RAAM 2015 Race Report

Race Recap
I took off fast after the long neutral section and got caught up in all the excitement of passing people and trying to make it through the desert as quickly as possible. I stayed well below my lactic threshold power, but perhaps this was the beginning of my battle with heat exhaustion. That battle would play out the next day, but first during the middle of the night I crashed in the uneven lanes construction zone between Blythe, California and Parker, Arizona. My front wheel caught on the rise between the lanes and went right out from under me. I hit my head hard and slid on my face and left shoulder.

After a quick check of everything on my bike and my body, I was up and riding again. Heading into Parker, Arizona Rob White caught up with me, and we rode together for a few minutes as the sun came up and the temp started to rise (very quickly). I was struggling and told him to go on. The temperature just kept on rising and rising. It was unbelievable. I stopped at a bar/lodge that was open at 9AM to use the bathroom and change kits. It was already 100 degF outside when Kristine took the picture below:

After another hour or so struggling in the heat, I knew I needed to get out of the heat. Our RV air conditioner could only keep the temp at 20 degrees below the outside air temperature. So it was still 90+ degF in the RV. Fortunately, in Hope, Arizona there was a gas station with good air conditioning. We setup a small cot in the corner of the store, and I slept there for a couple hours. I was off the bike for about 4.5 hours before continuing.

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A word from the #TeamToone wife…

Several people have asked my perspective on this Race Across America adventure, so while I’ve got some rare downtime on my California flight to meet Brian at the start line, I thought I’d share some thoughts. (I wrote this Saturday… I’m now here and things are rolling!)

The littlest #TeamToone members!

This has been a roller coaster of a ride, and RAAM hasn’t even started yet! How we ended up here is a long story, filled with unexpected nudges from God.

I didn’t say yes to Brian when he talked about doing RAAM last year. I wanted nothing to do with it, actually, and told him he could do it, but I would not be organizing, planning, or fundraising. I probably wouldn’t even go along during the race. I had lots of misgivings. But God nudged me ahead, and let me know that He would be in this endeavor, in spite of my doubts. Along the way, when I have tried to bail and convince Brian that this wasn’t good timing or when I’ve been overwhelmed with financial stresses or logistics and started to get angry at Brian, God would send another brutally obvious sign that this was indeed His timing. He would also remind me that I didn’t say yes to Brian (lucky for him!)… I said yes to God. It might sound crazy, and I promise I’m not trying to over-spiritualize it. But you have to know that although I am Brian’s biggest fan, I did not just jump onboard the Race Across America with my full support.

That’s the summary of about a year to this point. If you’d like the full story, ask me after the race. Some of the ways God showed up still bring me to tears. I can stand with much more confidence in the uncertain moments knowing it was God who nudged me into this adventure, instead of Brian.

I might look like SuperWoman (and I did bring my Super Woman shirt to wear!), but I’ve gone through every emotion these past 6 months. The logistics are overwhelming, even for the most organized of people. And Brian and I are not the most organized of people 🙂 The expenses are monumental, but God has amazed me with provision. I have a busy job, and 2 very busy {amazing} kids, and Brian was riding 40hours a week or more in addition to work at Samford. As a family we’ve had to put up with lots these past 6 months. But this is an amazing undertaking – Analise and Josiah are super excited, though admittedly nervous. They’re going to track Daddy’s progress on a chalkboard map at home with Brian’s parents while Brian and I are gone. Then, they’re all going to be meeting us at the finish line in Annapolis, including my parents (my dad is on our crew!). We have a beach house booked in Delaware for the week after the race, and it will be an amazing family time for all of us to recover and decompress and celebrate.


The logistics and details of the past 3 weeks (combined with some work deadlines) brought me to tears multiple times a day. Life was CRAZY, including the end of school, a Girl Scout trip to Savannah, and Josiah’s birthday. In fact, if you’d seen me Wednesday or Thursday of this week, I would likely have cried if you looked at me the wrong way. But somehow, God prepared a very quiet Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning with the kids, where I checked things off the massive to-do list, we stayed home, snuggled and enjoyed being at home and together. I’m in a much better place now, and ready to get to Oceanside and dive into start line logistics with our crew. That’s not to say I won’t still shed tears between now and the finish line, but that’s part of coping for me. These guys are going to have to learn that quickly 🙂

Why am I going with him? That’s a valid question, as some coaches won’t let a spouse be part of the crew. But I know Brian better than anyone. I have crewed for his 500-mile Heart of the South race (also with my Dad. He’s amazing!). I can anticipate his needs, and when he shuts down, I will be able to help the crew know how to handle him. I am not a wife who will be saying “Wow – he’s too tired/it’s too hot/whatever, he should stop”. I know he’s incredibly tough, and I will be the one to encourage him to just keep pedaling, no matter how tired he is. I’ll remind him the car is right behind him, and if he falls asleep on the bike to please fall to the right (only kind of kidding. this happens more than you want to know during RAAM). I want him to get to the finish line just as badly as he does. Though I’m not looking forward to the sleep deprivation, the cramped quarters being the only woman in an RV with a crew of 8 other guys, leaving the kids for 12 days was probably the hardest choice. I couldn’t let Brian do this without me, though.

Having lived and worked there, we are both very committed to Nuevas Esperanzas and our friends in Nicaragua. That fact has given this lifelong dream of Brian’s to race RAAM much more meaning as he sets out to achieve it. Even more, I hope our kids have seen the faith story that God’s built in me during this whole undertaking. Every piece of this adventure has been colored by His grace, and after the Race Across America, that is the story that will endure for us.

“And God is able to make all grace abound so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound for every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

Weekend Adventures

Auburn Adventure
On Friday, I decided to head out on one final long 300+ mile adventure before the start of the Race Across America in just over two weeks. Having visited the University of Alabama a few times during my training I thought it was only fair that I also make the journey down to Auburn University. Plus, I would be able to add four new counties to my 2015 training tally – Chambers, Lee, Russell, and Macon counties. Check out my updated maps. The first shows elevation data only from the 50 Alabama counties I’ve ridden in this year. The second is a map of the 27 rides longer than 186 miles (~300km) I have completed this year showing the elevation data for the entire state.

Alabama map showing elevation for the counties I have entered during my 2015 training for the Race Across America (click to enlarge)Alabama map showing elevation for the counties I have entered during my 2015 training for the Race Across America. I have a one-way ride planned to pick up the rental van RAAM follow vehicle in Florence, Alabama arranged by my good buddy Justin Lowe at 1st Choice Collision in Dover, TN that will include entering Lauderdale and Colbert counties. (Click to enlarge the map)

27 rides of 300km (186 miles) or longer from 2015. Note that the primary difference is the lack of a solid mass in the Birmingham area where all my shorter rides stay. Click to enlarge.27 rides of 300km (186 miles) or longer from 2015. Note that the primary difference is the lack of a solid mass in the Birmingham area where all my shorter rides stay. Click to enlarge.

Exploring Alabama has been one of the biggest surprises of my training for the Race Across America. I knew that I would be increasing my mileage this year as training, but what I didn’t realize fully ahead of time was the freedom that a 200+ mile ride gives you to explore all parts of the state all the way out to the borders. There is something really special and hard to describe about leaving the house at 1 in the morning, riding hundreds of miles during the night, all day, and into the night again, and yet returning through the same door and parking the bike in the same spot from 20 hours earlier. There is a laughable moment of “holy crap, I just rode my bike to Tennessee and back” that cannot be described – only experienced.

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