Lessons From the Road at RAAM: The Company You Keep

I was supposed to have an introduction article posted last week about the SLOWTWITCH GOODLIFE RACING TEAM doing RAAM. Just like I was supposed to try to have something up every day. But I also knew a couple of things right away when I was asked to come “hangout” with my friends to support them for RAAM. I knew it was going to be harder than any of us thought, and I knew that our crew needed to be able to roll with the punches.

Why did I know these things? One could easily say common sense but really it comes down to one word – experience. I haven’t learned a lot in my life, but one thing I have learned, is that things are never as easy as you think and while plans are important, the most important part is always going to be one’s ability to throw your plan out the window and rethink what you are doing and why you are doing it. Because it’s about when shit hits the fan. And it’s never if. It’s when. That’s what you really need to ask yourself. And unless you can honestly give a good answer, it simply won’t work out when you must find that special gear to push through.

During the lead into the race, which would arguably be the toughest 2 weeks of my year (besides the new website we are launching in August), things got really out of hand busy, not only for myself, but really everyone involved on our RAAM team. Racer and crew members alike were all dealing with personal and professional things that put us all all over the place. Most of it had to do with the time commitments that we were about to sacrifice. All of us are once again asking our families and loved ones to allow us to sacrifice our time with them, to pursue a self-serving adventure.

With all the last minute things people needed to get done to get their “houses in order” left us all a little tired and not 100% as prepared as we would have liked before the big dance. Some things were our own fault and some things were just the universe preparing our patience and problem solving for what was coming our way. Delayed shipments, last minute decisions that needed extra thought, broken equipment that needed to be fixed, and navigating a non-perfect RAAM handbook all to make sure we were showing up prepared.

Thursday’s arrival into Oceanside already started to bring forth obstacles that needed to be solved. Just when you think you have everything you need, you realize that we might be needing something for race check in, or what you thought was a 12pm Airbnb check out time was really a 10am check out time and the cleaning crew for the Airbnb are showing up and it’s time to leave, now.

What am I doing? Why am I doing it? It’s something that each of us have had to ask ourselves many times since we started RAAM. And now that we were about to get the show really on the road. Those questions really need to be asked and answered.

My “What am I doing” is simple yet really hard to actually achieve. Getting 4 racers, 10 crew members and 4 vehicles across the country safely is not an easy task and no matter what you plan for nothing is going to go as smoothly as you would like. My “why” in this case is just a little more than just “because they asked.” Lots of people ask me to do things. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do it. But when 3 out of the 4 riders are like family to me and the opportunity is more than just work related it was hard to say no.

Since we have started the race we have been 10 hours ahead with really crappy morale and been 12 hours behind with great morale. The tail winds blessed us with fast times for riders but that also presented a frustrated crew and racer alike trying to play catch up with logistics changes that needed to be implemented in real-time. When those fast miles caught up to the athletes, things started to get real. We lost a rider and lost our “plan”. Sitting in Alamosa, CO we had to all ask ourselves “why” again. And with the one rider gone who wasn’t in line with our collective “why” we started to dig deep and “OODA” (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act).

Sitting in the parking lot with our three athletes, all with heat exhaustion, our medical director had his hands filled. And then with some RV issues our vehicle director, who had just landed, was thrown into a nightmare situation and I was left dealing with how to keep everyone moving forward safely. Luckily in the end, I was left with the company you keep. Every single person was more than capable of doing their job, athlete and crew alike. And doing it well. In the end it was my job to simply trust them and make sure they had the resources they needed to do them. Despite this, Iwas pretty down but with some help of my good friends David and Lillis Young, who drove 3 hours to cheer us up, I was able to dig deep and start on towards the next move.

It's day four of the race and we are moving like a single unit across the great country and to be honest as tired as we all are, we are having the best time. Look for some more updates coming soon. The adventure is just beginning as we march onward to Atlantic City.

Our medical director Aaron Asay working to fix one of the boxes that broke en route to Oceanside.

You just never know what you might need when you are required to have lights on 24/7.

Athletes entering the 113 degree heat of the California desert.

Athletes paying the price for not pacing right.

Dede Griesbauer enjoying a quick pit stop.

Sh@# happens. Deal with it...or call a professional. These guys from Joe's Repair were so amazing to work with. They got us on the road within a couple of hours.

Dede Griesbauer taking her turn into the night shift.

Mobile bike shop starting to finding its groove.

Dj Snyder taking his pull on day four.

Waking up in the small community park in Colorado.

All of us finding our "why."

After a night of throwing up, Dede Griesbauer shows up with grit in every pedal stroke.

Shane Peed looking over the course map for the day.

Crew mechanics look over the follow van to make sure everything is a go.

Every night we try to get ready for the task at hand.