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Race Across America (RAAM) 2008 4 Person Team

The inside story from training to racing RAAM: Blog Updates : Spread the word via social networks and email.

2008 Race Pix: DAY 6
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 20, 2008 :: 06:00 AM 
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2008 Race Pix: DAY 5
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 20, 2008 :: 05:00 AM 
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2008 Race Pix: DAY 4
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 20, 2008 :: 04:00 AM 
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2008 Race Pix: DAY 3
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 20, 2008 :: 03:00 AM 
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2008 Race Pix: DAY 2
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 20, 2008 :: 02:00 AM 
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2008 Race Pix: DAY 1
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 20, 2008 :: 01:00 AM 
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Mission Accomplished!!
posted by Xtreme4 Team :: Jun 18, 2008 :: 08:00 AM 
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WE DID IT! Team Xtreme4 dominated the Race Across America! We finished first in the 4-person mixed team division with a time of 6 days, 4 hours and 18 minutes, setting a new speed record of 20.33 mph. We smashed the old record, which was 19.5 mph! The next mixed 4-person team  finished nearly a full day behind us! And, if all that wasn't enough, we placed 3rd overall for 4-person teams, beating 7 out of 9 all-male teams!!!
Click here for full results
What happened in the last 24 hours?  Mostly a total dogfight with the all male, 4-person Irish Avon Navanmore team.  They're not even in our division, but we were out to beat as many 4-person teams as we could, no matter how many women or men they had.  It's hard to remember all the details, but for the last 24 hours, we were basically between 10 minutes ahead and 30 minutes behind, switching back and forth from West Viriginia all the way to the finish.  We knew the terrain since we had practiced these last 24 hours twice before, and so all aboard knew the gruelling, super-steep hills to expect.  Several RAAM media followed both teams for the last 200 miles as we chased each other all over WV, PA and MD, ending with an ALL OUT 11 mile sprint to the finish.  At the last time station we discovered that we were exactly tied!  It was amazing!!  Who would have thought that 3,008 miles would be raced so closely with so many teams and that it would finally end in a legitimate full sprint to the finish line with all Xtreme4 crew on edge trying to make sure the riders had every fair advantage, motivating us through the radios and filling us with Red Bull and Coke to prevent the inevitable bonk!?  No one could have crafted a more exciting finish.
In the end, the Irish finished 1-minute ahead.  But with 6-days of excitement and adventure, a comanding #1 finish in our division, a new division record, no accidents, no time penalties, no rain (!) and one of the most idyllic, nail-biting, adrenaline-filled finishes ever possible, it hardly mattered.  There was already enough to celebrate and we all felt fortunate to share our success with the Irish team when we pulled into Annapolis.  They sure know how to celebrate!

It's hard to boil down 8 months of planning, preparing, training, organizing and fundraising along with 6 fast days of racing into a brief email.

Many of you followed our progress via our website, blogs and RAAM's official website. In fact you probably know better than we did where we were relative to the competition along the way. All we were doing out there was what we know best-riding fast and hard and making sure that everything we did moved the team forward as fast as possible.

The results show that our strategy and planning worked, but what they don't show is how much we depended on people like you to get there. Yes, not only did we want to send this email to brag about our results a bit, but we also wanted to take a moment to thank you for everything each of you did for us. Some of you donated money, others donated equipment, still others donated time. Everyone on this email list (and it's really big!) helped us along the way.  We could feel your support throughout the process and the race itself, and many of the messages you sent to cheer us along the way were shared with the entire team, sometimes over the vehicle radios, as they came in. It's hard to describe how much energy it sent to the entire team to know that you were following our every move.  It was incredible motivation and comforting to know you were there with us.  So, to you, a heartfelt and sincere thank you from all the members of Team Xtreme4, riders and crew.

What's next? Well, tonight we are attending the official RAAM banquet for finishers. We'll be given a plaque for winning-which we'd like to dedicate to all our supporters, friends, and families- we couldn't have done it without you. We also would like to dedicate it to carbon-neutral transportation.

We set out to promote carbon-neutral transportation choices, and through our press coverage, those of you who pledged to go carbon-neutral during the week that we were on the road, and our zero-carbon race footprint, we think we achieved that goal. Again, we couldn't have done it without you. We urge you to continue to think about your transportation choices and their impact on the environment. Remember: if Team Xtreme4 can cycle non-stop at 20.33 mph for 6 days and 4 hours, maybe that ride to work isn't so difficult after all...

We'll have photo galleries (we have over 6,000 to choose from) and video galleries ready soon and will send you an email when they are ready. In the meantime, here are a few in this email.

With that, thank you so much for all you did for us, and we hoped you enjoyed the journey as much as we did!  
Team Xtreme4
Eric, Phil, Patrick, Andrea, Mariana, Dave, Christal, Paul, Laurel, Andy, Kip, Julie, Raquel, Pam, Erik, Erica, Lee, and Thomas

Xtreme4 wins 4 person mixed team RAAM!!!
posted by Xtreme4 Team :: Jun 18, 2008 :: 06:18 AM 
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From RAAM Live blog:
"5:49 EDT  -  Annapolis, MD
The first 4 person mixed Team Xtreme4 finished on Tuesday evening with a time of 6:04:18 and set a new speed record of 20.33 mph smashing the old record of 19.5 mph. They were the 3rd overall 4 person team to finish. From Washington, DC, they were motivated to get home as soon as possible. They drew a big crowd at the finish area in Annapolis, MD."

More details after a deserved rest I'm sure.

Congratulations Xtreme4 team and crew!!!!

Annapolis or BUST!!!!
posted by Jennifer Serfass :: Jun 17, 2008 :: 04:42 PM 
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Jen here with an update from the road. My brother Hamilton and I met up with the team in the middle of the night in WV somewhere and it was SO great to see them all! We brought food and supplies, and both the riders and the crew seemed strong and definitely ready to push it on home!

Needless to say, the close quarters of the RV were taking their toll on everyone, as were the multiple sleepless nights in a row, but, overall, I was pleasantly surprised to find Xtreme4 in much better shape than I thought they might be!

We hung out with them through two rider and crew changes, and it was amazing how smooth the transitions were between riders and crew. This might be everyone's first time competing in RAAM, but you would never know it from watching them. What this team has achieved over the past 6 days is truly remarkable!

Although there have been some hiccups along the way, as is to be expected, the riders and  crew have taken them all in stride and keep on plugging away. The hills of WV were brutal, but the riders and crew remained optimistically focused on the finish and kept pounding the road, ignoring their muscle pain, saddle sores, and intense fatigue. At the time of writing this, they only have 93 miles to go and have just recently overtaken the Irish 4 person male team they have been neck and neck with for days....Awesome!

So, keep it up Xtreme4! Finish strong and we will be in Annapolis with cold beer and champagne to toast your amazing accomplishments, and with open arms to welcome you home after a long, epic, and amazing journey!!

Xtremely well done, team, and see you at the finish!


The Waiting Game
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 17, 2008 :: 07:36 AM 
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For those of you wondering what the heck is going on--we had Team Ireland within 5 minutes last night and then it happened...we made a wrong turn.  For those of you who don't understand how this works, a wrong turn can cost you dearly.  Luckily, after having sprinted all across downtown Clarksburg, WV (I think that's where we were) I finally got them back on course--but down an additional ten minutes.  By the time we got to the RV to make a switch our deficit was big.  Thankfully, Eric and Patrick picked it up and stomped all over the course.  By the end of their shift, we were back only 3:51.  But this game has it's up's and down's and after a 2:30 hour nap for me and the boys, the deficit had grown again.  This time to 28:51.  But we're on the attack again and as of the last time station we crossed at 8:16 and Ireland 8:01------only 15 minutes.  We are killing these hills.  And if you look at the actually racing time, we're only down 6 minutes due to the staggered start.  Unbelievable!  We're all excited to see everyone in Annapolis.  And Patrick's wife Jen and her brother along with Sean Ward have already greeted us in the mountains.  Great to see you guys!  You have no idea how much that helps the riders.  Cheers!

Xtreme 4 Welcome Home
posted by Paul Contino :: Jun 16, 2008 :: 09:23 PM 
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Hey everyone, Chad here again.

A group of us are going to be welcoming home the RAAM team tomorrow evening. Right now they are due to arrive around 7:00-8:30pm based on their current pace. I imagine their arrival time will only fluctuate within a couple hours either way at most.

We are planning on leaving Capitol Hill around 4pm to avoid DC Traffic out to Annapolis and get all set up for their arrival (be there about 5pm or so).

Also, don't plan on getting directly down there as the streets may be blocked off or have limited access. They get a police/parade escort from the Annapolis Mall down to Dock St, so plan accordingly!

Click here for a MAP

I imagine we will try to be somewhere near Dock St. as much as possible and if you plan on coming just ask around for Xtreme4!!!

The more the merrier and it would be good to see the champagne dousing we are going to give them when they cross the finish line!!!


"This is Crazy, this is crazy, this is CRAZY!"
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 16, 2008 :: 08:51 PM 
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So apparently we're only 8 minutes back of Team Ireland at the last time station!  Unbelievable!  We're stunned at the recent developments.  We didn't think they would be in our radar until West Virginia---we're in OHIO!  What's going on?  Even more astounding is when we changed rider teams a few miles after the TS, the RV said that Ireland passed only four minutes ago.  $#%#^#!!!  This is exciting!  By the time the rider made it up the hill and we did our mandatory one minute exchange wait (it must be done after stopping the vehicle for safety reasons) we were down ten minutes.  We lost two minutes, but we didn't even know we were that close.  Time to step it up a notch and be vigilant about making sure we don't break any rules.  I'm suppose to sleep after this pull, but if we don't catch them this shift---I might just stay on to watch it all unfold.  Less than 24 hours to go---WHO NEEDS SLEEP?????

posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 16, 2008 :: 04:59 PM 
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If it's not one thing it's another.  First low blood sugar, then no air-conditioning and now we're under attack.  This is coming to you from the Leap Frog Vehicle (a.k.a. a Large White Van) and if you can hear...read this---SEND HELP!!!  We are under attack from a foreign object pounding on the roof.  At the start of our pull everything was under control: smooth transition from Crew A to Crew B, excellent terrain, slight tailwind...and then it happened.  The beast awakened.  First it began pound ever so slightly on the roof, the sound of a branch fall off a tree and landing on a roof.  But it began to grow in strength.  The rapidity of the beast was unparalleled.  It was certainly no human sound or movement.  We stopped the car and checked to see unsightly gaze of a monster-but none could be found.  We continued on, but the noise persisted.  And then it hit us. It wasn't the lights on top of the car that I had already duct taped down, it was the solar panels being ripped off the roof. I jump out climb on top of the van and batten down the hatches while they make an exchange. We tell Patrick all about it and thinks nothing of it and only a couple pulls later he jumps out of his seat.  They've come apart again.  Once more into solar panels, dear friends, once more!  Crisis averted.  They say it wouldn't be RAAM without things going wrong.

Take it to the Limit!
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 16, 2008 :: 02:43 PM 
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Mayday! Mayday! Blood Sugar is going down and FAST! It's insane!!!  We can't keep up with demand!  In our effort to push to the "Silver" in the 4 "person" division we've all kicked it up a gear, yet with that you pay a price.  Our riders need food and fast.  And clean jerseys are a hot commodity.  We can't keep our shelves stocked and with the amount of calories these riders are going through 5 bottles of Infinit an hour isn't going to cut it.  We need REAL food.  So what do you do?  You make an emergency stop anywhere you can---i.e. Chubby's pizzeria somewhere in God country's, Indiana.  Now you may think, well just stop anywhere, but on the roads we're traveling sometimes you don't anything for miles.  !@#%##!---THE AIR CONDITIONER IN THE RV JUST WENT OUT!!!  Yes, as I'm typing this, the ship is going down fast!  We're gonna try to fix it, but we're racing DAMN IT!

"Where in the World is Team Ireland?"
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 16, 2008 :: 01:48 PM 
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It's not a joke. Over 2,400 miles into the race and we're still battling it out.  None of us expected this.  We all thought there would be stretches where we wouldn't see anyone (and there have been), but it's been more of a game of cat and mouse with the 2nd place 4-man team from Ireland.  At one point in the lead, Team Ireland now has been relegated to 2nd---and put up a strong fight to battle 1st place Team Yamaha.  But what may have happened (we hope) is that those two teams have continued to beat each other up and we'll just creep in behind them in West Virginia.  We've been crunching the numbers and dotting the "i's" and we think there might be something special that will happen in the next 24 hours.  To wet your palate with the taste of an upset.  Not only have we gained ground on Ireland in the last few stations, but our RV caught up with them in Bloomington, IN.  

Xtreme4 June 15th Update - So far so good!
posted by Jennifer Serfass :: Jun 15, 2008 :: 10:41 PM 
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Hi all, Jen here agin with another update from the road...Just talked with Patrick for a while and they were all enjoying McDonald's in Ohio as the riders and crew geared up for their next ride or sleep shift.

Things are going well and they all sound pretty peppy, sleep deprivation aside! Xtreme 4 is trying to stay alert and posied to pounce on the Irish and Utah teams in 1st and 2nd place in the male 4 person category as they near the finish, and they are all now more than 2/3 of the way finished with the race. Sweet! Xtreme4 maintains a huge lead in the mixed 4 person team category, more than 200 miles ahead at the time we spoke.

Patrick reports that his muscles "hurt a lot, but it is manageable", and that Raquel continues to make a huge difference with her miracle massages after each shift. He also reports that not only did Patrick and Eric log the fastest split of any team on the race for one of the legs in AZ, but that Phil and Andrea just achieved the same feat on one of the recent shifts. Not too shabby Xtreme4!

The crew is a well oiled machine at this point, and the riders are continually impressed with their positive professionalism as they plug away. Patrick reports that "The vehicle set-up is awesome and Andy really did a great job with this! The riders all have radios with earbuds so we are able to talk to both vehicles, and there is also a loudspeaker that blares music and cuts off when someone in the cars wants to talk with us. It makes the shifts go by fast, although we are only riding for 10 minutes at a time since we decided to switch to shorter rider shifts and more switch offs between the two riders on duty, and that helps as well!"

The team has passed some amazing scenery along the way and one of Patrick's highlights was biking through Red Rock National Park in AZ. He also reports loving the downhills where some of the riders have been clocked at over 60 mph (staying within the speed limits of course)....Yikes!

Some of the more bizarre encounters included a wild dog chasing him on the bike in KS at over 22mph trying to attack him, and having two wild horses run along him as he biked one of his shifts in NM. Beautiful, but nerveracking at the same time!

The riders all report that one of the highlights is passing the solo riders on the course, which Xtreme4 did a lot of today. They all slow down to chat a bit and the solo riders seem to be much more laid back as they singlehandedly cross the USA. Patrick reports that "it is amazing how fresh they look as they reach up to give us and the other teams high five as they pass and chat about the course. They are completely disel and I have so much respect for them all!"

All in all, things are going well and the riders and crew are having fun and staying focused as they go. So far, so good!

We will keep you posted, and stay tuned for more to come...Annapolis is only a day and 1/2 away!  

Go Xtreme4!!!!!

In the Mid-West!
posted by Julie Serfass :: Jun 15, 2008 :: 09:02 PM 
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We have internet (for 18 minutes when the computer battery dies, it's always something)!  The RV just passed through St. Louis and passed the big arch en route to the exchange point to start our official night shifts.  The riders looked really strong today and are posting some great averages (check the RAAM website for live updates).  Now, we're making a much needed stop at McDonald's.  I never thought I'd actually look forward to this place, but after the free food at TS 23 (or somewhere around there) we're hooked.  It's a great morale boost.  I'm off to food!

Happy Father's Day to all Xtreme 4 riders and crew dads!
posted by Xtreme4 Team :: Jun 15, 2008 :: 08:30 PM 
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Hi all!

We will hopefully post more later tonight with a race update, but wanted to take a quick minute to thank all of our fathers and to wish them all a very HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!!! Wish we could all be with you, but you are all in our thoughts as we pound the course, Annapolis-bound!

Happy Fathers Day!


The Xtreme4 Team


Rockin Kansas
posted by Erica Price :: Jun 14, 2008 :: 06:48 PM 
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Laurel and I are currently driving the chase car behind Eric and
Patrick, both of whom look like they're on day 1 of riding with fresh
legs instead of on day 3 (or is it 4?).

A couple stories from the road:
1) Yesterday  Eric and Patrick dominated the Rockies, taking the team
to new heights-- literally-- as we hit the highest point of RAAM 2008.
It was so fun to watch them climb-- they both looked so strong and the
scenery was unbelieveably beautiful.  We even got so high there was
snow on the ground, and Paul made us a snowball (which we then threw at him. Thanks paul!) Laurel and I were both jealous of the crazy
decent (about 1500 ft over 5 miles), but the guys deserved some fun
after all that climbing, so we were glad to see them taking full
advantage of the downhill and really flying down the mountain.

2) Paul and I were chasing Phil early this morning through Oklahoma
(he and Andrea tore up the road last night, finally taking us out of
New Mexico for good), and as Phil was cruising along at speeds so fast they might not be legal (*note to RAAM officials who might see this: just kidding- we always follow the rules), the sun started to rise.
Unlike our other riders, Phil does not use our awesome sound system
for music while he's riding. (Everyone else has a steady soundtrack as
they charge down the road). But for this occasion, Paul and I thought
a liitle music might be nice, so we turned on the classic Beatles hit
"Here Comes the Sun" (the version from the Love album, if you're
curious) and watched Phil sail into the sunrise.  I'm not usually  a
sentimental gal (um, at all), but seeing the sun come up with Phil
pushing some serious power to try and catch it made me choke up a
little bit. It really reminded me of how awesome this whole adventure
is, and it will definitely be a really great memory from the race.

