Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Connection To RAAM

Lon Haldeman won the Great American Bick Race in 1982, one year after he launched PAC Tour (www.pactour.com) a bike travel company supporting fast bicycle rides (not races) across the country. Somehow I had heard about Lon’s winning the Great American Bike Race and I thought that was way cool and absolutely knew that somehow, sometime I wanted to ride my bike across the country. I knew I was, and never would be good enough to race across the country, but ride, yes, I could do that.

The only problem was our kids were about 4, 6, and 8 years old and Kirk’s ministry as a United Methodist Pastor involved evenings and weekends. The 80’s was not the decade for me to be consider a transcontinental bike ride. The kids were older in the ‘90’s but that was the decade of multiple back surgeries, challenged rehabs after my surgeries, and generally a protracted season of the dark night of the soul. I had even forgotten about transcontinental bike races and rides.

By 2001 I was rehabbed enough to purchase my first recumbent bicycle and figure out how to ride again. Some recumbent buddies threw down the gauntlet challenging me: “If you’re really serious about your riding, you ought to do a PAC Tour Transcontinental.” Twenty years after Lon’s first win, RAAM, and transcontinentals had come full circle for me. I started training in earnest in 2002 and by the time I arrived in San Diego in September, 2006 to ride PAC Tour’s Southern Transcontinental Route, I had logged over 40,000 training miles.

Three of the guys on my Southern Transcon were Walt Chapman, Larry Gitman, and Paul Danhaus. They were some of what I call, “the fast boys”—too fast for me to keep up with on the road, but we did enjoy good camaraderie, shared meals, and a few laundromats together. One thing else Walt, Larry, Paul, and I had in common. We were all at least 60 years old. So, when Paul asked if I wanted to crew for their RAAM team, Team 60 Going Hard, I reflexively said a resounding “yes.” Crewing for RAAM would be the closest I would ever be able to get to RAAM.

And that’s how RAAM came to be for me.

RAAM Pix at www.bentwanderings.shutterfly.com

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