Friday, June 26, 2009

Crisis? What crisis?

Don't panic. We're fine.

Somebody is out on the roads of Ohio right this second wearing a Team Reaching Heights jersey. I'm not sure which one of our guys it is right now, but that doesn't matter. The point is, no matter what has happened in the last 90 minutes, our guys have not missed a turn of the wheel. We are on the way to Annapolis.

So, ok, here's what happened ...

(I just love telling you guys these stories. Makes me happy.)

This is Friday, we've been on RAAM for six full days. This was just another "normal" day - our guys are taking their shifts, the Chase is in Athens grabbing a few hours before tonight, and the RV was in charge of laundry. (You'll be proud to know that I successfully did five loads of laundry without losing a single sock or headband or glove and I didn't have to accost anybody on the street to do it. I took Lary along as protective support this time, just in case, and he's happy to report that "no further incidents were reported.")

Anyhow, we are heading toward the Follow with clean laundry so we can sub out particular riding shorts for Charlie. All routine so far. At some point along the ride, I began, as they say, "feeling my tired." I told the RV guys I absolutely must retire at this moment. I crawled up on the top bunk and set about relaxing. Actually, I'm kind of punchy, so I was laughing for no reason at stuff that was not even funny. (I suddenly thought "Pepsi" was the funniest word ever invented.)

Within five minutes, I could hear Jim, who was driving the RV, say to Lary, "Is the Follow supposed to be tilted like that? Does it look like that right rear tire might be flat?"

Hmm. Even in my delirium, my ears pricked up a bit. Probably not, I thought. It's cool. Closed my eyes.

Four minutes later - I didn't really look, I just made that part up - the RV was parked and Eileen Hardy from the Follow crew blew in our door. (Eileen is one of those women who always manages to look put together, even while crewing RAAM.) Anyway, she had a headset on and was talking to Charlie, who was on the bike. Richard left the flat-tired Follow and came into the RV.

About 15 seconds before he walked into the RV, it occurred to me that the racers' bed was not made because I had just done laundry. I jumped down from the loft and started putting sheets on the bed. Richard sat on the couch and waited patiently (really, these two guys are the most polite racers out here; we should win the Mr. Congeniality award.) I made the bed and grabbed Richard a drink. Eileen and Jim and Lary pow-wowed in the front of the RV about the section of route that was coming up - remember, Charlie was still out on the course, riding alone as he is allowed to do under daylight rules.

But lots of mistakes are beginning to happen to several teams due to fatigue this late in the race, and we want to be sure that we double-check all of our navigation, because we have not been immune to the errors, either and we don't want any more if we can help it. Charlie would have four or five quick turns coming up on the route, and he'd have to make them on his own. In an emergency, the RV could turn into a direct support vehicle, per RAAM rules, but the six crew members in these two vehicles had collectively decided to use the RV to take the flat to be fixed while the Follow used the donut tire to continue direct support to Charlie until we retuned to them with their repaired tire.

Am I making sense?

The point is, Charlie would have to navigate several turns on his own without someone from the Follow telling him where to go. But we were aware that his mental faculties may have suffered a bit after riding round the clock for six days, so we didn't want to take chances. (It's not like he's slurring his words or anything, but wow, the man must be seriously fatigued.)Quickly, a plan was formulated - Charlie needed fluids and help navigating, so Lary and I each took a bottle of fluid to transfer to Charlie using that jogging beside the racer technique I told you about earlier. And we would do it on two different blocks, so that Lary could direct Charlie the right way on the first turn and then, around the corner, I would be there with another bottle and directions for another turn. Seemed foolproof.

And it was, but not without some adventure. The moment I saw bicycle wheels turning my corner, I turned my back to the rider (re: section 6010.11 of the Team Reaching Heights Crew Manual) and started jogging, holding the bottle by the top just like the manual says.

Then I heard a foreign-accented voice say, "Well, thanks, but I think you're mistaken. I'm a solo." It wasn't Charlie.

So ok, I didn't actually give his Gatorade away, but I tried, and I'm sorry about that, I really am. I'm deeply grateful that the guy didn't just take it and move on. (And I probably would have cheered, "Looking good, Charlie," or somesuch and looked like a real fool.)

So I still have the Gatorade bottle in my hand and I am jogging back to the corner where I will first identify the rider, then start jogging and holding out the bottle. On the way there, a giant dog came bolting out from behind a tree, flying at me, teeth bared. Suddenly, he jerked back violently, all four legs off the ground, thanks to the chain around his neck.

