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Sputnick

HELP with my RAAM story!

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Hi All,

 

I have been asked to throw some words together about this years Race Across America.

Putting together a story is not the easiest thing for me to do; my literary skills are not one of my strong points.

SO, I need your help, get out your red pens and make some suggestions how my little story can be better.

All or part of this will be published in various newspapers, cycling mags and the ABC/SBS have asked for something too.

 

Thanks,

 

Glenn

 

 

 

The Race Across America

Many of you may have watched the Tour De France; this is one of the oldest and most prestigious bicycle races in the world. The race distance varies from year to year, covering anywhere from 3000 to 4500 km, spread out over three weeks. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? And it is. But how about this: over 5000 km, in less than a week. Impossible? No, not for the several hundred cyclists from around the world competing in this year’s Race Across America (RAAM).

 

RAAM is an altogether different epic. It and has been operated since 1982, it is arguably the toughest race in the world, RAAM runs from the west coast of the United States (this year starting in Oceanside, California - north of San Diego) to the east coast (this year finishing in Annapolis, Maryland) for a little more than 5000 km and 33,500 metres of climbing. At the Tour, teams compete in daily stage races of varying lengths. On RAAM, there are teams of differing sizes and ages, as well as individuals racing on their own. Individuals are expected to finish in nine days, with teams finishing in around seven. The Tour starts and stops each day, with relaxing meals, massage and warm beds for the riders. RAAM does not stop. If you want to win, whether you are a member of a team or riding solo, you stay on that bike, you keep riding, until it’s over. This year’s race had a record entry with over 300 riders ready to depart Oceanside on June 20th.

 

 

Did I mention climbing? We certainly did! From the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rockies of the West, with their enormous uphill slogs, to the short but brutally steep killers of the Ozarks and Appalachians of the East – we climbed. The rewards were exhilarating descents, incredibly fast but far too brief.

 

There was more to the route than just the mountains. We also enjoyed the sparse scenery of the desert areas of the Southwest, as well as the boundless farm fields of Kansas and Oklahoma, then refreshed with the varied terrain and small towns of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. RAAM isn’t just a race; it’s a first-person travelogue, a journey that traces the route of the building of the United States in reverse. Someday I would like to go back and visit all those places again, spend more time studying what I saw - but not this year.

This year I was racing.

 

You don’t just participate in RAAM you live RAAM. You realize what motivates you, and what you can do, both physically and emotionally. RAAM can grind you down and down; it can also give you a high like nothing else in the world, it has a way of stripping away the superficial part of your personality and showing you what you are like deep inside. Life becomes “a sleep-deprivation induced RAAM blur”. There is nothing else in life – there is no escape.

RAAM would make the ultimate reality TV show.

 

 

This was my 3rd RAAM. In 2007 I raced in the 2 person division this was tremendously hard, this year I entered the 4-person Teams section and with 12 RAAMs between us, we were a very experienced team. RAAM presents a unique opportunity to compete against some of the best Ultra distance racers from all over the world. This time I was the only Australian in the race, a position I took very seriously and proudly.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

 

You might well ask why someone would do such an event. I often ask that of myself! RAAM pushes your body to the absolute physical and mental limits. Sometimes the boundaries of those limits get just a bit blurred.

RAAM has a way of srewing with your head!

This comes from a newspaper story of my RAAM 2005:

• “I wouldn’t say I was hallucinating, but at one point I was talking to my dead grandmother. I logically knew that she wasn’t there but it was nice talking to her so I kept chatting for awhile.” Sorry to say that sounds like hallucinating to us.

• “Somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I started looking for a small cliff to ride off of. Nothing too big; I didn’t want to get seriously hurt, but I thought breaking an arm or something would be worth it if I could just get some sleep.”

 

So what does it take to succeed? Training in excess of 20,000 km a year, with thousands of intervals and regular racing-type events strengthens the muscles as well as helping us hone our racing skills. This takes a lot of time, time away from our family and friends, but it must be done, if you expect to be competitive.

