Posts Tagged ‘race across america’

Tales from the Lack of the Peloton: Janet

July 15, 2009

It’s hard to explain what I experienced, what I saw in the Race Across AMerica; but here’s a tale of something I saw in Janet Christiansen, the solo racer I crewed for on the RAAM.

I’ve played with this blog a bit.  I hope it still reads well.

Upon a bit of reflection, I realize that what I witnessed in Janet was the ultimate in raw will and determination.
But also something more.
When there was nothing left, there was determination.
And when I say nothing, I mean riding non-stop for days and days and days, and every once in a while you get to stop, and maybe sleep a bit, but mostly, as in 21 hours a day you are riding; that kind of nothing left.
But there was always, the determination, the drive to move forward, even when exhausted beyond compare.
Janet forged ahead.

Mostly, she did not complain, but occasionally had a cursing fit. Interestingly, it has recently been found that cursing can be a type of pain reliever, and she did indeed, go through pain (Endnotes 1,  2).
One rarely comes across this breed of human, for surely no human would put herself through such hardship, such challenge, such pain; and for what?
The Honor?
No, no, wasn’t that. It is, in fact, most probably a lot closer to exactly not that.
What was it that kept her out there?
Raw will?
What gave her the fortitude, the tenacity to move forward through bone-aching exhaustion and pain?
(Will someone please let her get some sleep?)

Stories of the other riders unfold.
So many more of them then you’d think.
Not many women though.
And for these Ultra-endurances-athletes, the ultra-cyclists,
for them the RAAM is the Holy Grail;
for soloists, the end all, be all race.
It is The World’s Toughest Bicycle Race.
Yes, it is.
Really. It is.

Start: Oceanside, California
End: Annapolis, Maryland
3,016 Miles
ONE Stage

And each person’s reason for being there is very different, very interesting. And each rider’s experience was unlike anything else that’s ever happened, even if they’d done the RAAM before.
This is what EPIC means.

There is no prize money to be won, nothing but some chance at doing something very special, something that few have the capability to do. No wait, make that very few.

janet 1janet 2janet 3

janet 4Janet is a smart individual. She’s a natural born problem solver and practical to the core. She cycled well through the bad weather in New Mexico,
the corn fields Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio,
where rain and thunder and lightning and hail caught up with her in the dead of night.

janet 5janet 6
She’d been asleep for over three hours.
“don’t let her oversleep. She gets three hours a night.…”
“…and hail is the only thing that stops her.  Otherwise, she’s on the bike.”
That was the advice I was given.
It was my turn to wake her. I was amazed and delighted when she arose immediately and with purpose. There it was again, that vibe of someone who was about to do something absolutely extraordinary. Without much coaxing, she was out of the van (where she slept), and on her bike.
I was watching her at a time where she had figured out “a system” for herself; she’d found her rhythm. And in the quiet, still, dark, rolling hills of Ohio,
Janet rolls her ride again…and again…and again.
janet 7janet 8


“…cursing may ease pain..”

1.  Web MD:

2.  Reuters:

Race Across AMerica – The Final Hours

June 28, 2009

Within 24 hours, the Race Across AMerica will have finished for Team Osprey. Whether or not Janet makes it, we know that as a team we have tried our very best to rally around her and keep her moving forward. We know that we have played by all the rules, worked hard, and already accomplished something great. I realize that in being a part of this, I’ve witnessed a special brand of human spirit; not just in Janet, but in every member of this team. I have absolute faith that she will finish the race, with a tired and well earned smile. And we will all share in that accomplishment and joy.

Race Across AMerica- ANYTHING to Push Forward

June 27, 2009

We are all tired. I think that’s fair to say. But Janet is the only one out on the bike and therefore the only one that can move us forward, so at this point we need to motivate her. Last night it was my turn to do so, so I pulled songs I learned as a teen out of my as asbestos, and yes, I sang to her.
Now with less than 24 hours to go in this race, I wonder what we will do to keep her motivated and on her bike. I’m exhausted, and I’m probably in the best shape of the crew. This will be interesting.

Race Across AMerica: day 9

June 25, 2009

There comes a point when you witness another human do something so extraordinary, that it forces you to change your perspective of the indelible human spirit. I’ve witnessed such an event tonight.
I got on duty at about 8:00pm, and understood that there was a good chance of rain. We saw lightning off In the distance and clouds that looked ominous. Janet seemed determined to get to the next time station in spite of reports that the route was being flooded up ahead. This particular part of the course was complex, so I worked hard to keep us on course as we made it through the back roads of Ohio. Many wonderful people came out to cheer Janet on, even as we approached the impending storm. By 11:00 Lightning flashes became more frequent and rain went from light to driving as we made our way through the darkness. I was watching Janet closely as she climbed the rolling hills. The rain drops became larger. Then all of a sudden, the loud claps of thunder became muffled by a deafeningly loud sound: hail pellets hitting the top of the van. The incredible thing is that Janet didn’t stop. Seemingly oblivious to the the crazy weather around her, she kept pedaling until we told her that she had to stop. I ran out to grab her bike, feeling the ice pellets beating me silly. Once in the van, under the orders of our crew chief, Janet fell fast asleep. I can only wonder what the heck drives someone to be so determined that they have to be yanked off their bike and forced to rest in weather like this. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like Janet, but I’m I’m sure glad I have.

Life On The Road With Team Osprey

June 17, 2009

Stress, exhaustion, craziness; and the race hasn’t even been on for twenty four hours yet. AND I’m not even talking about Janet (our solo female rider in the Race Across AMerica). I’m talking about the crew. Imagine knowing someone for a few hours, and by this circumstance only, having to treat this person like your very best, most intimate, BFF. Now multiply that by 7 crew members, and subtract any chance of actual sleep. That’s the situation. So far, the crew seems to be holding up well. We have good people on the team, and most of us are older (over forty) so there’s a maturity to this team that makes it flow well.

Janet is looking awesome; She rode well into the night and played leap frog with another female rider, and the only solo male rider over 60. (I’ll get the names and rider numbers as soon as I can). They are all moving at speeds around 15-20miles per hour. That’s an insanely fast pace, considering some of the hills. I suspect that the pace will slow down a bit today, as theyare about to cliimb the Colorado Plateau. This will be one of the hardest climbs of the race. If all goes well, the front racers will make it to Flagstaff Az by late tonight.

Drama section: Janet’s personality is to play by the rules, so when a race official came up to me and said she had run a stop sign, I was thought it very odd. They gave her a 15 minute penalty. Then I found out from Janet that it was a yield sign, and therefore no violation. We contested the penalty, and told pictures of the sign, so hopefully we will have that quickly removed. When Janet found out about the penalty, I was worried that she’d freak out over the “unfairness of it all. “But instead of Janet getting angry about it, she used it as a motivator to go faster. That’s the heart of a true champion, and I’m really proud of her for that.

Janet is being tracked by (a live GPS tracker provided by our team member Greg Hendrickson, so you can keep track of us as she races across the country.

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