Poor Cujo.

Anyway, Charlie came by and I gave him the bottle and while jogging, told him to turn left, which he did. Later, he would tell, "you guys did that just like you were supposed to, good job. Thanks for helping me out there." (I mean, really, these guys might be the nicest guys on earth, especially in this position.)

The end of the story is this: The Follow crew put on the spare, put the bum tire in the RV and went off in search of Charlie, hoping he was still on-course. The RV crew went off to find a tire shop to get the tire repaired, after which we would deliver it to the Follow so that everything would be fine and dandy. As it turns out, there was a tire repair joint directly on the course and at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Friday, they had nothing better to do than repair our tire right away. By the time Charlie made it to that point of the course on his bike, the RV crew had Richard up and ready for the racer exchange. The guys patted each other on the back and Richard took off. By that time, the tire was repaired and the Follow drove right on in and the tire shop did all the work this time, putting the original tire back on.

Crew member Ken Runyan assists with freeing the spare tire from its hiding place

It's all good. The RAAM Gods are with us.

There is a lot of riding left, though, and our guys will do some serious riding in the next 24 hours. Charlie might be hearing " Bad to the Bone" (his favorite climbing song) more times than he wants to. But Team Reaching Heights will carry on, turning the wheels, mixing up the fluids, navigating the route and reading the blog to the guys on the bike at night. We have a mission and it's in Annapolis.

And even though I have not gotten that restorative REM cycle yet - coming soon, though, after I post this - I have come to see one thing very clearly. It does take a whole team, and a crew can make or break you in a venture like this. Richard and Charlie are riding the miles, but they can't do it without support and they have entrusted us to give it to them. What we're doing, especially in an emergency situation like this, requires flexibility and creative thinking, patience and a sense of humor. Mostly what it takes is the recognition of our common goal.

I'm proud to crew for these two guys. So are Lary, Don, Johanna, Eileen, Jonathan, Ken, John and Jim. We're going to make it to Annapolis, and I will probably cry like a baby when we get there, not just because I'm tired but because we will have accomplished what we set out to do.

And it will have been hard. But so worth it.

As I write, 604 miles to go.


Anonymous said...

To Charlie and Lary and the rest of the gang - Know that we are all thinking about you and are so excited about all of your endeavors! Our thoughts and best wishes are with you!!!


Sherry Ford said...

To the support team - thanks for all your dedication and hard work - Charlie and Richard couldn't do it without your help. I'm sure they are very thankful for you.

Sherry Ford

Chris said...


I have to admit that, while reading some of the stories you are posting, I think I can hear Yakety Sax (aka the Benny Hill theme song) playing in the background....

Keep pushing, Richard! Go, Charlie!

Seriously, you've captivated so many of us who are following your progress so closely. We're all riding along with you, sending our support and helping you push (from the comfort of our armchairs, of course!)....


Cheryl Christie said...

Go guys go!!! It's almost over and the finish line is just around a few more bends and over a few more rolling hills (well maybe not a few). I bet you'd like to turn around and do it all over again....

I hope you've kept all your memorabilia, so you can get together and scrap this adventure.

You guys have done great and you must be proud of the fanastic support team you put together helping you through all the ups & downs on this journey!

Keep safe these last few miles.

amy said...

Wow, you guys really do have to be prepared for just about anything. It sounds like you all are doing a great job of thinking on your toes. Keep up the great team work.

Charlie and Richard you are do awesome!! Keep those pedals moving. :)

Amy Jensen

PS. Hi dad! Hope you are have fun.

Mom said...

Support are great...No matter what happens you keep Charlie and Richard moving ahead. When this is over you will have many laughs at all the things that happened. Thank goodness for your sense of humor and your pleasant personalities! Love to all!

Chris said...

By the way, I dunno about Charlie, but with Richard I'll bet if you hang a beer off the front of his helmet he'll keep peddling faster and faster to try and catch up with it.

Anonymous said...

You "GUYS" in the crew are great just keep the wheels turning and the team will be in for a record. The crew is the support for the riders. The riders have an easy choice->do I ride yes/no, but the crew says where are we (?) New Mexico (?)->when can I sleep (?). Keep up the good work and be clearful. In RAAM 2007 I was in West Virgina. My light went out battary went in but the light was not closed. The light came off on a down hill->next words I heard were the car ahead hit a dear watch out for parts!
Keep up the support! You are almost home.