 

But it’s not just the person on the bike that is in the race. Support is a critical part as well. We had a crew of 14 individuals, 4 vehicles including an RV where the racers ate and slept, as well as the “follower” car, which kept close behind us as we rode, protecting us from traffic from the rear, as well as providing light to race by during the night.

 

As you might expect, at times I felt tired down to my toenails. The days were generally very hot; however, it did get very cold in the Rocky Mountains, especially above 10000ft, we had a temperature range of 46c-3c. Hot or cold, steep or flat, simple things would boost morale –a beautiful sunrise, or the occasional motivational word from the crew.

 

Some have asked what I ate during the race. I fuelled myself with a variety of mostly natural foods – grapes, yoghurt, nuts, berries, fruit juice, bread, sandwiches, pasta, protein drinks, plenty of milk, and masses of water. I lost around 3 to 4 kg during the race – but I can think of more pleasant weight-loss diets!

 

After all this talk about the race, where it went, what I saw, what I ate, you are probably wondering: how did I do? What was the outcome? Simply this: we won! My team, Team RANS, finished first among all 4 Person teams we even beat most of the eight person teams in the Race Across America. We finished with a time of 6 days, 3 hours and 40 minutes, that’s an average of about 33km/h for 5000km.

 

These words of the great Don often ran around my head during the race!

"When you play test cricket, you don't give the Englishmen an inch. Play it tough, all the way. Grind them into the dust."

Don Bradman

Australian Cricket Legend

 

One goal, one semi-official goal of our team, was to set a record. We didn’t achieve that goal this year, but we came close, awfully close. Yes, we were disappointed, a little. But not for long, as we realized what this meant: sequel.

 

On the podium at the finish line in Annapolis, I was so happy I cried, I was the only Australian in this epic I felt 10ft tall. I looked at my teammates, smiling and accepting the accolades of the crowd, but on my mind was this: now we have big targets on our backs, next time we will have to do even better.

 

"The time you're most vulnerable is when you're ahead, never let up.”

 

Rod Laver

Australian Tennis Player

 

 

 

Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Team insisted we shave our heads before the race...

 

Edited by Sputnick

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Hey Glenn,

 

The article sounds great, just a few things that you may want to think about:

 

The Race Across America

Many of you may have watched the Tour De France; this is one of the oldest and most prestigious bicycle races in the world. The race distance varies from year to year, covering anywhere from 3000 to 4500 km, spread out over three weeks. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? And it is. But how about this: over 5000 km, in less than a week. Impossible? No, not for the several hundred cyclists from around the world competing in this year’s Race Across America (RAAM).

 

I think you need to quality this better. Sure 5,000km sounds like a lot, but what about nearly 1,000km per day? Or riding from Sydney to Brisbane and back X every day of the week? Even writing this now made me realise how much of a freak you are :lol: !!!!!

 

RAAM is an altogether different epic. It and has been operated since 1982, it is arguably the toughest race in the world, RAAM runs from the west coast of the United States (this year starting in Oceanside, California - north of San Diego) to the east coast (this year finishing in Annapolis, Maryland) for a little more than 5000 km and 33,500 metres of climbing. At the Tour, teams compete in daily stage races of varying lengths. On RAAM, there are teams of differing sizes and ages, as well as individuals racing on their own. Individuals are expected to finish in nine days, with teams finishing in around seven. The Tour starts and stops each day, with relaxing meals, massage and warm beds for the riders. RAAM does not stop. If you want to win, whether you are a member of a team or riding solo, you stay on that bike, you keep riding, until it’s over. This year’s race had a record entry with over 300 riders ready to depart Oceanside on June 20th.

 

Again how do you translate 33,500m of climbing to the layman? I don't know the answer but maybe compare it to climbing Mt Everest or something similar?

 

Did I mention climbing? We certainly did! From the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rockies of the West, with their enormous uphill slogs, to the short but brutally steep killers of the Ozarks and Appalachians of the East – we climbed. The rewards were exhilarating descents, incredibly fast but far too brief.