3) Laurel can't sing. I'd heard rumors after last winter's Christmas
Lights Run (during which the runners sing carols), but wow. Laurel is
brilliant, talented, and a great cyclist in her own right, but the
girl couldn't hold a tune in a bucket.  These are the things you learn
when you spend 19 hours a day together (we're tragically separated for 5 hrs at night). Though I guess as a failing, sounding like a dying
cat when you try to sing along with the radio isn't really that bad.
So we'll keep her, and not leave her in a field in Kansas like I

Another update from Paul via Phone!
posted by Paul Contino :: Jun 14, 2008 :: 04:17 PM 
Comments (4) »

Hey all, Chad here again, thanks to Julie for the update as it is much needed for all you out there in internet land!

Got off the phone with Paul a little bit ago and all he wanted to know was "Where are we in relation to the other 4 person teams....OVERALL!"

Xtreme 4 is really rocking it as they came into Time Station #21 about 7 hours and 43 minutes ahead of Team Theraplay, the 2nd place team in their division.  As a bunch of rookie riders and crew they are absolutely CRUSHING the RAAM course.  Very impressive to see the countless hours of meetings, race prep, and 24 hour race simulations paying such huge dividends.  Between Time Stations 23 and 24 they only lost 10 minutes to the 2nd place 4 Person Male Team, and 1 minute to the 1st Place 4 Person Male Team.  They have also increased their lead over the 3rd place 4 Person Male Team to over 1 hour and 3 minutes at Time Station #23.  Impressive stuff for Rookie RAAM riders!

Paul relays some thoughts as they push on through Kansas:

"Everyone is doing extremely well.  We are all still completly pumped up and just think it is so awesome to be doing so well and have so much support from you guys back home.  Andrea and Phil were doing awesome on the last shift and Eric and Patrick are on their bikes ready to make the transition to the next shift.  I am about to start an 8 hour shift and the crew and riders are all pretty smelly and gross at this point.  We are pushing through Kansas which is pretty flat and WINDY!. 

We are pretty much in the middle of Kansas and it is HOT.  The riders are pretty pampered by us crew members honestly.  We wait at the front of the vehicle for the rider, grab their bikes, makes sure their hydrated, relay information to them about how we are doing to keep them motivated, and try to keep their spirits up.  We pretty much grab all their gear from the vehicles during shift changes so they don't have to do anything but ride.  Pretty top notch and it makes our crew jobs tough...but it is all worth it.

It is amazing to see all of the Xtreme4 riders getting stronger as the day goes on.  It was a getting a little rough for them going through the last part of the Mountains, but they seem to be getting into a serious groove as they push through Kansas and are only looking stronger, I gotta go get Patrick now, Talk to you later!"

By the looks of how they are moving and grooving hopefully they can increase their lead and take some time out of the 1st and 2nd place 4 person male teams...only time will tell!

Thanks for the update Paul!   

ride, eat, sleep. repeat
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 14, 2008 :: 01:06 PM 
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It's been a couple days, I think, since I last posted. I know we've
(me and andrea) have ridden utah, new mexico, colorado, oklahoma, and
kansas. Obviously we've just done segments of those states, but I have
seen some spectacular scenery (and missed a bunch (nighttime)). Tops
was a stop where we exchanged in new mexico in the mountains.
Beautiful. Low point was (scenery_wise) was the first half of kansas -
flat, hot and dusty.

We're in 3rd place right now of all the 4-person teams (all male and
mixed). It's awesome. We should have a fast night and hopefully make
up some ground. (1st place is only an hour up, so its totally doable).

Anyway, we're in a groove. Which for me consists of riding, eating,
sleeping and not much else (except sweating and drinking more fluids
than I thought possible).

Next shift will be from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. which can be a little brutal,
but sunrise is great and we have a fun time.

Next 'stop' Missouri.

June 14th Update - Xtreme 4 hits Kansas in style!
posted by Jennifer Serfass :: Jun 14, 2008 :: 11:22 AM 
Comments (1) »

Hi everyone! Jen here with an update from Patrick and Julie on the road. Internet access has been tough and the team has had a hard time updating the blog as often as they would like to.

At the time of this update, Xtreme4 had passed time station #22, more than 1311 miles into the race, and were almost to station #23 with average overall speeds of more than 20 mph, including their last shift which averaged over 25 mph! Xtreme4 has a solid lead in their category and are close behind the second place 4 person mens team. As we talked, Patrick was about to overtake a rider from team #607, an eight person team, who had just passed them on the last shift.

When I talked to them, Xtreme4 had just hit the cornfields of Kansas and was looking forward to the gradual decline in elevation facing them for the next few time stops. A welcome change after the 10,000+ foot peak they faced yesterday!

Last night's shift was a bit hectic with the biggest climb of the race and tough riding. Both Eric and Patrick were feeling tired, but they kept on trucking and really pounded up the mountain. They had serious burrito and burger cravings after their shift, and combined with malt milkshakes, it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. They have both perked up a bit today, and are looking forward to many more mikshakes to come!

Julie and Andy have been playing Eric and Patrick's favorite tunes over the loudspeakers as they ride, and they downloaded fun movie clips to play for the riders to give them a laugh or two along the way.

Temperatures have been fluctuating between the high 30s at night and high 80s during the day, which makes biker wardrobe planning difficult! Raquel, the team masseuse and helper extraorinaire, and Lee, the bike mechanic, have been great, and both the biker's muscles and the bikes themselves are in great shape as a result.

The entire crew has been doing a wonderful job!  They are all a bit tired and have found the RV to be hard to sleep in, but they are all hanging in there. They team is doing rider shifts measured by both time and distance at this point, and are being flexible and changing their strategy frequently depending on how the riders are feeling. The crew has found that there is not as much time with the RV stopped as they thought there might be, so cooking is a definite challenge. The few hot meals they have had have really hit the spot, and they have all eaten enough turkey sandwiches to last a lifetime!

Next up is a long stint through Kansas and Missouri all the way to the Mississippi River. Fingers crossed for a strong tailwind and lot of crew and rider rest (and milkshakes :-) )!

More updates to come soon...Stay tuned! Go Xtreme 4!

Finally an Update!
posted by Paul Contino :: Jun 13, 2008 :: 10:34 AM 
Comments (3) »

Hey everyone!  Chad here posting under Paul's name since internet is next to non-existent for our Xtreme4 crew out on the road.  Just got off the phone with him and he provided an update on how things are going and the current status of the crew and riders.

From Paul via phone on the road at TS#15:

"We are in Colorado right now and I just got off my shift an hour or so ago.  We had the 2am to about 5-6am shift with Andrea and Phil as the riders, and it was myself and Marianna (didn't get the other names) crewing.  That shift brought us from Utah into Colorado where we experienced a 25 degree temperature change from about high 50's to about 35 degrees.  The riders were constantly changing clothes to adapt to the changing temperatures.  Andrea and Phil are back on again and Eric and Patrick are resting. 

Crewing right now is absolutely intense as you are always on.  Even when you are on the 'off" shift you are always doing something; making sure the riders are eating, setting up their stuff for the next shift, rider prep.  I have gotten about 4 total hours of sleep since the race started on Wednesday and that is the case for almost the entire crew right now. 

Despite a couple problems like getting stuck in the sand in Arizona (luckily it was only the leap vehicle and not the RV!), which by a stroke of luck we were helped get unstuck by a couple off duty police officers coming home from their shift, everything is going really really well.  Everyone's spirits are high and we are all really pumped about how well we are doing.  Hearing about everyone rooting for us and tracking us back home is the icing on the cake!

It is going to be a great feeling rolling into our home town area for the finish and I am sure we will be even more pumped as it draws near.  We are looking forward to a kick butt welcome home Chad...no pressure on you though!"

Thanks Paul, no pressure taken! 

Everything is going great and the whole team is absolutely amazed at how well they are doing!  While they came into it with expectations and goals, they wanted to finish first and had no idea that after only 24 hours and change that they would be in such a position.  They have been bouncing in and out of 2nd and 3rd place out of ALL the 4 person teams and are leading their division by 2 time stations and only making up more ground as they trek on!

Good luck you guys and we are all thinking about you!

Here's hoping to better internet access as well!

death valley and arizona
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 12, 2008 :: 01:05 PM 
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Andrea and I took over for our first shift in borrego springs. Eric
and patrick had put in a super solid first segment and we were right
in the mix. It was difficult riding, mostly because it was so
unbelievably hot but also because there were so many teams on the same
segment of road. We had some trouble with teams who didn't want to be
passed but we handled that by passing them and leaving them in the
dust. We finished up and I had to do some icing to get my core
temperature down- I was that hot. We slept and later that night took
our next shift. We rode across some arizona valley floor and then up
the side of a mountain. It was a much more manageable shift but we
were very sleep deprived. We chased a team all the way up the
mountain, narrowing the gap significantly, and then turned it over to
eric and patrick.
Our next shift took us up another mountain- which was very enjoyable
really. I got a screaming descent down through jerome arizona and down
to cottonwood (??). As I was going down I had to ask cars to get out
of my way- and they did.

Our last shift took us from flagstaff through TUBA CITY and the navajo nation.

Now we should be sleeping in preparation for our shift tonight.

T minus 4.5 hours
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 11, 2008 :: 11:33 AM 
Comments (6) »

As all the others are saying, race day is here. In a few short hours we'll do a parade start and then the real race begins.

I'm nervous and excited. It's hard to be really nervous--I really don't know what to expect. I'm pretty confident in our strategy. We have plans, back up plans and back up plans for the back up plans. It should be smooth.

I spent much of yesterday helping Lee, our mechanic, fine tune all the bikes. Really I just stood there and asked questions. But I felt helpful. The bikes are running smooth. I just can't wait to get on one and start it up.

We'll have a hot and hilly first 24 hours (well, really first few days), but we're rested and fairly relaxed so it shouldn't be too bad.

I can't keep a train of thought here so I guess I'm going to sign off before this become even less coherent.

More to come as we hit the road.


posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Jun 11, 2008 :: 09:33 AM 
Comments (3) »

Yes, race start is FINALLY here!  We've been crazy busy getting everything together and tweaking the final adjustments before 5pm EST today.  Yesterday, we had the team photos by the pier (the photos came up awesome!  kuddos to Kip!).  Then it was time to get our bikes rechecked, eat and do whatever was missing before the offical racers' meeting at 5pm.  It was surreal... to have a room packed up with 300+ people... the energy vibing in the room and everyone was psyched!  A few last minute changes and info was given and we headed out for our last carboload and team dinner before hitting the road... 

Team XTREME 4 is looking and feeling good!  We can't wait to put the roads on fire!

More from when the race starts!


posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 11, 2008 :: 06:33 AM 
Comments (2) »

Race day is here and about 7 hours away from rolling out from the Oceanside pier. I've not been able to sleep past 6am any day this week even though lack of sleep is fast approaching. But I'm feeling great and rested, anxious to start getting those miles in. The most tiring aspect right now has been waiting, planning, and plotting without being able to go Go GO! Soon enough. And now only hours to the launch of a week full of biking round the clock with my teammates and crew. How kick ass is that?

We have 2 bikes per rider all set up and ready to roll, a dozen extra wheels and more maps and elevation charts with scribbles and highlighted marks than you can imagine. Three route books with 200+ pages each marked and noted, 14 eager crew and 4 riders that are gonna push all the way to Annapolis.

Yesterday we toured the first section of the course because there are even more strict rules (all with penalties). So we checked out the grades, allowed pullouts, turns and all that jazz. Having trained on the final 300+ miles of the course into Annapolis a couple times will definitely be a huge help as we make it back. The rest - well you gotta leave some surprises!

There is still stuff to do but the list is short and sweet compared to those we had days, weeks and months ago. At this point we could roll out of here and be totally on track but a few more bells and whistles are still in the works. The planning stress is slowly- no, actually quite quickly- evaporating from my compulsive brain and leaving me more and more relaxed as the start approaches. It's an awesome feeling knowing we've put in the time and training that now even though we're newbies on the block (there are so many veteran RAAM riders) that we're poised to cruise through this in an organized logistical attack on the course. No doubt we're ready. And I can't wait! For all of our friends back home, here we come.

Food, check
posted by Julie Serfass :: Jun 11, 2008 :: 12:21 AM 
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Well, we got "some" of the food purchased.  It'll take at least 2 more grocery trips to get the provisions we'll need plus a few more stops along the way to get perishable items.  While I'm meal planning, Andy is doing some sketchy things with a lighter and wires, continuing to prep our extensive communications system.  We might not have a professional chef on board, but we do have a kickass speaker and radio system.  Eat that other mixed 4 teams!

And standing in this corner with a combined weight of 2,983 lbs.....Team XTREME4!
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 10, 2008 :: 05:05 PM 
Comments (1) »

Well, it's been a long time in the making.  But after months of preparations, endless meetings and thousands of e-mails to each other,  Team Xtreme4 gathered all together for the first time ever as a complete team.  With everyone's crazy schedule back home, we were hard pressed to have 100% participation in all of our events. Whether it was a simulation ride, a date auction fundraiser or the never-ending meetings, there was always something going on.  We've even had some crew additions in that span.  But today was something special.  With our new jerseys and sweet looking crew shirts, we're ready.  Bring it on RAAM!  (A special thanks should go out to everyone back home who's helped out along the way and continuing to help. You know who you are.)  See you in 6 1/2 days.

Feeding the masses
posted by Julie Serfass :: Jun 09, 2008 :: 11:33 PM 
Comments (5) »

How do you feed 18 hungry people 3 times a day when you have a tiny fridge, a stove that rocks every time the RV makes a turn, and have to include enough carbs to fuel 4 people racing cross country?  We still don't know, but Laurel and I are slowing figuring it out.  We've been spending a lot of time the past week working and reworking menu plans that can accommodate an endless list of restrictions.  Hopefully we'll have it figure out by Wednesday when we launch cross-country.  Feel free to leave suggestions!!

true believer
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 09, 2008 :: 09:43 PM 
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So I've always poo-poo'ed zipps and other high end wheels. I figured, how could they honestly give you 2000 dollars worth of speed? I mean that's a lot of money for a just little extra rim and such. Our sponsor, race day wheels, gave us 5 pairs of Zipp 404s for the race, and today we took them out for a test spin. I knew something was different when on a light sprint Patrick turned to me and said "we're going 32 mph." Um, whoa nelly. I guess Zipps *are* worth it. I'm now a true believer. And I'm scheming how I can get a set of my own. There is a casino just down the road... -- Philip Schmidt http://xtreme4.com

Gettin the lead out
posted by Patrick Serfass :: Jun 09, 2008 :: 08:05 PM 
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For the riders, we haven't ridden many miles in the last couple days.  We've been traveling and getting the bikes and vehicles ready.  You know, it really is amazing how much time you can spend on getting everything ready.  And the crew has just been cranking away on any possible task in front of us.  I swear that we've got the most dedicated, energetic team out here.  Amazing. 
This afternoon, we put the bikes and legs to a little test though and went for a spin.  It was great to get out on our bikes again, as a team, in our team jerseys, with fresh legs and jam a little.  I don't think this has been quite the perfect taper that coach Olaf designed, but you could tell we're fresh and ready to roll.  18, 20, 25, 30 mph.  It all felt good.  And that's the way fresh legs should feel.  It's about time!!  Plus, our bikes are sweet and fully set up for some serious speed.  Today was the first day where we've really put all the pieces together to get the bikes ready to race: Race Day Wheels, Busch + Müller Lights, lots of parts from Capitol Hill Bikes, some sweet Hincapie team jerseys and some slick Spiuk helmets.  So it's really starting to feel like we're ready to go.  I mean, I really like being by the beach in Oceanside and all (man, the waves looked good today!), but I'm also really ready to put this all to the test and see what kind of speed we can carry to get to the other coast as fast as we possibly can.

One day closer!
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Jun 09, 2008 :: 07:37 PM 
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Less than two days to go and we have everything in place and ready to GO!  We just came back from our vehicles and bikes inspection and everything went smooth, yeah!  The riders were off for a spin and the crew headed back to the hotel where Dave gave us a demostration of changing flats on the vehicles.  Now it's chilling time before dinner!

We can't wait to tear up the roads!

Our cars are looking HOT!

More later,


A Farewell to Arms and A Hello to Legs!
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 09, 2008 :: 02:39 PM 
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With only a few days away from the start of the race (9 to be exact), Team Xtreme4 gathered on Monday last week, one last time in DC to go over some last minute adjustments before heading out to Oceanside, CA. But fear not, everyone was well feed (thanks to Mariana's grilling skills) and in good spirits. Being that this was the last time we'd see each other before the vehicles set out across the country, it was imperative all bases were covered--and with Crew Chiefs Dave & Mariana, it looks like it will be a well run race...and well biked too.

Inspection Day
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 09, 2008 :: 05:58 AM 
Comments (3) »

The excitement and the time change makes it easy to get up at 4 or 5 am... Which I'm trying to maintain since my race rotations will have me riding until 1am and then at 6am again. I figure I'll be zonked so getting to "sleep in" til 5.40 or so will be great. Uh hum, better anyways. Today is inspection day which marks the first time we can get race time penalties if we don't pass the 426 point inspection. That's right, penalties start at 15 minutes and each additional one goes up by 15. so the 4th is 60 minutes! And you're DQ'ed after 5. Rules and regs book is about 100 pages and there are forms for everything. To give you an idea we need to have a 3 inch by 1 inch reflective strip on the crank arm which can be seen from the rear. Note that we have 8 bikes (2 cranks per) and that is just one of about a dozen reflective strips on bikes. Extra batteries is mandatory.. The list took all of yesterdy for our entire team to complete! But we are way ready and I hope to be OFF my feet more t oday...

xtreme parking lot
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 08, 2008 :: 10:37 PM 
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Well, we pulled it off. We spent from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. in a parking lot. What did we do in said lot, you wonder? We: *Put reflective tape on many parts of many bikes; *wired the various vehicles with lights and sound; *roasted in southern cali sun; *put our decals everywhere on the vehix; *sorted the ten tons of stuff we have and packed it in the vehicles; and *ate some food. Sounds fairly trivial, but it all had to be done for bike and vehicle inspection tomorrow. There's a time penalty for any missing equipment etc., so we had to get it all set today. Spirits were high and though it was a long day, everyone was happy to be getting it all done. We're all set for the inspection and it's a good feeling. Stay tuned... 

