Why RAAM? - Nicky Szapary

Frankly - I would have never in a million years come up with the idea myself to ride across America on a bicycle … BUT … a little more than a year ago Kevin, some gents and I (in their fifties - is this called mid-life crisis ?) were exchanging “war-stories” … !? Kevin later “en-passant” pops the question whether I was in if he assembled a team for the Race Across America in 2017 to raise funds for the Cameron Bespolka Trust. I committed on the spot - at the time not quite knowing what I was getting into. In my mind though there was no option - it might have been a mix of some sense of “overconfidence” paired with the close relation and bond our families have developed over the years - there was no doubt I would be part of this adventure.

When later starting to read up on it it slowly dawned on me … the rest of the year I was in a kind of denial - with the plan though to start training when getting back to Florida in mid January with my new race-bike waiting for me there in a box. 

It quickly gets assembled by a local bike shop where I also get equipped with all necessary garments and my training starts - whenever possible riding with Kevin during his visits to Windsor.

I quickly realize that it takes time to get your body parts to accept your position on a race bike …I alternate my riding days with swimming days - after a couple of weeks of sore butt and after some research a new saddle arrives, which has changed my riding experience ever since.

I have been through training processes before but this one was unexpected in so many respects … the big unknown being the actual race ahead. Comparing my efforts with my friends on strava kept me on edge. A training weekend in early May on the actual route was essential - finally meeting most of the other team and our dedicated crew and seeing their commitment to our task ahead - and at the same time an eye-opener experiencing some of the toughest legs of the entire race in incumbent weather.

Now - almost 5 months into training I seem to be in the shape I last was in my twenties - having lost redundant body-mass and built stamina. Since late January I have cycled some 177 hours and more than 5,000 kilometers. Elevation gain was hampered for the first couple of months by living in Florida - the only hill I had there were the bridges (quite a few rides were just riding over the bridge 30 times - back and forth - as interval training) - since coming home to Austria I have done all the hills I could find …

Now we are just a couple of days shy of the start and I am very excited albeit with a lot of respect of the task ahead. 

It is wonderful to see all the support we have - family, friends, sponsors and donors and good karma from so many people and am looking forward to one day visit Cameron´s Cottage. 

I am anxious to finally get together with the entire team - wear our beautiful jerseys and head off east. I sincerely hope my preparation will suffice to help my team to cover the distance in reasonable time.