Liam gets the finisher’s medal and pledges to return it to Paul when he beats cancer!

                                                 MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

p.s.  Just in case you’re wondering, Paul’s recovery is as remarkable as his ride.  His neck is healing quickly (as you can see) and all the other body parts are following suit.  In fact, he’s itching to go for a ride.  Are you surprised?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Hardware

Ride 3,000 miles on a bike by yourself and you too, can have one of these.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Upon Completion

There are simply not words enough that I can describe in thanks to my crew:  Chief Mike, Hannah, Leanne, Greg G, Greg P and Peter. without your enduring support and keeping me safely on the bike, I would not have made it!  I know that you all know how important it was to me to get this done for the kids at Sick Kids and to let them know something of the measure of our combined human spirit!

As in all things,  I came to the start line to race.  I was aware of the magnitude of the distance, my competitors, the route, the obstacles, the dangers and felt that I  had planned things out.  Like all the racers, I did not expect the high winds in Kansas and perhaps it was my positioning to push through the cross winds or accumulated fatigue, I began to quickly develop Shermer’s Neck, wherein you cannot hold your head up and are only looking down at a few square feet of road. So began my race within a race, where we had to quickly adapt a neck brace to hold my head upright in an albeit excruciating position.  It was now more a question of survival than anything else.

As is so common to many athletic endeavours, it is the one unknown that unseats everything.  I spoke with my 2011 RAAM race partner, Mark Herbst, after I crossed the Mississippi and we spoke of the irony of my “unknown” and how all the kids and families at the Hospital had something come out of left field without warning that affected every aspect of their lives.

I very much wanted to be able to finish the race, so that I would be able to give my nephew, Liam, my finisher’s medal.

As in all things, the challenge was not only the “distance” left to cover:  1000 miles, but also that to be official, I had to reach Time Station 52 by ten o’clock on Monday to meet the final qualifying cutoff (never mind the actual 12-day race finish)!

Now the race within the race within the race began.  My crew helped me to raise the bar to ride as hard as I could, to meet the physical adjustments of my injury, to get through some of the toughest terrain on the planet and all by giving up as much rest as I needed the time to turn the pedals.

I was told that I had three hours and 11 minutes to make TS 52, but the Race Radio had estimated that I would fall short by 8 minutes based on their calculation.  I decided to effectively ‘time trial” the 36 mile distance and was able to bring it home for the kids by getting to TS52 with an hour and ten minutes to spare!  This TT would not have been possible without the precision work of Hannah, Peter and Greg P that supported me every inch of the way!

The finish was still some 88 km away, but we were an “official finisher” and we as a “team” had overcome some pretty incredible odds.

My fellow competitors:  Valerio and Luigi leap frogged around the whole time and we really developed a great friendship on the road!  What started as a competition ended in great comeraderie!  I look forward to a glass of wine when we meet again!

A very special thanks to Tim Veremans from Belgium, a fellow solo rider, who provided another neck support that allowed me to breath on those 9% climbs!

And as always, to the kids at Sick Kids that are battling cancer and beating all the odds: my road has been only a small part of your journey and I am humbled by your courage and will to overcome.

To my beautiful wife, Anthea and my kids, Teagan and Justin:   Thank you for all your support in this endeavour.  The last 1000 miles was driven to get home safely to you!

To my friends that sent messages, emails, texts and “shout outs”:  Your sentiments really helped to fuel my final efforts.  Thank you all.

For Liam:  I have a 2012 RAAM Solo Male Finisher’s Medal for you!

For TTH:  On the long climb outside of Congress, Arizona, I was looking down at your initials that I had placed on my bike and an eagle soared by me in the thermals of the desert heat rising with the climb.  Majestic and beautiful.  I will carry this image with me, always.

pm

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

The ultimate fridge magnet!🙂

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Home Sweet Home…

The adventure is over and Team 450 are now (hopefully) catching up on sleep and returning to regular life activities after a hectic, challenging and ultimately very rewarding life experience.

RAAM 2012 was an amazing mix of focus, determination and grit by all involved.  To witness Paul’s battle against all odds was an incredible honour. I will always have in my heart the vision of his indefatigable battle against all odds when in his most challenged physical state: a neck that no longer worked, a field of view of only feet versus the necessary yards to ride in a clear and confident manner and back muscles that strained against his will to move forward and constantly begged for rest.

Paul, you are an amazing man & I consider it such an honour to have been selected as your crew chief for this epic adventure. The next time I run into difficulties in my life I will always have your sucessful battle to remind me that no matter how challenging it is that “this too shall pass” & to keep pressing ahead.

