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RAAM Tuesday Update

Team BB&B has crossed the last major climb of the Rockies and begun to descend towards the Kansas plains.  With 1/3 of the race complete, they lead their 60-69 age group by a wide margin and are giving many younger teams quite a race.  There’s more here on the Tuesday Update at the team blog.


The Monday Update

Team BB&B has passed through Cortez, CO and continues to make great time. See the Monday Update on the team blog here:

RAAM – Good progress after 18 hours

I posted a short update on the Team BB&B site.  Progress the first night has been good.

RAAM is Getting Close

It is 3 a.m. In California and I am awake.  I console myself with the fact that I had 7 hours asleep and I hope for some nap time later today.

Yesterday was a full day of prep and some riding. We started with an 8 a.m. team meeting and followed that with some 2 plus hours of labels, numbers, and van prep. Chip and I still have to arrange our interior, and will get to that today.

Early afternoon the riders got our first ride together,  The four of us rode the trail/parade route (7 miles) then Chip and I continued to the first steep climb.  We caught Bike Like a Girl and hit the climb together.  I’d like to say we demolished the hill, but it was more like we survived it while being schooled by the women. Age really does matter!  The 14% grade was relentless, and each curve brought more.  At the top we rested briefly, then returned.  The descent was fast and very rough. I had to limit the speed because the road was too rough to be safe.  We then rode back to the hotel against the strong sea breeze.  The aero bars helped.

As soon as we arrived, we were off to exchange practice. That put me on another steady climb for the day.  Exchange practice revealed a lot of flaws we need to work out. But my job for the day was over and I got some supper and hit the sack by 8 p.m. Local time.

So nearly 30 miles of riding for Thursday and about 1400′ of climbing concentrated in 3 miles. 

This ride will test the physical training, but even more … the mental.  That race is won or lost in my head, and with yesterday’s taste, that’s going to be a constant battle.

RAAM 2015, It’s getting rea…

Hello RevRider fans,

It’s Mike, Earl’s sometime ride partner and the RAAM team media intern.  Final preparations are underway for the start of Race Across America.   I’ve posted a few pictures and notes on how they’re spending these final days on the team’s blog. I hope you’ll follow along.

RAAM Travel Day

Today was the travel day to California.  Clint and I were on the same flight from BWI, so I got a ride with him to the airport.  In the security line we bumped into Melissa from “Bike Like a Girl”.  As we chatted, suddenly an alarm went off and lights flashed, and everything came to a halt.  For about 10 minutes this piercing alarm sounded.  When it finally stopped, my ears felt as though they were stuffed with cotton.  More of the Bike Like a Girl team showed up, eventually numbering 5 of the 8 riders.  They were a hit, almost rock stars on the plane, especially to the pre-teen girls.

The flight was uneventful and long. The ground was hidden by clouds until Oklahoma.  I saw the Grand Canyon.  I was intimidated by the expansive desert below that seemed to get more desolate as we continued westward.  I’m glad I’m only riding about 1/4 of it.

When we landed, we discovered that our other 3 riders had been delayed by weather in Texas.  We grabbed the shuttle to Oceanside, and arrived at about 1:30 local time, famished.  A late lunch with another crew member and some down time in the room was the plan until Chip, John, and Nancy arrived.  

We ate dinner together (mostly) then a few of us watched the sunset over the Pacific and walked to the starting line/pier. 

 Thursday the crew will prepare the vans and riders will take an easy ride on the first part of the course.  Beyond that … hydration and rest and nutrition are the key tasks.

See also:

Remember RAAM Fans …

Remember that the primary page for RAAM Team Beau, Babe, & Buds is located at:

Go there and click the black follow link on the left side of the page to get updates via email.  Mike Binnix will be our “intern” blogger for that site.

Meanwhile, reprinted here are two articles published this week.  The first is from The Capital (Annapolis Newspaper), the other is from the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA.

The Capital (article by Peter R. Palmieri)

It’s called the Race Across America, but for a few local cyclists, it’s also a race back home.

Two teams with local ties will start in Oceanside, California, on June 20 and race 3,000 miles across 12 states to the finish line at City Dock in Annapolis.

Lisa Lunt (Annapolis), Kristin Seibert (Annapolis), Erin Kelly Ferner (Annapolis), Kristin Barnes (Arnold), Andréa Williams (Annapolis) and Melissa Chick (Edgewater) are joined by Michelle Faurot (Reno, Nevada) and Bridget Webster (Reno) to make up the Bike Like a Girl team, which is only the second eight-woman team in the race’s 33-year history.

“Our goal is to empower girls and women through cycling,” Lunt said. “To inspire them, to hopefully have them dream big and believe they can do things.”

The team is aiming to break the previous eight-member, all-women’s team record.

