RAAM is a memory already. It's Monday evening, nearly three days since we finished. I've had lots of time to think about RAAM, which in itself is such a contrast to the event itself. Once the race starts, it's a week of pressure and hurry and fast pedaling. There's really very little time to talk, to visit, to process. You come off a momentous ride, having ridden through frog-infested marshlands or over huge mountains, and there's no time to talk, to tell stories, to process. I remember in particular my disappointment after our WV day. We came over those challenging mountains and into the time station, only to find nearly everyone already gone onto the next leg--as they should have. But where were my fellow warriors, who would sit around and tell tales with me? RAAM keeps its secrets. By the time we have time to talk, we're done, exhausted, back with our families, immersed again into our jobs. There are victories I haven't celebrated yet; there are defeats I haven't expiated. I hadn't reckoned on this.

The other thing I hadn't reckoned with was how little time I got to spend, really, with others on the trip. There were moments, with my driver (Frank!) and with the other rider on my four-person team. Especially those late-night, punchy pulls, when you've passed the point of exhaustion and you're just trying to get it done. I'm so thankful to have gotten to spend some of those with my daughter. But I never really got to ride with Lance, or Christopher, or Dave. My loss. You learn a lot about a person when you ride with him.

But in the end I know that our race was successful. I showed up at school today and was greeted by people who had watched our progress with rapt attention. Henry's decision to bring a videographer on was brilliant. It brought a large group of Durham families along and gathered a following for us and for DurhamCares. That was the goal.

In many ways, we were the Bad News Bears of RAAM. We showed up with a crew recruited by hook and crook, with a few crackerjack riders and others who were pedaling for fun, with an RV that fell apart, with many logisitics still in process (Lance and his family did amazing work, but the loss of our crew chief a month before the race put a real strain on everyone). But we managed to hold it together, to learn to love each other (not bad for a group promoting the motto "Love Your Neighbor"), to work through the rough spots, and to finish with a really respecatble time. John Simonds had emailed me early on, when he first took the crew chief job: "I need an average 17.65 mph from you, all the way." We rode 19 mph and some change. And that included our lollygagging through the last three stages, after we had passed the fourth place team and secured our finish spot. Not bad, not bad at all.

Finally, here's to Henry Kaestner, whose vision made this possible. He saw, a year ago, how great it would be for Durham to bring a group like this through an experience so extreme and galvanizing. It was an honor to ride with him (and to try to help him keep his gear together!).

We ride on.


George said…
This is so great, so truly great. Will you come and read it, just as it is, to the Tobacco Trail Church on July 10 at 630pm? We will gather at the ATT mile zero, near the DBAP and the overpass of 147. Might be down in the grass closer to the gas station on Blackwell. Give it some prayer and if not July 10 we could find a time in the future.
Your friend,

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