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Race Across America (RAAM) 2008 4 Person Team

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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!

"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.  

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 
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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!


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