I'm Randy Mouri and this blog is about my quest to be an official finisher in the Race Across AMerica (RAAM), the toughest endurance race in the world. It's over and I became an official solo finisher in 11 days, 1 hour and 13 minutes! We continue to raise money and awareness on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NoVa). If you would like to make a donation to Habitat NoVa, please visit my page on Habitat’s site. Endless thanks to our sponsors and all the folks that have made such generous contributions. Team Mouri would not have been able to travel so comfortably, which certainly may have changed the outcome of the race.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The schedule has been set and it looks like I'll be compiling 11,000 miles between January 1st and June 1st.  This, of course, is based on good weather and road conditions.  So I'm hoping for a mild winter this year.  The training will consist of mostly weekend rides with a progressive increase in mid week rides.  Mileage will increase from 250 miles per week to 800 miles per week over a 6 month period with emphasis on the long rides.

Pete Penseyres, holder of the fastest RAAM average speed of 15.4mph, says that his success came from riding 400 mile rides beginning Friday after work.  I will try to match his training routine at least twice in my peak period and hope for the best.

I will do my best to provide weekly updates to keep you abreast of my training.  Thanks again for following along.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RAAM Crew Seminar

The Raleigh RAAM Crew Seminar was fun and informative.  There were approximately 35 potential crew members and racers in attendance. George Thomas, RAAM veteran and race director, was the presenter.  He was funny and engaging.  The seminar was based on RAAM crewing history.  Some his and a lot of others.

George, far end of the table, preparing his material.
Friends and families don't always stay that way after crewing for RAAM, as he proceeded to tell story after story of crewing gone bad.  This all led to the importance of a good crew chief and his or her ability to train, delegate and trust that the crew will do what was necessary within their roles for a successful and enjoyable race.

Our end of the conference table looked like a snack bar.
There were a couple of racers in the seminar that have yet to RAAM Qualify (RQ).  I believe they are entered in the Sebring 24 hour Challange, so it will be nice to bump into them to catch up and see how things are going.  My suggestion to them would be to join forces and race as a team, if they do not RQ at Sebring.

Lynn Lashley, a strong rider I rode with some during the Elite PAC Tour (ET), met us for dinner after the seminar.  She said that she would've attended, but was getting ready for knee surgery next month and didn't think the she'd recover in time for RAAM.  She RQ'd at the Texas Time Trials and by completing the ET within the time limits each day.  It was fun to see her.

The ride home was quick, but it seemed like the minds were stirring with a lot of questions and ideas.  So with Susie at the helm and Stephanie shot gun, Rich and Troy were free to surf and turf (not sure exactly what the means, but it sounds good...like food).  Needless to say we are all anxious for June 2011.

Psyched for a little RAAM research on the way home.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Team Mouri is heading down to Raleigh-Durham for the RAAM Crew Seminar.  I have nearly the entire crew in attendance.  This may seem like over-kill, but my crew has little experience in crew for such an event.  I've received a great deal of feedback that I should hire a crew chief, but I'm confident with the people I have and as long as I expose them RAAM like situations this group will shine.

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that I have the weekend off from riding to attend this meeting.  I'll report back when we return.


Friday, November 26, 2010


Several months have past, since my last post and I thought this long weekend would serve me well to get things back on track (including my mileage).

First of all, both the blog site and my appearance are going through a transition phase.  The blog site is being altered for ease of reading and to make room for sponsors.  And I'm letting my hair down (literally), by letting it grow to a length of not less than 18 inches.  Once it reaches that length, I will cut it all off and donate it to "Locks of Love."  You can click on the link to learn more about the organization.
Short and long hair Randy.

Currently, I'm working on rebuilding my base mileage through weekend century rides organized and led by Chuck Wood and Christa Borras.  They have wonderful and challenging routes and it's so easy to join in on a ride.  Just check out their blog site http://dccenturyrides.blogspot.com/.  If you follow their blog, you'll be sent ride descriptions each Thursday, at which time cue sheets and gps coordinates of the weekend rides will be available for download.  A very fun group of folks.

I missed out on riding the Adirondack 540 and the Saratoga 24 hour events.  Just not enough time in the saddle.  My next scheduled event isn't until February.  The Sebring 24 hour Challenge in Sebring, Florida.  I hate riding in the winter cold and usually work on my eating skills, gaining anywhere from 10-20 pounds between the months of November through mid March.  This year will have to be different..and I plan on loving every minute of it!!!

One step at a time and we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


My roommate, Rob, during the Elite PAC Tour was watching the Tour de France with his wife Nancy.  She turned and asked him if we rode as many miles in the Elite PAC Tour as the pros in the Tour de France.  He knew it was close, but had to check his data from his Garmin.  Below are his stats of the Tour de France (T) vs Elite PAC Tour (E):
Miles - 2,280(T) vs 3,040(E)                  33% more miles for ET
Days/Stages - 20(T) vs 19(E)                A wash
Rest Days - 2(T) vs 0(E)                       (OK maybe we had 1/2 of a rest day if you count the La Veta Pass day)
Miles/Day - 114(T) vs 160(E)                 No contest
Longest Day - 142(T) vs 220(E)            Not even close
Maximum speed - 50+(T) vs 50+(E)      Maybe the TdF guys were faster here, but they get paid to go fast downhill
Elevation - 80,000'?(T) vs 100,000'(E)  The TdF riders need to do Wolf Creek Pass and West Virginia.  Hors category+

Fun facts to share (thanks Rob)!  I did notice that he omitted the oveall average mph.  For sure the pros in the TdF dominate us with an average of 25+mph verses our 16-20mph (on bike avg).

Hope you all are enjoying the TT stage of the TdF.  It's been an exciting tour and inspiration to get out and ride.

Friday, July 16, 2010


The date has been set for June 15, 2011 for the start of the solo men.  If you need to get psyched about this event, please check out this link:


Thursday, July 8, 2010


Making an attempt at a 3,000 mile, single stage bicycle race is no small task. You must do everything within your means to learn as much about the race and yourself as possible to properly prepare for the challenges ahead (and let's not forget about work, family and friends).  My goal is to simply be an official finisher.  The cutoff is 12 days (288 hours) from the start of the gun. My plan is to figure out how hard I can go each day to determine how much sleep would be available for me to take (along with any additional personal breaks). My initial feeling is that I will try to base my race on 300 miles per day. So if I'm able to cover the 300 miles in 20 hours, then I'd have 4 hours for sleep and breaks each day. The math is easy, but the rest is not.

So this requires another visit to SportFit Lab in the Worldgate Sport and Health. Doug and Beth Baumgarten would be my team of experts conducting the test, collecting the data and crunching the numbers to report training information for me to follow. I have had experience with VO2 max testing, but was excited about the additional feature of blood lactate testing to determine my lactate balance point (LBP).

My visit was on Saturday, July 3rd and this is how the testing process went:

The lab station is set up with all of the measuring devices, rubber gloves, blood test strips, etc. It really looks like I'm going into surgery.

My bike gets hooked up to the Computrainer, so Doug and Beth can adjust incremental resistance throughout the testing process.  I strap on a transmitter to send my heart rate (HR) signal to the computer and mount the bike to go through a couple of calibration routines to make sure the wattage output is accurate and my HR is picked up.  I then put on a ventilation mask and start my warm up. As I'm warming up, the Fitmate Pro is calibrating as well.

The initial effort is easy.  But every 3 minutes the resistance is increased by 20 watts and I'm asked to state my perceived effort based on a Borg Perceived Exertion scale.  Approximately 15 minutes pass and I can feel my breathing rate starting to increase.  A couple of more increases and Beth starts to take blood samples at the tail end of each 3 minute effort.  The blood samples are taken from your finger tips, alternating between the ring, middle and index fingers.  As I approached my max heart rate reading of 195 bpm, Beth advised that my finger tips will be sore the next day (based on the number of blood samples she's taken so far).

My HR is allowed to drop to an aerobic level during my active recovery.  Then the second effort begins. This is the phase at which the balance point is determined.  As my effort increases, my blood lactate is monitored.  My blood lactate levels continue to drop as my body consumes the lactate and reuses it for energy.  A couple of more samples and Doug finds the balance point (5.4 mmol/l) at which my body is resynthesizing the production of lactate at the same rate it is producing what would be an excess.  Raise the HR by 1bpm and my body starts to accumulate an excess of lactate in the blood stream.

Here are my results based on my current age (51) and weight (64.5kg): VO2max = 51.9ml/kg-min;  LBP HR = 169bpm;  LBP Wattage = 200; and LBPwatts/Bodywt Ratio = 3.10

I will be scanning and posting my data sheets at a later date, as some of the numbers are still being evaluated for optimal training purposes.  And again, if you have any questions about what I am doing, please feel free to ask.  I'm hoping my experience may help guide some of you in your decision-making process, while trying to set up a strategy to accomplish your personal goals (whatever they may be).

