Randy Daymude, AKA Chuck, the vertically challenged half of team Chuckwalla, 2001 two man team finishers
I would have to classify the 508 as one of the most exciting things I have ever been apart of. I am not sure how to describe the feeling of accomplishment I felt the night Brad, my teammate, and I crossed the finish line. It doesn't take a superhuman to do something of this magnitude, it does take a great crew. We had that in spades. If you are reading this with the hopes of some day doing the 508, take my advice, GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!
I first heard about the 508 several years ago. I have been studying about ultra marathon cycling since I saw the RAAM come thru Gallup, NM in 1985. That was the year that Johnathan (Jock) Boyer, and Michael "The Hammer" Secrest had a slug fest from coast to coast. Since that time I have become good friends with Michael. I see cyclists of his caliber as a real motivation to stay on the bike. I will probably never get to his level of cycling, there will only be one "Hammer," but guys like him do provide a dream the rest of us can strive toward.
I tend to be a person that has to research anything I will be taking part in. I studied the RAAM route, and everything I could find about the race for years. I probably have the only signature Pete Pennsyres ever put on a cyclists leg cast. I met Pete in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1986. Pete had just completed the RAAM in record time, he was the guest speaker at the Hotter 'n Hundred bicycle ride. Wow what a thrill to shake hands with a real superhuman cyclist like him. I also had the pleasure of meeting John Howard, I also had him sign my leg cast. It was hard to believe that these two gentlemen would take the time to even speak to a "wannabe" ultra marathoner like myself. I found both of them to be very pleasant people, not arrogant in any way. I think Pete could go into a room of five people and make 100 friends.
I was never really athletic in high school, working seemed to be the only thing I had time for then. About 20 years ago I took up cycling and my life has never been the same. In July of 1986 I was hit by a pickup truck, hence the leg cast I mentioned earlier. I was off of the bike for approximately 18 months. I can still remember the difficulty that period of time was. When you have the love, and desire to do something, but you can't, well I am sure most of you can relate to some degree. I mention the accident to let you know that if you have suffered some type of injury, all hope is not lost the team 508 may be just up your alley. I have hopes of doing a solo 508 still.
You may be thinking, what does all of the aforementioned have to do with the 508? I will tell you in one word, DETERMINATION. I know that may sound like something that is a given, but it really isn't. You may be one of the people that gets dropped at the sound of someone changing gears to start a climb, so you figure why even try, well keep trying. I have heard the doctor say those words a cyclist never wants to hear " We think we can save your leg, but you may not be able to ride a bike again, EVER." Wow, talk about the rug getting jerked out from under you. I was only 26 years old at the time, how could that be. I did regain 80 percent use of the leg damaged when the pickup hit me, but I could tell a big difference. When I read about the 508 I knew that by the grace of God I would compete in that dude some day.
My teammate and I work together, we work for Alaska Airlines, WWW.ALASKAAIR.COM , so riding to work is a blast. Our coworkers Dave and Mark had to put up with the locker room aroma a few days, but they were great about it. In fact they became wrapped up in the whole 508 thing along with us. Having friends and family members cheering you on and holding you accountable to training can make a big difference.
Crew: Our Crew was Second to None
Lon Slectha, Owner, and President of Slectha Systems. WWW.SLECTHASYSTEMS.COM, our main sponsor and finanical supporter. Lon and I have been friends, and fellow Deacons at First Baptist Church of Fountain Hills, WWW.FBCFH.ORG, for years. I don't have an older brother, but if I did he would probably be like Lon. We have laughed together, cried together, and argued with each other. I may be able to bad mouth him, but don't let me catch you doing it. I could not believe how fast Lon, a non-cyclist, caught on to the whole cycling thing. Lon is an adventure type of guy. If you were to ask him to go on an African safari he would have his bags packed , and be on the plane, while you are still looking for you gun. Lon became the designated driver rather quickly, this guy can stay awake for days it seems. As long as we had the Mountain Dew, Pepsi and Oreo's around, Lon was a going machine. Lon took care of loading and unloading the bikes for Brad and I. At the start of the race you don't mind lifting your bike onto the bike rack, at the 300 mile plus mark it is great having someone else baby you a bit. If you plan on doing the 508 Lon is the type of guy you want.
Faith Carey, my teammate Brad's wife. When we started talking about this bike race in California, Faith wasn't to sure about it. Of course my salesman charm kicked in. I explained that she would be in this cramped van, with at least two other crew members for as along as 48 hours. No sleep and nothing but roadside (desert) bathroom facilities. Oh and she also have to put her needs on the back burner and concentrate solely on the needs of the riders. Wow all that and she would get to see Death Valley at about 20 to 25 miles per hour. I could sell sand in the Sahara with these perks. Believe it or not the main thing that sold her on the race were the essays that had been written. As I mentioned, I research this stuff before I do it. I have downloaded and printed everything I could find on the 508. I passed some of the essays to all of the crew members and most of them were excited about the race. The only one that didn't buy into the 508 because of the essays was my wife.