Prep Day
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 08, 2008 :: 06:15 PM 
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Today we've been getting ready - the entire team putting together all of our gear and finalizing our vehicles for inspection tomorrow- plus a few bells and whistles we'll be enjoying during the race like a speaker system that allows us to listen to our iPods from the chase car as well as get radio communications for directions and inspiration. It's been amazing to see the team come together and outfit this moving command center: banners for our sponsors, lights, flags, race decals and reflective strips, 8 bikes to tune, 20-some wheels,  coolers, crew  bags, food, emergency  supplies, bike parts, jumper cables, toothpaste and the list goes on. It's best in pictures- those are coming. Needless to say it's like preparing for a non-stop week of craziness and unpredictable circumstances- along with everything we are expecting! We're organized and knocking out what we need to get done. The temps are rising and we're all ready to ride too. Can't wait... 3 days to go.

beautiful morning, beautiful zipps
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 08, 2008 :: 10:51 AM 
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I opened my eyes this morning to a beautiful sight--my merlin sitting on some zipp 404s. Our sponsor, raceday wheels (racedaywheels.com) delivered 5 sets of the 404s to the hotel. What a service. In other news, we're almost a complete team. We'll spend the morning getting the vehix/bikes ready for inspection. We'll also make our way to the hotel in oceanside. Stay tuned.

Finally here!
posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Jun 08, 2008 :: 01:42 AM 
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Most of us arrived today to San Diego. (Eric, Christal, Phil, Paul, Laurel,Andy, Raquel, Julie, Kip, Patrick, Mariana and myself).  Dave got here yesterday. We have our vehicles here, our bikes, most of the crew...everything is coming together nicely.  We went to get registered, and it was so exciting to get our race numbers,RAAM stickers, route book, signs, talk to the race official etc. 

We have a full day ahead of us tomorrow getting the cars and bikes ready for inspection.  Finally the awaited day is so close!!!  So close it is a little scary!  :)  But very exciting!

Pictures and videos coming soon...

Arrival in SoCali
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jun 07, 2008 :: 10:13 PM 
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I arrived here this morning in SoCali. I met up with Eric, Christal, Mariana and Andrea at the San Diego airport. We went to the hotel and got a nice leisurely lunch. We registered and picked up our packet(s) and checked out some other teams' vehicles. They don't got nuthin on our setup. The team has been trickling in little by little. The people who drove the RV, van and car all arrived last night. Others flew out earlier. The full team will be here by sunday. Woot! I'm very excited, and would be nervous but I honestly don't know what to expect. The energy is good-all the stress of the past few (six) months is sort of melting away. Can't wait to hit that open road.

OMG! He did what?
posted by Patrick Serfass :: Jun 07, 2008 :: 09:00 PM 
Comments (2) »

You know, as you plan to do one of these races, you learn to teach yourself to be prepared for everything.  One thing you can't prepare for is the fact that when you park your vehicle, there might be another car driving down the street that might somehow lose control, pop the right curb, drive over a bunch of bushes, come down the curb on the other side, then jump the concrete parking stop in the parking lot on the other side AND CRASH INTO THE RV!  Minutes after checking in at the first team hotel in San Diego, Julie, Kip and I walked back out to the parking lot where we'd parked to see that a black Camry had somehow lost control crossed a somewhat amazing set of obstacles and hit the RV while parked in the parking lot on the other side.  Unbelieveable.
Luckily no one was hurt and the damage to the RV, while knocking off one of the small service doors was minor enough that it still functions fine--all cosmetic.  We followed all the rules in the Cruise America guidelines, called the emergency number and it sounds like we'll just take care of it when we get back to DC.
You might be asking yourself the same thing we still are.  How the **** did the Camry do all that?  The road was straight.  Speed limit was about 30-35 and there were no skid marks so he couldn't have been speeding much if at all.  The driver seemed stone cold sober (confirmed by the officer who showed up to supervise exchanging of insurance information--when no one gets hurt, you don't file a police report in California).  And the driver, who's English was not fluent, could only tell the officer that "my hand slipped on the steering wheel."  Use your imagination, I guess.  We're still puzzled by this one...and thankful it wasn't any worse!

Death by Windshield
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 07, 2008 :: 02:30 PM 
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In a sad and rare occurrence, we regretably announce the passing away of the Gnat family. Born in small pond just outside of Tombstone, AZ (the irony is not lost on the investigators), Phil and Maggie Gnat married in the Spring of '08 after meeting at the local watering hole. They made plans to move on up to the East side, but they were cut short for Maggie was expecting. With 12 little ones on the way, Phil and Maggie decided it would be best to stick around their extended family. With Phil working as the head supervisor at the local Pest Control Center and Maggie at home taking care of the nest, things looked promising. It has been rumored that the Gnat family was on their way to the Larvapalooza show outside Tucson. Officials are unsure at this moment whether their death was an accident or not, but one official who spoke under the name of anonymity remarked, "With such a large family and the economy the way it is, I wouldn't be surprised one bit to hear that it was a mass suicide." A Gnat family relative was unavailable for comment. In lieu of flowers or small puddles of murky water, donations are being accepted at the Team Xtreme4 website.

Headed Out
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 07, 2008 :: 07:25 AM 
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After a jammed pack week filled with work, packing and coordinating all the last minute details we're at BWI waiting to fly out to San Diego. It came down to the wire last night preparing communications central (satellite phones, computer, hard drive, iPods, inverters, splitters, phones, SD cards and readers, car adapters and ac plugs for all of them, camera, and the list goes on) and by the time I got to bed it was already past 2am... and up at 4:30am to head to the airport! Kinda like training to get into my new race sleep schedule! So hopefully with the extensive prep we've put into this we can all get some easy down time in the next few days. Soon our web site will reflect our race week layout- with live tracking and updates right on the home page. Ocenside here we come!

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 06, 2008 :: 04:28 PM 
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Rule #83 of driving cross country---no picture taking allowed underneath the awning of the border patrol. Though we weren't going near the border or crossing the border, for some we encountered a border patrol station in the middle of the highway doing random checks. Cool we thought. This is new, so let's take some pictures. Ergggghhhh! Nope. I was quickly halted in that effort. But we drove through without any problem nor did they discover the large kilo of hashish in the storage compartment. Oh, wait, Patrick is correcting me. It's not hashish, but 40 boxes of Kashi brand cereal. Sorry. But hey, a shout out to our Kashi sponsors. (Available at your local Trader Joe's)

"Shitter's Full"
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 06, 2008 :: 04:28 PM 
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In an effort to travel across the country swiftly and better understand the "inner" workings of the RV, we decided to use the bathroom in the RV. (Side note: as a team we decided we would not use the RV bathroom at all during the race, unless it was an emergency. According to other teams we spoke to, the effort that goes into finding a "dumping" site on the roads we'll be racing is difficult to near impossible. And with the amount of people on our team, it would fill up pretty fast.) So how many flushes does it take to get to the red light that reads full on your RV? Well, after two days of straight travel, we neared a breaking point---and that was just the three of us. Thus the adventure begins. First, find an a place to dump the RV. Secondly, get to said location. And third, actually empty the RV.

So finding an RV wasn't difficult--but one that allowed dumping was. Patrick called several locations along the way in Arizona, and we finally found one...some 15 miles or so off course. (Remember, we're driving out on Interstate roads--highly populated, and still we had problems finding a convenient location.) The name, Casita Verde and the town, Casa Grande, Arizona. And as we drive trying to find this magical oasis in the desert we spot the sign. "RV Park: Casita Verde. ADULT COMMUNITY" WHAT!?!? What does that mean? Adult community? What is going on here? Are we about to drive into a nudist colony? Or rather, a nudist RV Park? It's already strange we're headed to an RV Park, but one that may have that small percentage of adults who enjoying being nude all the time AND live in an RV. This might be too much. Besides, the original adventure was action of "dumping" the RV. We didn't sign up for this. And as we drove into this gated, cinder blocked congregation of RV enthusiasts our eyes were on the lookout for any saggy overweight American looking to let it all out...literally. Thankfully, there was no one outside.

And as we proceed to the RV park office, we find out the woman we just spoke to about dumping the RV has left for the day. Are you kidding me? We just told her we would be on our way. (Oh, and the woman who told us this tidbit was NOT naked. Whew!) So, we were on our own and luckily we all watched the informational video about the RV, so it wasn't too hard by ourselves.

And on our way out we spotted a pool. Anyone looking? Nope? Let's jump in and cool off. We still hadn't turned on the AC in the RV in order to conserve energy. So a dip in the RV Park pool was just what we needed. Too bad we all didn't have a swimsuit.

You Shall Not Pass...I Mean Have Gas!
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 06, 2008 :: 02:31 PM 
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So I drive up to this gas station outside of El Paso, Texas around 5am because 1. I'm tired and need to switch drivers and 2. We need gas. So, I LOGICALLY go to a gas station. Boy, was I wrong. It's an older style gas station which didn't alarm me, nor did the need to "Pay First...Inside" sign, but when I walked towards the door I was greeted by this sign (see pic). Surely, they're kidding. NOPE. I walk in and there's this woman sitting way in the back watching some old rerun I think of Greenacres and she shouts, "NO GAS!" What? "NO GAS! We haven't had any gas for awhile now." What? "But, you're a gas station, right?" "Yeah, but it's new management and they haven't got the permits--but soon." "Oh, OK." And that was that. I should also mention I used the urinal---the ice filled urinal, because it didn't have any running water. Ingenious, yes--- Disgusting, certainly---Humorous, without a doubt.

And God said, "Let there be light...or enough power so I can use my MacBook Pro."
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 06, 2008 :: 02:15 PM 
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AC/DC inverter--$20, Extension cord--$15, 3-socket 10-volt charger-- Patrick running the numbers on his Blackberry to ensure we have ample power, PRICELESS......and also a little anal. :) The debate was thus: Buy all this equipment at a truck stop along the way or run the genset in the RV. At almost $4.00/hr the genset can provide power to all appliances, run the AC (for the RV, not the drivers) and power up all outlets. On the other hand, it's only the three of us. Would spending that much money on the genset be worth the price? Obviously, we decided to suck it up, but later Thursday night we realized how hot the RV instantly gets when you shut it off. Ergo, we realize we're gonna need it for the race. With 8 people instead of 3, the body temperature alone will warrant the $$$ spent, plus it will all provide a little comfort in an otherwise comfortless endeavor. We're gonna give it a test run later tonight to see how efficient it is. Adios.

So...It begins.
posted by Kip Pierson :: Jun 06, 2008 :: 01:48 PM 
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With the weather drizzly and only going to get worse, the "Fellowship of the RV" set out on a long and arduous task---Attempt to navigate their recreational steed across the country or die trying. Sure to suffer from bouts of delirium, stir-craziness and the most deadly-- poor hygiene, the Dwarf (Julie), the Imp (Kip) are lead by their trusty Cycling Human (Patrick). The road will be long and they will surely encounter foes along the way (State police, unyielding cashiers, construction zones, the border patrol and even the occasional tumbleweed---but under the guise of Xtreme4 advertising, their incomparable tracking ability combined with the Dwarf's uncanny knack to locate a Cracker Barrel within a days ride, the journey will be hard but conquerable. I only hope I live to tell the tale.

Headin' West!
posted by Patrick Serfass :: Jun 06, 2008 :: 11:10 AM 
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What a great cross country trip Kip, Julie and I had.  It wasn't one of those that you plan to take weeks, going to national parks and trying to find the biggest ball of twine in Texas (isn't everything bigger in Texas?  The winds sure were.), but instead it was the most efficient, shortest route we could possibly find.  Biking from Oceanside to Annapolis in 6 days is probably going to seem fast.  But not as fast as the 51 hours it took us, including stops to make it from DC to San Diego.  We had a good time rolling along and it saved the team a ton of money and shipping expenses to not have to fly us and a lot of our other stuff out west.  Plus it meant that we didn't have to disassemble the bikes to get them on a plane.  Bonus!
It was great getting to spend time with my sister and getting to know Kip better.  I think the real surprise though was that Kip (our actor/director/team photographer) discovered Julie could go toe to toe with him at reciting songs from musicals.  Those would be the times when I took my sleeping shift. 
On the left coast, cousins of our dad, Debbi and Steve Morales, graciously allowed us to make an impromptu stop at their house right outside San Diego to get some shut eye (while the vehicle wasn't moving), shower and just chill out a little before the rest of the team starting getting together.  It was the perfect, relaxing stop to start off the next wave of race preparation we knew we would be doing, and we capped it off with a stop at the beach and Roberto's "Very Mexican" tacos and burritos.  Now we're ready to get down to business.

posted by David Mills :: Jun 05, 2008 :: 07:45 AM 
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Team Xtreme,
Well, this is it! What a long journey it has already been. What started off as a harmless, seeminginly innoccuous question: "What do you think about entering a four person RAAM team next year?" tuned into a monumental production. Who knew it would require so much effort, planning, coordination and cooperation?

Solo RAAM, which the race is most known for is one of the most difficult physical challenges known to man. Crewing for a solo RAAM however is probably the easiest in terms of cost, number of crew, etc and can be done with just one vehicle. <Pause> (to dream about how nice that sounds). 2-Person RAAM adds another vehicle and some additional complications. 4-Person RAAM, i'm convinced, is the most difficult configuration of RAAM there is. While still allowing the riders to accomplish a very difficult challenge, it exponentially increases the logistical difficulty and cost. What we as a team have already acheived is truly amazing. The collective personal experiences and contributions of each of you have helped to make this crazy notion a reality.

So here we are, just days from the starting gun. No more, auctions, no more 3 hr meetings, no more soliciting, no more all night training rides. The chase car has been rented and outfitted and is currently on its way across the heartland. The leapfrog van has been disected, injected, hammered, nailed, screwed, taped and glued. It is packed to the roof for its journey out to California (and back) and is on its way. I'd guess it somewhere in the midwest by now. The RV is loaded with bikes and food and after pulling out of DC last night is likely making ground on the leapfrog van.

With only a few details left to finalize and a few days before we are all in San Diego/Oceanside, I wanted to thank everyone for their contribution and efforts. No matter how large or small of a part you have played, each and every one of you are important to our success. Thank you for your hard work and thank you for your sacrifice.

If I forget to show excitement or joy once the race hits the fan... WooHooo!! Let's go Xtreme4!


One Week Exactly
posted by David Mills :: Jun 04, 2008 :: 05:01 PM 
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ONE WEEK EXACTLY... from this very minute we will be RACING baby! Stay tuned.

Vehicles and Packing
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jun 04, 2008 :: 06:38 AM 
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It's been a roller coaster few days getting all the vehicles customized with lights, storage, beds, computer platforms and a ton of other stuff. If I had more time I'd tell you all about the details! More to come as soon as we get these rigs and all our gear on the road off to the west coast later today.

8 days to go!
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Jun 02, 2008 :: 03:59 PM 
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The race is getting closer and closer!  Excitment is in the air...We still have lots of organizing to do before heading to Oceanside next weekend.  This past weekend, we worked on our "chase" vehicle getting everything ready before Andrea's brother took it cross country yesterday.  Lots of trips to the hardware store that's for sure!  Today, we are organizing our "leap" vehicle and in the next couple of days a couple of the crewmembers will be taking it as well as our RV cross country.

Our jerseys are ready and look HOT!  We have our rotations down, our plan, everything seems to be working out... we CAN'T wait for June 11th @ 5PM when we leave Oceanside!

Thanks for all our supporters and sponsors! Especial, thanks for Peter White for sponsoring us with some GREAT BRIGHT Bush & Muller lights - they last for more than 12h+!!!  For Kashi for donating some yummy cereal and snacks. For Scott and CHB for all their work on the riders' bikes and especial thanks to Michele Buckley for lending her baby to Andrea!  We really appreciate all your help and support!

Spread the word about Xtreme 4 and if you haven't done so, pledge to ride your bike, carpool or not use your car during our race!


More to come...


breathless pause at the threshold of a long passage
posted by Philip Schmidt :: May 30, 2008 :: 08:27 AM 
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Well, the title makes it sound like things are paused, but really they are actually in a state of hyperactivity. So much to do, think about, plan, discuss, buy, arrange, organize, and keep on schedule. It's a massive undertaking to get 18 people organized for a non-stop race. It's mind boggling the amount of details that have to be run down. But we're getting there--and we're feeling great.

As I read before bed the other night, I stumbled across this quote. I think it's exactly where we are:

"In this breathless pause at the threshold of a long passage we seemed to be measuring our fitness for a long and arduous enterprise."

-Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer

2 Weeks to GO!
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 28, 2008 :: 05:00 PM 
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The official start for RAAM teams is June 11th at 5pm EDT (2pm Pacific Time), just two weeks away! The focus now is gathering our gear and finalizing the race plan, packing and setting off for the west coast. We're taking a ton of stuff to fuel our bodies and enough gear to ride through any type of weather from freezing midnight high speed descents to scorching furnace midday zero humidity climbs in the desert. And of course backups for just about everything except our legs. It's no coffee shop ride that's for sure.

The excitement is on full throttle as the magnitude of the race draws near. The massive training to get to this point, the years longing for it, and the vast amount of support from sponsors, donors, pledges and all our friends and family has ramped up for our departure. From here on out we're on a taper mode and making sure we get rolling in the best shape we can.

Much thanks to all of our supporters and we'll keep you very well connected during race week with up to date coverage right on our home page... photos, blogs, maps, stats and all that good stuff.