For more elaborate details on the tests I described above, please visit SportFit Lab.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Before you say anything, this is an import subject and you may not know of some of the material to come.  So just give this post a chance and read it through.

Poopy and pee-pee are related to your intake...or lack thereof and if you monitor it closely enough (is that TMI?) you can certainly tell what's going on with your body and possible ways to correct some of the conditions.  Instead of being too graphic on this blog, I thought I'd direct you to the poopy chart.  It's self-explanatory.  Some of you are really into the floaters verses the sinkers.  I've heard that your poopy will float, if your diet has enough fiber.  I tried this test for a short period of time and only manage a floater here and there.  In my book, as long as you have an effortless, solid poopy, you're good to go.

Prolonged physical exertion can play havoc on the poopy.  Depending on the duration of your event, poopies are usually non-existent and that's what many endurance athletes strive for to save time on the potty stops.  Many endurance athletes successfully stick with a liquid fuel source and try to find the right balance of hydration to refrain from tinkling as well.  I'm still in the mid-tuning stages with all of this, but my initial thought is that this is on the edge of being dangerous (though I'm not ruling it out completely).

I tend to produce type 1-3 poopy during heavy endurance days.  And I do tend to dehydrate toward the end of endurance events.  Though after the 3rd day of the Elite PAC Tour, I had no issues.  So chalk one up for the poopy chart!  The products I use have some protein in them.  Protein requires more fluid to process and adds to my dehydration problem. 

There is also the tinkle chart, which can provide useful guidelines in monitoring your pee.  If you start seeing that dark brown pee mid way through your ride, you may be in trouble.  You'll need to slow down and hydrate well.  But be careful, although rare, it is possible to over hydrate and induce a condition called hyponatremia.  It's all about balance and learning how your body responds to adverse conditions.  It's trial and error (experience).  And don't be afraid to ask questions, when you don't know the answer.  Someone out there may know.

Mary and Al Delaney of Rehab to Racing (R2R) answered a question for me that had me puzzled for several years.  In cooler temperatures (more specifically when rides start out warm in the daylight and then drop 20-30 degrees in the evenings) I would experience excessive and frequent urination.  Almost as if I had just consumed 10 gallons of water (only I had not).  This condition is known as Cold Immersion Diuresis.  If I remember this correctly, as your extremities get cold the blood in your body moves to your core to protect the blood supply to the brain.  Your body detects this increase in blood volume and tries to reduce it via urination, which may lead to dehydration.  So keep drinking and put those layers on.  A cold, continuous rain may also bring on Cold Immersion Diuresis, as I have experienced.  Your body tries to compensate for many of the stresses that you subject to it.  The more educated you can be on various subjects the better you're going to be at self-evaluating race day issues.

So in the future, if you're seated in a nice restaurant and you hear the table next to you talking about poopy and pee-pee -- give them a break.  It may be someone you know...ME!


Here we are between phases of testing. That's me on the bike with Doug Baumgarten in the back of Harry the skeletal model, who wanted to show off the cool SportFit Lab cap. The photo was taken by Beth Baumgarten.

SportFit Lab offers 3 levels of bike fit (basic, standard and advanced). Great options for all levels of cyclists/triathletes/duathletes. I was going through the advanced fit and this is how it went.

I first filled out a thorough athletic history report as Doug set up my bike on the Computrainer and took some measurements from by current bike setup.

Inseam and shoulder width measurements were taken to rule out any flagrant flaws in my current set up. Doug had noted that my bars were a little on the wide side and questioned my use of bar end shifters installed on the drops verses on the aerobars. Both were due to mechanical failures during earlier races that I completed in and I had not reconfigured the front end with new parts. Something to fine tune down the road.

Doug then checks for lower joint issues under load by having you sit on the edge of a chair and then has you slowly stand to an erect position, then slowly sit back onto the edge of the chair (repeat as needed). He visually evaluates your joint motion as you perform this test. He found an excessive amount of pronation in my feet (I do have flat feet) that can lead to knee issues and recommended firmer inserts. I will definitely pick up a couple of pair. I have to admit that I do experience knee pain with severe climbing and the inserts may be the solution.

I then hopped on the bike to warm up into a comfortable zone before Doug applied resistance. He turned on an overhead monitor (a huge 32" flat screen), that allowed me to follow the spin scan results. He reported that I have nearly perfect symmetrical pedaling through out my pedal stroke. I looked up at the monitor and asked him to explain. There were a series of bars indicating power output at 15 degree segments for both the left and right legs through 360 degrees (one pedal revolution). It showed the peaks and valleys of power delivery to the pedals. My numbers flowed between 49/51 and 50/50. I was happy to see that drill work does pay off.  Typically, riders get more out of balance as resistance is increased.  Oddly, mine improved as resistance increased.

While I was spinning, Beth was taking video of the session and assisting Doug as needed.

After a good sweat, Doug had me hop off the bike to take a few more measurements. He measures for strength and flexibility. I pass, but received good core strength tips in the process. He evaluated the motion video and pulled some measurements from the screen. I was slightly extended, but due to my level of comfort and no physical side effects, we opted not to change this position, but noted it for future reference.

Doug made a slight cleat adjustment to help smooth out a minor asymmetrical reading on a segment of my right leg. I jump back on the bike, warm back up and look back up at the monitor. The adjustment did the trick with no odd feeling to my pedal stroke. After further discussion of how I use my aerobars, Doug suggested a slight repositioning of the forearm pads. This took a little more pressure off my shoulders and made the position more comfortable.

I'll share the printed results once emailed to me. Overall, I did not have any huge flaws, which I was happy to hear (but expected that my position wasn't too far out). My form was better than I had anticipated and I was able to fine tune some adjustments for better power and efficiency through the cleat and pad adjustments, along with the use of inserts. I'm anxious to put these changes through some mileage tests.  I'm planning on riding the Saratoga 24hr in July and hope to log at least 400 miles.   We'll see how that goes.

I've been cycling off and on for over 30 years (both recreational and competitive), so your results will likely be different from mine. A good bike fit is a valuable tool if you plan on cycling for any amount of time on a regular basis. And a must for any serious triathlete or cyclist.

Doug and Beth performed one of the most thorough bike fits that I have ever experienced and I feel that I came away with a more powerful and efficient position. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my experience or check out Doug and Beth at SportFit Lab.

Good Luck in your race season and thanks for following my quest.

Here I have added the printed results (6/22/10):

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Tour is over?....

When we regrouped to ride to the Yorktown beach, my heart started to sink. Man! The tour is about to end. No more daily rides of 160+ miles. No more eating as much and anything that I want. Despite the saddle sores, I was sad that it was over. What started out as a suffer-fest, ended up being a nice daily ride of challenging attacks from riders within the pace line. Friendships and laughter were a daily routine. No other responsibilities other than having to ride your bike. I was a kid again for 19 days. That was one of the first aspects of the tour that I really appreciated. Rob and I did not turn on the TV set once for duration of the trip. In a way it was nice to be clueless about the world around us.

Everyone had a slightly different focus for the Elite Tour. It ranged from peaking for the Race Across AMerica, down to simply crossing the country on a bike. My goal started out on the lower end of the spectrum. Let's just see if I can stay on the bike and make the transcontinental crossing without having any major physical problems. After the leg cramps from day 1, this goals was going to be a difficult task in itself. I was skeptical through day 3 as the slightest detection of cramping faded away. My goal became slightly more aggressive by day 5. I now wanted to determine a pace at which I could push myself without the recurrence of the leg cramps. Nutrition became a big factor and a tough balance between going hard and eating enough of the right things. Over the next two weeks, I continued to play with pace and nutrition. I don't feel like I ever had it dialed in, but I was getting closer...or perhaps I was becoming more fit. And again, it could have been a combination of the two. Either way, I kept pushing harder and harder. There were days when I would have a token bonk and would have to take a little extra time at the support stop to refuel, but it became less and less of a factor as time went on.

Being able to chat and ride with others was such a big help. There was so much experience and talent in the group. I feel like a came away a better rider and a better person. As the sun fell each day, you could see our small ride group develop into a family. People opened up more, helped each other more and eventually found their groove to ride on to their potential. It was nice to see the bonding process and the way people worked together to help each other through the tougher moments. There were obvious times when people had mechanical problems and were stuck with a long day of riding. This developed another aspect of one's character.

I rode with Rob Welsh the majority of the tour. What a great guy! Fun to ride with. Easy to converse with and very experienced. He knew his pace and he could hold it forever. But even he had moments of "speed play!" There were several times when we would surge hard to try to catch Harold or bridge the gap with another group. It's hard work, but makes you a better rider. Toward the end of the tour (which was a small portion), I found myself finishing with Tim Feldman and Harold Trease. Tim was a former category 2 racer and was smooth and wise. He had a great deal of bike savvy and had a way of upping the pace without you being aware.  Harold "the Hammer" Trease was all about power.  He could mash the pedals and go.  Truly amazing to watch.  He is considering riding in 2011 as well, which will make his 3rd RAAM.  It would be an honor to ride the same year as him.

Overall the Elite PAC Tour ended up being more manageable than I anticipated.  I had expected 19 days of day 1, but that's just not the way it was.  There were minor issues of hand numbness and neck soreness early on, but the neck soreness would go away and the hand numbness was tolerable by riding the aerobars more often.  The support is like a well oiled machine.  It just operates SO smoothly.  The only issues that you need to be concerned with are your own.

If you ever considered doing an Elite PAC Tour, don't be frightened.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not a cake walk, but it is certainly an achievable goal.  I'm feeling more confident about an official finish in RAAM 2011, but I know that I have a lot of work cut out for me.  The big test will be through the winter months.  I'll be setting up a program for the next year and hope to work closely with SportFit.

Keep checking in for updates and hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 17; Almost there

Well thank goodness for the willingness to try anything to help out a bad situation. I'm speaking of the saddle sores (SS) of course, which started early on in the tour. Most riders tend to use the standard Chamois Cream to reduce friction spots, etc, which cause saddle sores. It never seems to be consistent with me. Sometimes certain things work better with different styles of shorts. I thought I had found the perfect pair with the Gore Power Shorts, but the extreme heat was not something that I could not replicate prior to the tour. I obtained some prescription medication from another rider, which was a strong dose of cortizone and some bag balm (if you don't ask, I won't tell.) So for the next couple of days, it was cortizone and Boudreux's (sp?) Butt Paste at night d then cortizone an hour prior to the bag balm and then Chamois cream on the shorts. This routine worked for a while. I tried to swap out saddles with a spare that I brought along, but this was worse, so I switched back to my standard, cheap Bontrager saddle. I went and purchased my own cortizone 10 from a local CVS and some Lanacane for emergency numbing situations that I would use as a last resort. Soon after passing through the cooler climates the heat began to rise and the SS became an issue once again. It was recommended to change shorts for different pressure areas, but all of my shorts were of similar model, since they had worked so well in training. So I purchased a pair of the PAC shorts to try them out. They felt wonderful and I purchased another pair. After a couple of days they weren't working any longer, so now I reverted to the double shorts. It gives a little more cushion and it allows the shorts to slide back and forth between one another and not rub your skin. Many of the riders say they have gone through endless combinations of shorts to find the perfect set. Some will even turn the shorts inside out so the pad isn't against your skin. At any rate, the double short worked for two days. The second day was the day that my shorts felt like they were on fire. So it was time to go with the emergency cream. In my mind you never want to numb an area that you use on a regular basis, unless it's an emergency...and this was an emergency! I was able to make it through that day, but had serious thoughts of how I would continue. So I asked around a bit more and it appeared that I had exhausted all of my resource. One of the RAAM veterans, Harold Trease, thought that the double short caused too much heat build up and that a regular routine of standing out of the saddle would keep blood flowing and help heal the area. Susan Notorangelo suggested powder early on, but I had tried that in training and it didn't work well for me. This was another day and another situation, so I thought what could it hurt. So I went back to the single short and tried powder (Bonds Medicated Powder), which you can mix with baby powder. This has been getting me through thus far with 2 more days to go. So it's nice to know of so many options, but it's best to avoid this issue all together (if you can). Hope this more detailed report on my issues may give you other options to think about, if you're ever in a similar situation.

We're in Elkins, WV and will be traveling via 33 through Harrisonburg onto Stanardsville where we will turn onto 230 and make our way to Orange via 231s to 20e. Perhaps not the best randonneuring route, but it will get us all home.

More photos were posted I'll add captions later.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 16; Photo reminder

Many of you may not know that there are photos available for viewing through the following link: 2010 Elite PAC Tour

All of the photos were taken by me on and off the bike. The only day that I did not take photos was today. I thought I needed to focus on my saddle issues and not worry about anything else. As it turns out I was able to manage through the day with better comfort than I had the previous day. I have 3 more days to go and figure that I could ride them out standing, if need be.
We'll be in Elkins, WV tomorrow evening and onto Orange, VA the following. We've been informed that if there are any interested parties that would like to bike in with us on the final day (Orange to Williamsburg) that they are welcome. Unfortunately it is a Thursday, so I know that would be difficult for most. Just let me know, so I can inform the staff. If you prefer a shorter route, you can meet us at the lunch stop, which is scheduled at mile 88.7, at the Bethlehem Community Center (.8 miles past the Bethlehem Church) on 606 (E of Ashland).

So far this has been a wonderful journey. A fabulous way to see and bike across the country. I would recommend being in a little bit better shape than I was going into an event like this, but it is certainly achievable by all of the people I know. The PAC Tour crew is top notch! They really work hard to keep you comfortable and to make sure that you have everything that you need to have a successful tour. All you have to do is bike, eat and sleep for 19 straight days (or for however many days you sign up for). Details of all this will follow when I'm home.

Rob and I rode the last couple of days together steady and strong. For a guy 9 years my senior, he's really an amazing athlete/cyclist. We'll be hitting the hills tomorrow, so the field will be stretched out all over the place. Right now I better hit the sack, as 5am will be here before I know it. There's a 22 year old that everyone will be trying to keep up with.

See most of you soon!!!

Day 15; Still going

Today we rode from Crawfordsville, OH to Greenville, IN. One more state to check off our list. We rode just north of Indianapolis and I thought how fast I could get to the end, if I only had an indy car. Oh well!!! We'll be in Virginia in 3 more days with one additional day to the end.

At this point, I'm aggressively fighting the saddle sores. That appears to be the only nagging issue right now. My sore neck and hands don't even compare--and in fact, I don't even notice them right now as being painful. I've been combating the saddle sores from day 2 on, but this afternoon they have reached a new level. Post lunch I tried to get back on the bike and my crotch literally felt like it was on fire. Rob saw me dropping back and asked if I was ok. I could only tell the truth and replied that my shorts were on fire and I had to do something. I've been carrying Lanacane with me for emergency purposes and it was time to put it to use. It took me several minutes to figure out how to apply it well riding the bike 18mph, but I managed and it helped me get to the next stop. I've gone through several combinations of ointments and Chamois Cream then combinations of shorts. They've all helped temporarily, but would eventually fail in the long term. So these last 4 days could be very testing for me.

It has been difficult to keep up with everything going on, so after this is all over I hope I can remember enough to do a nice recap of the entire event.

Friday, May 28, 2010

DAY 13 - Over 2,000 miles

We just completed a wonderful ride through St Louis, MO.  We rode a good portion of the bike trail and had a nice ride.  A bit shorter than the other days, so it was nice to only log in 144 miles today.   Rob will have the details of the ride on his blog.

Over the past couple of days I had the opportunity to ride with a couple of the older gentlemen with the tour. Hans Jorgen Binder, 57 years old (left) and Gene Ter Horst, 59 years old (right).
Hans is from Denmark and has been riding for many years.  His wife Lone (pronounced "Luna," as the Luna Bar), is a Regional Brevet Administrator running brevets out of the Copenhagen area, so if you're looking to do some rides in Denmark you should look them up.  Hans works for the Ford Motor Company in Copenhagen in the finance department.  He says it's a small division and does well with only 10% of the market share. Hans has been traveling to the U.S. for the past 5 years doing PAC Tours and sight seeing around the country.  He and Lone enjoy the climate and landscape of Arizona the most.

Gene is from Byron Center, MI and turned 59 in April.  His wife Mary, doesn't cycle, but enjoys her time doing her thing while Gene is on his bike.  Gene is a truck driver for ABF and is looking forward to retirement in a few years, so he can put in more time on the bike.  When Gene isn't riding, he's busy running marathons to stay in shape.  He's run 22 marathons thus far and has never had any knee issues.  No triathlons for Gene.  He says the water above his ankles frightens him.

Both men are strong cyclists and are riding well.  If you're approaching the 60 year old mark and don't think that you can ride, take a look at these two.

Rob and I continue to ride strong and are doing a little better than just surviving the tour, which was my initial goal.  Rob is happy with maintaining his pace, but I've been looking to mix it up a bit.  I've been riding harder at different times and have manage a good ride in the morning, afternoon and evening, but have failed to put together a good ride for the entire day.  So this will be my goal for the next 6 days.  I'll keep you posted.  And don't forget to check out Rob's blog for the ride details.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 10 Update

Our only tandem riders on the elite tour are Jim Slauson and Lara Sullivan.  Jim is a 46 year old ER Surgeon from San Antonio, TX  and Lara is a 42 year old woman from Ely, MN and is currently caring for her ailing father.  They are both members of the PAC Tour 10,000 mile club and recently started riding together.  Both are strong and determined cyclist and are riding very well.  Most of the hilly days are a challenge for them, but they manage their energy efficiently and are never the last ones up the hill.

