It started as so many seemingly loopy concepts do: with a casual suggestion that I shortly laughed off after it was first put to me.
When Anthony Gordon, my Race Throughout America (RAAM) crew chief and acclaimed videographer/storyteller, instructed driving a digital RAAM on a sensible coach after the actual factor was cancelled on April 3 on account of COVID-19, I had no inkling he had already requested a few of my help crew in the event that they felt I used to be up for the problem that may final 12 days, the time allowed for solo riders to complete and keep away from elimination in RAAM.
Little did I understand how deep the seed of this concept had been planted into my thoughts by Anthony. After flirting with it over a couple of quiet rosés at dwelling that night time, I replied to him the subsequent day, saying, ‘Let’s do it.’
Certain, I can now say I’m actually glad I did ‘do it,’ regardless of the sudden results past the plain general fatigue that subsided within the following weeks. They included the dental work of 5 fillings, one tooth extraction and an implant; two MRI scans and one ultrasound scan on my left hand that sustained extreme ulnar nerve injury, as did my toes however to a lesser diploma.
Japan’s Hirokazu Suzuki was so deserving of the race winner’s trophy made by Mikaya Pottery of Botswana. He was in a category of his personal as the one rider to finish the 4500km distance with 4539km.
3357 Stationary Kilometres
However because the oldest rider at 58, I used to be immensely glad with my eighth place for a complete of 3357km of the 4500km ridden in an occasion that had 20,000m extra climbing and was estimated to be 30 per cent tougher than RAAM for which I already had a completely paid spot for 2021.
Bettering the 3248km qualifying mark for RAAM additionally reaffirmed that my preparation for the 2020 occasion had been properly on observe. It’s good to know that with my tooth and nerve points apart, I completed in good well being for my 12 days during which I used to be medically monitored all through by my help crew medico, Troy Peters (a paramedic), with 4 ECGs and blood stress exams twice every day.
The result? Driving 18 to twenty hours a day on the G Bros-Mercedes showroom in Mona Vale in Sydney, I burned 84,271 energy, misplaced 2.9kg in weight and recorded a 97 per cent common oxygen saturation fee.
Added motivation to race the VRAAM, the primary ever worldwide digital biking race, got here from its overriding objective: to generate some positivity in difficult instances, and heighten consciousness for the helpful influence of train on psychological well being.
60 = 17
Our trigger was boosted by help from Affiliate Professor Simon Ronsenbaum from the College of NSW whose world acclaimed analysis has proven that 60 minutes of train every week can scale back international melancholy by 17 per cent – therefore, VRAAM’s 60=17 insignia.
And clearly there was a worldwide urge for food for individuals to embrace this initiative in a time certain by COVID-19 and its lockdowns, well being protocols and social, sporting, journey and financial restrictions.
…I realised I would wish each ounce of psychological and bodily power for the subsequent 12 days…
By the beginning on June 16, 208 people from 30 nations had entered to race it on the Australian app FulGaz in one in all three classes – VRAAM over 4500km with 17 riders, a digital Race Throughout the West (VRAW) over 1450km with a area of 81 starters, and ‘The 60’ the place 110 entrants have been to experience 60 minutes a day.
And behind them have been their help crews, associates and sponsors. After VRAAM was introduced, I continued my Slovenian coach Marko Baloh’s coaching program, however targeted on the good coach to adapt to lengthy stationary driving spells within the saddle. Fortunately, my RAAM help crew nonetheless supported me. Likewise, my RAAM sponsors who not solely pledged to help me in RAAM 2021, but additionally got here in to do some driving in VRAAM. Some new sponsors additionally got here on board.
Uncertainty nonetheless lingered. There have been so many questions on the race with it being unprecedented. How would it not unfold? What number of riders would enter, and attain the 4500km distance? What traction of curiosity would VRAAM generate? What route would a deliberate documentary, Psychological Miles, to be produced by Anthony, now take?