Outsider's Perspective
posted by Paul Contino :: May 20, 2008 :: 03:26 PM 
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This past weekend we were a bit short on crew members for our 24 hour race simulation so we acquired the gracious help of our friends Angie and Chad.  In addition, Pam was able to stop in from Boston to be a part of the team as well.  Below is what Angie had to say about her weekend:

My 24 hour taste of Xtreme 4
Truth be told I had to fake hesitation when asked to fill in during the most recent 24 hour training event.  I was pretty pumped to help out and witness first hand how this whole Xtreme concept would be going down.  After gathering at Patrick's Friday, the gang rolled out to WV in three vehicles (RV included during this go) during what ended up being a very foggy night.
We arrive in Grafton after midnight, unload, re-load, pump up tires, string safety lights, buy more red bull and BAM-- shift 1 starts.  Patrick and Eric are up first and begin their foggy, dark, and climb-filled pulls for the next few hours.  The crew and rider switch happens around 5:30 am just as the sun starts to rise and it's my turn to jump behind the wheel of the leap van.  Phil fires off and we're on for the next 7-ish hours.  It doesn't take much time for the crew and riders to fall into a rhythm: transition, ride, leap, repeat.  With every switch we're learning and developing more efficient strategies for each pull and transition.  These guys are pros!  It was often a challenge for me to get ahead of the riders in a CAR because they'd be moving at such a speedy clip.  As the hours on the road increased, so did the fatigue.  But, motivation (and red bull) served as a perfect counter, and helped push everybody toward the finish.  That motivation ended up being a time saver too as the team finished two hours faster than the previous training event on the same course.
Xtreme 4 is gonna rock RAAM hard.  Not only are the riders in totally sweet shape (you should see their quads, and in some cases, calves) but they have a solid foundation in the crew supporting them.  Mariana and Dave are dominating in their roles and dedicated to the team's success.  I was just glad to be part of the fun for a day! 
The next time these guys see the roads they hammered across this past weekend, they'll be in the home stretch with Annapolis on the horizon... and maybe even a little ahead of schedule.

posted by Philip Schmidt :: May 20, 2008 :: 09:10 AM 
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One of our taglines is that the riders going to burn 250,000 calories during the race--that's back of the envelope math, but it's probably not too far off. We have a great sponsor in Infinit, which is providing us with more than enough of their customizable sports drinks to get us through the race without solid food if we wanted. But solid food is nice, and we are getting some great donations from other companies.

One of those is Kashi--where a friend of a friend is got the company to hook us up with about all the product that we can handle. It's great stuff and well-liked by crew and rider alike. It did come with a small warning; it's VERY fiber rich, and if you eat too much, uh, emergencies can happen. TMI? Perhaps, but actually a good thing to have in mind.

Also, a friend at ClifBAR sent us a large box of product including bars and shotblox that we're really looking forward to eating. I spent some time at their HQ in Berkeley, CA a couple weeks ago, and have to say that I was really impressed with their whole operation. Very green, very community-oriented, and very good to the employees. I'm looking forward to tearing through more than a few of those bars and the other products as I eat my way to 1/4 of the 250,000 calories...

24 hours of FUN
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 18, 2008 :: 07:53 AM 
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The training and planning - not to mention huge amounts of meeting time - has definitely being paying off in our race prep. Last night we made it to Annapolis on our second 24 hour training race simulation. We had a ton of fun and we executed our plan so much better that we actually saved almost two hours! Sure we rode a little faster but the big time savings came in our crew and rider rotations that are now becoming standard procedures. With most of our core group out there even a few very helpful one-day volunteers were able to step into our machine and not skip a beat.

The night riding was challenging with a ton of fog limiting our visibility to about 25 yards at times. But we came well prepared with lights mounted to our vehicles in order to see when we were getting ready and coming off. All the details started to fit and the dedication of our crew is second to none. It was a great feeling and having 4 engines all hammering away was a thrill. We rolled in to Annapolis in paceline formation well ahead of schedule and celebrated afterwards.

More details to follow- and I'm sure some videos too. Pix from Paul and Christal.

posted by Philip Schmidt :: May 15, 2008 :: 09:23 AM 
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This morning, Team Xtreme4 put out the following statement to friends, supporters and the media.

DC-based team gearing up to race across the U.S. to promote carbon-friendly transportation choices

Washington, DC - May 14, 2008 - During national Bike-to-Work Week, Team Xtreme4, a team of elite cyclists competing in the 2008 Race Across America (RAAM), called on DC residents, supporters and friends to give up their cars and bike to work. In June, Team Xtreme4 plans to cross the country in six days of non-stop cycling to inspire others to use alternative modes of transportation.  Supporters of Xtreme4 have already pledged to walk or ride almost 50,000 miles instead driving during the race week, reducing their carbon footprint by more than 24 tons. 

"Biking to work is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint," said rider Patrick Serfass, "and it really adds up.  In one week, our supporters are going to reduce their carbon consumption by more than the average American consumes in an entire year. Seeing this kind of impact inspires us to train harder in these last few weeks. At this point, we're ready to complete our two goals: win the race, and spread the word about carbon-friendly transportation alternatives. It's an exciting moment."

The Race Across America is an extreme multi-day, non-stop bike race from the West coast to the East coast.  Known as "The World's Toughest Bike Race!" this annual competition started in 1982, and has recently gained national prominence. The 2008 RAAM start line is in Oceanside, California; the finish line is over 3,000 miles away in Annapolis, Maryland.

"We have many people signed up to go carbon-neutral the week that we're racing, which was one of our original goals," said Philip Schmidt, also a rider. "Many have pledged to leave their cars at home for the week, and others have chosen to offset their carbon output through our carbon credit sponsor, NativeEnergy. It shows that when you're doing something crazy, and perhaps inspirational, you're able to motivate others to make a difference too. We're just thankful that so many people and companies have taken a look at what we're doing and signed on. We can't wait to race and make them all proud."

The team has done multiple race simulation events, including one that lasted a full 24 hours. Starting in West Virginia, they rode 350 hilly miles in 20 hours all the way to Annapolis following the actual course they'll be racing in June.


Team Xtreme4 is currently sponsored by:
· Carbon Management Council
· USAT Mid-Atlantic
· Native Energy
· Capitol Hill Bikes
· Fragers Hardware
· Infinit Nutrition
· Race Day Wheels
· Quozo Endurance Sport Coaching
· Spiuk|DPMSports.com 
· Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods
· Beljum Budder
· DC Triathlon Club
· Healing Hanz Alternative Therapy
· City Sports
· Results the Gym
· Kip Pierson Photography
· Ergomo
· Derma Hair Care: MediSpa
· SportsLegal Forms.com

Wanna Ride?
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 14, 2008 :: 08:30 AM 
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The plan was to meet up at Hains Point (our standard weekday ride) and get in some intervals. The kind were we could still breathe after a set. The translation to that is that we went too hard the day before. But the fitness we're all gaining is certainly a treat when you can put it to the test. Apparently even though I was "invited" by my teammates to come out this morning I was the only one to show up. Maybe that was the plan all along! It didn't matter- getting out on a crisp day to put in some miles was  refreshing.  I was pumped and jamming along until I looked up to see a long stretch of water... the point was flooded. I ended up doing horseshoe loops so I wouldn't have to ride through about two feet of water on the end.

Rider Communications
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 13, 2008 :: 08:13 AM 
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We went out this morning on our usual training ride around Hains Point- dodging all the debris from the flooding the last few days. It was like a video game trying to avoid the monster tree limbs and trash that was swept up by the river. The up side was the gate was closed off to traffic so we had the point to ourselves. We also tested out the rider radios from rider to rider but also back to the car - Kip was taking pictures while his brother was driving. That allowed us to really get a sense of how clear you could get directions from the chase car. Next up is to see what kind of distance they work at to possibly talk between support vehicles as well. One interesting aspect is that we could all be on the same channel and essentially have a discussion style communications on the fly. Just in the course of a half hour we got the feel of how they worked and felt like second nature. We'll get plenty of time to test it even further on our 24 hour race simulation this weekend.

Skyline Ride & RV Shopping
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 11, 2008 :: 09:42 AM 
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Andrea, Patrick and I, along with a bunch of other crazy triathletes, headed to Skyline to do an amazing 2 day 220 mile ride - none of which is flat. We were determined to go out and get some great riding in but as we showed up the mist of rain turned to sheets and kept falling steadily. No matter that we couldn't hardly see the other side of the parking lot-- we were still getting ready and after a long departure we tackled the climbs right from the beginning. The fog was thick. The climbs warmed us up. And the wet windy descents were bitter and chilling. Luckily those went quick and the climbs reheated our drive. After about 30 miles into the ride the organizer came up the road and told us the park police wanted us off the road. I was in disbelief. Now? The logistics of it were impossible to get 40+ riders into one SAG van with a few cars so we turned around and started to head back to our cars. On our return we began to see a few bikers zooming down a hill in the other direction. What was going? Long story short- we turned around again, were shuttled 20 miles to another meeting location, then waited all the while freezing in wet clothes without any biking to keep us warm. It was a mess. Patrick and I were done with waiting- and I suggested we head back to look for RVs (one of the critical items left on our list of to-dos before the race). So then we headed back to the car. Andrea was solid waiting out the storm and started back up the next day for the  full 100+ miles on the return trip.

We met up with Mariana and shopped the RV market while trying to get more info from a couple places. We ended up getting a great overview and then Patrick was able to follow up with our contact and secure a great deal for the team. So while the ride was a bust we felt good about getting another component of our plan nailed down.

Thank You!
posted by Paul Contino :: May 11, 2008 :: 08:22 AM 
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Yesterday Christal and I were out in front of Frager's on Capitol Hill promoting Xtreme4 and further raising the community's awareness of our efforts and asking them to pledge to find an alternate way to get around town the week we are racing RAAM. There was a lot of interest in both our cause and in the team itself - most people thought we were crazy, but that it was a very impressive endeavor as well. We feel the same!

We wanted to say THANK YOU both to Frager's and to the community in helping us get the word out. A few other of our Xtreme4 team will be out there again today, so stop on by and take the pledge to Go Green!

Weekend Rides
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 05, 2008 :: 07:13 AM 
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With a fair share of weekday riding we're also training about 8 hours or more (4+4) on the weekends and building in more and more hills as we get closer to the race. This past weekend we headed out into Maryland- one of our usual routes- and kept a good steady effort for most of the ride. Knowing you have two full days back to back means you can't leave yourself totally spent on day one- so there's some pacing involved although I think we all have a hard time "saving" any for the next day. But I was excited to see that coming back on the second day I felt stronger and energized- slowly raising our average speed throughout the ride and coming in at over 21 mph when we made it back into town (first day was 20mph+).

Racing and training are always a bit different. Right now we're doing some shorter more intense workouts during the week (1.5 hours at about 23mph) and then longer endurance rides on the weekend (4 hours at 20mph). This gives  a good mix of saddle time and speed work. How that translates to race week is that we'll be using our speed in 30 minute efforts, switching between two riders every half hour for about 5 hours. And obviously needing the long term endurance as our muscles go into multiple 5 hour sets every day for a week- non stop. Ideally we'd go into the race with a predetermined race pace that we can keep consistently without going too hard up front and then dying off. At the same time we'll be fighting for every minute to go as fast as we can within those limits.

Next up on the weekend training schedule - two 100+ mile days of wonderful Skyline Drive. Nothing about that ride is flat and pacing will be everything.

Logistix v17.3
posted by Eric Goetz :: May 02, 2008 :: 02:52 PM 
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I remember starting this journey about 16 months ago and a few people mentioned that the training would be the easy part. Training to race cross country in 6 days would be the easy part? You bet. I would try to explain the complexity of the logistix but I wouldn't even come close. The idea is simple- keep a group of 18 people moving at a steady 20+mph for a week. Everything else is the minutia that takes months to work out in order to have a solid plan- and then that's just the plan- the real deal has to be flexible beyond your imagination so you don't dig yourself into a hole. What do you mean the light bulb burnt out? Guess what- there ain't no Radio Shack in the middle of the desert (although one is coming soon I'm sure). Well, duct tape that flashlight to the rider.

To throw some insight into the workings of Plan A- there are 3 vehicles, all with drivers and navigators round the clock, rotations for all those people, transitions every 20-30 minutes for the riders with time zones and 54 time stations to clock in to, over 300 meals to coordinate and nutrition to fuel the engine (riders), 8 bikes, 20+ wheels, 50 spare tubes and boxes of parts, insurance, budgets, and a bunch of opinions. Then there's the little things like toothbrushes, laundry, petty cash, contact lenses, washing, GPS coordinates, a 200 page rule book with penalties to match, contracts and waivers, gear and promotions, media, dating (refer to date auction entry), and meeting on about every single aspect to keep everyone on track. Who's doing what? That's Plan A. Don't ask about Plan B.

No wonder the training is the easiest part- it's the part that requires the least amount of thought! I mean we all know how to ride a bike- so go ride. So with that in mind each weekend is filled with 150 miles of riding, and about 8 hours of mental rest! Even so it's an amazing opportunity and an exciting venture, with much more than even the well prepared thought would be involved.

Xtreme is not always Sexy
posted by Eric Goetz :: Apr 29, 2008 :: 08:07 AM 
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While we we think we have the sexiest crew doing RAAM the training is not always as exciting as you'd think. We're aiming to get in about 150 miles of hills and more rugged terrain every weekend from now until race week but our weekday workouts are not as interesting. We live on Capitol Hill and getting our hill workouts in before work can be challenging- Hains Point and other rides provide plenty of time trial and flat courses. So to mix it up at times, like this morning, we'll do hill repeats around the Capitol. That means going up the roughly 75 foot hill over and over and over again- actually over 25 times this morning. While it's not super exciting it's nearby, gets our heart rate up, and we get to pump through about 2,000 feet of climbing in an interval format ("on" going up and "off" going down). Sexy? Not all that much but it gets the job done.

Yeah...what they said!
posted by David Mills :: Apr 27, 2008 :: 05:04 PM 
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In some ways it felt like we had just left, I thought as we returned to Eric and Christal’s 26.5 hours after we had all assembled to start this excursion. Almost like playing a tape backwards, we unloaded the cars, putting all of the gear on the curb into piles and groups the same as we had done when loading the cars on Friday night. The difference was, all of the gear was now 300+ miles more worn and 26 hours more used, as was my body. In other ways it felt like too long to have not slept, or showered. I wasn’t overly tired having snatched a modicum of sleep and a better amount of “active rest”, a term I heard bandied about during the night. I did however feel as if I had done a good days work. I likened it to a long workday of digging ditches, without the blisters. The two days blended together and the difference between day and night was nearly indistinguishable as we slept during the day and drove at night, not exclusively but in rotation so as to get some of each. Our 4 hr. shifts, oscillated like a well oiled well-pump (well… maybe an old rusty one). Yet the pump kept pumping and with a little lubrication will be as efficient of a machine with well fitting parts as anyone could hope to assemble.

With this past 24hr training exercise we have again exposed some glitches in our plan and the execution of it. Some we were able to fix on the fly, others will require some rethinking and implementation of new procedures. This outing was particularly useful as we put together more sub-team rotations than in any other exercise and did so in as close to race simulation as we could. In the days leading up to our last 24hr training opportunity we will be gathering intel from all 4 of our trainers to package up a final game plan in hopes of refining our plan to perfection.

For the riders the trip was useful in giving them a preview of the actual course, straining their physical and emotional limits in a situation not previously attempted. It also provided a training opportunity that they perhaps could not have recreated outside of this type of exercise and this type of terrain. I’m told that the Appalachian portion of the course is more difficult than the Rockies because of its proximity to the end of the race and the inescapable, steep grades. This weekends exercise brings us yet another step closer to knowing how and what to expect during that 3008 mile x-country odyssey we call RAAM…stay tuned.

24hr training on the actual course - crew perspective
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Apr 27, 2008 :: 11:21 AM 
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As Eric and Phil said, what a great training simulation it was!  After our last 12hr exercise we knew were we needed to work and were better prepared to tackle the last 315 miles of the race course. 

Andrea and Phil started and took on the monster WV hills (= STEEP - see profile below) at night and then Eric and Patrick got to ride on the surreal, misty and foggy Cumberland, MD to Pennsylvania.  On the second shift, A + P had the beautiful scenic farmland in Pennsylvania and the historical Gettysburg while E + P had rolling Maryland towards their way to the ocean and the finishline in Annapolis.

From a crew perspective, it was great to see all the team work among the Team A sub-group and the mutual support within each single crew member and riders!  We functioned like a well oiled machine :-)  The chase vehicle were giving us (leapfrog car) live feedback to the riders on things they could improve and tweak as well as directions and things to look for, and MOTIVATION to the riders!  "Attack, Attack, Attack"... "Vamos TORITO!"... "Faster, faster, harder, harder".  The riders felt very safe and happy the way it worked.  On the leapfrog car front, driver and navigator dealt well with motivating the rider (to eat, rest, feed us with their aches and pains as well as moods during their shifts), navigating the race course, dealing with minor issues such as getting lost 2 times, communicating with chase car and resting van, among other things. 

Thanks Erica (Julie's friend) for volunteering her day/night to drive the resting van, it was great help!

Thanks everyone for amazing job, each of you contributed to a great training day!  Lots of lessons learned that will help us move forward and be more efficient come race week!

I'm pumped to tackle RAAM!  GO XTREME 4!!!

Here's a few shots of yesterday's adventure...

300+ mile Race Simultaion
posted by Eric Goetz :: Apr 27, 2008 :: 09:22 AM 
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As you can see on Phil's map we decided to simulate the last 315 miles or so of the actual race course. This would give us some insight into what we would be up against in the home stretch but also give a real view of how to follow race maps/directions and see what type of roads and conditions we would face. So even though it was a long ways out to the start it more than worth it.

Of course this was "just" training so the two cars and one MINI van were hardly the amount of space we'll get from 3 full size vans... and so it was a bit more challenging to sleep, organize our gear and move in and out easily. For a 24 hour exercise it was fine but having all those things in place will be critical race week. I took my first nap out on the road- literally. Sleeping on the pavement in a pull-off on the protected side of the minivan- even then the truckers hauling through was enough to keep me on edge wondering if I was going to be squirrel meat. But the rolling brook and starry cool night was enough to get me almost asleep between drive bys.