Today was like most other days. In fact, at the start of the tour the message board said to think of the Elite Tour as "Ground Hog Day!"  Picture Bill Murray waking up, doing the same thing over and over again (only on a bike).  Though we aren't trying to put ourselves out of our misery, we do continue to experience the same aches and pains that are associated with endurance cycling.  A sore bum, numb hands, swollen feet, sun burned body parts. tired quads and hamstrings, etc.  Pick a body part, ride long enough and eventually it will hurt.  It's all about managing the pain and discomfort, just like life in general.  Though it may not be directly related it certainly can apply to anything that you encounter in your everyday lives.  This stuff makes you stronger.  It makes you wiser.  It makes you cope better with the stress you encounter in everyday situations.  If you don't believe me, try it for one year.  You'll be amazed at how it will change your life.  Just ask for advise before you start.  You have to crawl before you can ride.

Day 10 pics had difficulty uploading, so I'll have to give those another try when I get to Osage Beach, MO.  Sorry Heidi W., but Kansas was not the most scenic state on our route thus far.

Thanks again for all of the comments, etc.  Keep the positive energy coming.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 7 Update

As you may have read on Rob's blog, Day 7 was the second time in PAC Tour history that all riders had to be sagged during a ride.  There is a little bit of discrepancy in the details.  Rob was in one van with Lon Haldeman and I was in the other van with Susan Notorangelo. Rob's information says that this was the second time that riders were sagged for safety reasons.  The information that I received was that this was the first time for safety reasons, but the second time in history.  The first time was because the tour took riders via ferry across a bay, but when the riders arrived the ferry service was closed.  So all of the riders had to be sagged around the bay.

In our case, we had high gusting winds (over 60mph) coming from unpredictable directions.  Needless to say, after two of the riders went down, they decided to sag us in.  In the sag vehicle you can see Susan Notorangelo (RAAM legend; married to Lon Haldeman) in the back with Lara Sullivan from Ely, MI.  Then you have (from left to right) yours truly, Jon Batek from Batavia, IL, Max Hogan from Camarillo, CA and Jim Slauson from San Antonio, TX.  Jim Captains the a tandem with Lara.

Most riders signing up for a tour of this intensity want to ride every mile.  But after experiencing this particular descent, no one complained too much about missing the second half of the ride.  For me, it was an opportunity to try to recover a little more for another long ride (193 miles) tomorrow morning.  We're starting an hour earlier 5:30am to allow for the added distance.  We'll see how things go.

Saddle sores are still uncomfortable, but not getting any worse.  We probably go through a couple tubes each day.  It's funny how the women pull down their shorts like the guys to lather up.  It's like family out here and everyone is going through similar things (discomfort).  Some riders are obviously in better shape than others.  I started out on the "not so good shape" side, but am slowly creeping up.  As long as I can keep the saddle sores at bay and the neck feeling good, I should finish fine.  But it's still one day at a time.  I'm still working on placing captions with the photos.  Sorry for the delay, but keep checking.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 6 of the Elite PAC Tour

We crossed the Rocky Mountains via Wolf Creek Pass.  It's a long 8 mile climb over the mountains and everyone made it fine.  If you know about the DC Randonneurs, climbing is just what we do.  Maybe for a shorter period of time, but nonetheless, I'm sure that everyone in our club would have enjoyed this section.  I hope you can view the photos to get a little perspective of the grade.

My maximum speed descending from the pass was 55mph.  I wanted to reach 60, but strong cross-winds made me grab for the brakes.  On a calmer day, who knows how fast I could've gone.  I know a couple of tandem groups that would scream down that section.  The lone tandem in our group on this tour.melted their rims coming down the last pass on the previous day and had to swap out wheels.  I'm hoping to spend more time to update the who's who on the elite tour, but time goes by so quickly.  It's constant moving and preparing for the next day.

I just wanted to let everyone know that tweets are hard to send in some of the areas we ride through, so I'm apologizing now for the gaps between some of the updates there.  Just let it be known that I'm combating saddle issues, some neck issues and sleep issues.  With 13 days remaining, I can only take one day at a time.  It's been a slight suffer fest for me, as I expected, but it's an enjoyable hurt.  Each pain that I can overcome makes me feel that much stronger (not that I want any more pain), but I think you know what I mean.  That said, I'm going to try to get a good night sleep for once and hope that the day tomorrow is a little better.

Thank you for all your comments thus far and for all your support.  I think of everyone often as I'm riding along, so if you get that wierd feeling inside...that's me thinking of you!

Those of you that are riding.  Hope you're riding strong and hope the brevet series is going well (if you're a rando-type).  Looking  forward to hooking up to tell some stories.

Hugs to everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Sorry I haven't update the blog since I arrived to CA, but the laptop I brought with me is not connecting wireless for some reason.   I'm sure it's operator error.  I'll see if I can bring you up to speed. 

Since I arrived in San Diego, I met both Lon and Susan who are running the tour.  Both wonderful people and legends in the cycling world (as you may have read on their web page).  My bike had arrived safely and I unpacked and assembled it shortly after checking into the hotel and meeting the majority of the crew.  They were all very busy prepping for the arrival of the other riders.  I arrived 2 days early to get a little acclimated to the temperatures, but the San Diego temps were very similar to what we had out in Fairfax, Virginia.  The riders that did show on Friday were all treated to a short ride and breakfast (16 miles).  You can view the photos from Susie's post on Day 1.

So far it's been from San Diego to El Centro to Wickenburg and now I'm sitting in Flagstaff.  We've gone from high temps of 106 in the desert to the projected lows of 34 for this mornings start (I haven't opened the door yet and don't want to).  The journey thus far has been exactly as predicted...a suffer fest!  Though I did want to suffer for the experience of it all.  I mean - heck - why ride with all of these great cyclist and not suffer at least a little!

Rob Welsh has been posting the details of the ride on his blog and it's very thorough, so rather than me copying or retyping the exact same thing, I'm just going to request that you visit his blog for the details, since we've been bouncing the details back and forth off of each other. Click here to go to Rob's blog.

I'm just going to ramble on about the tour and what a typical day consists of.  That's probably all the time I will have for today.  There's a message board that sits out by the support vehicles with all the special details that aren't covered in the packet of cue sheets we received at registration.  So usually it's an important item to glance at when you arrive after your ride.  Places to eat in the area are the biggest hit, then the massage room follows and then any route alterations, etc.  Each morning starts with a 6am breakfast (varies a little depending on the distance of the route).  You have less than a half hour to eat, because you have to load your gear in the gear trailer and be ready to go by 6:30am.  Riders are off and separated into 3 groups by speed.  The riders take off from fastest to slowest.  Rob and I have been running in the fast and middle group so far.  Out on the route, there are stops every 20-30 miles (give or take a few).  As soon as you arrive at a stop you MUST wash your hands immediately, as to not contaminate the food and coolers with any body fluid that you've been wiping away during your ride (no need to get graphic here).  The wash station is cooler of warm water mixed with soap.  Simple and functional.  Pour some in your hands, rub it around and wipe it off with a paper towel.  Then it's onto the food.  Grab what you want, fill your pockets, don't forget to refill your bottles and then reapply sun screen, and chamois cream (aka butt butter).  You needed to stay protected as any small irritation can grow into a bigger problem down the road.  Some time around noon the food station turns into lunch and they usually have a pretty nice spread laid out for the riders.  I had a nice juicy cheeseburger with rice, pasta, beans and chips yesterday.  I can't even remember what I ate on Day 1 and 2.  I think I was too tired to recall having eaten.  So then the ride ends, you rack your bike and wash it as to keep the rooms clean, shower up, pick a place to eat, rinse out your smell clothes or wash them if you plan on reusing it before 3 days (laundry day is every 3 days), go eat, get your massage if you've signed up for one, check the temps through the next destination to lay out your gear for the next day and then try to recover for the next day.  It may not sound like much, but it is.  Especially when you're tired and sore and hungry and sore (it's worth mentioning twice).  We're hoping that the terrain will allow for an easier ride today to give the legs a break.  We'll see!  Right now I need to get ready for the day.  I was hoping to keep this a little more organized, but it's going to be a hack job to say the least.  I'll come back and explain photos etc. later.  Sorry to keep you all waiting!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Day 1 is complete! This post is coming to you from Susie, Randy's wife. Randy was a little tired last night and asked that I let folks know he finished Day 1 successfully. It was hilly and hot and, minus some legs cramps from dehydration at around mile 110, it was a good day. The temps in the desert reached 100 degrees in the shade. He likened one of the descents into the valley to opening the door to a hot oven. Just a blast of heat. Yowch! On to Day 2. He was up this morning at 2:30 to start the ride at 3:00. They hope the early start will spare them some heat.  It's a long day today -- 220 miles -- and I expect him to roll into Wickenburg, Ariz around 9:00. Stay tuned!

