Editor’s Note: Tim Case finished the Race Across America on Friday. This is a solo bike race that had him cross the United States in less than 12 days. He left Oceanside, Calif., June 8 and reached the Annapolis, Md., finish at 7:38 a.m. Friday morning. These are Tim’s first thoughts on his ride, which were originally published on the Team Strong Heart blog. He rode for the team to raise money and awareness for Camp Odayin, which is dedicated to serving children with severe heart problems.
Here are some preliminary words, with much more to come….
Everything is sore. I imagine millions of micro tears, deep within my bones and connective tissue. My heart is slow, but pounding massively.
As I lay here in bed, I can literally feel each pulse of the heart and legs and lungs that just somehow got me across the country, by bicycle, in a bit over 11 days. The Race Across America, solo, is a unique metaphor and analogy for life’s ups and downs. Climb to descend, thaw to freeze, death and rebirth, every single minute of every single day.
I’ve hand plenty of time recently to consider these ideas and what follows are just a few ideas spurred on by a simple guy with a simple goal, a crew with goals, a bike race across the country and what you come to understand at 3 a.m. in the mountains of New Mexico.
Everything is connected. My body is held together by what quite simply are a system of levers, surface area, engines and the like. When one part of the system begins to fail, chafe, or otherwise draw-down, the another steps in for relief. Saddle sores are the bane of existence and the tiniest of problems will soon open the gate to hell for the rider who chooses to deny or ignore. Nothing is alone.
Companionship is serendipitous and often times completely unexpected. I count the cattle, the stars, cliffs and painted highway lines as my friends. Jim and Ryan are also now very important and we have shown that the true team draws closer with adversity and keeps the light shining on the lonely rider at all hours of the day.
First light of morning reminds me that the sun also rises and shines for me and for everyone in my life. Fatigue is relative. My fatigue was driven by hundreds of hours perched on my bike.
The kids I ride for are born into a life of fatigue and pain and these things aren’t in the same universe. Bless my fatigue so that others might live well. The only thing bad thing about adversity is how you choose to respond. RAAM is about conflict, survival and finding moments of peace surrounding a mass of riders, crew, weather, technology, hope and failure. How we roll with the punches is by answering another call. Fight to get knocked down to fight again.
Quite yer’ whining. The only easy day was yesterday is only true if yesterday was easier. The only easy part of solo RAAM is that there is no easy part. There are no easy yesterdays in RAAM. There are days that work and then everything else. We define RAAM.
The Race Across America is defined by the racers, RAAM volunteers, the crew of each racer and the American countryside. The definition of RAAM changes each year because we are always changing, hopefully becoming better and treating each other with respect, dignity and kindness. RAAM inspires. The RAAM brings people from all walks of life together on a world stage that millions of people pay attention to each year.
I am inspired by the quick and the bold and then I enter the race to inspire others. The effect ripples out from the center. The great effect of RAAM is that each year there are hundreds of “centers” and the ripples keep getting wider, traveling farther. RAAM perspires.
Yep, you’re gonna sweat. In my case I sweat, I bled, I burned, I chaffed, I cried, I mumbled incoherently, I had Technicolor hallucinations that only ended with some rest, only to return later, I yelled for the sun to come out and warm me up and I cursed the wind pummeling me from the side.
My vision is to stick with this thing and see where it goes. As I lay here, I’m already beginning to look at next year and see what that may bring. When we get back to Colorado I’ll be updating this blog frequently with tons of comments, pictures and thoughts on the race past. Your support and encouragement inspired me to reach my goals when the cards were down. Your phone calls, blog comments, prayers and hopes fueled my fire that sometimes raged like an out of control wildfire and sometimes smoldered like a wet log. You and I and our crew got there TOGETHER and that means everything to me, at the end of it all.
See our story on Tim’s quest.