Many countless hours of preparation went into our efforts long before the race ever began & there are many people I would personally like to thank for their help in getting us to the start line. If I have neglected to include anyone please forgive my omission and demand a free beer the next time we meet.🙂

Thank you:

Jason & Kimberly Carter in Laguna Niguel who took on the task of obtaining the hundreds of items on our monumental RAAM supplies shopping list & also the preparation of whole foods to get us on the road. Our journey would have been insanely hectic prior to the start if it weren’t for your week of searching for items in between work and family responsibilities. The items you kindly obtained for us were put to good use indeed!

Christopher Young for your expertise in electronics & audio. With his limited field of view, Paul simply would not have been able to negotiate the myriad of obstacles in the road had we not had the top notch audio gear you selected & customized to aid in communicating the hazards ahead. Thank you also for your efforts to help me solve the “Shermer’s Neck Challenge”.

Ron McEwen for helping me to get our medical expert, Greg Gannon, PhD on board who was the perfect fit for the task both before and during the race.

Vanessa Cudmore at Specialized Bicycles in California who when asked for a “buddy deal” on some water bottles stepped up big time & sent us a case of 50 Specialized Purist water bottles at no charge, they were awesome!

The great crew at Racer Sportif, Toronto for supplying, prepping & getting the Aquila Bikes to the start line in an efficient & timely manner.

Robert Blain & the crew at Rock N’ Road Cyclery in Laguna Niguel for your professional and efficient receiving & rebuilding of our bikes.

Friends & relatives who helped us along the way to the start.

To My Crew:

Hannah Spence: Thank you for your tireless pursuit of detail & ultimately essential communication skills during the race that kept this rolling circus on track with style and humor. You had my back as a fellow crew chief once the gun went off in Oceanside & we’re all very grateful that you were on this journey with us to cross the T’s and dot the I’s once we settled into our inherent capabilities to “get it done”!

Greg Gannon: Dude you rock! Your 25 years of athlete coaching, training and race strategy gave us the necessary foundation on which to launch & execute this very ambitious campaign. It was great to see how you clicked with Paul and kept him on track nutritionally, statistically and mentally through the myriad of challenges we met en route.

Leeanne Koczka: Every team going to RAAM needs a Leenane! As the RMT of our team you soon found out that RAAM demands much, much more than just keeping the rider functioning via massage. You tirelessly prepped, organized, communicated (in such a nice, peace-making way) & generally did everything in your power to keep us going while maintaining a great attitude. I especially want to thank you for your enduring humor & patience as you put up with two middle-aged men who quite frequently forgot they were not 10 years old!

Predrag Joksimovic: Calm, dependable & quietly humorous are a few of the words I would use to describe you. After learning to pronounce your real name it became even more satisfying to learn what a great resourceful guy you are. Thanks for keeping the wheels rolling & the momentum moving forward!

Greg Paupst: Mr. “PappaRAAMzi” & our official recorder of every moment no matter what time of day or what he’s doing kind of guy. Thanks for all your hard work while dragging about that 100-pound camera bag of yours. We’re all looking forward to seeing more of the great shots & video you took en route. If they’re anything like what I’ve seen on the blog I know we’ll all be able top re-live our journey together by your amazing photos for years to come.

Anthea Millar: The ultimate team player is what I would call you.  Paul is incredibly lucky to have such a supportive, savvy, understanding wife & mother to his children. You are to be congratulated not only for your tireless support of Paul’s ambitions on the bike but also for your humor and calmness (ok, apparent calmness!) & your willing efficiency getting us what we needed enroute while juggling a million things back on the home front.

Simply put, it has been an honor.

Cheers & Thanks,

Mike

Crew Member, Team Paul Millar

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Final Tally

Paul Millar 1
RAAM Hat 0

Both got a bit beaten up but at least the most important one made it to the finish in one piece. Twice across America proved too much for her and she hung up her straw spurs in Annapolis and handed the reigns off to newer model. Mission accomplished.

Now this adventure is over I’d like to offer my thanks. To you.

Your faceless support was felt at every milestone.
Every message was read at gas station curbs, in elevators, hanging out from the passenger window screaming into his ear, as he dipped his toes into slumber, to the back of his neck as he wandered car parks impatiently, in bed with a game on, over the microphone and into his head.
You encouraged and praised, motivated and no doubt prayed. But more importantly you donated. Thanks to your overwhelmingly generous support you’ve helped raise $81,772. And, just as he reached his goal of crossing America in less than 12 days he’ll reach his goal of raising $100,000.
Thanks to you.
Beautifully, even Mary Cary the organ player in the Methodist Church in Indiana donated. And God bless her too.

So, Thank You to you.

Until next time,
HFS

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

11:21:53

The champion stands to a dock-side ovation with his two constants, Stuffy and Helga.

20120625-181531.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments