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.