For photos please click on the event day below:

Pre Ride
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I received a nice send off from my office this afternoon.  After hearing about my 14.6% body fat (which they all thought was a little high), they decided that I need to add on even a few more pounds.  A huge chocolate chip cookie!  You can see the piece that I took.  haha!  The writing on the cookie said, "Good Luck Randy."

I had a similar send off when I left for Paris to ride in PBP '07.  They had all signed a USA cycling jersey, wishing me luck in Paris and hoping that I would qualify for RAAM.  I had failed on that attempt, as many of you already know.

So thanks to everyone at my office.  You all are fun to work with and very special people.  I hope to report all good news as I cross the country.

I just double checked my packing and everything is ready to go.  All I need to do now is relax and get my big behind to the airport in the morning.

I'll be tweeting on my Twitter account as well, so join up if you're interested in live updates:


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I've had some requests to elaborate on my bike setup for commuting.  Let it be known that these are my thoughts and preferences.  Many riders out there will have differences of opinion and this is apparent, if you've ever commuted and witnessed the wide range of gear displayed.  Differences in gear are based on (but not limited to) length of commute, style of riding, number of bikes owned and training goals from commuting.  Now this is the way that I see it.

The first and most important setup is not about the bike.  It's the mind-set.  Commuting is what it is!  It is not a race and if you treat it as such, you're going to get into an accident (spin there, spun that)!  I'm sure a lot of my old co-workers are laughing right now and could provide plenty of comments on my battered body (...if anything was on the trail, I was going to race it!)  I'm not saying that you can't push hard...you should, but limit it to sections.  Don't try to push hard the entire way.  Your personal best (PB) is only limited by how lucky you are catching the traffic lights through the city and how crowded the trail happens to be that day.  When you pick your spots to push hard, make sure it's safe for you and those around you.  Now that we have the mental aspect of the ride out of the way let's breakdown the setup:

THE BIKE:  Your commuter bike doesn't need to match the dimensions of your race bike.  As long as you have a proper fit you can use a mt bike, hybrid, fixie, etc., just ride.  You're doing a good thing by commuting.  You're the HULK!  Yes, I said the HULK!  You're turning green,...but happy!  That ever so popular color that will make this world a better place. 

TIP:  If you tend to be a pedal grinder with slow cadence and want to work on increasing your turnover rate, try installing shorter crank arms on your commuter.  You can easily cut 5mm, as a shorter crank arm has no ill effect on your setup.  You do lose a little leverage for steep climbs, but that's what the gears are for.

THE TIRES:  My favorite commuter is an old mountain bike and I do enjoy cruising speeds, so I have 26"x1.25" Performance City Slicks.  You can pump them up to 90 psi and go as fast as any road bike (with the exception of up hills).  If your rims are fitted for schrader valves, you'll want to pick up some rim adapters so you can run presta valves.  Schrader valves aren't designed for high pressure.  If you're running 700s, I suggest a minimum width of 23mm.

TIP:  If your commute takes you over an excessive amount of debris, you may consider tire liners (like Slime Liners).  It's an added layer of protection against punctures.

THE LIGHTS:  I use the Cateye TL-LD500-R, the Cateye HL-EL530 and the Planet Bike Blaze 1 Watt and the Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash.  I have multiple sets of each, because in the early season I'm riding 5 hours in the dark.  It's nice to have redundancy in your lighting in case one should fail.  Something I learned from the DC Randonneurs and it is also a requirement to ride in the brevet series.  I mount a Cateye HL and Blaze on the front bars and a Cateye TL on the back.  The Super Flash is clipped my vest for high traffic areas and for backup.  The Cateye HL has a magnetic switch and is completely waterproof.  It throws a long narrow beam (which some people don't like) down the center of a secondary wide beam.  I aim this light further down the path to spot deer when riding at higher speeds and for descending.  4 AA batteries will provide about 20 hours of usable light (it's rated for 90 hours, which it may do, but the light becomes too dim to provide any distance lighting.)  The Blaze in not water proof, but is good for light drizzle.  It throws a wide beam that is good for close range and has 3 settings (low, high and strobe.)  I use the strobe at dawn and at dusk and as a supplement to the Cateye, when conditions demand more light at close range.  2 AA batteries will provide about 8 hours of usable light.  The lens on the Cateye TL when not turned on is a CPSC approved reflector.  After installing batteries (2 AAA), I run electrical tape around the seal.  This makes the light almost as waterproof as the HL model, but if you're out there long enough I have noticed that moisture will work its way into the unit through the button switch in the back.  Flashing mode, which I use most often while commuting will last about 60 hours.  If you're not on the street you can run it til it dies.  The Blinky Super runs on 2 AAA and has a similar run life.  It's very bright, but has a poor switch location at the bottom of the unit and will fail if exposed to rain for a prolong period of time.  This can be protected with rain gear, since it's clipped to my vest.  If you read the post on the PA Fleche, three riders experienced this issue. 

THE RAIN GEAR:  Let's face it - with rain gear you're either going to get wet from the inside out (via sweat) or from the outside in (via leaky fabric or open areas like the neck and front zipper).  In most situations you should be able to regulate airflow through your jacket to keep you cool, and dry out any buildup of moisture (this is important in cooler temperatures).  I look for a double zipper, plenty of vents and adjustable cuffs.    These are key elements in regulating your body temperature as the heat builds up.  Shower Pass makes some of the best rain gear around.  If there is just a hint of rain, I throw a trash bag in my pack or a cheap plastic jacket that you can pick up for less than $20 at Performance.  And in most cases, in warm weather, I just get wet and dry out when and if the rain stops.  If you have an old nylon jacket, you can try spraying it with a water repellent treatment like ReviveX.  This should be ample to get you through a commute of 30-90 minutes.

Installing fenders will keep you and your bike a little cleaner in the rain.  If you plan on aiding in keeping your feet dryer you need to add mud flaps to approximately 2" from the ground.  Repeat that on the rear and those drafting will love you.

THE ACCESSORIES:   I don't like to carry anything on my back, though I have been adapting to a camelbak for carrying extra fluids on rides with limited control stops.  The first day I ride into the office, I try to bring several changes of clothes and stick them in a file cabinet or desk drawer (if your building doesn't have a locker room).  This leaves me with just the essentials to carry back and forth.  I do have a rack and still mount a rack pack.  I have the Jandd Pack, which is roomy and expandable.    It's easy to carry extra cycling clothes, etc. and keeps everything dry, should it rain.  If you're a minimalist you can carry everything you need for an overnight ride and more.  As essentials, I carry a Brave Soldier Crash pack.  It's light weight and has everything you need to treat minor cuts to road rash.  Two tubes, tire irons, patch kit, a multi tool, and a Road Morph Pump (highly recommended).  This pump works like a mini floor pump.  It will pump up to 120 psi and has a built in gauge, which works well.  This is one of those best buy items.  In my wallet, I have money (cash and credit), health insurance card, id and building passes/keys as needed.  If your commute is short you may opt to not carry some of these items, but there will be a day when you'll be wishing you had.  That's how I learned.  Stuffing grass in your tires when you're out of tubes and patches or CO2 cartridges is no easy task.  And the ride is horrible.  Oh it gets you home or to work at a fraction of the speed and on a very bumpy, unstable ride.  You're better off stashing your bike and shoes, stuffing grass in the bottom of your socks and running home.

Extra helpful items are the bell and the helmet light. A nice soft bell avoids having to call out that your passing every 20 seconds and the helmet light is useful for those early morning or late night mechanical problems.

I'll come back and post some pictures later, but want to get this up for those that have been waiting.  If you have something in particular that you wanted to know, please comment.  I'm sure there are others that are interested as well.  Again, I'm by no means an expert on the subject of commuting.  I can only share with you what works well for me.

Good luck with your commute and hope to see you out there some day...or evening!  It would be fun to exchange ideas over a cold one (and I don't mean sports drink).