 

There was more to the route than just the mountains. We also enjoyed the sparse scenery of the desert areas of the Southwest, as well as the boundless farm fields of Kansas and Oklahoma, then refreshed with the varied terrain and small towns of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. RAAM isn’t just a race; it’s a first-person travelogue, a journey that traces the route of the building of the United States in reverse. Someday I would like to go back and visit all those places again, spend more time studying what I saw - but not this year.

This year I was racing.

 

You don’t just participate in RAAM you live RAAM. You realize what motivates you, and what you can do, both physically and emotionally. RAAM can grind you down and down; it can also give you a high like nothing else in the world, it has a way of stripping away the superficial part of your personality and showing you what you are like deep inside. Life becomes “a sleep-deprivation induced RAAM blur”. There is nothing else in life – there is no escape.

RAAM would make the ultimate reality TV show.

 

Check your spelling above and change it for american/australian/UK publications if needed.

 

This was my 3rd RAAM. In 2007 I raced in the 2 person division this was tremendously hard, this year I entered the 4-person Teams section and with 12 RAAMs between us, we were a very experienced team. RAAM presents a unique opportunity to compete against some of the best Ultra distance racers from all over the world. This time I was the only Australian in the race, a position I took very seriously and proudly.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

 

You might well ask why someone would do such an event. I often ask that of myself! RAAM pushes your body to the absolute physical and mental limits. Sometimes the boundaries of those limits get just a bit blurred.

RAAM has a way of srewing with your head!

This comes from a newspaper story of my RAAM 2005:

• “I wouldn’t say I was hallucinating, but at one point I was talking to my dead grandmother. I logically knew that she wasn’t there but it was nice talking to her so I kept chatting for awhile.” Sorry to say that sounds like hallucinating to us.

• “Somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I started looking for a small cliff to ride off of. Nothing too big; I didn’t want to get seriously hurt, but I thought breaking an arm or something would be worth it if I could just get some sleep.”

 

So what does it take to succeed? Training in excess of 20,000 km a year, with thousands of intervals and regular racing-type events strengthens the muscles as well as helping us hone our racing skills. This takes a lot of time, time away from our family and friends, but it must be done, if you expect to be competitive.

 

But it’s not just the person on the bike that is in the race. Support is a critical part as well. We had a crew of 14 individuals, 4 vehicles including an RV where the racers ate and slept, as well as the “follower” car, which kept close behind us as we rode, protecting us from traffic from the rear, as well as providing light to race by during the night.

 

As you might expect, at times I felt tired down to my toenails. The days were generally very hot; however, it did get very cold in the Rocky Mountains, especially above 10000ft, we had a temperature range of 46c-3c. Hot or cold, steep or flat, simple things would boost morale –a beautiful sunrise, or the occasional motivational word from the crew.

 

Some have asked what I ate during the race. I fuelled myself with a variety of mostly natural foods – grapes, yoghurt, nuts, berries, fruit juice, bread, sandwiches, pasta, protein drinks, plenty of milk, and masses of water. I lost around 3 to 4 kg during the race – but I can think of more pleasant weight-loss diets!

 

After all this talk about the race, where it went, what I saw, what I ate, you are probably wondering: how did I do? What was the outcome? Simply this: we won! My team, Team RANS, finished first among all 4 Person teams we even beat most of the eight person teams in the Race Across America. We finished with a time of 6 days, 3 hours and 40 minutes, that’s an average of about 33km/h for 5000km.

 

These words of the great Don often ran around my head during the race!

"When you play test cricket, you don't give the Englishmen an inch. Play it tough, all the way. Grind them into the dust."

Don Bradman

Australian Cricket Legend

 

One goal, one semi-official goal of our team, was to set a record. We didn’t achieve that goal this year, but we came close, awfully close. Yes, we were disappointed, a little. But not for long, as we realized what this meant: sequel.

 

On the podium at the finish line in Annapolis, I was so happy I cried. I was the only Australian in this epic I felt 10ft tall. I looked at my teammates, smiling and accepting the accolades of the crowd, but on my mind was this: now we have big targets on our backs, next time we will have to do even better.