Walt Chapman

Judy said...

Thanks for the update Jeannie. I enjoy hearing about the unexpected situations that occur. Running ahead of a bike rounding the corner sounds exactly like something I would do. Glad the tire was fixed with less drama then the planning of the fix. The crew are all doing a great job hanging in there through the problems and keeping Charlie and Richard always at the front of your mind. I know Charlie and Richard must be sooo sooo tired but hang in there you are sooo sooo close to the end line. Best wishes to all.

Anonymous said...


You and the crew are phenomenal! Thanks for keeping the guys as safe and healthy as possible (considering that their riding bicycles 24/7 across the country), and keeping them pointed towards Annaplois. Thanks also for blogging the team's adventure--you make us, at home, are along for the ride.

Jody (Richard's brother) in Grand Junction

Anonymous said...

Where are you right now. I think I have missed my opportunities tto wave.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe it's almost over!! The crew has been phenomenal and the blog has made it a real hour to hour adventure for all of us following Charlie and Richard across America.
This race epitomizes many qualities that still makes this a great nation--team work,self sacrifice,a tremendous amount of endurance and a great sense of adventure. Instead of "Houston,We've got a problem!" we can say "Annapolis,here comes Team Reaching Heights" (followed by a lot of chickens crossing the road for unknown reasons!)
God speed and good luck to the finish.
Anne B.

Anonymous said...

Go Richard Go! When I told Marissa what you are accomplishing, she said, "AWESOME!" I read the wonderful article about you in the Sun Press. What an AMAZING role model you are! THANK YOU for raising money for the Heights music a few years both of my children will hopefully benefit from music education at their Heights school. See you at CMSS!

Hiromi & Marissa Veccia

Anonymous said...

Hi to my brother-in-law Charlie and to Richard,
I'm absolutely amazed that you guys could actually make yourselves race through the daytime weather we've been having in the Midwest. I've been following your progress and am cheering for you from beautiful, hot, and humid Iowa City. (Hi to Eileen, too.)
Catherine Andersen

Mark Jackobs said...

How's it goin'? Whacha been up to in the last week?
Hey Waugh--short of cutting and pasting a picture of an ice cold bottle of BUD on this page- I thought- what might take Waugh's mind off of the race for a moment? Actually maybe I will send you an ice cold BUD- but until that happens here are some really, really, really stupid viola jokes to make you laugh. I figured that this would probably be the only time that you would think that they're funny- that's what fatigue does- so here they are!!!!!!!!!
How do you keep your violin from getting stolen?
Put it in a viola case.
What's the difference between a viola and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.
What's the difference between a viola and an onion?
No one cries when you cut up a viola.
Why do violists stand for long periods outside people's houses?
They can't find the key and they don't know when to come in.
What's the difference between a seamstress and a violist?
The seamstress tucks up the frills.
What's the difference between a washing machine and a violist?
Why do so many people take an instant dislike to the viola?
It saves time.
How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune?
The bow is moving.
How was the canon invented?
Two violists were trying to play the same passage together.
Why is playing the viola like peeing in your pants?
They both give you a nice warm feeling without making any sound.
Why is a viola solo like a bomb?
By the time you hear it, it's too late to do anything about it.
Why is a viola solo like premature ejaculation?
Because even when you know it's coming, there's nothing you can do about it.
Why do violists leave their instrument cases on the dashboards of their cars?
So they can park in "handicapped" parking places.
If someone mistakes them for mafia, they might get some respect.
Why don't violists play hide and seek?
Because no one will look for them.
Why do violists smile when they play?
Because ignorance is bliss and what they don't know can't hurt them.
Why shouldn't violists take up mountaineering?
Because if they get lost, it takes ages before anyone notices that they're missing.
What's the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a crushed viola in the road?
Skid marks before the skunk.
How do you get a violin to sound like a viola?
Sit in the back and don't play.
Play in the low register with a lot of wrong notes.
If you throw a violist and a soprano off a cliff, which one would hit the ground first? (two answers)
The violist. The soprano would have to stop halfway down to ask directions.
Who cares?
A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road. which one do you run over first, and why?
The conductor. Business before pleasure.

Told you they were stupid.