Monday, May 10, 2010


I met with Doug Baumgarten of SportFit Lab on Friday, 5/7 to have my body composition tested on the InBody 230.  Here is a brief description of what this device does:

BioSpace InBody Analyzer     We use the InBody 230 bio-impedance analyzer to precisely measure body fat, lean muscle, intracellular water, and extracellular water content.  After years of relying on skinfold calipers, which provide limited data for athletes [and rely on age-based population estimates], we have invested in the latest bio-impedance technology.
     Traditional bio-impedance machines - such as scales you can buy for your home - use only one electrical frequency and two contact points (the feet) to estimate body fat.  Therefore, they must rely on age-, gender-, and activity-based equations to guesstimate the percentage of body fat.  Moreover, they can ONLY estimate body fat and total lean (non-fat) mass - which provides limited information, to say the least.
     InBody utilizes EIGHT separate contact points and two electrical frequencies.  With this technology, we can get DIRECT accurate measurements of body fat, lean muscle, intra- and extra-cellular water - with no "allowances" or fudging for age, gender, or activity level.  Not only does the InBody track your body fat, hydration status, and lean muscle - it does so in 5 SEPARATE BODY SEGMENTS!  The InBody analyzes each arm and leg, as well as the trunk, separately - to determine the precise body composition of each body segment.

The Body Composition Test provides valuable readings for that individual looking to start a weight loss program, the novice athlete that is looking for a benchmark from which to begin a training program, or the more experience athlete that is looking to fine tune their training based on a number of progressive readings (i.e. sweat rate, muscular development or reduction, percent body fat reduction, etc.)

The Body Composition Test detected a right leg length discrepancy (information not shared with Doug prior to the test).  I don't have a great deal of experience with this form of testing, but it was a quick and simple test that gave accurate results.  I was amazed that it picked up on my slight leg length discrepancy by indicating a slightly less lean muscle mass in that leg.  Unfortunately, it did show that I had 14.6% body fat.  A good indication that my training had a long way to go.
Going into the transcontinental tour, I wanted to make sure that I was well hydrated at the cellular level.  The readings indicate good hydration levels with my intracellular levels higher than my extracellular levels, though through extended conversations with highly respected doctors I've learned that these numbers can change drastically and quickly, during exercise and recovery.  The body's goal is to find equilibrium between the two.

My basal metabolic rate (BMR - the minimal number of kcal required to sustain one's weight at a resting state) was 1564 kcal or approximately 2 pints of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey.  I was hoping that this would be higher, but explains my horrible weight gain in the winter months.

For $25 per test for Sport and Health Members (with a 4 test package) I find this a great value for the information you receive.  Not everyone is into the numbers game, but if you're going to monitor progress you have to start taking some measurements and this is a relatively inexpensive start.  If you're interested in the test and want to chat about it, please feel free to contact me.

I will be testing again, after the transcontinental tour to reveal the changes in my body composition after riding over 3,000 miles in 19 days.  There will be a slight lag period between the completion of the event and my testing, but I will do my best to keep this to a minimum to try to get more accurate feedback on the effects of the ride. to re

Friday, May 7, 2010


That would be my wife, Susie.  And she deserves her own special post.  Here she is with her niece, Meghan Foy (the photo was taken by her dear friend Patti Roper).  She is always encouraging and supportive in all of my efforts to pursue my goals and my dreams.  She makes me feel like I'm Lance Armstrong on the bike, Eric Heiden on skates, Mark Spitz in the pool...  No matter what I do, she thinks I'm the best.  It really is a nice feeling.  So what if she can leg press more than I can.  My wife thinks I'm the greatest (...I've considered changing my name to Ali) and that's pretty darn special.  All jokes aside, she is wonderful and will do everything within her power to help me achieve success in everything I do.  She'll drive hundreds of miles to drop off and pick up locations, divert routes for extra support, change many of her plans so I may keep mine, the list is endless.  You have to admire a woman like that...and I DO!

I try my best to not take advantage of her kindness.  There will be times when some training will have to shorten or rescheduled to spend time together and with friends and family.  Let's face it.  This journey will be a huge time commitment and a big test for us to see how we can cope.  But it's this support and encouragement for each other that makes life a journey worth traveling. Try it!  You'll like it!

Susie IS my number one supporter.  She's the best!  And I thank her for making this and all of my journeys so special.  If you're reading this Jake (her nickname), I love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Well the first BIG test was qualifying for RAAM, which I did back in September 2009 at the Adirondack 540.  The second BIG test will be coming up soon.  May 16th is the start of the Elite PAC Tour.  Here is a brief description from the web page:  

This tour is only for Elite Riders! Each day is planned to offer the best support and efficiency for riders who want to simulate riding at a Race Across America pace across the country during daylight hours. RAAM winners Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo will help you mentally and physically to succeed during this difficult tour. A recommended training goal is to ride 300 kilometers in 10 hours or complete 350 miles in 24 hours. Our route will follow 75% of the RAAM 2010 route with a good mix of mountains and back roads. Riders who complete 100% of the tour (14 mph minimum elapsed time) will qualify for the Race Across America.
This tour averages 165 miles per day across the deserts, mountains and prairies of the southern and central United States. Full support is offered to keep everyone rolling efficiently across the country. Riders who complete each day within the time limits will also qualify for the Race Across America solo division.

Since I am already RAAM Qualified (RQ'd), it is not crucial that I maintain a fast pace with the front riders.  They will likely be averaging 20-24mph on the bike and I certainly don't have the training miles to take on such a task.  My goal is simple.  And that is to simply endure the drastic changes in terrain and temperature and to complete the tour with a reasonable average speed.  After all, I'll be getting a full night sleep every evening, so I'm hoping for good recovery each day.  The Elite PAC Tour will be my benchmark for where my training needs to be in the following year.  It may end up being a suffer-fest!  We'll have to see what happens.

I do enter into this ride with a little apprehension.  The reason being is that when I sent in my entry form, Lon called me at home and said that I may want to reconsider my entry.  He was basing this on my most recent 100 and 200 mile times.  I haven't ridden 100 or 200 miles for time in ages, so I was basing my times on my latest brevets, which tend to be a little slower, due to the control stops and lunch break.  I think I posted 7 and 15 hours for each.  I promised not to complain and that he could leave my on the side of the road, if need be (the last part is not true, but I thought it added a little drama to this post).  We both agreed that I knew what I was getting into and I would not be asking for a refund, if my ride ended after day 3.

Lon's wife, Susan contacted me later via email and made me feel a little better for holding my ground.  She commended me for my desire to give it a go.  I'll have a full story when I return June 4th and hope to provide updates along the way.  Here's the itinerary:

  • 16th - San Diego, CA to El Centro, CA (126mi)
  • 17th - El Centro, CA to Wickenburg, AZ (220mi)
  • 18th - Wickenburg, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ (154mi)
  • 19th - Flagstaff, AZ to Kayenta, AZ (151mi)
  • 20th - Kayenta, AZ to Durango, CO (178mi)
  • 21st - Durango, CO to Monte Vista, CO (145mi)
  • 22nd - Monte Vista, CO to Trinidad, CO (145mi)
  • 23rd - Trinidad, CO to Ulysses, KS (193mi)
  • 24th - Ulysses, KS to Pratt, KS (151mi)
  • 25th - Pratt, KS to Yates Center, KS (174mi)
  • 26th - Yates Center, KS to Osage Beach, MO (182mi)
  • 27th - Osage Beach, MO to St Louis, MO (175mi)
  • 28th - St Louis, MO to Effingham, IL (143mi)
  • 29th - Effingham, IL to Crawfordsville, IN (157mi)
  • 30th - Crawfordsville, IN to Greenville, OH (142mi)
  • 31st - Greenville, OH to Athens, OH (176mi)
  • June 1st - Athens, OH to Elkins, WV (157mi)
  • 2nd - Elkins, WV to Orange, VA (165mi)
  • 3rd - Orange, VA to Williamsburg, VA (141mi)

Monday, May 3, 2010


There is always a need to record measurements of some sort, when trying to achieve a goal.  As with anything, you need a benchmark from which to measure improvement (or lack thereof).  That measurement can range from one's waistline, to blood lactate, to average speed on the bike.  Regardless of what that measurement is, it needs to be relative to one's goal.  What is relative; and what measurements will give me optimal results?  Well technology has been changing for the better since the mid to late 90's (back when I was frequently testing my V02 max).  I've been out of touch with the latest and greatest measuring devices that are now available and at reasonable rates.

Doug Baumgarten and his wife Beth of Sport Fit Lab will be helping me determine what is best for me in my quest for RAAM 2011.  We'll be testing on a number of measuring devices and under a number of package deals that they have to offer.  I will elaborate on the test results as they are taken and give feedback on what I feel is most beneficial in attaining my goal.  I'll try to post some photos as we progress, though it is not a pretty site when one is trying to max out their heart rate.

Stay tuned.  This will be an exciting segment of the blog and I hope to share a great deal of information with everyone.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


In a previous post, I mentioned the downfalls of the 3 hour commute (each way). In this post, I simply wanted to elaborate.