Roxana Daymude, our third crew member. Wow what a supportive wife I have. In the almost twenty years Roxana and I have been in wedded bliss I have had some crazy ideas. Yes ladies my wife has received the phone call all wives dread. "Hello maam, your husband has been involved in a cycling accident, he was struck by truck." Through all of this type of stuff, she has kept her sanity, it's good one of us has, for our children's sake. Roxana has known of my dream to do the RAAM since we both heard about in while living in Gallup, NM. Before our children were born she and I would do long rides together. I would try and limit her diet to berries, fruits and nuts, she had McDonald's in mind. This would prove to make rides very interesting. We would Ride for a while, then argue for a while. Roxana's support on the 508 proved to be very much needed. Sometimes your spouse can say things that other people would not even dream of saying. Roxana has also proven to be a real prayer warrior, so I rode and she prayed. I would have to attribute most of the credit for my success in the 508 to her prayers, not really to my ablilties. I highly recommend that your spouse becomes very involved in your attempt to race the 508.
People that were not in the support vehicle but were major support for this accomplishment were my daughters Breeann, and Morgan. When we started discussing this crazy race they were not sure about it. We did a couple of long rides that really took their toll on me. I could not seem to get my diet in order, and I seemed to have this bonking thing happening. I don't really get into food much, I eat so I can stay alive but that is about it. My girls had to witness these "learning events" as I called them. When you have a 100 mile ride that hurts you it is hard to explain to children that the 508 will be something that will not kill you. My wife and I have an agreement when I do long rides with her support. Unless one of my limbs is hanging off of my body, I can't get in the van, I have to stay on the bike. It is hard for children to understand that your mate is allowing you to suffer this intense pain and suffering out of love. If your mate attempts the 508 make it a rule that unless they are suffering from some ailment that will not heal within two weeks they are not quitting. As Chris Kostman said at the pre race meeting "Pain only lasts a little while, but failure lasts forever." I know my girls are both prayer warriors, and they spent the weekend praying for their crazy dad. Having your children cheering for you can help you do things you would not normally be able to do. Thanks girls, I love you both, even when you drive me crazy.
Our preparation for the race included lots of planning by Brad and myself. When we would drive to work the conversations were usually focused on 508 planning. We kept a running list of stuff to buy, borrow, and build. Brad and I worked on my Honda Odyssey van three different days to get it ready. I would highly suggest that you meet as a team at least every other week. Friday dinner meetings seemed to work well. I always felt motivated and more accountable knowing people were going to be asking questions about my training. We had three team meetings. One was at Brad's house sitting by the pool. It was at this meeting that I used my best sales tactics on Brad's wife Faith. The other meetings were at my house and they included all of the crew. We did make two actual test rides with the crew, working on the logistics of getting riders in and out of the van, trying the several ways to do a rider exchange, and allowing the crew to practice handoffs of food and water. The two practice runs proved to be perfect. I remember the first one very well. I started the ride off and headed out north of the town we live in. I hammered out there like I was doing a sprint in the Tour De France. I had so much adrenaline running through my body I could feel my veins pounding. This went on the entire time we were out there. Brad said he felt the same thing. We finally calmed down and rode like we should be and things worked out well.
The Honda Odyssey works perfect for this type of race. The back seat folds down into the floor, so it is out of the way. We built a bed, we called it the strato-lounger, which worked out really well. It was built out of plywood and we covered it with padding and cloth. The back rest of the strato-lounger could be propped up for sitting and it could be lowered into a position for sleeping. It proved to be a very valuable piece of equipment. The Odyssey was also within the maximum width allowed, it made it by almost three inches. We only had one support vehicle, two would have worked out much better. I know we lost time not having the second vehicle at night. When we do the 508 next year we will have the extra vehicle, and our time should be at least two hours faster.
We did rig an external speaker on top and the crew used the PA feature some. It worked well for music being played for the riders. I do not normally listen to real hard driving music, but I did request some for the climbs. I could just go into my own little world and hammer the climbs out, it was great. I remember being pulled off of the road when I was in the "zone" because it was time for Brad to ride. It was kind of a bummer, I felt like I could have gone forever. When you do this awesome event bring major upbeat music, the more upbeat the better. It will serve as a motivator and it will help keep you awake.
In closing I would like to encourage anyone reading this to at least attempt THE 508. The race is one of the best organized events I have been a part of. Chris Kostman runs a top notch organization and he delivers on his word. I hope to be a solo entrant for the 2002 race, see you there.
I would like to thank our sponsors: Their support and generosity is greatly appreciated.