One of the biggest challenges of RAAM is keeping everything organized. That is why it is so important as a rider to have a good solid crew behind you – people who think of all the details and can keep everything that needs to happen straight in their heads. My wife is amazing as she set up a Rally Me website (link coming soon) all by herself last night. My crew chief, Wes Bates, has also been on top of staying in touch with everyone on the crew and helping prepare them for what is to come. If you know me well, then you know that I am a very disorganized person. I believe this character trait has risen out of the sheer volume of things that I am trying to accomplish in life. RAAM is no different in that it is difficult to put in the hours of training while still maintaining things like a blog. So this blog has suffered a bit in the lack of posts. I’m going to get caught up here and then make a concerted effort to post shorter more frequent updates on my preparation for RAAM.
2014 Training and Racing Highlights
September was busy with racing with back-to-back wins at the Alabama state road race followed the next day by the Asheville Gran Fondo. After a trip to the beach (this time in a car) to race the Pensacola Cycling Classic, I switched into mountain biking and ultra cross racing mode, racing the Fool’s Gold 100, Oak Ass 100, and Gravel Grovel. In the middle of all that, I won a couple of really cool Gran Fondos (Asheville and Roswell), and the Tour de Cullman. This year I rode up from Birmingham to Cullman, won the race, and then rode back home – a 209 mile adventure with a race in the middle!
One final addition to the 2014 training and racing season was a pair of everestings – riding repeats on a single hill enough time to climb the height of Mount Everest on a single ride. Strava put out a climbing challenge in November, and the Hells 500 guys upped the ante by offering a special medallion for those who completed an everesting during the climbing challenge. Scott Cole from up in Vermont completed THREE everestings during the competition, whereas I was only able to complete one everesting – karl daly. Even so, I was able to place 3rd in the world for the climbing challenge and 1st in the US based on many, many, many, many repeats of the double oak roller coaster.
Towards the beginning of December after the climbing challenge was over, I looked at my stats on veloviewer and realized I could possibly hit 2.75 million feet of climbing for the year if I climbed a lot in December — which is tricky because of our annual trip up to Wisconsin for the last week of December. I created a spreadsheet to help me track my progress which eventually led to the creation of a new website (howmuchtogo.com). The picture below is after I completed the goal via everesting Mount Cheaha climbing 33,330 feet (over 10,000 meters) the night before and into the day we left for Wisconsin.
2015 is off to a strong start with a number of epic rides and races in preparation for RAAM. First was the inaugural Bakers Dozen race ride that Eddie Freyer put on as a fund raiser for the Alabama High School mountain bike league. Mark Fisher and I helped plan the route picking 13 of the steepest climbs on Red Mountain. A few days later I rode 250 miles from Birmingham to Anniston and back home via Mount Cheaha for a planning meeting for the upcoming Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Ultra. Four days later I rode 190 miles out and back to Mount Cheaha with my friend Michael Staley.
Less than a week after that, I found myself lost and found in the amazing hills of San Mateo and San Francisco as we traveled to the west coast for a RAAM crewing seminar. The riding was spectacular with back-to-back 120+ mile days and over 16,000 feet of climbing both days (the picture above is from Mt Tam on the second day of riding). The crewing seminar was really informative as we learned what to expect during the race in terms of potential problems and solutions as well as the logistics of the start of the race, time stations, the finish of the race. Being in Sacramento gave us a chance to catch up with friends from my graduate school days at UC Davis.
Back home in Birmingham, I started teaching the Spring semester where I am teaching only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s this semester. Last Thursday, I rode to Anniston again using a different route and climbing six category 2 climbs along the way for a total of 247 miles and 26,000+ feet of climbing. Today (in the next few minutes – it is 2AM now, and I’ve been up since 1AM), I am heading out for a similar ride but this time just to Mount Cheaha where I will then do 6 repeats (over 25% of an everesting) before turning around and heading back home. Tomorrow night, I will do a similar ride (without the repeats) to simulate what it will feel like with back to back days on little sleep.
That’s all for now, but bookmark this website as I’m going to be adding things to it more frequently to keep everyone updated on my progress towards the goal of crushing RAAM.