“We are pretty confident we can break a record,” Lunt said. “The first team averaged just under 16.57 mph. We are expecting to average around 20 mph.”

That time would bring the team to the finish line some time between June 26-27. The teams have nine days to complete the race, according to the RAAM Web site.

The team’s journey to the race began at the finish line of last year’s race. Lunt and others were in attendance to watch friends finish, when they noticed the lack of women crossing the finish line. They decided to find a group of female cyclists interested in competing.

Evelyn Cook is the team’s safety specialist, and she has been inspired by the women’s journey.

“I see a group of women who have really coalesced and it’s just amazing to watch them work together,” she said.

The team comes from various competition backgrounds in cycling, triathlons, marathons, etc. and each brings a different strength to the team.

“We really complement each other,” Lunt said. “Great climbers, great descenders, people who are good in heat. It’s a really great array of skillsets that we bring.”

The women have 13 children between them, ranging in age from 2-26. The women’s occupations include an attorney (Lunt), nurses (Seibert and Williams) and a teacher (Chick).

Barnes is Navy aviator and an executive officer at the Naval Academy. She is retiring from the military on June 30. She joined the RAAM endeavor through Roy Collins, a retired Coast Guard and Naval Academy cycling coach, who has competed in the race.

“I’ve done a lot of hard things in my life,” Barnes said. “This has been one of the more challenging.”

Earl Janssen and Chip Adams, both Severna Park residents, are part of a four-person Beau, Babe & Buds team competing in the race. They are joined by John and Nancy Guth of Stafford, Virginia.

Janssen, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, was a member of a solo rider’s crew in 2011. He has a goal to qualify for the solo race before he turns 60, and completing the race as part of the four-member team is his ticket to accomplishing that feat.

Adams has been a long-distance cyclist for a number of years, competing in events all over the world including Paris, Ireland and Alaska. Adams is also a musician, playing the guitar in a local bluegrass band.

The Guth’s have participated in the race before and hold the record for their age division in a two-person RAAM.

Janssen’s introduction to cycling was in 2010 as a means to keep off weight. He started out able to manage up to eight miles a day, but has built on that. Just last year he competed in an event that took him and his team 630 miles around Lake Ontario in three days.

Though he jokes that cycling is the only exercise he can think of where he can sit down the whole time, he understands how intense it really is.

“We ride at least 1,125 miles each month, pretty routinely,” Janssen said of his team’s preparation. “That gives us good training in terms of endurance and getting our nutrition and hydration right.”

Janssen said he was “smitten” with the whole process when he was a crew member, and he is looking forward to his first time racing as a competitor.

“The whole sense of being able to do it now just stuck with us,” Janssen said. “It was an exciting prospect.”

RAAM has several different racing categories including a solo race and various team races. All riders start in Oceanside, though the solo riders begin four days earlier, on June 16.

There are 55 time stations where racers call into Race Headquarters and report their time and location. It is a timed race, with no scheduled stops.

The sheer magnitude of the race requires intense preparation as the teams need to figure out a way to coordinate their racers and crew.

The Bike Like a Girl team has a crew of 20, in addition to the eight riders, and will be traveling with five vehicles, including two RVs. Janssen’s team has 10 crew members and three vehicles.

“It’s an intense operation,” Lunt said. “The logistics of getting eight racers and 20 crew across the country is staggering.”

Even prior to the race, the crew has proved to be invaluable, plotting course maps and giving the women a good sense of the topography so they can hone their strategy.

The team plans to race in shifts, breaking into two teams of four riders with each team racing a 10-hour shift and each racer doing a 20-minute ride. The team has done some simulations, but Lunt admitted there’s really no way to actually practice for this type of race.

“This is really strange because you go out there and do basically a 20-minute sprint,” She said. “Then you cool down for an hour. And you do that 55-65 times in 6-7 days.”

Janssen said his team plans to rotate its riders every 30 miles during the first three days. He said race conditions, such as heat or steep inclines, could shorten a racer’s duration.

The different terrain and environments along the course will also prove to be a challenge. The course varies from the deserts of California and Arizona, where temperatures can get above 105 degrees to the elevations of Colorado, into the plains of Kansas and the woods of the Appalachians.

Janssen said his team has hopes of setting the record for the 60-69 mixed gender division, which is currently set at seven days.

“Really, things have to come together,” he said. “If we hit head winds in Kansas, there’s just no way to hit that record. There are just all sorts of things out of our control.”

Aside from the excitement of the race and the personal accomplishment of finishing, both teams are racing to support various causes.

The Bike Like a Girl team is racing in support of World Bicycle Relief, which provides bikes for women and girls in Africa and Central America. They are also supporting Women’s Cycling Association, which aims to create cycling camps for girls, while also providing scholarships and teaching them the basics of bike handling and bike mechanics. And the team is also promoting Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, a two-year-old bicycle advocacy group that promotes bicycle safety.