We learned a ton and now that we've had 4 training events we're really excited about putting all that to work on our last 24 hour race simulation in May. Everything from rider/chase car communications, food prep, sleep rotations, fuel and potty breaks, group a/x transitions, night rotations, rider logging,  navigation systems,  vehicle signs and lights, flat tire changes, toothbrush accessibility, riding with a helmet, and the list goes on. But having gone through these events we feel we have a great handle on what needs to happen next and what will allow us to have a smooth race. There's always going to be an X factor- our plan and equipment will need to be flexible but with a strong backbone to structure we should be able to handle those other items with ease.

We each pulled two group rotations (4-5 hours each) and split that up between two riders. When we were ON we would divide that 5 hour section into 20-30 minutes on/off between two riders. So it allowed us to keep our intensity up without totally wearing us into the ground. Actually, even though I was feeling it I was ready to keep going at the end. We also switched off more rapidly during the climbs and took longer pulls during the flatter sections. We even simulated the time stations and penalty station to go through all the motions. Nearing the end of the route the Saturday afternoon traffic going into Annapolis was a feat in itself, but the enthusiasm (even on a training event) to get to the finish line was a huge boost.

I could go on and on- it was a great experience and I think we all came together as a team to move ahead as quickly and safely as we could. I'm totally pumped about going out again and can't wait for race week.

24 hours of WV, MD, and PA
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Apr 25, 2008 :: 02:30 PM 
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We're gearing up for our first 24-hour training event. We'll be heading out to Grafton, WV tonight and riding the actual RAAM route all the way in to Annapolis. It's gonna be hilly. Should be doing four shifts total for about 20 hours of riding and 4 hours driving out there. It's gonna be tough. It's gonna be rough. It's gonna be a blast.

Here's the route, roughly:

View Larger Map

UPDATE: Part of the team finished up their portion of the 24 hours at 3 p.m. this afternoon. The others will be done in the early evening. The course was great--hilly and remote.  It's gonna be a great race and this is the last portion. We'll be digging deep to get through these hills of WV, Western MD, and Pennsylvania. Our plans for logistics worked out well. We were in the right place at the right time, well fed (not totally well-rested, but hey it's race simulation) and we felt safe riding at all times.

I'm going to sleep for about a day but want to leave you with the following thought: 40+ mph downhill in the dark. Xtreme. Nuff said.

Xtreme Happy Hour Date Auction
posted by Eric Goetz :: Apr 24, 2008 :: 06:39 AM 
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The much anticipated date auction was a huge success - the place was packed - and everyone had a great time with bids coming in from every corner. Christal and Patrick did a great job of auctioning off our single crew and riders all for a good cause while we even got some bidders from our own team! It was so successful in fact that we had more volunteers from the crowd being auctioned right there on the spot. Of course the entire team couldn't be more pleased with how much fun everyone had last night at the Hawk and Dove. Big thanks to Erica for organizing this smashing event and all the partners that provided tickets and dinners for the dates.

12 hour simulation, from a crew perspective
posted by Erica Price :: Apr 22, 2008 :: 10:59 AM 
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I have to admit, I was a little nervous about our 12-hour training session this past weekend. Our last night ride ended with a pretty scary crash, and I definitely had some reservations about trying again—for even longer this time, and with both crew and riders tired after working all day Friday. 

We all sat down earlier in the week to talk about our plan for the ride and—most importantly—how to be as safe as possible. There are some things, like 55mph wind gusts and herds of deer running out into the road (which Phil as the rider and Paul driving the chase car handled very well, by the way—even at 3am or whatever it was at that point) that we can’t control, either in practice or during RAAM. However, we as a team (and especially the crew) owe it to ourselves, and especially to the riders, to be as prepared as possible. 

So we headed out Friday night armed with “Caution-- Bike” signs, flashing lights, and some serious determination. While I don’t think anyone would call the simulation “flawless,” it definitely assuaged many of my fears. The riders all looked so great (watching Andrea climb a really tough ascent in the middle of the night was totally inspiring—especially since I’m still intimidated by Capitol Hill!) and despite minimal sleep, everyone was really upbeat and worked well together. I don’t know about other people, but the 12-hour simulation definitely gave me more confidence going into the 24-hour ride this coming weekend.
In other Xtreme news, we’re holding a fundraiser tomorrow (6-9pm) at Hawk ‘n Dove—happy hour plus a VERY exciting date auction. For those of you in DC, come join us for a celebratory cocktail, and the chance to bid on fun dates (baseball game, dinner, theater, etc) with Phil, Paul, Kip, Erik, Laurel, or me. We’re at about 50% of our fundraising goal for the race, which is fantastic (and wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of so many of you), but we still have a long way to go, so if you’ve been thinking about contributing but haven’t done so yet, this is a great opportunity to come support Xtreme4.

12 hours of hills and very little sleep
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Apr 22, 2008 :: 08:24 AM 
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With a few days under my belt to recover, the 12 hour training event/race simulation is looking better and better. As you've seen from previous posts, we drove out to Marshall, VA, and rode a series of shifts all through the night. When we were off we tried to sleep at a base camp we had set up in a parking lot there. Average number of hours of sleep was probably around two, so we were some tired folks when the event ended at 8 a.m. I'd say the way to describe our mood after the event was exhausted and excited.

Marshall is at the foot of the mountains, so all the riding we did was on hills. You were either going up one or coming down one. It took its toll on our legs by the end, but it was great training for RAAM. As we looked at the actual route in preparation for our next training event (24 hours) I realized that the way we will be coming through WV and western Maryland is gonna be pretty brutal. I did the bike portion of a triathlon called Savageman out there (actually one valley over from the RAAM route) last summer and those hills are steep and deep.

Anyway, back to the 12 hour training event. Each sub-team (Eric/Patrick and Andrea/Phil) did two shifts. Eric and Patrick led off, riding from approximately 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. covering around 60 miles. Then Andrea and I did the same route from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Then it was back to Patrick and Eric for round two and then back to me and Andrea.

We learned a lot--both riders and crew--that is going to help us refine our strategies and procedures. One thing became very clear to me--sleep is going to be PRECIOUS. Nutrition and communication will be vital too. These are things we knew, but this event really helped cement the idea.

Next up, a 24-hour race simulation on the actual course. Stay tuned...

12hr training ride
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Apr 20, 2008 :: 02:05 PM 
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Yesterday we had a solid 12hr exercise to train our riders' rotation, team transitions, crew positions among other things, in Marshall, VA (on the Mt Weather and Piedmont routes).  All went pretty smooth and it was great to see everyone excited and involved!  We learned a lot from the experience and realized a few things that need to change going into our 24hr simulation next weekend. More to come soon...

XTREME 4 coach takes the win in Ironman China!
posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Apr 20, 2008 :: 10:12 AM 
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Congrats to our coach, Olaf Sabatschus, for winning the inaugural Ironman China under extreme heat conditions (104F and humid) from what we heard on ironman.com!

He had the fastest run and bike of the day. At the beginning of the run he was 2 minutes behind the lead, but he was able to catch up to him and win 21mins ahead of the second place!


As he always says: train haird, rest harder and race hardest! We are very happy and proud of you! Way to go! Now Ironman Brazil is waiting for you in 5 weeks.

Guille 4 Green
posted by Paul Contino :: Apr 18, 2008 :: 08:19 AM 
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Good morning.  FINALLY the weather is taking a turn for the better!  Supposed to be in the 80s today - no kidding.  And just in time for our first 12 hour training ride tonight.  However, I'm not going to get into that at the moment.  This posting is more about a green "experience" I had yesterday with a friend of mine.

Our friend Guillermo had me stop by his office for lunch yesterday.  He's all gung-ho green!  It's great.  He is totally supportive of our endeavors, and has committed himself to being as green as possible.  He rides to work on a bike every day and takes public transportation or bikes when he travels around town for anything else.  He makes sure to turn off his office lights when he goes out (and confessed to turning off anyone else's office lights if they are not in their office when he passes by - so watch out!).  As of Sunday he "doesn't eat meat" which, if you are aware of how much of an environmental impact eating one hamburger makes, it's pretty crazy (the impact of what it takes to make one hamburger, not not eating meat).  He was telling me how he is purchasing 98% corn-made biodegradable bags to carry his groceries etc. in.  His office cafeteria serves food on real plates and dishes and offers metal utensils.  The carry-away boxes are biodegradable.  Soup containers are made of recycled material.  There are separate trash and recycle bins.  Recently he has been reading up on other cultures and practices (i.e. Buddhism, yoga, etc...) and has integrated the environmental preservation aspects of these into his daily life.  As a result, he personally feels good about himself - both because of his efforts of making as minimal of a detrimental impact on the environment as possible, as well as the physiological well-being his body is receiving.

It's great to hear from people about the impact that they are making as a consequence of Xtreme4's efforts to race across the country promoting awareness of what little things we individuals can do to make a big difference overall.

Thanks Guille, and thanks to all those that have and will continue to make an effort to "Go Green"!

Ironman Arizona
posted by Eric Goetz :: Apr 14, 2008 :: 08:50 AM 
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Ironman Arizona was down right brutal. The heat and windy bike course made for a much longer day than most had anticipated. Andrea, Mariana and myself took part in this sufferfest along with over 2000 others on the hottest day of the  year.  Thanks to all the wonderful friends that cheered me on from afar and let me tell you it made a huge difference getting all your well wishes and encouragement. Never before have I contemplated dropping out of a race, until Sunday. It took me only two miles on the run (or about one and a half) to reconsider and question my options, and think about my long term plans for RAAM. And I did that every mile until mile 21. It was a TOUGH day. Suffice to say I had issues I never thought I would have-- and then some. But everyone did. I didn't talk to a single person that didn't get beat up on the course and even come close to their goal. In the midst of all that I did reach into my vault of support from you all to keep on going.

More to come in my race report... including changing 808 flats in the desert, passing pros on the walk, and how sun burn can hurt more than cramps. I promise not to make you wait months for this one. I need to write this one up and get it out of my system.

Is that thing an airplane?
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Apr 11, 2008 :: 09:14 AM 
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With help from our sponsor dpmsports.com and its owner Ed Uribe, I pieced together a new all carbon fiber TT bike. It's a Dolan Aria, which is handbuilt by an English framebuilder with a sterling reputation. They say the Aria TT is "the ultimate time trial machine" with "12k weave monocoque carbon frame with horizontal dropouts for optimum aero rear wheel positioning and an Alpina integrated headset." 

As the frame sat there in my house, while I waited for parts to come in, I got more and more excited about it. It looked super sleek. Finally all the parts, components and random assorted crap came in.

 Lee from Capitol Hill Bikes (and xtreme4's trusty mechanic) put it together over the past couple weeks in his spare time. The weather was not great so after taking delivery, I rode it a little on the trainer early this week and it felt great there. But who cares what it felt like stationary! I needed to get out on the open road.

Thursday morning my chance came. I rode down to Hain's Point with the regular DCTriClub gang and let her rip.

HOLY CRAP. It's like riding a motorcycle (with pedals). Another rider came by and said "that thing looks like an airplane." It feels like it. What a great bike. This is going to be my primary bike for RAAM and I'm really pleased with how it came out. See the attached picture for a view of the steed.

Finally, a HUGE THANKS to sponsor dpmsports.com and Ed Uribe. This is a sweet sweet bike and all the credit is due to him.

Pecha Kucha
posted by Paul Contino :: Apr 04, 2008 :: 09:24 AM 
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n. Pecha Kucha - "chit chat" in Japanese.

Last night Dave, Jen, Erica, Andrea, Laurel, and I attended a DC Pecha Kucha event that centered around the "green" movement.  The presenters were all environmentally friendly and sustainable organizations and groups.  In fact, the space that we had the event in - Lofts 11 - is one of the few completely environmentally designed living spaces in Washington, DC.  A very appropriate location.

Upon entering the Lofts we signed in and were directed to the 8th floor where the presentations were to be held.  There were two living spaces that housed the presenters and attendees.  Each had unique environmentally conscious characterstics such as cabinets made of wheatboard and bamboo, countertops made from recycled glass, and tinted windows to reduce heat in summer, as some basic examples.  We mingled, discussed the building with the architects, met the coordinators of the event - ita-design, and finally moved into the presentation area where they had some nice fruit and cheese plates and wine and a DJ going until the presentations started.

It ended up that we were to present last, which turned out to be a good thing.  We followed Honi's presentation of her company Derma Hair Care - she is so aware of how to incorporate "green" into every aspect of her company, from the products that she promotes and uses, to the energy that allows her business to run, to the print materials for all brochures she has.  Pretty amazing.

And then came Xtreme4's presentation, which, of course, was by far the most intriguing.  The Real Hey Dave and I (mostly Dave) worked on composing the video itself while Erica and Jen presented to the audience.  It started with a captivating intro with intense music and Xtreme4 scrolling across the page to catch everyone's interest.  Erica and Jen had the timing down perfectly with the images that were on the screen and really kept everyone engaged.  Dave said he heard some great comments about how hardcore and crazy we were - but in a good way!  People were very interested - and that's good! - because we are racing for a good cause, and it was appreciated by everyone there last night.

All in all we were happy with our presentation and glad we had the opportunity to meet more green-minded individuals.  We are definitely even more psyched about the race and our cause just from the excitement that other people outside of Xtreme4 exuded last night!

P.S.  The video will be up soon!

Back on the horse
posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Apr 03, 2008 :: 07:23 AM 
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It's been a while since the last time I checked in.  This coming Saturday will be 4 weeks after my accident and I'm finally feeling like my old self again! 

I've been training at full mode now (with 2 workouts a day) and feeling stronger by the day.  The first week back was slow, I was taking it easy and listening to my body.  Mostly doing 1 day ON and 1 day OFF on the bike, just for 1h30 each time and mostly at aerobic base.  This past week I started running and swimming as well and cycling every day (1h30-2h).  My body still gets pretty sore from running (all the pounding) and from swimming (stretching my back) but I know it's a question of patience.  I've been feeling great on the bike!  Still haven't ridden outdoors, and I'm looking forward to getting to sunny Arizona this coming Saturday and riding A LOT in the 80s weather!  The cold/wet/windy weather in DC hasn't motivated me to go outside, so I've been on my trainer the past 2 weeks.

I've been seeing Raquel every week after the accident and she has been helping me a great deal with my recovery!  She is amazing and has MAGIC hands!

Olaf has also helped me stay sane and positive.  He is such an encouranging person/coach, always knows what to say to make you feel good and see the positive/best side of things.

I'm still going to play by ear with Ironman Arizona.  It's been a very bumpy 2+months with the bike accidents, but I'm going to see how I feel this week and I might just do it for fun and celebrate that I'm healthy and can exercise again (not for any PRs).

Really looking forward to seeing our Xtreme 4 rider, Eric, kick butt in IMAZ as well as Mariana.  And also catching up with friends from Portugal and Boulder that are coming to do the race and cheer, Sedi, Helder, Hugo, Sergio and Joni (our sherpa)!  It will be A LOT OF FUN!!!

More updates to come from sunny Arizona!


PS: Thanks for all your good wishes, emails and calls, I really appreciated it!

Hains Point Ride
posted by Paul Contino :: Apr 01, 2008 :: 08:01 PM 
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First time in a while that I actually rode outside.  I couldn't help it what with it being 70 degrees!  Phil desperately wanted to get a ride in - nice and light just spin out everything left in his muscles from the weekend marathon (congrats Phil!).  Was great to see him strong at the finish.  Pam also qualified for Boston!  What an amazing weekend.

Back to today - a few of us headed down to HP to ride around a bit.  It was pretty windy, but the temperature was great.  There was a lot of traffic cause of the cherry blossoms being in full bloom.  It was nice to have the scenery but you had to be very aware of all of the vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  Still, just good to get out and stretch those riding legs.  Hopefully many more days like this to come - soon!

posted by Philip Schmidt :: Apr 01, 2008 :: 12:10 PM 
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All of us on the xtreme4 team are triathletes--meaning besides our bike training we're running and swimming too. The cross-training is very valuable-and keeps us sane.

I've been wanting to do a marathon for quite some time, and decided to do one this spring. On Saturday, with many xtreme4 teammates cheering me on, I ran the National Marathon here in DC. I had a sense that I could probably shoot for a sub-3:10 time (and thereby qualify for next year's Boston Marathon). So I wrote the splits that I would need for that on my arm and hoped for the best. The morning was perfect--cool and overcast, but not too cold. I felt good and had to hold myself back for the first few miles (didn't want to blow out the legs too early). Along I trotted, snapping off miles in the high 6 minute range--on track for my goal.

Fast forward a few hours and I was realizing that I was ahead of a 3:10 marathon. Ahead of a 3:05. I was ahead of a 3:00 hour marathon. I kept feeling great through mile 24.5--and then hit a series of hills. I suffered some cramping in the calves for the last couple miles through these hills, but had some company for the last mile--Paul rode alongside me on his bike.

Final time: 2:58:17!

All I can say is that Olaf's program WORKS. The intensive base training and cross training has built my aerobic capacity up significantly. And I'm going to Boston next year!

Meetings and the chill
posted by Paul Contino :: Mar 25, 2008 :: 07:05 AM 
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It's still cold outside!  30 degrees this AM!?  Spring technically arrived last week.  The trees are starting to bud.  And we're all ready to be riding outside consistently.  Fortunately it looks as though after today it will be in the mid to upper sixties through the rest of this week.

Last night we had a meeting with the largest majority of our team members to date - including Raquel and Lee.  It was good to see them there and have them active in our discussion.  We spoke mainly about fund-raising opportunities and the next training event - 12 hours overnight the weekend of April 19th - where everyone that was present last night can commit to!  That was good to hear and having such a large majority of crew members there supporting the riders will definitely aid in our preparation for the real thing down the road.

Putting in the Training Time
posted by Eric Goetz :: Mar 24, 2008 :: 09:08 AM 
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With 3 weeks to go until Ironman Arizona training is in high gear with a big mix of swim, bike and run. And even the shorter workouts (1.5 hours) are packed with higher intensity work. 40 minute intervals on the bike that push you mentally and physically. I could really feel the fatigue by the time Thursday rolled around when I had to push out a 16+ mile run. But somehow by yesterday- after having been cranking the pedals almost every day this week- I felt stronger. I could have been a dozen different things like nutrition, bike fit, not drinking, more sleep, etc but whatever it was it came at the right time! The next two weeks aren't that much easier- in fact my runs will get longer as will my bike rides.