The majority of my RAAM 2011 training miles will be coming by way of work commuting (Fairfax, VA to Rockville, MD). My commute is approximately 50 miles each way and takes just over 3 hours. I have the alarm set for 3:15am, but usually wake before it goes off. I'll make my way to the "bike room" (we have a room designated for our bike equipment and clothes, so named it appropriately). I'll check the temperature outside and dress accordingly, always finishing off my outfit with reflective gear. I use generic reflective ankle bands and an Amphipod reflective vest. The Amphipod is adjustable to fit well and give good coverage in all directions. In heavy traffic, I add an extra flashing light to the back of the vest to really stand out. I top off my tires, grab my R2R bottles, eat a snack and head out the door by 3:45-4am.  Photos will follow in the future.

My inbound route is Stringfellow Road, Fairfax Co. Parkway, W&OD trail, Custis trail, over the Key Bridge, thru Georgetown, Wisconsin Ave, K St, Capital Crescent Trail, Connecticut Ave, Beach Dr, Rockville Pike, W. Gude Dr to Piccard Dr. If I have a mechanical before Connecticut, I'll stay on Beach Drive all the way to Garrett Park Road and pick up the Montgomery Co. Bike and Hike Trail to Southlawn Lane, E. Gude to Piccard. This keeps me off of Rockville Pike, which gains traffic later in the morning.

I'm at work by 7am. My building has no shower facilities, so it's a morning sink bath, quick rinse of the shorts and base layer, hang my laundry to dry for the commute home and at my desk by 7:30am with breakfast and coffee in hand. 9 1/2 hours later and my day is done (5pm). I actually change my clothes by 4:45pm and start to clean up my work area. Prior to my departure I will connect to Google Latitude, so my wife, Susie, can track me on my commute home for peace of mind.

My commute home is slightly different, due to the increased traffic at 5pm. I take W. Gude Drive, Research Blvd, Hurley Ave, Watts Branch Pkwy, Fallsmead Way, Great Falls Rd, River Rd, Persimmon Tree Rd, MacArthur Blvd, Capital Crescent Trail and I'm back on the reverse route home.

I'm home around 8pm. Susie gives me the option to eat or shower first. I almost always choose the shower first. She always has a mega plate prepared for me, which takes about 90 seconds to clean (I'm so horrible when it comes to eating, but I'm working on it). Trust me, I enjoy every second of it. I'm in bed between 9:30-10pm and the cycle will start over again.  My wife is my number 1 supporter.  I'll have a separate post on this subject alone.

In the early season I start off riding 1-2 times per week, which isn't too bad. It gives me time to bring fresh clothes into work, do some cross training on the off days and most of all get a bit of rest/sleep. As I approach a big event, I'll commute 4 days/week. I teach a spin class at the Rio Sport and Health on Monday mornings, which is considered my rest day, but most Sundays I will use as rest as well (if you consider yard work, etc. rest).

I've seen just about every species of wild life that the region has to offer, during my commute. Deer, rabbit and squirrel are the biggest dangers of my commute (besides cars and trucks) and then it's pedestrians without reflective gear in the early mornings.  Just this morning I saw a guy walking on the W&OD dressed as a vampire (4:45am - must have been a great party).  I directed my light on him, but he didn't burn.  Oh well!

So that's my commute. I wish I was dedicated to do it every day of the year, but life is all about balance and everyone has a different fulcrum point(which can be moved from time to time.) It all depends on how much weight you apply to the ends of the lever. Find your balance and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This was another epic ride (as you can tell from our photo, taken by Rick Carpenter).  The story was written by our team captain, Chip Adams.  He is also the creator of the route, which to this day is considered one the toughest routes in the area (based on distance, elevation gain and final distance from the 22 hour control).  This was my second year in a row riding for Team Italian Ice.  It just doesn't get any better than this.

Here is his story:

It started and ended in the rain, but what happened in between?

I want to start out by saying how great of a team we had this year. Last year we had Randy Mouri (Randaltini), Clint (Clintoni), and me(Chipolini). This year, we added Andrea Bassing-Matney (Andrealita) and Clif Dierking (Clifangelo) to our Italian Ice and what great team members they are. Unfortunately, at the last minute Andrea had to pull out due to an ankle injury attributed to too much riding. Goes to show the love and passion she has for cycling. That left the four remaining to ride it. For those who don't know the skinny on a Fleche, it is a 24 hour event that must be at least 360K in length, have up to 5 members or bikes, and at least 3 have to finish. It can start usually anytime between Thursday and Saturday, but the team has to finish together at the 24 hour mark. For us, we left at 8:00 am on Saturday 4/24 and finished right at 8:00 am on Sunday. Our route was actually 440K or 275 miles. One of the longer Fleches out there, but we knew it could be done based on two (2) other finishes on the same route. The ride started in Middletown, VA and ended in Quakertown, PA. It was a ride filled with more drama than any I've ever been on. Here's how it went down.

After working out all the travel arrangements, we decided to meet for a pre-ride dinner at Macaroni Grill in Fairfax. Randy and his wife Susie would accommodate all of us, once again, at their house in Fairfax and the next morning we'd travel to the ride start a little over an hour away. We had a great dinner and even though Andrea would not make the ride, she and her husband joined us. If you've been to Macaroni Grill, you know the honor rule by marking down the number of glasses of Chianti you've had. We left some marks on the table. We all went back to Randy and Susie's house for coffee and cookies later.

The morning came early with a 5:00 am wake-up. The forecast for the 24 hour period was rain and cold or at least a 60% chance of it. The forecast was dead-on. We dressed and packed accordingly each hoping we made the right decisions about what to wear and bring. It’s always a little stressful making those decisions and hoping it was the right call. I decided to wear the long sleeve base layer and it was the right call. I added rain pants, Assos Wind vest, Assos Jersey, and a plastic rain shell to my SPP jersey. The problem was how to keep the hands and feet dry and warm. Turns out that was impossible. We left a little later than we wanted to because we had to add additional bike racks to handle the journey. Susie drove us out and 24 hours later would meet us in Quakertown.

We were chasing the clock before we even started and it ended the same way. We quickly unloaded bikes and gear and got down to getting ready. All Control cards signed and we got out of there at 8:15 am.; a little late, but ready to ride for 24 hours. My dad and sister came by to wave us off. Earlier that morning at 5:00 am, from the same location, the Mother-of-all-300's Brevet riders departed. We chatted with the support members while we readied ourselves.

We rode in the rain for the first 16 miles through beautiful rolling terrain to our first stop - not a Control, but home of the best cinnamon donuts in the land at the Apple House in Linden - right off of I-66. We got a dozen and sat down with them and some coffee before heading back out. We got some plastic bags from the cashier to wrap our feet in thinking it would help keep them drier longer. We used some electrical tape to help seal the top. By design, the baggies were between sock and shoe. Clif brought rain covers for his feet - the only one making the right call on footwear. As we continued east, I could feel the sloshing water in my bagged feet, but it was no longer raining. The road still had a lot of water on it and didn't want to stop to remove the baggies. We passed the first Control in Marshall, Va, just a little off of the previous years' times but riding strong. We got into Purcellville, VA, 54 miles in and took a quick nature break. I used the time to pour water out of the baggies and wring my socks out. I tossed the baggies.

We hit the next Control at Knoxville, MD 70 miles at about 1:30 pm, about 30-45 minutes later than we thought, but riding a good pace and everyone felt good. I was actually battling a minor stomach issue, but I got over it. It was only a 30 minute lunch-stop. As we were finishing lunch, about 50 motorcyles pulled in and we chatted with them for a few minutes while we prepared to hit the road. They were on a charity ride, but we learned our ride was covering more miles. The rain was still holding off, but heavily overcast as we continued north around Frederick. We used a lot of the roads that the DC Rand uses on rides that leave Frederick. Temperatures were moderate around 60 degrees. As we cleared Frederick and bound for Thurmont, I finally felt we were getting back on track with time. It's amazing the extra steps and the amount of extra time it takes given to details when you ride in the elements. We made it into Gettysburg, our 2nd Control at 5:30 pm, 125 miles, but not quite halfway. We came into Gettysburg across parts of the battlefield and I am always in awe of the place and have read enough to understand what took place there. At the Control, I treated the stop as a dinner stop and got a couple of hotdogs. Clint got a huge rice treat (see photo from the album)! Not sure what everyone else did, but they glared through the window as I ate and talked to two year olds.

The weather had taken a toll on the drivetrain so we all lubed up and after a quick nature break at the public coin operated laundramat around the corner, as directed by our 7-11Control host, we mounted our bikes and headed east toward Hanover, PA. It was a 20 mile quick tempo ride that got us through the town and onward to the next Control; however, here is where a large majority of the climbing started. It was still light outside, but since the sun never came out, it was getting darker pretty quickly. We were going down the other side of one of those previously mentioned climbs and Clint was in the front. I looked up in front to see an emergency vehicle crossways in the road - with flares. Clint blows right past the guy followed by me, Clif, and Randy while the guy is yelling something that sounded like, "you'll never make it through." So we kept going, wondering all the while what we might encounter. About a mile farther up, a tree had collapsed on the wires and was mostly across the road. A challenge for a car but not the Italian Ice Fleche team! We scooted around it and the emergency vehicle on the opposing end and thanked them for moving the cones as we came past.

