Saturday, June 27, 2009

More good karma

The Big Unit, The Bigger Unit: 200 miles to go

We were in Maryland just for a minute, then we crossed over into Pennsylvania, where we will be for a long while. The next time we cross the Maryland state line, it'll be the Real Deal. The crew is hanging tough, the guys even tougher. This section of the course is very beautiful but very taxing, especially after you've already ridden 2,800 miles.
We have repeatedly documented here how the RAAM gods have been with us on this trip, and how good karma has served us well. Here's another bit: a crack was discovered in Richard's bike frame, but thankfully, he was not on it at the time. This is why the top of the Follow has spare bike frames on it. This could have been a disaster, but fortunately, it was discovered early enough to avert that. Last night, When Jim (one of the cycling enthusiasts on the crew) was racking Richard's bike, he was doing the routine quick inspection - tires, breaks, lights, etc. As he was going through that, his headlamp detected an unusual glistening. Here's what was causing it:


And then there is Charlie's power meter unit, which attaches to the top tube of his bike and measures perceived effort. Along with a heart monitor, it's how Charlie manages to stay so steady; Richard uses a heart monitor only. Charlie's bike was racked on top of the Follow vehicle and after the Follow went through some low-hanging branches, the power meter came loose and dropped off the bike. A little later, at the exchange point, someone noticed that the unit was missing from the bike. (Not the end of the world, but it's an $800 part.)

The piece was located on the top of the Follow, creeping its way to the end, ready to fall off. "We hadn't gone far enough for it to make it all the way, but it was close," Charlie said. "We were lucky."

Yes, we were.

Plus, remember Mark from the Buzzards Bay team, the nice guy who gave us an RV jump back in Arizona? We just saw them again in Pennsylvania – they are a four-man team – and saw that their Follow vehicle has been involved in a crash. The entire driver’s side front has sustained considerable damage. But they are still plugging along. We really have been blessed on this trip, and I am nothing if not profoundly grateful.

Charlie, who still manages to be considerably upbeat at this stage of the game, told me that story while we were waiting for Richard to arrive for an exchange. As we were driving along beautiful Pennsylvania countryside, Charlie mused about whatever came into his mind:

“We’ve got one more brutal climb coming up,” he said. “This course is really, really tough over here.”

“I really appreciate all you guys have done for us. You guys have done a great job.”

“About 200 miles to go. When you start this race, there’s 3,000 miles – three sections of 1,000. Then at some point, you can be happy when you get to under 1,000 miles to go. At this point of the race, we can count the number of pulls we have left each.”

“Thanks for your glasses, I don’t think I even asked, I just grabbed them. Sorry about that, but thanks.” (One night when Richard accidentally sat on Charlie’s glasses and broke them, I was furiously trying to repair them even though Charlie was getting on the bike. He looked into the RV, saw my glasses lying on the counter, grabbed them, put them on and then declared, “These will do.” After I got Charlie’s glasses snapped back into place, we did an exchange on the side of the road. Problem was, I gave Charlie’s back, but didn’t get mine back right away. I was, as they say, navigating blind that night.)

Charlie looks better in my glasses than I do

And finally, when we could see Richard coming into view, he said “Well, back on the bike. Think I’ll take another ride.”

I know I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating: I’m thrilled and honored to be along.


Anonymous said...

Whow what a great experience RAAM has been. The crew and riders working together for a week with only one goal->to finish. Life should be this way, only one goal. I am reading between the lines that the team has had a great experience and you will be telling stories about your adventure for years to come.
Congradualations on a RAAM well done.

Walt Chapman

Mom said...

I'm so proud of all of you! It's amazing how you all keep going ahead. You've set a record in my heart. You will finish soon. You are strong!!!


Anonymous said...

Hey guys, Your Sister Crystal Here...

Almost there. Just a little further. Stay strong.

I have really enjoyed following your journey all the way across America. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Ok you phenomenally traveling men and crew! Suzette and I sent a great, lengthy email of support last night and when I look through the blog - it is not posted! Horrors! Please know that you were in our thoughts last night and still today. You truly are inspirational. I wish that I could be there to cheer you over the line. Revel in your success - each of you! Melanie

amy said...

You guys are almost there! Just keep pushing and it will be over before you know it.

Great job Team Reaching Heights! You are all awesome!


Hi Dad :)

Anonymous said...

I read in the paper that a guy told his son that life is like baseball,the objective is to get home safe. Well it looks like your home plate (the Atlantic Ocean)is getting really close.
I know that you'll carry this achievements in your hearts and minds the rest of your life.
I hope we get more pictures on this site before you shut it down. It's been a great ride for us armchair observers.
You're so close.Congrats to the whole team.
Anne B

Anonymous said...

Your Sister Crystal says,

Hey, just wanted to let you know that I think you guys are nuts, but in a really intertesting way.

Speaking of nutty things, every time I read these blogs the same silly song keeps going through my head...

To the tune of "The wheels on the bus go round and round."

The wheels on their bikes go round and round,
round and round
round and round.

The wheels on their bikes go round and round,
all day long.

The legs on the pedals go up and down,
up and down,
up and down.

The legs on the pedals go up and down,
all day long.

The bikes on the mountains go up and down,
up and down
up and down.

The bikes on the mountains go up and down.
All day (and night long.)

Great job! Great adventure! Beat those dragons into submission.

Dan in Cleveland said...

Hey Richard and Charlie:

Our prayers are with you for your continued strength and stamina. What do you do at the end of the race? After dipping my feet into the Atlantic ocean I would just collapse on the beach. I love biking but could never dream of the distances you guys do in the blink of an eye.

Richard - I'm working overtime on the Rescue Squad tonight, same one you were on! Oh, didn't people know that you were a Cleveland Firefighter? Sorry to spill the beans. Keep on riding.

The wheels on the bike go 'round and 'round.

Super proud of you and your great accomplishments.


Dan in Cleveland said...

Wow sister Crystal, we have the same song!

Judy said...

Can't believe all the things that have happened to the team these past seven days and you are all still trucking. Very impressive and a great example for us all. Hang in there team -- just hours to go. Best of luck.

Mom said...

I'm curious! On the twitter you said that the race officials warned you....about what?

You are doing a great job.. Just keep it up!

Jeannie Roberts said...

Melanie - Don't worry. Your comment appears under the "Quick request" post. Check it out.