Looking ahead I plan to pull way back on my running. Essentially taking some good time off between IM Arizona and three weeks later racing St Croix IM 70.3. That will officially be my last hard run from then through RAAM. So after IM Arizona my focus will be solidly on biking. While right now I'm at about 200 miles a week on the bike, that should easily go up to 300 miles a week. Plus we have a few exciting 12 and 24 hour training sessions to throw into the mix. That also means I'll be spending more time on hills (on my road bike) to build strength - probably about 50/50 between road and TT bikes. Whereas lately, since about a week ago, as I get ready to race Arizona I've been spending close to all my time on the TT bike.

A little help from the Sun
posted by Andrew Serfass :: Mar 16, 2008 :: 08:36 PM 
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So on top of all of the cool things we're doing to get ready for this race, like doing the training rides and talking to some amazing people about the race, I get to do some of my favorite things.  I'm looking into outfitting the chase vehicles with the communication and other electronics we need for the race.  And one of the things I am excited about are the flexible solar panels that were recently donated to the team.  The vehicles have a number of added electronics that will need to be powered off of the car battery and the electricity produced from the car alternator decreases the efficiency of the engine by about 5-10 horsepower.  These solar panels should be able to produce up to 64 Watts of power which will help to keep the batteries charged.  We will probably put one solar pannel on each of the two lead vehicles, although we could put more panels on the vehicles if more were donated (in the pictures we have both panels on one car).  I think it is so cool that we can incorporate the solar panels on the vehicles and use some readily available green energy and I'm excited to continue to gather everything we need for the vehicles.

Channel WUSA 9 News
posted by Eric Goetz :: Mar 16, 2008 :: 06:10 AM 
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Yesterday we were interviewed by Channel 9 for a spot that will air about our team, our goals, and some details about RAAM. They also caught us in action as we rolled around Hains Point on our home turf- the place we log in the most miles during the week. We had a good time but it also re-energized me about getting the word out about what we're doing. The way they asked us questions about the race and using alternate modes of transportation really showed me that we have a lot of work to do. Most people still don't have a sense of what carbon neutral is or what it means. And those that do, we need to do a better job of reaching out to them. So our push to get more of the public to understand what our free pledge is about and how easy it is needs to be promoted more. And explained more. It's only a week- and as we always say, if we can race across 3000+ miles in a week maybe those 5 miles to work won't seem that far. But it extends beyond that week- that's just an example of what we can do together. Imagine then, if everyone did that just one day a week for the entire year. That's a 20% reduction in carbon output! What about two days a week? 40%!! Ideally that's the goal I'd like to see us reach- show those who pledge and the people they interact with that if it's that easy for a week what it could mean to integrate that into their everyday life.

Ready to Ride
posted by Paul Contino :: Mar 15, 2008 :: 08:42 AM 
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I visited with Andrea yesterday.  Her spirits are high and all she wants to do is to get back on the bike.  Mariana's been taking good care of her.  More than anything she's in a good bit of physical pain, but once she's all healed up she'll be out there on the road again.  There's no holding that girl back!

Today will be her first day back on the trainer and she's psyched to just get back on a bike.  The other riders are glad that the weather is getting more tolerable.  Mid 50s is definitely a step up from mid 30s - it's nice to be outside riding again.

We have a little downtime before our next training session, which will allow us all to focus more on general race strategy, communicating with other teams in RAAM, fund-raising, and overall preparation for June.  It's just around the corner.

New Time Trial Bike
posted by Eric Goetz :: Mar 14, 2008 :: 11:29 AM 
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Over the past two months I've been anxious to get my new bike in order to spend as much time as I could on it before Ironman Arizona which is just 4 weeks away. Today, thanks to some help from Denise at Capitol Hill Bikes, it came in and I went in to the shop to get fit. The set up on this bike is quite different from my road bike so the more time I can get on it to get accustomed in that riding position the better. At this point I'm looking at spending at least 5 or 6 days a week on the bike- even if some of those days are not "quality" workouts but rather more time in the aero position. That way when I get to Arizona and I have my 112 mile bike segment it'll be easier for my body to stay relaxed. But Arizona is just the first step- the obvious goal is RAAM and being in the aero position over the 3000+ miles will convert to a ton of saved energy and a faster pace.

Night Training
posted by Eric Goetz :: Mar 09, 2008 :: 07:36 AM 
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Last night we headed out for our first night training exercise with full crew support. We split up into our two sub groups as we did on the previous 6 hour daytime training event. That allows for both sub groups to get in a good amount of rotations and then share our experiences - what worked well and what needed improvements, etc. We met up at my house to go over the basic route and logistics. After getting our game plan we drove out to the far side of town so we'd have some clear roads to ride on without having to deal with Saturday evening traffic in the heart of Georgetown. The plan was to do a short three hour ride - six half hour segments, which means only three half hour pulls for each rider. But without knowing what we would be dealing with this was about understanding what's involved in transition and logistics- not really a physical training event.

We started out at dusk and by the time the first pull was done the sun had completely set. I started on the second pull and to my surprise the temps had already dipped quickly and the wind was blowing hard. It's one thing to drive and be protected from the elements, it's another to get out into the gusty dark cold and try to warm up right on the spot. Patrick came up to us and I was off. The adrenaline was pumping and I was glad to be ON. My heart rate kicked in and cold vanished quickly even though I was in shorts without a jacket. My power meter was all black- that was probably the biggest difference for me - not having all my info (power, HR, speed, cadence, grade) all at a glance. Rather I had to turn the light on and then only had the info for 30 seconds as it shuts off automatically. Other than that it was all pretty standard. I was happy to see that the lights from the chase car was more than enough light- that was my biggest concern going into the night exercise. And after the first 15 minutes I settled in and started thinking about pacing. I had a hilly section on River Road into the wind. It was slow going as the head wind slowed us on both up and down hills.

For the second pull I turned the corner on the route and got a vicious side wind. But I was pumped and without a direct head wind seeing my mph rise was enough to give me some enthusiasm. Then soon after I turned another corner and I had a dominate tail wind- although it was swirling around. That's when I found that my power meter totally went blank! No stats, no nothing. The best I could figure is that it literally froze! But with a transition someplace up the road there was no question that I needed to just keep pushing.

As I was being "leap-frogged" ahead for my last pull we saw the other group of riders (Phil and Andrea) on the side of the road. The odd thing was that we saw both bikes- so who's riding? I got a sinking feeling right away and asked the crew to call the other group. The response was short and chilling- Andrea has crashed. We were in disbelief and a flurry of concern consumed us. The next half hour was filled with bits of information, a zillion cell calls, and going into emergency mode- getting to the hospital. As soon as I saw her I gave her a big hug and was happy to see that the fire in her was pumping- a relief to know that she was fine. Scraped up sure- but standing tough and determined. I could see that clearly in her tone and gaze.

6 Hour Training Ride
posted by David Mills :: Mar 03, 2008 :: 08:41 AM 
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TeamXtreme split up into two training groups for a 6 hr simulation exercise Sunday. We focused this first whole team excercise on rider exchanges. We followed the  Total200 route down to the Patuxent River and turned back just before hitting the Governer Thomas bridge.  TeamX was able to amass 96.5 miles in 4:30 minutes of riding (avg. 21.44). Eric and Patrick rode hard for their 25 minute pulls. The Jump car was successful at retrieving the off-going rider and shuttling them forward for another exchange. The riders practiced a bottle exchange with the Chase car semi-successfully. Don’t look for footage on the VeloChannels Perfect Practices year end roundup… more like America’s Funniest. We have a better understanding of what kind of info would be important to log regarding route, mileage, performance and nutrition. (Patrick insisted on giving me Pee by Pee updates. “…number oned twice before we started, once at xchange 2, should’ve again at last xchange and am hurtin now because of it”) paraphrased.

Overall the two cars that went out with Eric and Patrick (TeamX) worked well together and communicated well. The exercise pointed out some shortcomings and highlighted some things we hadn’t previously considered that we will be sorting out for the next team ride.

xtreme equipment
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Mar 03, 2008 :: 08:18 AM 
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Before our training event, I drove up to NJ to see one of our sponsors, DPMSports about a few aero helmets, some glasses and a new bike frame for me. I got a full carbon TT frame and will be building it out over the next few weeks. It looks sweeeeeet even just sitting there on my living room floor.

Some of us threw on the helmets and glasses for the training event on Sunday and I have to say, we looked pretty awesome. But seriously, the glasses felt great on and didn't fog up or anything--and the helmets, well, they felt pretty damn sweet too. The wind noise is much reduced with the helmets on, which I assume is due to the aerodynamics.

6h simulation ride
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Mar 02, 2008 :: 08:30 PM 
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Today we had our first training ride, riders and crew members to simulate race conditions and test riders' rotations and rolling transition. The day started out bright and early at 7am at Christal & Eric's and then we headed out to the Total 200 course to ride: 2 chase cars, 2 leapfrog cars, 4 riders and 11 crew members.  We split into the sub-groups and started practicing! Everything went pretty smooth and it was great training to find out what works and what needs tweaking... crew members's roles, navigating, race rules, riders' rotation & transition, nutrition, etc.  Exciting stuff! We can't wait for June 11th... it will be a BLAST! More to come...

Healing Hanz advantage
posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 29, 2008 :: 11:13 AM 
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I went in for another tune up - a total body massage and re-alignment -at Healing Hanz with Raquel. After a week of biking in California and some very stressed out legs I was in dire need of getting back on track. I can't say enough about their services and expertise- it's a HUGE difference for our team to get this type of attention. If you're looking for excellent quality care for your body definitely check them out here.

posted by David Mills :: Feb 28, 2008 :: 12:50 PM 
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The crew team is starting to take shape. Crew member responsibilities are being defined and several crew members are emerging as leaders to fill key positions. Last night I proposed an A-B team theory, which seems to be a good basis from which to start despite having a few bugs to work out. In preparation for this weekends whole team training session, the first of four such scheduled events, we divided the crew into two teams and started assigning responsibilities for each team, car and person.  We have a good basic plan in place and will put it to the test with a two team 6 hr simulation ride this Sunday. The two teams will compare notes to see what changes and  if any need to be made and how to make improvements. The crew is the machine that will carry this team to success. The riders are the motor for that machine. Neither would operate without the other. The riders could not do this without a massive support effort. Yet, there is no reason to do this without the riders. With that in mind each person will play an important part in the greater success of the whole team. Race week will be upon us before we know it and we have a lot of work left to do. Everyone seems eager to jump in and get this train’a rollin’.

Confidence Rising
posted by Kip Pierson :: Feb 26, 2008 :: 10:30 PM 
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Thanks go to David and Mariana for a fantastic and most productive Crew meeting.  Though several hours long, it was the first time I felt the team really come together as a unit and begin to conquer this race.  Up until now our meetings have left me with an overwhelming wave of anxiety stemming from a lack of knowledge about the logistical side of the race, but tonight preparedness by all members calmed those waters into a serene and peaceful lake of hope.  Without a doubt, our transitions and individual responsibilities as crew members will be more infused and enlightened by everyone's efforts to be prepared for tonight's meeting.  Good show everyone!

More Forward Thinking Ideas
posted by Julie Serfass :: Feb 26, 2008 :: 03:20 PM 
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Found this article in the Boston Globe this week. It's about various ideas and theories on giving individuals more accountability about their carbon usage through individual carbon credits.  Europe seems to be lending the ideas more credibility, but the author does discuss which of them would work best in the U.S. Check it out.

Xtreme Spinning at Results
posted by Patrick Serfass :: Feb 26, 2008 :: 12:25 AM 
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Hats off to Rob Falk, Results Gym and 30 of our newest supporters! For the second Sunday in a row, Rob led an intrepid group of almost 20 cyclists in a 3-hour endurance cycling session at Results' new downtown location as a fund-raiser for the team. Adrianne and I attended yesterday's workout and Rob dished out a healthy dose of tough love, but it was mixed with a lot of encouragement, coaching and several entertaining elements that really made the time fly by. (You could tell he had done this a few times before.) Two of his favorites: song opposites (for example, Mama Mia followed by Papa Don't Preach--you had to guess the second song) and the Know-your-classmates-name-or-everyone-does-a-sprint game (probably not the official name). You rock, Scott and Zina and Bill and Allison and Mike and Art and Richard and... This was my first time attending one of Rob's classes, but you could tell most of the other cyclists in the room were regulars and I could understand why--a great time and a solid workout. And it sure beat a few hours of Coach Troy or freezing outside! Thanks to Results for letting us use their newest spinning room, complete with the Keiser spinning bikes that give you cadence, heart rate, distance and power outputs! And thanks to the 30 cyclists who have each helped us get $677 closer to our fund-raising goal! Interested in attending an Xtreme Spinning class coming up? Email me at Patrick(at)xtreme4(dot)com and well put you on the list! (Suggested donation $20 for Results members and $25 for non-members.) (Photo quality intentionally poor to protect the identities of the sweat-drenched bikers. Well that or it's just a bad photo. I tried. Enjoy!)

posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 23, 2008 :: 05:53 PM 
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With a sun rise today we had lots to look forward to. Plenty of climbs and some sunny spots too. What more could you ask for. Before the ride I got a bacon, egg, cheese and tomato croissant- the largest one I've ever seen! It was the size of a small pizza. Good fuel for a long day. Then we were off, with hills right from the first half mile. The first cat 4 climb came after about 20 miles of warm ups and before we hit the top there was already another 5k sign for the next cat 4! Then I caught the simple green team- about 50 riders going mach 3. How I caught them I'm not sure because once I was on we flew down this valley. It was crazy fast and that only accelerated when we saw the 5k to the sprint sign. Consider that at least half these guys wanted to be in front, that the roads were more or less closed, and it was slightly downhill. Patrick would have been in heaven. We jammed through and then they pulled off for a pit stop. That left about 10 tag alongs primarily an Amgen team. I w as pumped and pulled them for a good ten minutes- seeing how they couldn't pull up and take a turn. But I was happy and fortunate to be able to push on at about 270 watts. They were all appreciative and we caught their other half of the team and pulled them along. Now we took some turns. After that it slowed up and I began to see why- the looming cat 3 with 20+ percent grades! Nice. The fans were out in force- it was madness. It was awesome. I held up and did part of the climb again to meet up with Christal for the remainder of the ride. We did another 2 climbs and waited at the top of the last for the tour to pass. They flew by and rolled over the ridge at about 15mph. We followed them down (way out of sight and behind about 300 support vehicles) to our final stop for the day. A solid 80 miles and God knows how many feet of climbing. Great ride. Tomorrow is totally in question because of the apocaliptic weather foeecast- 100 percent chance of rain and 25-30mph winds with gusts up to 45mph. Even the race organizers are debating what to do. We'll see. Special thanks again to Capitol Hill Bikes. Their generosity got me riding on a bike this week! The saddle has been an adjustment but overall I feel strong and ready to maintain my climbing skillz. Today I actually felt less fatigue than before and my body is really adjusting as well as eating a ton more. For example on the "easier" climbs I keep ramping up and finish strong at a steady 350 watts. Anyway, more stats later but it feels good to ride.

posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 22, 2008 :: 05:00 PM 
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Today was a break in weather and miles. The tour rode the 15 mile time trial so we took it slow and headed out for a group ride along the route and then an added 15 miles (total 30). So we went out half way on the route which was a slight incline all the way, like 1-2 percent grade, then went out into the hills for our added milage. And on our return we follow the second half of the route back into town. It was a great perspective on what the pros had to deal with: road surface, grades, weather, cross winds, etc. Back in town we watched them come back at lighting fast speeds. We watched Levi start and just over 30 minutes later obliterate the standings by almost a minute faster than #2! Pretty cool. The whole town was on fire with tons of enthusiastic fans. We're gearing up for a tough day of climbing tomorrow.

posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 21, 2008 :: 08:50 PM 
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13.7 mph average to be proud of. It's not often that a pro race averages only 17 mph on one of the expected fastest days of the race. But today was nothing usual.  With a constant rain and a mouth full of wind at 20mph with gusts well into the 30's mph it was enough to challenge any rider. Various pros dropped out of the tour before they even hit the feed zone. The route is used to getting a nice tail wind down the coast, but today it was 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Our expected 90 mile day was cut short - to 45 miles or so. At one point I registered 13 mph DOWNhill while pushing 230 watts. Various gusts completely stopped me and one actually drove me into the side of the mountain. But there were no complaints- something about it made me enjoy the cycling more than ever and I could have kept going all day. Why I'm not sure- it was miserable and it only seemed to get worse. And with a few days of hard riding behind us I thought my legs would have been dead to the world. Yet after warming up the challenge was fun, the couple KOM's (King of the Mountain climbs) came relatively easily- and they were comparatively to the day before. And the coast was amazing, zig-zagging up and around and back down and into the mountain.

There are no pictures. Not from me. It would have looked completely gray with fog rolling in from the ocean. Rain drops all over the lens and no way to show the howling winds whipping across the landscape- well maybe by the white caps and surf spraying and drifting like jet streams to the north.  But it was awesome nonetheless.  Grasping on to the handle bars while crossing huge expanses on open bridges with an expectation to drift a few feet one way or another at any point in time-- it was a thrill. It was nerve racking too.

Live Green
posted by Paul Contino :: Feb 21, 2008 :: 09:52 AM 
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Last night myself, Phil, and Andy stopped into Urbana to meet with a recently established organization called Live Green.  Our friend Honi from Derma Hair Care brought the event to our attention and mentioned it would be a good way to meet more environmentally conscious-minded individuals and organizations in the DC area.

There was a good showing at the happy hour, which offered some good organic wine in a good atmosphere.  Phil, Andy, and I split up to meet with as many people as we could to mainly spread the word about Xtreme4 and what we are about.  We were received very enthusiastically by most as just about everyone we talked to could not fathom riding across country, much less riding 24 hours a day, and completing RAAM in just under 7 days - and all for a good cause and increasing the awareness of how individuals can make an impact on the environment.

