My Time with RAAM’s Bean Team

May 20, 2016

 

The Bean Team is a group of cyclist set to compete in Race Across America for 2016. The race starts in Oceanside, CA and goes to Annapolis, MD. I was lucky enough to ride along with the Bean Team for their spring training camp. Their training trip was a 4 day excursion from Ft Myers, FL. to Brevard North Carolina. The town is situated right inside of the Blue Ridge Mountains which is home to national forest such as Pisgah and Nantahala. Cyclist from around the globe flock to this region for the opportunity to experience world tour like climbing with panoramic views around every bend. The Bean Team ascending into this cyclist playground with a plan to mimic RAAM like conditions such as sleep deprivation, long ascends and descends, and the sheer volume of time spent in the saddle. My background of endurance sports consist of collegiate triathlon (Swim, Bike, Run). A typical race for me comprises of a bike portion of 24 miles; while The Bean Team is racing 3000 miles across a continent. I knew I was in for a treat to see these superior athletes approaching the peak of their training.

 

At 5PM on Wednesday, May 11 2016, The Bean Team loaded their bikes into the Bike Bistro supplied mini-van. In my opinion, the majority of this van’s life appeared to be picking up stranded tourist from Sanibel Island, let alone traveling 12 hours north into the Appellation Mountain Range. My skepticism proved wrong as the van is a superior vehicle for the Bean Team and operated flawlessly throughout of 4 day trip. In addition to supplying the transportation unit, The Bike Bistro also lent me a Felt AR5 to demo in the mountains. The Shimano 105 equipped bike handled flawlessly allowing me to place it anywhere in the road with ease.

 

After leaving the Bike Bistro, the team pressed on under the night sky as we passed through Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina; reaching our final destination of Brevard, NC around 6:00AM Thursday morning.  Following an hour of fueling our bodies for the days riding, the team clipped in and was rolling by 7:00AM. Throughout the next 48 hours, The Bean Teams workouts were to ride 5 hours at 7:00AM, 3 hours at 7:00PM, then 2 hours of riding at 2:00AM with lights and the chase vehicle behind for safety. My reaction to this plan was similar to many as questioning of their sanity, healthy, and caffeine intake.

 

Each ride went off without missing a beat. Alarms would go off 30 minutes before send off. Groggy athletes would fuel up with bagels, energy bars, and fruit. Then be off and rolling with the Bike Bistro support van following behind. While riding with the Bean Team, I truly appreciated the level of fitness each rider has worked so hard for. 17 mile climbs went un-phased, technical descends were calculated and efficient, and their tempo on the flats between was left me gasping for cool mountain air.

 

What makes the Beam Team different from other teams competing in RAAM is their comradery amongst the group. All the rides were accompanied with a good laugh, if a member was short on nutrition, another would be right there with a water or food to help out.  The team would not be possible without Luke Burbach. The time and effort he puts in to make the operations possible is inspiring. Jake Burbach’s knowledge of the Non-Profit side of the Bean Team is unmatched. His passion for maximizing contributions to the Wounded Worries Fund creates an environment that they are riding for something bigger than crossing the finish line. Aubrey Aldy’s knowledge and insight into training for RAAM gives the team beta on the race most competitors would not fathom. My time training with the Bean Team was an amazing experience. From the sleepless nights to climbing 5,400 feet into the sky, this trip was the experience I will never forget and am truly grateful for being invited on.

 

 

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