The job is done! Since I last blogged we have endured probably the hardest stages of the whole race. Friday dawned with the mountains ahead of us before we could get to the coast. We swapped the pairings round with Karl and myself working as the lead out team taking us through the foothills. A hot (95 degrees)4 hours later we handed over to Adam and Dan who went through the first mountain stages.
We took over for the middle section of the Appalachians late afternoon and handed back to Adam and Dan for the final push. This took us out of the mountains, leaving 130 miles to Annapolis. At last the distance to ride was digestible and mentally we prepared ourselves for the last few hours. The mental effort to stay focused was harder than at any other stage in the race. It still made for some memorable riding.
I will never forget the atmospheric riding through Gettysberg, with a mist only allowing glimpses of the cannons and battlefields beyond and the sight of the sun rising as we descended onto the coastal plain on our approach to Annapolis. Maryland is a rich, picture box state in real contrast to the wildness of West Virginia and it was wealth and lush scenery that took us on the final 50 miles to the finish. Karl and myself had handed over to Dan and Adam at this stage. We had finished our last big pull.
The sense of achievement was palpable, as we realised at last that we would be posting a decent performance. The biggest pressure we all placed on ourselves was the need to perform for others; the riders, the crew, your family, friends, colleagues, bascally you don't want to let people down. The relief of meeting expectation leaads to a real sense of happiness at a job well done.
The victory parade took us into the centre of Annapolis where we were surprised to learn we had finished 3rd in the open 4 man category ( you have to strip out the recumbents). Surprised but mightily honoured.
Saturday was a great day as it dawned on us what the team had delivered. We were stronger and closer as a team at the end, we have forged friendships that will last, friendships that are built on mutual trust and respect.
The crew of Glyn, Chris, Ritchie, Nolly, Anna, Hugo, Andrew and our crew chief, Marco were absolutely magnificent as they drove, navigated, shopped, washed, massaged,mechaniced,planned and plotted their way across America.
We were a totally rookie crew, but this element of innocence was probably to our advantage. We prepared professionally and executed clinically. All the parts of the whole came together and the process delivered us to the finish. The scale of the race is still washing over me two days after the finish, with flashbacks of different points happening as the mind pulls together what the body has been through. Physically and mentally we are all in good shape, weight loss being the only real visible sign of the race. In America, that is easy to fix.
At the race banquet we were awarded the best performance for a single club award, just to cap a memorable day.
.Team Sharp4Prostate are four self-confessed middle aged men – Paul Molyneux, Karl Chandler, Dan Broom and Adam Denton – who tackled this year’s 3000-mile Race Across America (RAAM) in a bid to raise £100,000 for The Prostate Cancer Charity.
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