Wednesday, February 14, 2007



Seems you can find inspiration anywhere you look, as long as you have your eyes open for it. Other times it just hits you really hard right in the nose.

From the person that is just trying to hang on at their first group ride, to some of the fastest guys (AND girls) on our team trying to find a way to increase their performance while juggling the day to day demands of life and family. Sure it's inspirational to see all the go-fast pros knocking out new PRs and standing on boxes everywhere, but I get more from the middle and back of the packers - maybe because that's what I am. Those that are out there slugging and slogging amidst the everyday trials and tribulations of our human condition.

Today I got on the rollers again. Still finding it quite fun (yes Andy it will grow old, but I'm enjoying it while I can). Even in the biggest gear rollers aren't too intensive, and they sure get you to smooth out your pedal stroke. I'm sort of wishing I'd of started on 'em earlier.

Before the workout I was scanning the DVD drawer to find suitable inspiration, and stumbled upon the RAAM 2003 DVD. Forgot I even had it. Probably because it was in the wrong DVD case. Somehow it got in there with the Collective.

Watching the thing was fascinating. 2003 was Allen Larsen's second year, the year he came in first place ahead of a rookie named Jure' Robic. The coverage was by OLN and a compilation of the 4 episodes they broadcast on TV. The adventure and drama that unfolded both in the front and at the back of the pack made an hour go buy in the blink of an eye. The stories really put a lot of things in perspective. On one hand it made my upcoming little 24 hour race seem insignificant. But on the other hand it made it the most important thing in the world. What it didn't do is trivialize the struggles we all go through, both on and off the bike. I was about to reluctantly hop off the bike at the end of the DVD when a little tribute came on. I'm really sure I never saw this before, and was totally unaware that it was there on the DVD.

It was a speech at the finish line by Zach Bingham of Team Vail/Go Fast. After watching it the first time I rewound it and played it again, then again. Then I had to get off the bike and watch it a few more times. It really hit home. I'll paraphrase it :

Zach finishing his description of the RAAM 2001 race :
"Most of all we learned a lot about the race and about each other.

During the race across america personalities get stripped down, and you can see what's inside. Like an onion, peeled to the core, and it's not always for the best. In RAAM there's no chance to hide your flaws, every crew member and every racer knows what I mean. But there is a chance to see your personality in a new way and improve yourself...........

The experience of RAAM changed all of our lives, we gave RAAM a check and some sweat and got something we did not expect in return."

Then he goes on to describe the 2003 race :
"But I do know that this experience in RAAM let him see and feel things that most people will never get to see or feel...............................

We all must continue down the road, to see the sights, and smell the smells .......................

RAAM must continue so the richness of the experience can be enjoyed by more people. The intensity .......... the highs........... and yes the lows. It's all a part of life, we just cram a decade of it into a week and call it a race.....

The only way to see what it is we left out there is to race again. Team Vail will be back, to race the 4 man division for Brett, again next year."

Team Vail-GoFast (now Vail/Beaver Creek) has been there every year since, seeing the sights, smelling the smells, experiencing the highs ................. and yes the lows.

They finished every year except 2003, when Zach made that speech. That year they lost a close friend and racer Brett Malin, who was struck by a semi and killed during the race.

I edited out some of the speech, to focus mainly on the joy and not to revisit any sadness.

Team Vail/Beaver Creek will ride again this year.

I thank them all for the inspiration. It's not often that I am (or will admit to being) moved to tears, but this was one of those moments.



note - I struggled with this post. Not the actual writing of it, but putting it up. The last thing I wanted to do was reopen anyone's sadness or sorrow. From what I've seen and heard of those involved, I really don't believe it will. If it did, I'm truly sorry.

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nice. JB.
Good words indeed.
Hope inspiration and good vibes follow you through the upcoming race.

See you in couple months I hope!

be safe.

I like the whole onion thing. Shoot, it's hard enough dealing with the the peeling of that onion during a 24 hour race. Hard to imagine a RAAM's worth. It is inspiring as you say, and I'd like to see the dvd.
Nicely put.

You shouldn't think less of your own 24 hr ride by comparing it to something else. Everybody ends up competing against themselves on these loooong endurance races. And if you happen to beat the other guy, then so much the better.
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