And, as evident by the team’s name, the women are hoping to raise general awareness for a need to grow the sport of cycling among women.

“Because the momentum has been so great, people donate to us every day,” Lunt said. “There is a real need for a women’s cycling community locally and in other places. We’ll have big conversation about where to go next.”

Janssen’s team is raising awareness for the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial assistance and support to post-911 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, according to the program’s Web site.

The team is also receiving sponsorship from the group, Trusting in Him for Relief of Suicidal Thoughts.

While most would consider training for the race to be a full-time job in itself, the racers are trying to balance day jobs and family responsibilities with an intense training schedule.

“Not only are you training for a 3,000-mile bike ride, you’re involved in a full-fledged fund raising campaign,” she said. “Oh, by the way, while I’m retiring from the Navy, doing a full-time job and training 10-15 hours a week.”

But, she said the team has found a way to prioritize everything in their lives.

“It’s a testament to the professionalism of the women on the team,” Barnes said.

Janssen estimates that solo riders and teams need a budget of around $25,000 to $110,000, depending on the number of racers and crew. The Beau, Babe & Buds team has done some fundraising and received contributions from sponsors, but the rest has come out of the racers’ pockets.

Similarly, the Bike Like a Girl team has received support from numerous sponsors including Bike Doctor in Annapolis and Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis, which is providing a transit vehicle for the team during the race.

And while many of the racers will be clocking 3,000 miles, only to have to travel back home, Lunt, Barnes, Janssen and company have the luxury of finishing close to home. For the last eight years, the race has ended in Annapolis.

The race’s formal finish is at Ram’s Head, but the racers get a police escort downtown for the ceremonial finish. Lunt said the team rides by Ram’s Head often, where the finish line is marked on the pavement.

“I get chills every time I ride by that,” she said.

Janssen said they plan to be joined at the finish line by the Severna Park peloton and said the extra support is providing motivation.

“Unlike a lot of teams and the solo riders, we’ll have a pretty large contingent of folks who have been following us and will see us at the end,” Janssen said. “It’s icing on the cake for them to be there at the end.”

Barnes said the race’s finish means something for the entire community, not just the racers.

“This race highlights Annapolis every year,” she said. “This is a completely different side of Annapolis. People come from all over the world.”

Race Across America

What: 3,000-mile cycling race

Format: Solo, 2-person, 4-person and 8-person relay teams.

When: Solo start June 16; team start June 20; teams have nine days to finish.

Where: Oceanside, California, to Annapolis

Who: Bike Like a Girl 8-person relay team – Lisa Lunt (Annapolis), Michelle Faurot, Kristen Seibert (Annapolis), Erin Kelly Ferner (Annapolis), Kristin “Rosie” Barnes (Arnold), Andréa Williams (Annapolis), Bridget Webster, Melissa Chick (Edgewater); Beau, Babe & Buds 4-person relay team – Earl Janssen (Severna Park), Chip Adams (Severna Park), John Guth, Nancy Guth).

Links: For more information on the Bike Like a Girl team, visit

For more information on the Beau, Babe & Buds team, visit

For race updates, visit

For live coverage of the race, visit

Delaware-Maryland Synod

At about the time in life when many pastors are planning for retirement, Pastor Earl Janssen from Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Severna Park, Maryland is planning the most challenging event he has ever attempted. He is bicycle racing across the country in a race that Outside magazine has described as “The World’s Toughest Race.”

The Race Across America (RAAM) is a coast-to-coast 3,021 mile bicycle race including nearly 21 miles of vertical change. Riders face sleep deprivation, intense desert heat, high altitude mountain climbs and the probability of strong headwinds and storms. Pastor Earl is the youngest member of a four-person mixed gender relay team: Team Beau, Babe, & Buds. Their average age is 62.5 years old. According to Pastor Earl, part of their team goal is to continue to redefine expectations of older adults. “This race reflects my attitude toward life and ministry in this time of my life. This is not a time to sit back on a rocking chair and coast into retirement. This is a time to take charge with new challenges. The church is rapidly changing and needs the mix of innovation, creativity, experience, and energy.”

In the last several years, Our Shepherd has begun to move from a membership model to a discipleship model following a time of congregational discernment. “Cycling has given me both the energy and stamina to engage ministry in completely new ways,” notes Pastor Earl. “I’m out riding at 5:30 a.m. nearly every morning year-round. It is a great way to start the day.” Since beginning cycling a little more than five years ago, Pastor Earl has covered more than 40,000 miles (that’s at least one and a half times around the globe).

You can read more about Pastor Earl in this article published by Portico Benefit Services. The race begins this Saturday, June 20, in Oceanside, California, and will end in Annapolis, Maryland. You can follow Pastor Earl’s progress on his blog.

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