Hey by the way--pretend that the e-hubbers aren't even in the race. If you see one around you, imagine that they are one of those yavoes (Richard can supply a definition) in a group ride that comes up on you really fast and when you look over you notice he's on a Schwinn Le Tour 2 with 'Paramount' sharpied on the downtube, helmet on backwards- and then you think to yourself 1) yavoe 2) whatever and 3) B-Bye...
FIGHT- FINISH, turn the peddles, TURN 'EM, then FIGHT SOME MORE!!!!
GO GUYS-- You're doing great!!!!!
Mark Jackobs

Katie said...

Wow!! I can't believe what an adventure this has become, and how well ALL of you are doing. From Jeannie's amazing stories of your teamwork, I can't imagine a more dedicated, well-oiled, well-prepared team effort to accomplish this incredible feat. I am so proud of all of you and I don't even KNOW all of you!

Richard and Charlie, I said yesterday you were rock stars and you absolutely are. And as you climb, climb, climb imagine me sitting here on my ass in Ann Arbor singing "Climb Every Mountain" (I'm preparing for the Sound of Music Singalong they are having here next weekend-- seriously, I know all the words to all the songs, ask Jeannie)and thinking of both of you and spurring you on to the finish line. Just be glad that you only have to imagine me singing, my partner Colleen has to actually hear me!! :)

Go, guys, go... till you find your dream!!!


John said...

604 miles to go!!! Keep up the great work Richard and Charlie. you're almost there.

I love reading the crew stories. Very nice work by everyone... it truely is a team effort!

Good luck, finish strong!

Anne said...

Richard, Jeannie, and Johanna,
Great work - you are all so inspiring! I love the blogs and sorry I haven't written before now. I'm pumping with you, Richard, in mind and spirit. But, I haven't figured out how to lose the pounds with you! Best of luck for the rest of the trip. I'm anxious for you all to be back in beautiful Cleveland. Love, Anne

Anonymous said...

Hi, Richard!
I had no idea you were going through Parkersburg, West Virginia!
That's where I grew up. You are almost finished, and in record time. I am so proud of what you guys have accomplished so far and know you will finish strong. All the best to both you and Charlie.

Support Crew--you are amazing, too. Thanks for taking care of these great athletes.

Nancy in Cleveland

(Kelley) Brooke said...

Oh Good guys are blessed no question. Great story.

I am already teary eyed just reading this damn blog. What am I gonna do when I read about the finish tomorrow night? Better keep the Kleenex handy.

Jeannie, you did a fine job with the blog...we can see the bonding that is taking pace between you all. Bonds that will always be there. These stories will be part of the glue that keeps you connected far into the future.

Charlie and Richard - We don't need another hero...but how come you are doing such a damn good job being one??? You are both animals on wheels with hearts of gods. I hope I get to meet you both one day. It has been a pleasure being along for the ride in the pleasure seats.

I almost feel guilty laying down to sleep tonight knowing you all are fighting hard to stay awake, alert, being cheerful and helpful.

How was the pasta? Hope it gave you just what you needed to get through the hills tonight.

I will be checking the blog first thing in the AM when I get up to run (5:45)...also when I get up to pee 3 times during the night after drinking a gallon of water to replace all that got sweated out in spin class this morning.

Hugs for everyone!! ~Brooke


Anonymous said...

Hey just wanted to let you know that I'm running a little update on my Facebook twice a day or so by paging back and forth through your blog, the leader board, and was doing the solo blogs. Got lots of questions from non riders. Keep it rolling guys, you look great (if I could see you) and you are about to complete a tremendous accomplishment. Go Go Go. George Jahant

Tanner said...

Keep going strong guys! My wife keeps trying to get me to go to bed but I just keep refreshing the screen to see if you've made it to the next time station! Crew you are doing awesome also, truly a selfless thing you are doing this week.
Tanner Bacon
Charlotte, NC

Anonymous said...

Hello Richard,

As you peddle through the dark of early morning, realize that, tomorrow afternoon, as you near Gettysburg, you'll be passing within a mile of sacred Waugh land. Your great, great, great, great, great grandfather, William Waugh, is buried somewhere in Carroll's Valley, PA, just a few miles west of Gettysburg. William left St. Andrews, Scotland, in about 1710, and ended up farming in Carroll's Valley where he also built a flour mill. His son David, who fought in the American Revolution, is buried at Lower Marsh Cemetery, also just outside Gettysburg. David's grandson, Nathan, built a cabin in Deep Gap, NC (which also happens to be Doc Watson's home). Papa Waugh is Nathan's gransdon.

