The Race Across America finished a few weeks ago, but I finally met up with my co-worker, Gino, who rode the race as part of a four-man relay team. We were about to sit down for one of the endlessly long meetings that define my professional life so we only had about ten minutes to chat about his experience. Still, it was good to hear a few stories about this epic event in which his team finished first in his 50+ age category and first among all military teams.
First, it should be noted that Gino looked incredibly good, with no evidence of the insanely difficult task he undertook. He suffered no injuries and indeed his team seemed to be blessed with near perfect conditions for the entire event. There were only fifteen minutes of rain across 3,000 miles of racing. This happened in Kansas. Naturally, it occurred when it was Gino’s turn to ride and (also quite naturally) the rain came in the form of hail. Gino was quick to point out that was actually only “very small hail.” After all, one doesn’t want to exaggerate this sort of thing, right?
While following the team’s progress online, I noted that they received a 15 minute penalty in West Virginia. Gino said this was due to one of the team’s chase cars failing to pull far enough off the road during a stop. Again, Gino was on the road at this time and he was required to ascend two brutal climbs, each about nine miles long, when the team’s schedule would normally have swapped riders after the first one. As the team’s designated climber, Gino shrugged off any imposition that normal people may have felt at this point in the event and simply made the second climb.
What Gino was most proud of was that his team was able to raise over $50,000 for the Green Beret Foundation, a charity he is deeply committed to.
Gino said he thoroughly enjoyed RAAM and fully intends to do it again next year. He has already been in touch with a gentleman who would like to compete as a two-man relay. The fellow was so excited while following Gino’s team that he met him at the finish line in Annapolis and suggested the ride for next year. Planning has already begun. Registration for 2014 opens tomorrow, July 15.
I think I’ll pass.