Fortuitously, VRAAM conjured plenty of curiosity, and shortly, because of a Herculean social media marketing campaign on Instagram, Fb and Twitter with movies and tales. Australian mainstream media noticed worth within the story, together with The Sunday Telegraph, ABC Grandstand radio, the 9 Community, SBS Information (outdoors of its temporary as our supporting broadcaster) and The Sydney Morning Herald and Adelaide Advertiser newspapers.
The biking media, hungry for dwell racing, additionally got here on board. Bicycling Australia, Biking Ideas, GCN (International Biking Community) and VeloNews all coated it; as did the SayWatt Podcast, Lee Kreider RAAM Present, The Journey Weblog and roadcc.com.
As a consequence of COVID-19 restrictions, our workforce’s preparation needed to make do with weekly Zoom conferences and WhatsApp messaging. Though, Anthony would nonetheless meet me frequently for technique chats or picture/video shoots. In the meantime, he concurrently went about making a VRAAM occasion workforce made up of Revolve24 race founder and organiser David Fell and my social media supervisor, Sally Heginbotham. They labored with FulGaz proprietor Mike Klusacs, whose workforce designed the route – 214 movies of US rides knitted as a sequence – in session with Anthony, David and RAAM organisers
As VRAAM neared, I’d usually really feel a lot was occurring so quick. It was solely when the race began that I might deal with my one job: to experience the bike, as Anthony would say. Even then, I realised I would wish each ounce of psychological and bodily power to take action for the subsequent 12 days. Time handed much less as days, however as a collection of processes: experience, eat, drink, relaxation … experience, eat, drink, relaxation – ‘relaxation’ being from 10-minute naps to 2 or three hour sleeps, pending my way of thinking and physique and wish for physiotherapy or therapeutic massage throughout which I’d sleep.
What actually struck me was the 8.6 million attain of VRAAM on social media alone, and the help of household, associates and followers. From social media, to textual content and video messages to visits, consideration was continuous.
I had visits or calls from my fellow Japanese Suburbs Biking Membership members, riders from the Tour XOz and Psychological Wheels excursions and former The Sydney Morning Herald workmates. There have been cyclists resembling Mitchelton-Scott skilled Sarah Roy, 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman, 2017 IndiPac first finisher Kristof Allegaert of Belgium, British ultra-endurance bike owner James Golding, and Australian Paralympic biking hopeful Ben Mentioned.
Different athletes have been Olympic and world champion rowers Drew Ginn, James Chapman, Angus Moore, Jack Hargreaves and Gearoid Towey, retired Australian skilled footballer Andrew McDermott, rugby Wallaby Dean Mumm and Take a look at cricketer Stuart MacGill.
Others have been biking commentator Phil Liggett and his spouse, Trish, Nationwide Sports activities Tribunal chief government John Boultbee, and former New Zealand skilled triathlete Dean Jagusch, proprietor of one in all my first sponsors, Wagner Roofing, which is predicated in Maryland by means of which RAAM finishes.
After his employees despatched a collection of video messages of help that introduced me to tears, he despatched one other the place they rode the final kilometres of RAAM into Annapolis, the place we hope to be in 2021, earlier than becoming a member of dwell for my closing minutes.
All this off one ‘loopy’ concept! After VRAAM completed at 11pm on Sunday, June 28, I went into our Let’sGo motorhome to undress from my champagne and sweat drenched race package into dry garments. I used to be so pleased for my eighth place.
However then, in my solitude, it dawned on me that the actual success was that we – me, my help crew and all who labored on or participated and supported VRAAM – had taken half in one thing that was not simply new, however extraordinarily particular, and that not directly we did generate just a little positivity throughout robust instances.
Crew Chief: Anthony Gordon
Logistics Supervisor: Kent Williams
Medical Officer: Troy Peters
Chief Physiotherapist: Orla Cunningham
Head Efficiency Coach: Tony Kiss
Social Media Supervisor: Sally Heginbotham
Chef and Equipment Supervisor: Libby Bennett
Dietary Advisor: Brett Davidson
IT/Comms Supervisor: David Fell
Media Officer: Peter Cunningham