Bottom line: We bloggers won't be the only Waughs trying to communicate their encouragement tomorrow, and maybe, just maybe, help push you down the road to Annapolis.

Peddle hard, sleep well, and dream of spacious showers,

Love ya,

Anonymous said...

Keep goimg guys! You are doing great. Steady and even, push at the end. Everyone is rooting for you!

Your sister Crystal

(Kelley) Brooke said...

Good Morning Charlie and Richard! Rise and Shine (one or the other of you). :) Coffee is brewing in pod fashion, smell the pasta frying and the Hammergel toasting. Ahhhhh....the satisfying smells of the morning.

Today, keep doing exactly what you have been doing. Your splits have been awesome. I can not believe how consistent your pace has stayed. Nothing but impressive. Make like a freight train and drive it on home. Wooooo woooooo

Chris said...

Good morning, guys and gals!

Less than a day left -- you're almost there. It's been an amazing journey; thanks Jeannie for letting us blogride with the guys.

Oh, by the way, today is the Yorkshire yard sale. Richard, we're selling your car so that we can pay for a big celebration when you get back here.


Mom said...

BE SAFE! First goal is to take care of yourself...second goal is to finish. YOU ARE THE BEST!

Love, Mom

Katie said...

You guys are amazing! Keep going, you're almost there!!!

Anonymous said...

Where has all the blogging gone,
Long time passing,
Where has all the blogging gone,
Long time ago.

You can plesantly peddle their pedaling progress a posteriori in perpetuity--well perhaps!

For now, the guys are your first priority.

Hoping all is well. Be focused, be joyful, be safe!

Jody in Grand Junction

(Kelley) Brooke said...

Just got home from music class. Guess WHAT KIND of music??? Blue Grass, of course! Nothing but hill music. (Today was Liza Jane, Cripple Creek, and Bill Cheatam...all fun and peppy tunes)

When I looked at the mail, of ALL things, got a piece of mail from Parkersburg, WV (advertising a half marathon, etc.) Too funny.

Sending you energy every minute I think of you guys. Roll it on home baybee!!

Judy said...

I know you are hurting Charlie and Richard but hang in there, you are almost there. Thougts and prayers are with you willing you to the finish. Great job crew, keep it up.

PS Lary, Pismo sends love.

(Kelley) Brooke said...

New song dedication. This one is in honor of Team Reaching Heights for honoring the importance of music in the early lives of our children. This is the theme song from Music of My Heart starring Meryl Steep, who played a violin instructor teaching in Harlem, for a school that lost its funding for music. Beautiful true story, just like this one.

You guys are incredible.

"Music Of My Heart"

You'll never know
What you've done for me
What your faith in me
Has done for my soul...

You'll never know
The gift you've given me..
I'll carry it with me (yeah...yeah...)

Through the days ahead
I think of days before
You made me hope for something better (yes you did)
And made me reach for something more

You taught me to run
You taught me to fly
Helped me to free the me inside
Help me hear the music of my heart
Help me hear the music of my heart
You've opened my eyes
You've opened the door
To something I've never known before
And your love...
Is the music of my heart.. (music of my heart)

You were the one
Always on my side (always on my side)
Always standing by (always standing by)
Seeing me through

You were the song that always made me sing
I'm singing this for you (singing this for you baby)

Everywhere I go
I think of where I've been (think of where I've been)
And of the one who knew me better
Than anyone ever will again

You taught me to run
You taught me to fly
Helped me to free the me inside
Help me hear the music of my heart
Help me hear the music of my heart
You've opened my eyes
You've opened the door (you opened the door)
To something I've never known before...
And your love...(your love)
Is the music of my heart

What you taught me
Only your love could ever teach me
You got through when no one could reach me

Cause you always saw in me
All the best that I could be
It was you who set me free...

You taught me to run
You taught me to fly
Helped me to free the me inside (me inside)
Help me hear the music of my heart
Help me hear the music of my heart

You taught me to run
You taught me to fly
Helped me to free the me inside (me inside)
Help me hear the music of my heart (music of my heart)
Help me hear the music of my heart
You've opened my eyes
You've opened the door (opened the door)
To something I've never known before (never, never, felt before)
And your love...
Is the music of my heart..

Music of my heart
Music of my heart
Is the music of my heart...


Youguys are kick'n. You own that record ... Now just go get it. ~Brooke