strategy. I just knew I was going to get caught if I stopped."
Shermer was somewhere in Kansas when he found himself questioning whether he could finish.
"I remember feeling so bad at some points that I didn't think I could go on," he says. "And then I'd take a two-hour nap and wake up thinking maybe I could. I'd get on the bike and start pedaling and the next thing you know the sun would come up and I'd start feeling better. The body's ability to recover and keep going is just amazing."
Haldeman crossed the finish line at the Empire State Building in New York City 9 days, 20 hours, 2 minutes after he left Santa Monica, shattering his own record for the coast-to-coast crossing by more than 27 hours.
Howard was next, about 15 hours later, and Shermer trailed another nine hours behind. Marino gutted it out, finishing in just over 12 days, 7 hours.
Haldeman, Howard, Shermer and Marino are reuniting at this year's RAAM to reminisce, hang out and reconnect with a race that all four remained involved with during its early days and has grown to include categories for women as well as teams.
The four also will ride — only 50 or so miles to the first checkpoint — when the solo men head out Wednesday to begin their transcontinental odyssey.
"It will be sort of like an old-timer's thing," Shermer says. "It's nice that it's made it to 30 races. I'm proud that it's still going.
"For me personally it was less about beating the other guys and more about an Everest-type of thing. It has given me the confidence to go out and do the other things I've done."
That includes getting a doctorate in the history of science and founding the Skeptic Society and Skeptic Magazine, which are dedicated to "critical thinking about controversial claims." He's also written 10 books and pens a monthly column for Scientific American.
Howard is the only one of the four who didn't do the race again.
"I decided it was just too brutal, it took too much out of me," he says.
He focused on other challenges, setting speed (152.2 mph) and 24-hour (593 miles) records and becoming a coach to those who would follow in his footsteps.
"The bicycle to me is a tool of life. It serves so many purposes, some of which are therapeutic. I didn't want to ruin that by continuing to race in RAAM," Howard says.
Marino was involved with the race as a participant or organizer for a decade before deciding to move on, becoming a general contractor.
Like the others, he still rides and is looking forward to the reunion.
Haldeman cemented his legend by repeating as champion the next year and going on to other exploits that included teaming with Pete Penseyres in 1987 to set the tandem crossing record of 7 days, 14 hours, 55 minutes.
He and Notorangelo run a touring business that specializes in transcontinental trips and has been the proving ground for many riders who have competed in the RAAM.
His latest challenge is taking place in Peru, where he's combining tours with charitable work such as building schools, digging wells, donating supplies. "We basically go where other tours won't," Haldeman says.
Sounds familiar.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Team Hope is Complete!!

Team Hope now has filled the final two remaining crew member spots!!
Our team roster consists of:

Alex Galindo
Andre Husain
Larry Smith
Sara Harper

Alonso Gomez
Bill Potter
David Christof
Diana Woolf
Emily Monahan
Josh Futrel
Kat Espino*Crew Chief
Katie Klein
Michele Souder*new crew member
Nick Corrette
Ociel Villamar*new crew member
Ruben Marquina
Trish McNamara

The countdown continues! 10 DAYS!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Team Hope Video

See what Team H2Ope is all about

Wednesday June 8

A lot can happen in a 24 hour period.
I finished my gloves. I am dyslexic-directionally challenged so as silly as it sounds, I would like to make the correct turns while RAAM.

Our Team H2Ope kits arrived...

Larry was interview by the Sun Newspaper here in Cleveland, Ohio. The article will print this upcoming Thursday.

Yesterday the Strongsville Post (Cleveland, Ohio) publication called me and I have an interview with them this afternoon.

Trish and I show off our kits...[a kit refers the jersey top, shorts] around Strongsville, Middleburgh Heights, and Berea as we had a nice easy ride.

In Southern California our crew chief Kat and crew hosted the Ride-In movie night at the Block Shop.

I even  made friends with a snapping turtle while waiting to meet up with Trish for a ride.  
For those of you who are just checking our the Team H2Ope blog for the first time, thanks for visiting!
Team H2Ope is a RAAM-Race Across America team spilt mostly between Cleveland, Ohio and Southern California.  The team is made up of a 4-person relay with 13 (looking for 15 crew members) that begins at Oceanside, California following the RAAM route all the way to Annapolis, Maryland.  We will begin our adventure on Saturday, June 18, 2011 just days away!!!
This is not exactly a 'ride-in-the-park'. The racers have been hard at training for months in preparation for the race. Team H2ope is taking an unique approach to racing compared to some teams. Within a 4-6 hour period, two of the four person will trade off in estimated 30 minute hard effort rides. They will be trading in and out of the same vehicle. The driver and navigator will be hard at work finding a place to pull off the road an estimated 30 minutes ahead on the route where an exchange can take place. During the daytime, the rider who been riding will be approaching giving a signal to the new rider. The current rider must past the hub of the new rider which constitutes the relay. After 6 hours, these two riders will be 'off shift' while the two other on trading off for 6 hours.

Team H2ope was brought together with a passion for cycling and a desire to help provide safe, clean drinking water for those in need. We are racing for Blue Planet Network along with 2 other team [2-person relay and a soloist racer]. Through our Cleveland connection Drink Local Drink Tap and Blue Planet Network we are racing to provide a sustainable well for the children of St. Charles School in Uganda. For our team, this project has become close to our hearts. I think it is something quite amazing to take a skill set such as cycling and make it apart of the bigger picture and make an impact for the better in the world.

The journey to the starting line of RAAM is the most challenging part. Everyday or so I go to the RAAM website sadden that the number of participants drops as the starting date becomes more of a reality. Team H2ope would like to personally thank everyone who has helped to support our cause and bring awareness to the global water crisis on our world.

To our sponsors: Polar Bottles, Dash Cycles, Action Wipes
We truly appreciate your support and we look forward to representing you as we travel 3,000 miles in 7 days across the United States. You not only support us but our cause and for that we are thankful.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Final Countdown!

No more can express it better than Europe-Final Countdown as we prepare for ...

Okay so I might be born in the 90's but I have a soft spot in my heart for 80's hair bands <3

I feel like I am waiting in super slow motion for the ball to drop on New Years Eve counting down...

The team-crew members, crew chief, sponsors, and racers have been hard at work in preparation for months and I can say at least for myself that it feels great to see everything coming together!

We keep pushing hard to complete our ever growing to-do list as the race start approaches. Last night we had a great turnout for the RAAM Rules Quiz conference call with everyone and on Saturday Kat (crew chief), Trish (co-crew chief), Andre, Larry, Alex, and myself were fortunate to hear and learn from Bent Up Cyclists racer who gave us some important tips for the race ahead.

Larry and I got recent upgrades in bikes! We are now Sram Red twins feeling faster than ever :) Dash Saddles, one of our sponsors, sent us our custom saddles which I think are almost too beautiful to put my ass on really :)

Larry worked his magic and put together one last fundraiser in Cleveland that will take place at the Cleveland Touring Club's Sunday in June ride which looks to bring together 800-1,000 riders from what I hear. I just think it's cool that even Cleveland can have a large showing of riders! YAY CLE!

Till the start of the race, I will be posting daily as new developments occur with Team H2Ope!