We walked away from the event having met people of similar minds for preserving the environment, a better grasp on how organizations in the DC area can help us out, and what we can do for them as well.

posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 20, 2008 :: 04:45 PM 
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Climb, climb, climb... That's pretty much all we did today. We started out with a slow grade for about 20 miles- probably 3 percent average. Amazing valley pastures with hardly any cars and plenty of cows. The sun was out and it was a stark contrast to yesterday. We were happy to be riding and knew we had some work in front of us. All done we got in about 9000 ft of ups- three cat 4's, a beyond category (hardest climg of the tour) and a final cat 1. We skipped the first official 15 miles that were completely flat and the last 15 or 20 which were also flat. That was brutally apparent by our 14.4 mph avg. Not to be confused with taking it easy we worked hard all day. Even the 20 mile descent was slowed by the continuous switch backs. We cruised all day with very short stops and made it to the last climb at the top to watch the race fly by. It was good to see they were looking pretty beat up too! To give you an idea of the beyond category climb: about 6 miles of up at standard grades of 9- 15 percent. I'd say it was an average of about 12 percent or more. And the cat 1 was only 5k- 3.1 miles- but longer steeper sections. Without getting technical, it amounts to a ton of climbing at RPMs in the 50's because that's all you have left! It was awesome to see the race, experience the same climbs you see the pros struggle with, and finish the day standing. Tomorrow we head to the coast around Big Sur. Should be a bunch of smaller jabbing climbs all day.

posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 19, 2008 :: 03:00 PM 
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Wet cold and cranking. The threat of rain was realized only a mile into the ride. It started out light and by the time we got "warmed up" it was steady and the temp was in the 40's. This when I wished I had some gloves. Right- I didn't pack any because we were going to be in sunny California. No complaints- I knew we'd warm up on the cat 2 climb- and indeed it got warm. We huffed up those 3 miles at a competitive pace. I mean it wasn't like we were chatting it up. By then we wre ready to ride. But the swift descent froze me to the core and then we had a pit stop at the bottom which only made me colder. I was shivering and wanting the ride to be done for the day. We pushed on and got caught by the peloton at the feed zone. We took some detours through amazing canyons to get farther along the route and watch the race pass. I must have forgotten how cold I was by the time we hit the cat 4 because I sprinted over the top and was cruising down the other side. Cold sure, but loving it. We worked in small groups of 4 on the final flats pushing all the juice we had left in our legs. Ironically the pick up spot came faster than expected. Still a solid 75 miles.

When we stopped the air was warmer and the rain had stopped. We ate pizza and cleaned our bikes as we all regrouped. Tomorrow is yet an even harder day- we'll find out about that tonight.

Not Cali, but close
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Feb 19, 2008 :: 08:39 AM 
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Yesterday we had unseasonably warm weather here in DC -- 70 degrees and sunny with a light breeze. Glorious stuff. I went for a nice long ride, changing the normal route and heading out into Northern Virginia. (Normal route is often a ride from the Hill to Poolesville, MD.) It was great to have a change of scenery and terrain, and though there were a lot of people to avoid, I was able to hammer through some sections at 26-28 mph.

I also rode the TT bike, which I have been avoiding for a while (tight hips/glutes make the agressively forward position less comfy than a regular road geometry). Felt great--really speedy along the flats.

I did 50 or so miles with Laurel and Joe, and then did a few extra laps down at Hains Point to get the mileage up. 

After all this cold-weather riding it was really great to get a reminder of how fun it is to ride. No cold fingers or toes, no frozen water bottles. What a day! I can't wait for spring and consistent weather like this. It'll be hard to get me off the bike.

posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 18, 2008 :: 07:05 PM 
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Wow- it's already prooved to be a great trip. The first full day of riding for us was about 75 miles with a fair share of climbing, 3 sprints, and a king of the mountains challenge. All totaled up we had about 6500 feet of climbing and lots of rollers all day long that took their toll on the entire group. We started out at about mile 8 of the course and began on the first climb - a quick to warm up. Then we followed the coast north from the bay area to Bodega Bay and that's when we went into the cat 3  1000 foot climb- an awesome surge up the mountains right on the coast. With the crowds lining up all along the climb it was like we were in the race. They yelled out and rang the cow bells as we huffed an impressive 6mph up the steep one lane road. It was pretty awesome. The downhill wasn't as much of downhill as I would have expected- more like twisting rollers that took us into our stop for the day - some small town called Occidental. That's when we got to see the race fly by. It was a spectacle and we were ready to get into our hotel and fuel up with some solid food.

Tomorrow's route has a couple sprints, a cat 4 and cat 2*. We'll end up with about 85 miles and who knows how many feet of climbing- but another fair share. We're heading through Napa Valley although I'm not sure we'll have time to enjoy the wine. I'm scheduled to do a transition run after the ride- about 5 or 6 miles. We'll have to see how the day goes.

* "Cat" - refer to 'categories' of the climbs (the degree of difficulty).
** I wish the photos were better to do this amazing landscape justice- but better quality photos will after the week. Right now I'm just shooting from my phone to get the updates posted ASAP.

CALI TOUR: Prologue
posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 17, 2008 :: 10:27 PM 
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Today was a watch and get ready day. Went for a run this morning, built up the bikes and went for quick test spin just to make sure we were all set. Then loaded up the truck will all the bikes and gear. After that we were playing the tour(ist) and getting our fill of high end bikes and pros all around. It was fun but we were all itching to ride. It was impressive to see the speeds at which some of these guys were going. Very cool. Had our share of expo shopping and gawking. Then headed to our new home for the night so we can get on track early in the morning. About 70 intense miles tomorrow- abeit cautiously, so we can keep jamming all week. Can't wait to ride! We got some serious Cali climbs tomorrow- the coast is just amazing. One more shout out to Capitol Hill Bikes for getting me ride while my frame is being replaced so I didn't have to miss this week.

Day 2 from the Southwest
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Feb 17, 2008 :: 06:21 PM 
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Another great day here in Las Cruces!  We slept like 10hs (some of us more than others), had a nice breakfast, set up our bikes and off we were to the Transmountain ride (check it out here: www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-states/nm/las-cruces/388787148).  The weather was nice and a little less windy than yesterday (but still pretty windy for what we are used in the Northeast).  The first section of the ride is pretty flat for almost 40 miles and then you start climbing steadly for 9+ miles (very nice climb that reminded me of the Ironman Canada course) and do a loop back towards route 28 with some false flats.  The wind coming back kept testing our mental toughness... we kept telling ourselves "this is good training for IM Arizona and RAAM, so just suck it up princess!".  Andrea and I got separated from Jacqui at the beginning, so by the time we got to the hotel we figured she would be back already.  As it turned out, Jacqui got lost and ended up riding 6+hs! Ouch. 

We can't wait to hear the stories from the Tour of California!  And how the weekend of the rest of riders/crew in DC is going.

Safe riding!

Day 1 HTFU training camp
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Feb 16, 2008 :: 07:22 PM 
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We are finally here in Las Cruces, NM after all day traveling yesterday and a few bumps along the way... Can you believe it actually snowed here last night?!  Yup.  It was colder than DC... Talk about escaping the bad weather... we were in the middle of a bad storm coming through.  Today it was warmer, mostly 50s and the rest of the week is back to high 60s - low 70s... Our day started with a trip to the bike shop to get extra tubes, CO2, etc and then we headed to the pool for a nice 4,400m swim at the NMSU outdoor pool.  We even got a tan :-)  Then we grabbed some lunch and headed out for our easy 2hr ride... it turned out to be a toughie with 37mph gusts and it felt like we were going to fly out of our bikes!  Jacqui, our friend/training partner/pro triathlete mentioned that it was Kona like winds... guess good training for IMAZ and RAAM!

Tomorrow, we have 100 miles (Transmountain Anthony gap century double climb) and a 40 min run off the bike = FUN!

More to come...

Heading to the Tour of California
posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 16, 2008 :: 01:07 PM 
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After many long hours getting work projects finished and wraped up this week we're finally off to California. Up at 4am on a Sat. The last few days have been jammed packed with only 3-5 hours of sleep per night-- almost like training for sleepless RAAM rotations! But hopefully we'll get some rest and relaxation while we're there even though we're planning to ride 7 days straight making our way down from San Francisco to LA. I mean even if you're riding some serious climbs and trying to keep yourself from getting swallowed by the pro peleton, riding along the pacific coast has a certain calming feeling. Capitol Hill Bikes has really stepped up for us and gave me a loaner bike while my broken frame is being replaced. This has been critical stay on a consistent traning regimen as well as being set up for this week long tour. I was eager - well still am - to get my frame and setup just right but this option has been a real life saver. Lee even installed my power meter yesterday which will be great to gauge my workouts with. So all in all it should be a good week- with only some minor work distractions. I'll try to keep you posted from the road.

We're totally Carbon Neutral
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Feb 12, 2008 :: 05:08 PM 
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In addition to their partnership on our carbon-neutral pledge for our supporters, NativeEnergy has just donated the full offset for our team to be completely carbon-neutral for the race week.

With 14 people flying from the East Coast to the West, and 4 vehicles driving them all back across (one vehicle will go round trip), it's a bunch of carbon we would have emitted. Now we'll be neutral. This is the central theme of our team's effort; it's not that hard to be carbon-neutral in your transportation choices.

To give you a sense of how easy it is, let me tell you how long it took me to arrive at the total for all that milage. I went to NativeEnergy's site, plugged in the destinations, vehicles/flights, and multipled. It was done in about 2.5 minutes.

OUR TOTAL OFFSET: 25 tons of carbon will not go into the atmosphere as a result of Team Xtreme4 doing RAAM. Thank you NativeEnergy.

Productive weekend
posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Feb 11, 2008 :: 12:47 PM 
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This past Saturday we had a good logistics meeting with the riders and crew members.  The crew chiefs started mulling over what options we have as far as vans, riders, etc, and it was great to go more in depth in the logistics part of the race, as we've been focusing quite a bit on fundraising and training on the past months.  We've got several donations in the past weeks and are finalizing a possible sponsorship. More to come! 

We have decided on 2 tentatives groups for the race, Eric and Patrick as one and Phil and I as the other.  We are brainstorming on cool names for each group... Eric had suggested some names (some cannot be posted here!) such as Jack & Daniel, Rum & Coke (and of course he would be in the Rum team), and others along these lines.  So if anyone out there has a good suggestion for a cool inspiring name send it to us!
After our logistics meeting, we went to Results Gym in Farragut North to do our 3hr spin with Patrick being our personal coach Troy!  What a great facility! It was an awesome workout, and Eric definitely won the puddle contest.  Check out his face after the workout...

Lasting Impact
posted by Paul Contino :: Feb 08, 2008 :: 09:21 AM 
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I had a discussion with Eric yesterday about the main theme of our environmental endeavours versus the RAAM race itself.  It came down that there are two main things that we are striving for: one selfish and one self-less.  The selfish is the actual racing aspect of RAAM.  We're out there as riders and crew as one team to push ourselves to the limits to come out on top.  The self-less is the raising awareness of how individuals can make an immediate and direct impact on the environment by utilizing an alternate means of transportation - walking, taking a bus, carpooling, biking, riding a subway.  And beyond...

I spoke with my mom today, and an alternate means of transportation just is not available to her.  However, we took a look at other immediate options.  Her electric company offers the option of, for an extra $8/month, acquiring electricity from wind power (zero carbon emission) versus traditional oil/coal burning.  Choosing that option and "investing" a couple of extra $$ we calculated reduces her carbon footprint by over 3 TONS a year!

Going back to the alternative means of transport versus driving yourself - Eric brought up the point that if you gave up driving just yourself for 2 days a week out of 5, that is a reduction in pollution by 40%!  3 days = 60%!  That's huge.  You get the point.

Something else that came up was that we want the awareness to peak during RAAM race week, but to create a lasting impact beyond just that single week in June.  $8/month on an electricity bill saves more than 3 tons of pollution from being pushed into the environment a year.  Finding an alternate means of transportation every week, if only a day or two, reduces your carbon footprint by a minimum of 20%.  Let's make it a lasting impact.

On another note, if you have an extra 20 minutes to spare (or need a means of procrastinating at work) check this out: www.storyofstuff.com.

Group meeting
posted by Mariana Pargana :: Feb 06, 2008 :: 06:08 PM 
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Yesterday we had another group meeting with all the riders and most of the crew members.  It's so exciting to see this group growing together and so much energy in the air!  The good news is that we have a potential big sponsor coming aboard very soon!  More news to come.

Saturday we will do our first technical/logistical meeting before our long ride.  Should be good practice with the crew to go over logistical issues and start going over in more detail about plan A, plan B, etc.

Training is coming along well and the weather has been merciful with us this week, balmy days with temps in the 60s.  Can't complain!  In 10 days, Eric, Christal and a few other friends are heading to California to do an epic training camp on the Tour de California course, and Andrea and I are heading to Las Cruces, NM to get in some good miles in the desert (and altitude)... we can't wait!

Photoshoot Results
posted by Eric Goetz :: Feb 05, 2008 :: 08:18 AM 
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With a hectic training schedule and working on the logistics for the race there's not a lot of down time. The entire team is stretching themselves to get everything in order and now I really know what veterans of RAAM meant when they said that the training, once you're out on your bike and riding, is the easiest part of the preparations. That really is the fun part too- getting in a fast 80 mile ride on a Saturday or just squeezing in 90 minutes during lunch on a warm winter day. We still managed to get together this past Sunday for a few hours for a photo shoot. Yep, I said "hours". Well worth it though, since we have various  publications that want to feature our team and our story in the next month. Here are just a few takes from our session.

Xtreme Weekend
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Feb 04, 2008 :: 09:48 AM 
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We had a great training ride this weekend. (Andrea was still out from the wreck in Puerto Rico, but she's on the mend physically and rarin' to go. I'm sure our Torito will be charging up the hills again really soon).

The ride -- from Capitol Hill to Poolesville and back -- was in a word a total hammerfest. Factors? Well, Patrick seems to have increased his strength exponentially down in Puerto Rico, and Eric was off the powermeter on his (sweet) loaner bike. Weather was cool but not cold. Other than that I guess we were all just feeling pretty good.

I was happy to be in such fast company, pushing each other and just generally eating up the miles. We all had a 2 mile brick run after the ride scheduled, which felt to me like running on a pair of leaden legs, but that sort of cross training really helps aerobic conditioning and prepping for triathlons (don't forget that we're all signed up for multiple long triathlons this year, some sooner than others).

The lead legs seemed to evaporate for me the next morning as I P.R.ed at a DCTriclub 10K. Eric was movin pretty fast too. The moral of this story? We seem to be getting stronger and fitter--and quicker than I would have thought.  

Sunday: xtreme4 photoshoot. Details on that to follow.

posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Feb 01, 2008 :: 10:19 AM 
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Lucky... that's how I feel after coming out alive from Puerto Rico's trip and 3 day cycling tour!  What an adventure/experience... Here's a report...

Our first day of the tour, 155 miles, was great.  Most of us stuck with the peloton, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and felt pretty strong.   On the second day of the tour, we decided to go with the faster group and with 5 miles to go, I had a pretty nasty crash... While riding on a paceline on a flat stretch at 24mph, I hit a BIG DEEP hole shadowed by a big tree(2ft by 4ft and 1ft deep) and went flying over my aerobars to the other side of the street (apparently 6 other riders too). I fell head/face first and my helmet saved my life. My whole right side of the body got road rash and bruises. miraculously, I don't remember a thing... I was unconscious/out of it for a few minutes. Eric, was talking to me and asking things and I didn't know where I was and who were the people with me. I was asking "Where's Mariana?". Eric kept talking to me and little by little I came back to reality. I was taken to the ER for 7hrs and all xrays and the CT scan came out negative. I guess my bones are pretty tough! I was extremely lucky to have not broken anything and still be ALIVE. My titanium frame cracked, front racing wheel (zipp 404), my helmet and glasses broke... but those are only material things.

While in the hospital my main concern was how I was going to bike the last day, 135 miles since my front wheel was damaged and my bike too... Patrick and a few other riders found a spare bike from a lady, Babby, who was nice enough to lend me her "baby" so I could finish the ride.  That one of many ways Puerto Ricans hospitality came through on this trip... the doctors were amazing as well (they told me if all the medical exams were negative, they would come along and change my bandages and keep an eye on me on the last day if I decided to ride). So, yes, I went on to finish the tour all banged up fueled by adrenaline and pure stubborness! I was calling Mariana every so often and keeping her updated because she really didn't want me to ride after a concussion, but there was nothing she could do to convince me otherwise. Right after the ride was over that's when all the pain/bruises started to sink in and I started getting emotional (people were telling me how the accident happened and how scary it was...) and extremely tired. I felt very frustrated, useless and overwhelmed... just wanted to get home.

Now I'm sound and safe at home and healing fast. We ordered a new frame and my wounds look much better. Initially, my face looked like a basketball and everyone thought I had broken my cheek bone, but I guess I'm made of something stronger than my bike, better than titanium :)
Here's a few photos from the accident...

I can't wait to be back on my torito!  And be able to swim and run as well...

Special thanks to my teammates: to Eric for being with me the whole time since the accident and 7+hrs in the ER always so cool, making jokes and keeping me calm.  To Patrick, for being always positive and asking around for a bike for the last day. To Paul, for being my sherpa when I was hurting and getting me all the supplies for my wounds, and for putting up with me when I was down after the finish.

Safe riding!

Back to the Real World
posted by Paul Contino :: Feb 01, 2008 :: 09:18 AM 
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We've been back for a couple of days now after the ride in Puerto Rico.  Kip and Andrea are doing very well and anxious to get out riding again.  Though the weather in DC is chilly compared to what a few of us were lucky to experience a couple of days ago, we've planned a good group ride for tomorrow morning to keep the momentum flowing.

