More Amazing People

Desert

The process of getting  Team Endeavour ready for the Race Across America (RAAM) is quite intense.   We set off to California on 11th June and the race starts 17th June.

The riders and crew are amazing people, as are some of the others who have helped us so far.

In real life I have a coach (of the work variety) a lady called Sue Webb.  She knows me quite well. She is very good at what she does. She generally works with teachers and children.  Those of you who know me can be forgiven for the smile you are currently trying to suppress 🙂

When we first met we did an exercise to help she and I work out what makes me tick (or sometimes not tick).

The question was something like, “Draw me a graph of the times in your life when you have been most happy”.

The graph went right back to 1989 at that time, that was I had my first proper job, or so I thought (*).  The timeline I drew filled a whiteboard and had several characteristics:

It was not just up and down, it was very binary.  Not a curve.

The peaks were almost all the same height.  They didn’t get higher in any way that correlated with what I earned or where I might have sat in a hierarchy.  The height of peaks did not trend upwards over time.

One of the higher peaks was quite early when I worked with an ace development team at BT.  Another was more recent and related to work we did at Thomson Reuters in building communities to get better at what we did.

It was a very interesting and useful graph.

Once we had talked through the whole thing I went back to white board and added another detail.

At the top of each peak I added one or two sets of initials. The friends for life I made in each of those experiences over more than 25 years.

I get a huge kick out of going to new places, to do new things, to learn and work with great people.  I insist on enjoying what I do.  You tend to make new friends along the way.

My experience of RAAM so far has been quite intense.  It is ticking all those boxes.  It is a huge privilege. There aren’t many things that drive me to a laptop at 0700 on a Sunday morning.  When I extend that graph, I am sure there will be a few new sets of initials on it.  The people I am meeting in this process are amazing.  While I am in awe of the riders and crew, I am most amazed by the people who contribute despite not being in the core team.

One is Michelle Beattie.  Based in Sydney she had to drop out of the crew for the race but has continued to support the team as we prepare and has secured our rider and crew kit.  I don’t think any of us knew how complex that would be.  Thank you Michelle.

Another is a man called Mike Griffiths.  How we met Mike is a long and quite unbelievable story.  Mike has got >100 people through RAAM.  It is part of what he does for a living.  Despite that he spent 3 hours with me on Friday reviewing our plans and advising us on how to be successful and safe.  Thank you Mike. His organisation is here.

There are many others.  Not least the many (>100) who have already sponsored us.  So far we have raised ~$18k (inc a one off $10k not shown on the donation site).  Thank you to you all also.

It is all the better when we get to do things that matter.  We are doing the RAAM ride for ECPAT, a charity dedicated to eliminating child trafficking and sexual exploitation.  Our donation site is here.

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(*) It has occurred to me that my first proper job was actually in 1986 as cox for the Reading University Women’s Boat Club.  The short version of that story is that that is where I began to learn how to work with other people.

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Staggering

ArtRiver

On Tuesday we added a further member to the CWT RAAM crew.  An amazing man called Jim Grindeland.  He is based in Minneapolis.  We first met there a few weeks ago at a CWT Town Hall in part dedicated to building the crew.

He and I had been discussing the potential for his joining the team on and off since then.

First thing Tuesday I fired up my laptop and dealt with a few over night emails.  I had one from Jim saying he was still able to make the RAAM team, asking and answering a few questions we had been exchanging.  Right at the end he added this:

“…

As I mentioned above [in his original emai], I’m doing 7 days 7 marathons next week. I was wondering if I could dedicate my runs to the ECPAT cause too.

Would it ok if I posted the ECPAT Charity Link on my Facebook page and ask people to donate?

…”

Would it be ok?!

Jim is doing the The Riverboat Series next week.  That is seven marathons in seven days, starting Monday 10th April. That is a staggering undertaking.  It is an honour to have him on the team and humbling he’d dedicate this effort to ECPAT.  If he has the energy to update us on his progress on Facebook I will be sure to share it with the CWTRAAM2017 group.

I keep meeting amazing people on this project. Please join me in cheering Jim on!

Cycling Is Always A Team Sport

In my last post Racing Across America, I described why we are doing RAAM in June this year and how I got involved.

