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.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The HOS 500 Story

The initial game plan:  Alter my sleep pattern to adjust for the 8pm start time, ride the entire race without sleep and see how we do. For the crew: Don't run me over.  All other errors were acceptable. As you can see, we are a simple team. Nothing too fancy, just keep to the basics.

Susie remembered how quickly I tired during Paris-Brest-Paris 2007, which was also an evening start (I struggled with the sleep monster just 4 hours out of the gate.)  So she gets all of the credit for this, though I was not able to stay awake both Wednesday and Thursday evenings to completely change my sleep pattern.

3pm Friday was the mandatory racer/crew meeting.  Tom Robertshaw, race director, did a nice job of a course review.  The entire 517 miles of the race was marked with a big "H" and arrows for the turns.  And as it would turn out there were only a couple of turns that were not marked throughout the entire course.  Several riders asked, "Why the 8pm start time?" Tom's reply was, "To make it just a little more difficult." The course would prove to be plenty challenging.

The start was in time trial fashion.  Each rider being sent off in 2 minute intervals.  The order was based on estimated finishing time.  Three of us said 42 hours, but my wonderful crew chief, Edgar, entered a time of 42 hours, 12 minutes.  So I would take off last. Again, our strategy was to do our own thing.  Just take it easy, stay steady and see how we do.  Within 15 minutes or so of the race, we were pulled over by the police.  He said that he had received several calls that there was a cyclist out on the road holding up traffic and wanted to make sure that it wasn't someone intoxicated.  A few more questions and answers and we were release.  Our first encounter with law enforcement, the crew did a great job and documented the amount of time we were delayed (just in case this would decide whether or not I would be an official finisher).  It turned out to be only a 2 minute delay, which seemed like 15 minutes.

We started out with some nice gentle rollers with a few small hills here and there.  We overtook a rider approximately 40 miles into the race.  The terrain continued to be gentle for the next 60 miles, though you felt like you continued to gain elevation along the way.  But once we hit Lookout Mountain, it was time to put on your climbing legs.  The hills would be abundant.  Riding through the deepest canyon west of the Mississippi River (Little River Canyon).  There was a beautiful climb between two natural stone structures that reminded me of Monument Valley.  I keyed the mic and called out, "Photo Op!"  But I think the entire crew was in equal awe and never heard me.  I ride on.

Throughout the evening we would exchange positions with 3 other riders.  We were all fairly close, so if one stopped for a potty break or a change of clothes, others would pass.  As we crossed the boarder into Georgia there was a little more separation between the rides as the climbs started to increase.  By mile 204, we were informed that I was in the lead.  This wouldn't last very long as we entered Fort Mountain State Park at about 250 miles in.  We would start a 7.3 mile climb and Mike Wilson of San Diego, Calif (eventual winner) would ride up along side of me.  We chatted for a bit and used up the majority of our 15 minute ride-along (which is allowed once every 24 hour period).  Something that may need to be documented in RAAM to avoid penalties.  Mike proved to be a stronger, younger rider as I had difficulty keeping him in site throughout the climb.  He had a great cheering squad that hung back at each section and cheered me on as well.  It was helpful and inspiring.

My first break would come at 13:45, approximately 18 hours into the race.  To this point, my off bike time was 27 minutes which is good for me.  I would need a nap and since I had never had an IV, we decided to test it out.  I wasn't dehydrated, just tired.  So the effects of the IV were minimal for me, though I'm sure this will be much different during RAAM and the potential 120 degree temperatures. Al would secure the catheter and explain how everything worked, which is the sort of stuff I love.

Back on the road and feeling better after a 90 minute nap, which is our RAAM plan.  The route would be much of the same for the next 125 miles or so, back to the Alabama boarder.  At this point, we would soon encounter miles of chip seal with numerous 15 percent climbs working our way up to Cheaha and the highest point in the state of Alabama (2,090 ft). It was fun, but I was fearful that every bolt on my bike would come loose and everything would collapse beneath me.  Certainly a seat post rack would've taken a beating and would've likely failed (a randonneur concern).

