Monday, 21 June 2010

hell of a training week!

hey all followers
I am so glad that week is over. As part of the Team RAF Survitec Epic we completed the Race Across America(RAAM). An amazing feat by any standards. 12 States of varying road surface quality, 3 time zones(i think) and bloody hot for most of the way.
Myself and John Crewe formed a 2man tag team working for about 5hrs at a time before handing over to Pete McCrory and Steve Duffy for their tag team effort. We did it all in 6days 23hrs and 5mins. Awesome as they say a lot round here.
So what can I remember.... a lot is a blur and mixed up.
Oceanside, California we rode of the start as a team for 8miles then me and JC took it out to 27 then I went alone to about 37miles then handed over to JC. There was a bit of catch up already and we had caught a few of the teams ahead. Nice chilled out state but a bit shabby. I did get to ride down the 'Glass Elevator' and got up to 53.8mph. 4000ft descent in 10miles with twists and turns. the temp rose 11degrees C on the way down too. the route drops below sea level too.
Arizona - hot hot hot and up up up. Climbing forever to nearly 7000ft to Flagstaff.
Utah -a fleeting visit. still hot
Colorado - when does this state end? It goes on & on & on. and the highest point of the RAAM at 10,857ft at Wolf Creek Pass. Just mine and JC's luck to get this one. We did a mile on mile off to the top with JC taking the summit and handing over to me to descend. managed 52mph and had a scary moment going into a curving tunnel with a wet road surface. Clenching buttock time! Lots of further climbs throughout as obviously in the Rockies. Got hit by hailstones just outside Durango but JC got soaked.
Kansas - descend descend descend and hot hot hot and boring straight roads.
Missouri - stinks of road kill! me and JC had the 2nd fastest time through one of the night time stages here. I had a moment when a huge frog hopped into my Mavic Carbon Cosmic, flicked out backwards and got run over by the follow car. Also ran over a small snake, saw a few raccoons, a skunk and a huge snake and a billion small frogs all over the road. The night noise was amazing. Very humid too. Waiting for a change from JC and some strange local rider turns up out of nowhere at 0400hrs. Says he was out for his morning ride!!Weirdo! We also had the Austrian team behind us and we were hammering to put some time into them. We also found a bike belonging to Team Donateforlife and they found us at a change over. They were ever so grateful as you can imagine.
Illinois - terrible terrible roads surface and this is where me and JC collide. He breaks his collarbone and ends up in Effingham hospital. I get(still have) a bruised ass and a grazed arm and shoulder. We lose some time here obviously but after 1.5hrs I get the ok to continue riding. We are now down to 3 riders so a change of tactic is imminent with still 800miles to go.
Indiana - starting to climb again and I manage to bang out 63.5 miles in 3hrs as we have decided to run 3hrs shifts.
Ohio - still managing 3hr cycle shifts and its greener. Looks a bit like rural England. We could be in Rutland.
West Virginia - not much change here. Still very green and rural but some tough long climbs.
Maryland - the first visit! Hell on earth. For me anyway. I take over from Steve now and have the toughest stage of the RAAM. The last hill is a killer and my legs are blown. No power even though the mind was willing. My lowest point for sure but Louise would work her magic on my legs and get them ready for the next shift. I remember thinking how cruel it is to stick in Appalachians for the solo riders when they are so tired and hurting already.
Pennsylvania - getting close now but only a fleeting visit. Legs still hurting and no end to the rolling hills that sap your strength and speed. We are fighting a headwind too.
Maryland again - less than a 100miles to push and we change tactics again reverting back to a 3man tag team doing 4 miles stints. It works for a while til we hit traffic so we end up 3up time trialling into the finish trying to make the 1700hrs limit for a 7 day finish. We are so tired but elated. We have group hugs at the garage just outside town at the end of the timed event. The last 3.5miles are a procession and we follow a small RAAM Official car into Annapolis to the pier to meet the rest of the team. Woo hoo we did it
We get invited onto the stage where they call out our names and ask us a few questions. I get asked about why we ended up with 3 riders and we receive our finishers medals with myself getting two, one for JC.

It was an amazing experience and I saw some great views and sites and accomplished more than I ever imagined physically and probably mentally but never again. Anyone who does this solo or as a pair deserved respect but they need their bumps felt. Its just too mad!


Turbo Man said...

Congratulations to you and the team; trust JC is on the mend?

Daz Sharpe said...

outstanding mate, a once in a lifetime chance, glad you enjoyed it. Amazing performances all round and hope you didn't damage JC to badly. Probably broke a bone due to his girly thin body!!!

Cavegirl said...

Well done indeed, I thought of you guys many times during the last week as I made my way solo from JOG to LE. Sore legs - oh, tell me about it, long, long climbs, yep! Glad to hear you managed to complete the challenge and hope JC is on the mend. Would love to know how many hours/miles each of you rode ...

Kelda, End to Ender!

RoyB said...

well done Mat, an awesome experience by the sounds of it and a good write up. said...

Matt, I'd love the chance to ask you few questions. We're racing RAAM this year as a four. Team swift and bold. (

My email:

I could really use some advice!

Martin Williamson