Friday, June 22, 2007

Final thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Hello friends,

Well, here we are, finally all of us are in Atlantic City. The wheels of our bikes have been in the sand of both coasts in a little more than eight days. For sure, a life changing experience for all of us – and for me, it’s hard not to feel some sadness today. I’ve been quite obsessed with RAAM for many months now – planning and imagining details and events. Dreaming about crossing mountains, plains, and deserts. . .and of how it would feel to stand on the podium with my team and Arianna on our shoulders here in Atlantic City.

It went by so incredibly fast - quite literally a blur at times. I woke up in a panic at about midnight last night after sleeping soundly for a couple of hours in the comfort of the cushy beds here at the Trump Plaza. I had a feeling that I had slept too long, that the team would be past needing me to start riding, driving, eating. . .whatever. It happened several times throughout the night. And, although it was of course nice to snuggle back into the covers with my wife on our 20th anniversary, I was sad too, that this journey was over – that the team would be disbanding and going our separate ways back into the routines that make up our lives.

RAAM was an opportunity to be part of something bigger than we ever imagined. It forced us to reach beyond our perceived limits, even beyond our dreams to an accomplishment we’ll be proud of for the rest of our lives. There have been times in my life when I feel like I’m standing outside the fire. . .a spectator, if you will, to my life as it plays out in front of me. For these past two weeks I was . . .we all were. . . in the fire. We were writing a proud chapter in our life’s history. Our watches each time we checked could have indicate only one time – the most important time in any of our lives. NOW! For “now” is the only time we can control. For two weeks we have lived completely and unquestionably in that time.

I spoke with Shannon’s father Pat Mahoney at breakfast. Informally we discussed how this might all wash out financially for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, once pledges were fulfilled and promises were kept. The two CTF RAAM Teams could surpass $600,000 in our research fundraising efforts. There were also TV cameras and newspaper and magazine reporters at many time stations along the route asking us about NF – asking us why we were riding for Arianna and Shannon.

My thanks go out to Ken Edmonds, our crew chief, for his grace under pressure, his incredible time commitment, his willingness to go without sleep for seemingly eight days straight. It also goes out to our crew Rick Rickards, Doug Slemmer, Dan Kendra, Bob Skold, Doug Rage, Connie Oslica, John McCarthy, Trish Hardy, and Dawn Wilson. To my wife Judy for bringing Dan out and providing a happy face just when I needed it. And, to my friends and teammates John Hardy, Bill Edmonds, and I guess most of all, to Bill Hardy for pushing me into the best shape I’ve ever been, and for his and his family’s unending support of the mission of the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Until the next adventure, live now!
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

RAAM Celebration in Atlantic City

Celebrate the success of the NF Endurance Team (Shannon's Soldiers & Ari's Angels) riders and crew in RAAM 2007 increasing public awareness and helping to raise funds to find an NF cure.

Location: Johnny Rockets at Bally's, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM,
Friday, June 22nd

Ari's Angels reach the Finish Line !

Thursday, June 21st, 7:26am ET
3,042.8 miles, 8 days 14 hrs. 8 minutes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ari's Angels - Wednesday, June 20th

Hi friends,

Writing to you all tonight from Lancaster Pennsylvania! John Hardy and I will tag team the 45 mile ride from here to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. From there the two Bill’s will shoot the 60 mile run across South Jersey and we’ll all ride in the last 15 miles to Atlantic City tomorrow morning hopefully around 9:00 am plus or minus two hours. It’s been an amazing 24 hours, and I’m sure the next 24 will be equally exciting. I’m really going to miss the friends and this routine we’ve slowly settled into over the past eight days. Last night we rode through some heavy rain into and out of Parkersburg for several hours. John and I did a couple legs that had a total elevation climb of 7000 feet early in the evening arriving in Grafton West Virginia. The two Bill’s worked even harder to get us through. West Virginia was the best and worst of the trip. The scenery and weather improved and the climbs and descents felt like they were straight up and down, and went on forever. I’d do Colorado again physically, instead of West Virginia any day!. Pennsylvania was very nice and scenic although not without its own hills and valleys. We even went through Gettysburg and did a rider exchange in the park.