It was now getting dark, so at the top of one of the climbs, we got our reflective gear on and lights on and descended into the increasingly darkening terrain. Still no rain, though. We rode through Glen Rock and then under I-83 at McSherrystown and into Stewartstown and was now completely dark. The traffic was pretty bad on the road and the roads didn't have a great surface. Visibility was almost nothing and we rode it hopeful that we wouldn't hit anything. In Stewartstown we were finally able to get out of traffic and onto back roads. It was amazingly dark as we descended and climbed our way towards the Control only 4 miles away. It was now a little after 9:00 pm and we were starting to get a few sprinkles. It was lightly raining as we came into the Control. We all had a real meal and targeted 10:00 -10:15pm as a departure time. However, we didn't leave until 10:35 because of the rain We decided to put all of the necessary rain gear on because we didn't want to get wet and cold and then maybe not being able to get warm later. We ended up riding out of there with all of our rain gear on. The roads were very wet but 2 minutes after we left, it was hardly raining. 30 minutes later we were all burning up so on some dark road in the middle of nowhere on the west side of the Susquehanna river, we took it all back off - only to put some of it back on 10 minutes later.

We crossed the Susquehanna and the rain increased and from that point, it didn't stop. Another unscheduled stop at mile 200 and we put the rest of our rain gear back on. I even used quartt-sized zip-tie baggies for my hands to try to keep them dry and warm. They were too cumbersome for shifting and braking and abandoned that idea later for finger movement. Colder and wetter the fingers became. The rain was also creating problems with our rear lights. Clint, Clif and I were using the Planet Bike Super Flash lights. The water was getting in and playing havoc. Either they would turn off or flash then turn on, but usually ended with OFF. Clint said he would take it up with Planet Bike when he got back. I'll be doing the same. They just weren't reliable when they needed to be. Clif put his under plastic his plastic rain shell and I did the same later when I had no lights back there. Clint's lights just totally failed and my back-up light was useless.

As we rode on, we were calculating arrival times and available time in Controls and we thought we would get into the 217 mile control around 1:30, giving us about 30 minutes to rest and eat. We didn't get in until a little after 2:00 am and that meant less rest time. We had just enough time to eat something and prepare ourselves. A person in the WaWa control actually remembered us from last year and mentioned she obviously had been working there far too long. I observed she was still on the midnight shift. She laughed and wished us a safe journey. I had one more layer of clothing remaining to put on and it was in a large plastic bag dry - but outside. When I went to get it, I almost froze. Then my mind started working on me. I didn't want to go back out in the rain for the next 5 hours. After final preparations we were finally ready to leave. Clint observed it was pressing 2:40 am and it would be a challenge to get to the 22-hour Control. We all agreed we had to keep this train moving. But right after we started, my helmet light came off, so a few more minutes to put it back together. It was raining hard as we came into a section with a lot of climbing. It seemed like it was all climbing, but the descents were very tricky trying to judge speed and how fast to let it go. This would slow our average speed even more. Clint had been keeping tabs on our average speed the entire ride. During the day it was 17.2 mph. When it started getting dark, it dropped to 14 mph and it just kept dropping. The 22-hour Control was only 33 miles away - and it was a MUST get there by 6:00 am, it took the whole 3 hours, meaning we were now averaging just 10 mph.

About 10 miles out from the next Control, we encountered our real first crossroad of the day. The road we needed was closed. The sign said the bridge was out - there was a detour. We knew standing there that we were already pressing the heck out of the time for the next Control. We would be lucky to reach that one, but nobody stated the obvious because it was too obvious. Clint looked at his GPS for alternative routes, but collectively we agreed to head down and check it out for ourselves. Randy observed that every bridge that said "Closed" always had a way over it. That made us all feel better about our decision to try it! It was only a mile and a half to the bridge, but it was all uphill. We got there and sure 'nuff, Randy was right. The approaches were under construction, but the bridge surface was new. We got mounted on the other side and off we went, happy with our decision. We talked about mentioning it to the RBA, if necessary, if we couldn't make our time to the control. We just rode as hard as we could while keeping tabs on time and distance. We had another quick stop to get Clint's GPS up and running. The battery back up had died and the GPS was down. At dinner, the night before, Andrea gave each of us 1 AAA battery so that we all didn't have to carry multiple batteries. I threw mine in my top-tube bag that night. Clint grabbed his and asked who brought their "Andrealita battery?" I gave him mine and it was back up and running. (Thanks, again Andrea. That's teamwork). We also discovered that the cue sheet had a couple of mileage errors and was saying we had only 6 miles to go when in fact there were at least 9 miles. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it is huge when the clock is running and it looks like you barely have enough time for 6 miles. Clint recalled this detail from his first Fleche when he was sitting in the police station thawing out. I realized he was right and also knew it was 5:25 am with 9 miles to go and a 200-300 ft climb to get over. We raced through downtown Pottstown and flipping cue sheets in the pouring rain and cold. When I flipped my cue sheet, it disintegrated in my hands. I asked Clint to check GPS for the crossroad to Charlotte street. From there I had all the rest of the turns in my head. Both Randy and Clint provided the name of the road. Hands and feet were totally numb at this point.

We made it through town and as we reached midway through Randy mentioned that he was starting to get very cold. Clint offered him a jacket, but he was in survival mode and just focused on getting in. The extra time, he said, to get the jacket could be the difference between arriving in time and being late. He was right. I rode up to Clint and asked how he was doing and he said he was hanging in there, but on the edge. We were all cold, wet, but focused. Clif said he was hanging in there and glad to be a part of it. We all were, but on the edge.

The top of the climb was a false summit followed by more of them, but we finally raced down the other side and reached the Control, another WaWa. I looked at the clock as we entered and it was 5:54 am. We had made it. The guy behind the counter also remembered us from the last time. We got our cards signed and the required receipt and headed for the coffee pot. I believe Randy won that race. After getting supplies we all needed a few minutes to collect ourselves, all the while the clock was ticking. We were at mile 250 and still had 25 miles to go. You would think that 25 miles is easy to do in 2 hours, but it was fast approaching 6:15 am and those 25 miles were mostly uphill. The drama that I thought would end at the 22 hour control, would continue for the next 2 hours. We finally walked outside into the 45 degree pouring rain. Randy had no more layers and while in the WaWa had gotten a large trash bag and wrapped it around himself under his outer layers just to stay warm. As we got ready to get on the bikes, I see everyone diving for the trash can and bringing out newspaper. A lot of it was wet, but the dry paper got stuffed under jackets for additional warmth. I may be the only one that didn't add newspaper, but only because I didn't feel like changing the balance of things. I was marginally OK when I came in, so I was going to trust it over the next 25 miles. I also wanted a photo of 3 men in a trash can, but settled for the memory since I was totally buttoned up and couldn't get to my camera fast enough. Just picture it if you can.

Over the next 25 miles, we added a lot to our total altitude climbed and all the while wondering if we would make it. I'd talk to Clint, Clif, and Randy as we rode up next to each other. The standard question was, "what do you think" and the standard answer was, and we all agreed, "it will be close." That's as far as we could go with it. When we reached the edge of town at 7:34. I calculated that we were going to make it and announced my revelation. Concern had been replaced with relief. The next 6 miles would have to be at a good pace, but we would make it. We got to the Youth Hostel - the finish line at 7:57:30 according to Clint's watch. DONE!!! Randy's wife Susie was just behind us in the van as we got in The RBA, Tom Rosenbauer, announced that his over-achievers had finally arrived. The feeling of relief and knowing that a hot shower was only moments away. The reward. There's always a reward at the end.

Just before heading for the showers, 2 other Fleche teams arrived and equally happy to be off the bike. We grabbed some hot food and coffee from the buffet Tom prepared and then loaded up the bikes for a long journey home. Susie had an early morning which started at 3:45 am to come pick us up and then 45 minutes later turn around and head back with 4 members of the Italian Ice Fleche team - Clifangelo, Clintoni, Randaltini, and Chipolini - sacked out by the time we reached the Quakertown City Limit sign. What would have made it better would be to have our 5th Fleche rider, Andrealita along with us.

Tom, thanks for another Fleche Season. Thanks to you and Rick Carpenter for your support while at the Youth Hostel. Susie and Randy, thanks for all of your hospitality. Susie, a special thanks for all the driving you did taking us out and coming back to get us. You probably had doubts about the 2nd part, though! Andrea, you were missed, but thanks for being part of it. Next year, hopefully. Thanks for our certificate! Thanks to my Italian Ice team mates for making it great!