 

"The time you're most vulnerable is when you're ahead, never let up.”

 

Rod Laver

Australian Tennis Player

 

 

 

Glenn

 

I bolded some areas above where you might want to consider revising the text and/or changing punctuation.

 

I hope it helps and well done on such an amazing achievement!!!

 

Rog

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Hi Glenn,

 

Great Story, but I'd make a few suggestions. I'd break the story up into a begining a middle and an end. The way you've got it at the moment it jumps around a lot.

 

Begining

 

Some of your background, how did you become an ultra distance cyclist. How did you hear about RAAM, when the the idea of racing become a reality. Talk about the training and your previous race experiences, perhaps compare it to Alpine Classic, some thing Australian cyclists can relate to.

 

Middle

 

The race itself. Talk about the team, the riders, the crew, any interesting character's on the team or you met along the way, prerace goals and then the race itself.

 

End

 

How did you feel about it What was hard? What was good? What would you do differently How did it compare to the other RAAMs you have done. What's next? How does your family feel about it?

 

I'd have a talk to Peter Reefman, he writes a great story.

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cant add story telling tips but my sphincter is twingeing just thinking about RAAM, awesome stuff

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Agree on the comments made and would like to add...

 

You could twist the structure a little and bring some of the "cooler" stuff up front to really snag the readers interest....

 

"Somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I started looking for a small cliff to ride off of. Nothing too big; I didn’t want to get seriously hurt, but I thought breaking an arm or something would be worth it if I could just get some sleep.”

 

That is cool...

 

You need your own moment like that to make the story truely yours.... Remember a good story is in the not just the facts but the embelishment and telling. We dont (excluding Slowman) read HANSARD for fun we read books that sometimes are based on HANSARD... if you get my drift....

 

Perhaps try and include a TDF style graphic showing the ups and downs and distances with something that shows the reader in a picture the sheer scale and scope of what you have achieved....

 

Winning is cool but I think the reader is more interested in the suffering, freak factor, the funny anecdotes...

 

:lol:

Edited by Jester

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Hi Sputnick,

 

First of all, congratulations!! what a great achievement, well done!

 

I agree with some of the previous comments such as following a storyline ( before, during and after) and with Jester about the cool stuff. Right now your article is almost an objective report and I believe most people would be more touched if it was more personal with more details in your own ups and downs.

 

I would give a couple of examples about the whole magnitude of the challenge as suggested ( imagine going from Brisbane to Melbourne 4 times) and go much more in detail with your experience. what was your training regime ( lots of 24 hour races, lots of intervals?), did you have any confort foods, did you have to use some of those head holding structures other RAAM riders do, how was you support team ( doctors, mechanics, etc), id you get a flat in the worst possible moment? Once was over: could you sleep or the whole room kept on moving...

 

hope it helps

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Thanks for the advice good people!

 

I really dont like writing stories, it took me hrs to come up with this draft, I would rather go do the Alpine or maybe bang my head on a wall.

 

So, who would like a nice bottle of wine to fix this into a good yarn?

 

 

Glenn

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Glenn, take Hymie's advice (I can see you been writing lots of essays Hymie :lol:). I had quick read and that is a very long intro, when does the story begin? Firstly, how many words? That is, what is the word limit you have been given? What you have written so far I'd condense that down to 200 words give or take depending on total word limit. I think your main body could take the form of a diary going through each day and include locations and feelings at the start, in the middle and at the end. This is a F**K*N epic achievement and reading what you have read so far I feel like I've been nowhere. You need to convey the feeling of the journey and you do that by writing about it. Describe the locations, the weather and the passage of time. Take us with you! That's how you tell a story.

 

If I had the time I'd be making it a bottle of Penfolds St. Henry's Shiraz but I fly out next Friday and have a shedload of other writing commitments (I've already punched out 70hr week) I have to finish before then. I am heading to the US for more writing...but really dry boring stuff, not that you could tell :lol:

 

Jester, you are missing out on some real fun, reading between the lines of the Hansard thare are some real funny drifts and the occasional outright clanger.

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