With less than 20 miles to go, I felt like I had to change my shorts.  At the last time station, I had removed a bandage from my crotch that was rubbing a raw spot in my skin and my shorts just irritating me.  So a quick short change and a coating of Lanacane and Sport Slick....wait that wasn't Sport Slick...AARRRGGHH!  It was Sport Heat!  I was on fire in a very tender area.  The crew started firing off suggestions to wash or wipe it off.  But I knew that any liquid would reactivate it, so I just endured the discomfort for another minute and it eventually cooled down.  The crew noted to not let me grab things from the van on my own.  Looking back, it was pretty funny and a very quick way to learn.

Mike Wilson would finish in a time of 35 hours, 50 minutes.  An outstanding time.  He would not sleep for the entire race, which was my goal (I just couldn't perform at this time).  I would roll in at 40 hours, 16 minutes and was happy with the time, based on my current fitness.  It was a great race, I met some talented riders and the crew was just spectacular.

If you have a fear of dogs, this is a race to overcome that fear.  I think I was chased down about 10 times (maybe more).  But all of the dogs were friendly.  They just wanted to play.  Only one threatened my front wheel, which I had to spray with water.  The pitbulls were ultra sweet, but I'm fond of the breed, as you all know.

Here's a brief clip of the finish and a word from the race director, Tom Robertshaw:

Thanks to Mary Delaney for the video coverage!

Good luck to Valerio Zamboni of Monaco.  He will be competing in RAAM in June as well.  We exchanged positions throughout the race, which made it fun and interesting.  And also best of luck to Ed Garrison of Cordova, Tenn.  He will be competing in Race Across the West (RAW) in June, which covers the first 1,000 miles of RAAM.

And the race gave me a weekly total of 605 miles.  There's only 2 more months of training left!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Heart of the South 500 (update)

Just a quick update on the results.  A more detailed report will follow by weeks end.

Here is a link to our race start (8:10pm):

Team Mouri took second place overall with a time of 40 hours, 16 minutes.  The crew worked very well together and learned a lot about what it takes to get me through a tough race.  The crew did such a great job, that it's difficult to critique their performance.  But this is what practice is all about and after evaluating the logs, etc., we will focus in on areas we can improve upon.

There was too much focus on what needed to be accomplished, so there were no tweets and blog updates.  This will be worked out as well.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Heart of the South 500

I logged 410 miles for last week.  A slight taper for this weeks Heart of the South 500 (HOS 500).  Training has been steady, but now I need to start increasing my long rides.  I do a number of broken centuries through commuting, but need to start working on the 200-400 mile range.  This will be a progression over the next couple of months with the exception of HOS 500.  I'm not in peak shape for a good race this weekend, but that's not what this event is about.

This weekend will be a good opportunity for the crew to practice.  We can evaluate the general setup of the van, crew responsibilities, navigational skills, the light bar, nutrition log, etc.  Nearly everything will simulate RAAM support conditions.  The time station check point are set up identical to that of RAAM, so this is all good.  We'll experience areas where there is no cell coverage, etc. and will be able to see how our strategy for these areas work.

As for me, this is a good opportunity to continue to add to my fitness level, which is far from optimal right now.  My goal is to ride straight through without sleep, however the evening start time is not in my favor.  I also want to see how long it takes to hit the 300 mile mark.  This will give a general time estimate for my RAAM goal.  "Where I am now and where I want to be in June" sort of thing.  It's all good and very exciting.  I've never been so pumped up for an event before.

There is SO much work going into this.  My crew has been wonderful!  They are such a huge component of the outcome of the race.  We have 6 crew members at the HOS 500.  The only missing support vehicle is the RV, which isn't necessary for this race.  We have an RV practice session scheduled in late April, which will give us an opportunity to review the space available and organize accordingly.  Things are going well.

The crew is going to practice media updates, so if you see some odd posts, etc.  Don't worry!  It's all work in progress and we'll have it figured out by June.  Cheers!