Some people call themselves football widows, when they lose countless weekends and evenings to their partners obsession with watching a bunch of blokes run around a field. Well for the past 18 months I’ve been a RAAM widow!
As I type this, I’m lying on our comfy sofa under a blanket, I’ve just had some ice cream and watched an episode of Greys Anatomy, and Tom… well, poor Tom has been (and still is) outside the window on his turbo, p***ing with sweat, as he would say, looking like he may throw up at any second. (See picture evidence) Oh, and it’s the start of Easter weekend too, when everyone in their right mind should be indulging at least a little bit right now.
For the past 18 months, Tom has lived and breathed RAAM, which means I’ve been living and breathing it too. Whether it’s lending a supportive ear, helping to plan logistics, trying to watch TV in our old 1 bedroom flat while Tom powers away on his turbo literally right next to me, waking up to the floor shaking from a maximum effort in a pre-work turbo session in the dining room, or not seeing many weekend mornings where the alarm doesn’t go off at 6/7am for his training rides to the Peaks.
I’ve seen Tom come home in bits, and I mean a proper mess, while he was learning how to handle this level and type of training in preparation for the main event. He’s come home freezing cold after a winter ride, standing shivering in front of a radiator and in a hot bath, trying to get warm after hours outside in -6… so cold that their water bottles froze!! He’s come home from fasted rides feeling great, only to go downhill later on and spend the rest of the day feeling generally grim. Even some of his turbo sessions are so tough, that he ends efforts hunched over his bike, while I ponder how fast I can run and get a sick bucket.
With RAAM less than two months away, and given that I’ve volunteered to be part of the support crew, it’s getting VERY real now.
Last weekend we did a practice follow and rider changeover day. We (the support crew) went over our strengths and weaknesses, so we can utilise those to form the best support possible for Tom and James in America. I’ve supported bike rides before, but nothing on this level. Nothing where you (as a crew member) may not get to sleep in a bed for 3 days straight, catching z’s in the van as and when you can, driving through the night behind Tom or James on their bike – ultimately keeping them safe, fed and watered 24 hours a day, for 8 days.
I won’t lie, I can be pretty rubbish when I’m tired. Picture a drunk person, or a toddler… or a drunk toddler, not that I’m endorsing that…. moving on. Anyway my point is, that’s a big worry – being exhausted. I’ll have no right to be saying I’m really tired, when Tom and James are spending 12 hours a day each on their bikes, and going up hills my little car would struggle getting up, but I know I will be. Needless to say I’m excited to get reacquainted with my old pals the Sour Patch Kids, to keep me awake when I need a sugar high. Sometimes I curse myself for my hatred of coffee…
Another thing that plays on my mind is seeing Tom in a state while we’re out there. RAAM as a two person team is incredibly physically demanding, and I know I’ll hate seeing him in any pain, or suffering through any rough patches.
The countdown is really on now. The annual leave is approved, the flights are booked, and I’m doing some super important prep like making playlists to keep us going! There’s even a singalong playlist that’s looking brilliant… Try and contain your excitement support crew.
In all seriousness, I’m so proud of Tom for taking on this mad challenge, and pushing himself to the limit to smash it, even though I think he’s an absolute nutter. I’m excited I get to be part of this, and share in his experience. Saying that though, I’m also looking forward to July, and Sunday’s without alarms set!