This guest post is from our Rider Captain, Andrew Jordan. This will also appear in the blog section at our website CWT RAAM in the next few days.  It was originally written on Thursday 30th March.

The title speaks for itself.  I remember Andrew doing this event. I hadn’t heard the story until I got the draft of this a couple of days ago.  I suspect that if Chris Underwood hadn’t done what he did that day, we might not now be doing RAAM. Thank you from me and the rest of the team and from ECPAT for the choice you made that day.

“…

It’s late March, and in 79 days, 1 hour and 38 minutes (not that I’m counting) Team Endeavour will roll over the start line in Oceanside on the start of our epic journey across America. A lot has been said and written about my past experience of racing in events like this. The truth is that despite having taken on five Tour de France stages – all in the high mountains of either the Alps or the Pyrenees – nothing will fully prepare any of us, including me, for what we will endure as we race our way West to East.

Team Sport 1

L’Etape du Tour, where amateurs take on a stage of the Tour de France, is probably the toughest single-day amateur cycle race in the world. Competitors come from all over the world to take on the very same roads as the pros. Needless to say, this is just one day and the Tour itself spans three full weeks. But to put this all in perspective, RAAM is 30% longer in distance and 25% higher in vertical metres to climb, than the whole of the Tour de France. In 8 days. But back to L’Etape.

Nobody enters an event like L’Etape without putting in a LOT of training and body conditioning. It’s simply a waste of time and money not to. But when you consider that each year at least a third of the whole field DNF, mostly because they’re too slow or too unfit, it does make you realise just how tough riding in the full Tour is.
The first year I rode in L’Etape was 2011 and I trained very,very hard.
I very nearly DNF’d.

Team Sport 2

I was on turn 6 of 22 on the lower slopes of the famous Alpe D’Huez and I was spent. Nothing left in the tank. It was 38C, there was no wind, the sun was beating down on roads mostly without any shade, the tarmac was melting, and I had completely run out of food and water (rookie error). I had found a spot under a tree, bike discarded by my side, and I was sat on one of the many metal barriers that snake their way up the mountain, by the side of the road. My head was hung low as I stared down at my cycling shoes wondering how on earth I had ended up in this position.

There was an eerie silence on Alpe D’Huez that day, riders slowly moving past in front of me, their legs straining to keep their bikes moving forwards against the steep gradient of the most famous climb in cycling history. Nobody said a word. Nobody was smiling. Just the whirring of their bike chains powering their expensive carbon uphill. This was at the sharp end of the race, the finish line some 1300m and 11km higher up, at the ski station at the top. I saw other riders, predominantly men, walking their bikes slowly past, doing the ‘Walk of Shame’. I swore I’d rather DNF than do that.

I remember thinking over and over again that there was no way I was going to quit and yet, at the same time my body was screaming at me to stop. I had already climbed Col de Telegraph and Col du Galibier, the latter one of the highest mountain passes in the Alps so aside from the heat and dehydration, I was also feeling the tiredness beginning to kick in too.

My phone went. It was Chris, my cycling buddy, asking where I was. He was at turn 10 so a little further up the mountain. I said I was done, no way I was going to continue. I couldn’t. I physically had no strength, and there was no way I’d attempt it with no water in that heat. A few moments later, Chris unexpectedly turned up. He’d ridden back down the mountain to find me. I looked up slowly and there he was, handing me an almost full bottle of water – his last bottle. I took it without saying a word and drained a good half of it. My body reacted almost instantly and despite the pain and exhaustion, I got back on my bike and we slowly set off up the mountain together, pushing each other on, keeping each other from stopping. Very much a case of mind over body in that instant. Chris had sacrificed his time, his water, and made himself climb the same section of mountain twice, because he wasn’t going let me give up.

About an hour later we crossed the finish line, tears rolling down my face. I was exhausted but I had made it. And I had made it because, at that moment, I realised a valuable lesson. People think cycling is an individual pursuit which to many it is. But riding in endurance events, whether it is L’Etape, or RAAM, is every bit a team sport.

…”

We’d welcome your support which can range from cheering us on to supporting our charity, ECPAT.   In any event, we plan to enjoy it, I hope you can too.

Cheers,

Anthony