It was a really great experience all around down in Puerto Rico.  A great group of people from DC, perfect weather, amazing hospitality, a friendly group of riders from all over the world, and really nice scenery made the trip quite an experience.  It's something that I am definitely hooked on and glad that I decided to go down there for.  Our team riders Patrick, Andrea, and Eric looked really strong and confident on all three days and were leading the entire group of riders down there - pretty impressive!  Kip was right there with them.  Tim, Christal, and I took everything in a more leisurely pace.  We all had a really great time on and off of the bikes and look forward to future rides together to gear up for RAAM in June!

PR: Day 3
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 28, 2008 :: 08:25 AM 
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We made into San Juan last night around 5pm- the entire team in tact - and we were happy to be back. It was a long third day- longer than expected with almost 150 miles. Part of the extra milage was because I doubled back a couple times, then we hit a detour and then we were on our own and made some bad turns. But what counts was making into the old city of San Juan with the sun still in the sky- albeit low. It started out with an early 6am roll-out headed to the first pit stop- Rincon lighthouse as a group. Then I continued with the fast group to lunch. The hills and the climbs were more than I had remembered and I felt a bit guilty having told most of the team it was a flat day. I'm sure in a couple weeks my memory will diminish the larger climbs back to hills.. which at times reached 14 percent grade. The other challenge is the constant trade winds blowing in your face as you go east. It was a good mental challenge. All in all we had a great time and we have many more stories to tell about our epic training weekend. So very proud of our team. And I think I hit about 400 miles in 3 days- some lightning fast and others at a steady push. More to come..

Change of planz, report
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jan 26, 2008 :: 07:18 PM 
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I got nothing like the war stories coming out of P.R. -- but I'm very glad to hear that everyone is alright down there. Two crashes with minimal (sorta) injuries is what I call bad and good luck. I had some of that mix myself today. Got up to a frosty morning in Charlottesville (wild night at Applebees the night before--me and all the, uh, hefty folks in that neck of the woods, just gobblin down the calories). The temp was a balmy 24 when I woke up at 6:30, so I decided to lay in bed a little while longer. Rolled out around 8, with full water bottles and a Clif Protein bar under my belt. I wanted to get some miles in and then stop for a real breakfast.

The ride from Charlottesville to Culpeper is NOT FLAT. I would get up to the top of one hill and see another, or another 15 ahead of me. Luckily the legs were feeling good, and the temp was about 28, which was a little more tolerable. The hills went on for the 45 miles into Culpeper, where I stopped for "breakfast," again at the aptly named Frost Cafe.

While I was eating, I IMed with Laurel, who told me that Sunday was not gonna be any warmer, and that in fact there were predictions of snow. I decided on the spot to throw in the towel (so to speak) and ride the 75 miles back to DC, to avoid another freezing morning and especially one with SNOW.

A couple hours later I rolled into Manassas, and had a nice latte, and another clif bar. By this time it was around 2 p.m., and I had eaten two clif bars, a breakfast and some gu. This proved to be a mistake, as I was bonking pretty hard coming into DC. Lesson learned.

One other little mishap: I missed a turn and ended up on Rt. 50 for much of the way from Fairfax into the city. I had been riding on 4 lane highways, but this was a divided 6-laner. Combo that with some bad shoulders, bonking, and the beginning of dusk, and it was a dangerous situation.

I made it, however, and jumped in an epsom salt bath, which was just what I needed.Final milage: 119. Temp at roll in: 35. Brrr. 

I figure I'll run with the DCTri gang tomorrow and spend a little (2 hours??) on the trainer, to get the lead out.

Epic weekend for Phil? Well, 236 miles, solo, in sub-35 (and sub-30) degrees, with a backpack? Yeah, I'd call that epic enough to qualify as xtreme.

Change of planz (route)
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jan 26, 2008 :: 07:17 PM 
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Day two route: Charlottesville, VA back to DC
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More for Day 2
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 26, 2008 :: 04:45 PM 
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We took a fast ride in the ambulance to central hospital (some where near our hotel) and got in a waiting line at the Emergency Room. Apparently it wasn't serious enough to get bumped in line- by the looks of it we were last which in some ways is a blessing. We've been hanging out cracking jokes for a couple hours. She's intent on riding tomorrow. We'll need to get her another wheel. Her front rim was totally ruined- cracked in half. At this point we're waiting for a CAT scan and get her wounds cleaned up.. After that then hopefully back to the hotel and get some food. Andrea is anxious to get a solid meal and get cleaned up. I think the hours of waiting has us wondering if we should have come but better to be safe. Her mood is up and we'll be among friends soon. Paul brought us some good vibes and some clothes. More to follow.

PR: Day 2
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 26, 2008 :: 03:06 PM 
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Just a quick recap on our "short" day - almost a century. It started out as one peleton of about 200 riders to the first pit stop, breakfast. We cycled thru the plaintain fields and some small rollers as we made our way to wendys for french toast stix and tater tots. Breakfast of champions. As we rolled out from that pit we split up into a hammer group that took off on a wild ride. We cruised up long inclines at 20+ mph and set a pretty strong tempo... Until I was grabbed by my jersey and told to slow down. Oh, I thought this was the fast group. I guess someones feathers were ruffled. So we took it easy under his direction for a while until Patrick kicked up a few notches and everyone followed. We made the lunch pit in no time at all. And a large frosty later we were back on the road looking to at the pool and hotel by 1pm. We were crusing. We got to about 5 miles from the end and BAP BAP BaP BAP... Some HUGE hole in the road wrecked some people behind me. We had no idea since it was in shadow. I rolled back to the scene of riders all over the road and saw Andrea on the ground. I rushed over and have been by her side since. She is fine- well more than fine. Her main concern is riding tomorrow! BRAVA. We're taking all the preacautions and getting her checked out but we're looking forward to a good meal and getting to the pool! More details to follow.

Riding in Puerto Rico: Day 1
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 25, 2008 :: 09:41 PM 
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It was a long day, starting at 5am and pedaling over 150 miles from San Juan to Ponce. We got up, got ready, and then had to get to the ride start with all our gear- which proved to be our first challenge. That minor set back got us rolling as the very last people in the peleton- we just couldn't get to the start line in time. Then we rode and rode and kept on riding. There were pit stops about every 25 miles and plenty of pot holes to keep your mind sharp. It was a great day with temps never really getting too hot and some showers off and on. After the second pit a few of us decided to pick up the pace and drive ahead on our own. That also meant it was up to us to navigate- and about 45 minutes later we "caught" up with the peleton- only we thought they would have been behind us! What's a few a extra miles right? I ended up with about 160 for the day. The scare of the day was on a huge screaming descent when Kip hit a small rock that took him into on coming traffic on a blind curve- at about 40mph. That quickly turned hellish when a car was right in front of him. He went wide and caught the guard rail with his chest and arm. According to him the HR monitor strap saved some precious skin. Nevertheless he got a nice gash in his arm- requiring stitches at the next pit. Other than that it was a ton of miles stretching around beaches and cliffs of the island. Starting on the northern coast, circling around the east end and cruising half way across the southern coast. The last 40 miles dragged on and luckily were quite flat. Tomorrow we start early- hoping to ride our pace for a short century. You don't say that everyday! Looking to update on the road... But ran out of batteries and sunlight today.

Epic Weekend (North) -- Day One
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jan 25, 2008 :: 04:38 PM 
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I got up this morning and lay in bed for a little while dreading hearing the temperature. After a couple minutes, my fears were realized: 22 degrees with a light breeze. Yikes! I ate and hit the road, passing a time/temp sign at 7:23 when it was 23 degrees.

It was freezing. I wore wool baselayer, long sleeve heavy jersey and a wind proof shell, windproof fleece hat, long tights, full booties and toe covers (and light wool socks).

I cruised out through arlington, on washington blvd till fairfax. I had to stop at a starbucks there for 20 minutes to dethaw. By then my water bottles were frozen.

Next stop was somewhere past manassas, in other words, past the exurbs. It was fairly hairy riding till then--lotta traffic and with my pack on, turning my head to look back was a little difficult.

The countryside was pretty, and the hills picked up. For the rest of the ride it was constant hills. By just before lunch I was bonking pretty hard, despite eating more than enoguh. In retospect it was my frozen water bottle situation and the need to expend extra calories to stay warm. A gu and a mouthful of wwhat litttle water I could defrost and I was ok to make it to lunch.

Took a long lunch in Culpeper at a great cheap cafe appropriately named the "Frost Cafe." Drank a lot of water. Warm, full, and hydrated, I rolled out. 45 miles to go.

Those turned out to be hiillier still. Difficult stuff. But the temps were up and I was cranking. I rolled into Charlottesville in late afternoon. Found a hotel, took a long bath and chilled out (warmly). Final mileage: 116. Temp in Charlotteville upon arrival: 34 degrees. Pretty xtreme ride. Hope the other folks are enjoying P. R. I'm jealous, but feel good about my ride. Tomorrow: 85ish. Miles, not degrees!

My route for tomorrow
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jan 24, 2008 :: 11:20 AM 
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DC to Charlottesville, VA
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While they're in Puerto Rico...
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jan 23, 2008 :: 03:48 PM 
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I couldn't swing the trip to Puerto Rico with the rest of the team, so I'm doing a little epic weekend of my own (in much colder climes). The plan is to head out on Friday for Charlottesville, VA, which is about 112 miles from here. Provided I don't freeze, I'll spend the night down there, ride up along the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains on Saturday--and stay somewhere 60-80 miles up the road. Sunday I'll ride back home from wherever I find myself. I should get it 250-275 miles, which is not quite as epic as the Puerto Rico trip, but hey, the cold has to count for a little bit more suffering, right? I'll email in blog postings too. Stay tuned.

Email into Blog
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 23, 2008 :: 01:05 AM 
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Looking forward to our epic training weekend in Puerto Rico- 380 or so miles in 3 days. We'll be emailing into the blog so make sure to check it out. Pix and all. More once we get there.

Pledge is LIVE
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 23, 2008 :: 12:52 AM 
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We've been working hard to get the Pledge section of our site up and running - and now it's finally up. Our hope is to make a huge impact by asking everyone to pledge a carbon neutral week while we race, June 11-18. And if you need to purchase carbon credits, no problem, we partnered with Native Energy to make that an easy option. Check it out on our "Take the PLEDGE" link. ΓΌ

27 Hour Trainer Ride
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 21, 2008 :: 12:10 PM 
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Nine of us rode 3 hours each this past Saturday to the tune of Coach Troy's Tough Love DVD for a combined total of 27 hours and and a bunch of virtual miles. While it was nasty cold outside it was a totally different story jammed into Chad's house where the fogged up windows was a slight indication of the heat we were pouring out. We went through plenty of liquids and had to mop us the floor afterwards. I think I even heard a couple people suggest to do an extra hour.

Tough Love
posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Jan 20, 2008 :: 05:48 PM 
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This past weekend we had some frigid temps and had to do indoor riding instead of our usual Saturday long ride.  We packed up our friend's Chad & Kirsten house with 9 trainers and lots of water bottles, towels and sweat... it was a great Coach Troy session... "Tough Love" indeed.  Hopefuly we won't have to do too many of those anytime soon!  Looking forward to Puerto Rico and some nice weather riding coming up next Thursday!  Whoohoo!! Happy riding! PS: Here's a few shots of our sweat session...

Friday Ride in the Melting Snow
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 18, 2008 :: 05:21 PM 
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Paul and I took off mid day to join forces with Route1Velo down at Hains Point. Mile sprints before a long ride always seems like a great idea when your legs are fresh- oh wait, they're still tired from last nights trainer ride. Anyway, we pushed out some serious watts for a few laps and then headed out into unchartered roads in Rockville. We collected some grime wheeling around as the snow kept melting. It was messy but well worth the outdoor miles as the weekend shapes up to be cold cold cold! Great 3.5 hour ride to get you all juiced up for more training.

Trainer Training
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 15, 2008 :: 04:53 PM 
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It's not pretty - but it's necessary. The trainer time is spent between boxes in my back porch while I cruise TV stations and listen to something loud. The upside is that I'm surrounded by windows where I can see either the nasty weather and blistering cold from inside- while having the fan on so I don't sweat to death. The downside is that the enjoyment of biking is quickly lost in trying to hold X watts for X amount of time. Sure we have intervals and training session DVDs to help us get through the tough miles but one way or another it's just not the same as being outside. With about 250 miles of bike training this week on the schedule and the weather not cooperating much of my time will be indoors. We're actually planning a 4 hour group "trainer ride" on Saturday- more on that later.

Riding with the Team
posted by Paul Contino :: Jan 13, 2008 :: 10:21 PM 
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This past weekend was the first time in a while that I have been out for a good ride.  It was a bit cold, but the sky was a clear blue with only a light wind and lots of positive attitude.  Eric, Andrea, and Patrick were able to head out for the ride this Saturday (Mariana was able to make it out as well).  Though it's been a while since I have put in a good amount of mileage, it was great to be out with three of them - even if I was just doing my best to hang onto their wheel (I was making sure if anything happened I'd be at the back to take care of them, of course, in preparation for my role during the race).  They all rode really strong and were happy to be able to ride together and continue creating a strong biking base and conditioning for RAAM.  I am looking forward to crewing for the three of them and Phil come this June!

Bike Love
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 11, 2008 :: 01:18 PM 
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It was long overdue- some much needed bike love to get my ride back in top shape. Lee (our resident mechanic) hooked me up after my mid day ride yesterday to go over my bike and give it a full tune up. He switched out my cassette and chain since they had way too many miles on them - the chain was stretched beyond 100% (should be changed at 50-70%). Exactly what the percentage means I don't know- but it wasn't good. And he even got into my wheel bearings and re-greased them and made sure to eliminate that nasty squealing noise. Something about old dried up seal rings that likely had expired a few thousand miles ago. I put on some new tires just the other day so it should be running a lot smoother next time we go out- scheduled for our long Saturday ride tomorrow. Thanks Lee. Can't wait to try it out on the road!

Xtreme mileage
posted by Philip Schmidt :: Jan 10, 2008 :: 12:18 PM 
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Recently the Xtreme4 gang has been laying down the hammer. And not just on the bike. I'm pretty amazed at some of the training that's been going on -- both riders and crew.

We've been tracking our mileage for a USAT club challenge in which clubs compete to see who can rack up the most mileage. Check out some of these stats for December (which was focused on swimming):

Name Swim Bike Run Total
Laurel Brown 23.1 391.5 53.45 468.05
Paul Contino 30 49 5 84
Eric Goetz 10.22 334.6 63.6 408.42
Mariana Pargana 62.01 450 171.5 683.51
Kip Pierson 27.69 849 38 914.69
Philip Schmidt 26.68 362.15 58.04 446.87
Patrick Serfass 4 165 56 225
Andrea Vasquez 29.6 612 74.3 715.9

Keep in mind that these totals included a week off for most -- holidays and all.

Getting Personal
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 10, 2008 :: 10:01 AM 
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So what's YOUR weakness? "You better be able to point out and talk to your teammates about their weaknesses." And from there we got more personal and dove into a range of issues that touched on nutrition, habits, stretching and core exercises, drinking, comfort level, bonking, priorities and a bunch more. It was awesome. Raquel at Healing Hanz was our therapist and we embraced it full heartedly.

It was great to have someone else lead us into this type of discussion and not have it come from one of us- that allowed us to open up more and not concentrate on the agenda- rather just follow her lead. She's an incredible therapist and we're lucky to have her on board for our physical well being, but also because she's pumped up about this opportunity and giving us so much more than we'd ever expect. I even got up this morning to do my core exercises- something that has been routinely skipped many times before. Hearing the importance of it and then being reinvigorated about our team dedication - it's not just a personal goal, but a team goal. That was a great push- mentally. We're on our way.

Full Week
posted by Eric Goetz :: Jan 07, 2008 :: 08:15 AM 
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The training is on full speed - and last week I bumped up my bike and run milage. The runs every day really took their toll and even by Friday I had that heavy leg feeling which I knew meant the weekend would be tough. By the time the group Saturday ride came along I was really feeling it. We had an awesome turnout for a 30 degree start- about 28 of our DC Tri Club friends came out for a huge ride. It was awesome to get that type of support and enthusiasm in the middle of winter. And even though I was dragging, we rode an aggressive 80 miles and plenty of climbs. Somehow it warmed up by the time we came back! I limped back home having pushed all I could- still surging for spurts all the way to the end.

I took Sunday off, well, kinda. I regulated the day to house work and less exciting things but was still on my feet most of the day. Does that count for a day off? Doesn't feel like it. Figured a semi day off would be better to hit up for another full week of training - starting a with a bike and run today. My current training schedule pushes me for a couple weeks with a lighter third week, then repeat. It's more complex than that- adding in speed and endurance work as well as focusing on certain disciplines on a given week. The great news is that the temperature has kicked up to 60.

Epic New Year
posted by Andrea Vasquez :: Jan 02, 2008 :: 09:02 AM 
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Last Sunday of 2007 a bunch of us decided to do an epic swim, some with 100x100yds and some 100x50yds.  I was excited to do my first 5,000yds in the pool and surprised that I felt quite good :)  So then I decided that I also wanted an epic bike start of the year and that on January 1st I was going to do 100miles or more no matter how good or bad the weather was.  After a good night of partying, very sore arms from all the swimming, lack of sleep and feeling very dehydrated, I still had my mindset on at least a century to start the year in an extreme way!  I went for an outdoors very windy ride at 1pm, ~40miles with Chad, Kirsten, Joe and Mariana.  Then got home showered, had some food, and Mariana and I set out to Kip's place to for a 3hr coach Troy Tough Love spinerval session!  Oh yeah, baby, I was feeling the love by the end of that workout!  Coach Troy says that those 3hrs in the trainer are like 4+hrs outdoors, so I was very happy to start the year on my torito feeling strong!  My legs were almost shaking by the end of it... Then I got home ate and slept like a baby.  Kudos to Kip for also doing a kick butt very hilly cross country 10K race yesterday morning and then joining us for the 3hr trainer ride! He is definitely ready for our Puerto Rico 3 day-375 miles Lighthouse cycling Tour at the end of the month.  Looking forward to a great 2008 and loads of cycling to get us ready for RAAM!  Happy New Year!


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