Riding for a cure! . . . .and to see those big glass casinos in Atlantic City tomorrow morning.
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Shannon's Soldiers have reached the Finish Line !

7 days, 15 hrs, 59 minutes. Their official race finish time was Wednesday, June 20th at 9:15 AM ET.

One could say that this morning was quite an adventure as evidenced by their 8.07 mph average speed. Several wrong turns, two flat tires, and lots of comedy. The waiting police escort picked them up for their ceremonial finish. Our four heroes arrived riding four abreast to the podium to accept their awards with Shannon Mahoney in the pouring rain.

This incredible team and their exceptional crew are enjoying their hot showers and a little rest ... FINISH LINE!!

Hoorah for Shannon's Soldiers!!
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Shannon's Soldiers - Tuesday, June 19th

Today the team has had to deal with rain which was probably a welcome relief to the oppressive heat of the last few days. The windy, desolate mountain roads of West Virginia were also a challenge as apparently there were times when the riders weren't sure they were still on the route. (Am I the only one that associates West Virginia with the movie Deliverance?). Alcohol is strictly prohibited in the rules of RAAM for the crew and riders but we're told that the chant for a cold, frosty beer is getting louder and louder. I'll buy the first round (and, given the condition of these guys, probably the last). Cathy and I arrived in Atlantic City this morning just in time to see the 2nd place finisher in the Solo division, Wolfgang Fasching, cross the finish line. Very emotional event for a guy who had averaged 22 hrs of pedaling and 2 hrs of rest for the past 8+ days. This was his 8th RAAM and he is a 3 time winner of the event. (A lot of European riders). The finish line is on the historic Atlantic City boardwalk (real wood planks) which we're told is the oldest and longest boardwalk in the country. Reports from the crew of Shannon's Soldiers sounds like they overshot the food requirement for the trip which based on conversations with other teams today sounds pretty common. Local charities and food banks are the big winners here. So we'll be up early tomorrow morning waiting on the Boardwalk for the arrival of Shannon's Soldiers. They'll have a special guest join them on the RAAM photo stand, 10 year old Shannon Mahoney.

Thanks again for your support,

Cathy and Jim

PS: Dan says hi to Lou....what an adventure!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ari's Angels - Tuesday, June 19th (update)

Hi Folks,

The Angels are approaching Parkersburg WV as I write this. John Hardy and I will be heading into the mountains this evening. The two Bill’s have been doing the day runs and have come across the state of Ohio today. It’s a very hot and humid day so I’m sure they are shot. Luckily there are storms and cooler dryer weather on the horizon. If you’re into Geography John and I rode through Indiana last night and they started in Troy this morning on the west side of Columbus, cut southeast across the state through Athens to Parkersburg, WV. A wonderful thing happened this morning in London Ohio. Amy Curtis Kast and her family were at the time station to meet us and gave us a whole bag of goodies. . .and hugs. They made signs and were a very welcome sight for quite literally sore eyes. I’d like to tell you all that we are fine, in great shape with high spirits and anxious to dive into this last little 550 mile push home. For the most part that is true, however, due to our schedules we are physically and emotionally drained. There is an openness and even rawness to our team’s existence at this point that is hard to describe, but we are a team. . .and we will finish as a team. I think this is just as hard on our crew, if not harder. They are true heroes. My wife and brother are already en route to meet us in western Maryland tonight to provide some relief, and our friend Doug Slemmer is going to join us tomorrow late in the day to help us to the finish line.

Again, words cannot express the appreciation I have for these friends.

I can offer this advice to anyone standing on the high diving board of a life challenge. Jump. You will never know how far you can go if you don’t take the first step. Our marathon team, , ,and now this endurance team, are a perfect testimony to this. I know that it is human nature to place limits on our own capabilities. I have found consistently that whoever you are, those limits are set too low, and in most cases may not even exist at all. Be the change you want to see in the world. . .but more importantly – start the change you want to see within yourself. It’s okay to jump. You’ll never know if you can fly if you don’t take that first little step off the edge.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon. Thanks for keeping up with this blog. Thanks too to David Kennedy for attending to these entries and comments.

Proudly riding for a cure,
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