Monday, December 31, 2007

New Sponsor! 2008 TSH's Tim Case Solo Effort

Welcome Michelle Pearl from Releaf Therapy! Michelle has signed on to Tim Case's Solo effort in the 2008 RAAM. She is taking time off from her solo practice to provide physical and massage therapy AND crew. That's a lot of work and we are so thankful to have someone of here expertise helping Tim reach a monumental goal.

Michelle is a licensed Physical Therapist and Massage Therapist at her solo practice, Releaf Therapy, located in Louisville, Colorado.

Her background as a licensed physical therapist and massage therapist has allowed her to develop a unique art in approaching the science of rehabilitation. Patient centered manual therapy is the philosophy of care. Michelle is a strong patient advocate, always there for them when needed. She performs very specific evaluations and treatment, with hands on manual therapy being the foundation. Very proactive in her field, she is continuously educating herself on the newest techniques to add to her toolbox. Michelle's goal is to empower her patients with the knowledge they need to heal and stay healthy.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Melinda Silbernick Joins TSH Forever completing 4 Person Team Roster!

TSH 2008: John Rotach, Amy Xu, Melinda Silbernick, Jay Thompson

Team Strong Heart Forever's 4 person mixed team is now locked and loaded with a formitable group of athletes!

Having Melinda Silbernick round out the team was really a dream come true. Melinda brings the attitude, experience and mission essential to the team effort in 2008 RAAM.

Here's Melinda's Bio (just seeing her photo kind of says it all!):

Occupation: Educator in Health and Phy. Ed. for 29 years (currently at ISD 279). Marathon Coach for Lifetime Fitness, Cross Country Ski coach, and Triathlon coach.

Home: Maple Grove, MN

Athletic background: 5 time Ironman (Hawaii) Triathlon World Championships. Elite cross country skiing in the American Birkiebeiner.

What attracts me to RAAM: I had heard about the RAAM 10 years ago and thought” how brutal, why would anyone want to do something like that!” Then I was asked to consider being a RAAM team member. I listened to a presentation given by Bernie and Neil. I learned that this is an event to bring about awareness of young people with heart disease. For the first time in my life, I would be riding for a purpose other then myself. It brings a whole new meaning of perseverance, dedication and gratitude, that in itself is the most powerful reward one could receive. Just to know that even one life has breathed easier because Team Strong Heart can make a difference.
I am also very thankful for the outstanding team selected.They are all dedicated people and have their hearts in the right place.

Goals for RAAM: to meet the goals of the fundraising expectations, to carry through the team strong heart mission, to stay healthy and safe throughout this journey, to accomplish the task of the RAAM and finally to keep the Team Strong Heart a live in years to come.

Why Camp Odayin? This past summer, I had a real awaking, my husband suffered a stroke. Fortunately the clot moved through and their were no irreversible side effects; however the doctors link the stroke to a hole and aneurism in his heart from birth. He had since then, corrective surgery on his heart. I soon learned how fragile life is and that little things like Camp Odayin can be larger than life in the eyes of a child.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jay Thompson signs on to Team Strong Heart Forever 4 person team!

Welcome Jay! You are a tremendous asset to the team! Many of you already know Jay as the friendly force behind the cycling group at Trailhead and as a monster in the pack...but never lets anyone drop off the back and ride alone. He is a "Strong Heart"!

Here's Jay's Bio...

Name: Jay Thompson, age: 44 (45 by the RAAM start date)

My wife Mary and I live in Maple Grove, MN with our three children: Katie 14, Jenna 12, and Luke 10.

Occupation: Sr. Engineering Technician - Three Rivers Park District

What got you started in athletic endurance events and what attracts you to RAAM?

In the mid 80's the phenomenon of the mountain bike first got me into cycling, at the same time Greg LeMonde's success in Europe and his victories at the Tour de France peaked my interest in the sport, I have been hooked ever since. In 1992 I joined a local racing team, the Loon State Cyclists. My involvement as a racer has been limited, and I more accurately describe myself as a club rider. I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of riding and training with such a dedicated group. After years of riding with the Loon State Cyclists I feel I have developed the skills required to be a valuable member of Team Strong Heart Forever.

Why are you interested in raising funds and awareness for Camp Odayin?

The dedication and commitment of the founding Team Strong Heart members was very inspirational. For Bernie Kaeferlein to spawn the idea and make it a reality was truly awesome. To have the opportunity to carry Bernie's vision forward and to accept this challenge with such great friends & teammates as Amy, Melinda, and John is a privilege. Go Team Strong Heart Forever!

Favorite quote or words to live by:

Faith, Forgiveness, Loving kindness, Compassion. It is that simple.

Monday, October 8, 2007

John Rotach signs on to TSH Forever 4 person team!

John Rotach just signed on to the Team Strong Heart Forever mission and compete in the 2008 Race Across America! Welcome aboard John! John and Holly were HUGE supporters of Team Strong Heart's 2007 4 person RAAM team as well.
Here's a bit more about John:
John Rotach
31 yrs old
Holly – wife of 8 years
Lilly – daughter 3yrs
Boo – golden retriever

Anoka, MN for 4 years

Firmware Engineer with Medtronic Inc, Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management
B.S. Computer Engineering – Iowa State University
M.S. Software Engineering – University of St. Thomas

I enjoy:
- bike commuting 8 months of the year (30 miles/day – rain, wind, whatever)
- biking with my wife and daughter (trailer and now trail-a-bike)
- group rides
- racing (road/cyclocross/mountain/triathlon/running)
- playing on the river (boating, wakeboarding, skiing, tubing, fishing)
- cross-country and downhill skiing
- anything outdoors (camping, hiking, dog park)

My wife told me to. Seriously. A friend told me, “If your wife says, ‘Do it,’ well, then you do it!” I wanted to find a challenging event for next summer. 24 hr mountain bike solo, Leadville 100, Ironman Triathlon, etc… And then this opportunity came along. It’ll be a great adventure with some great people.

Goals for RAAM?
First to finish - healthy and safe. This is such an unknown you HAVE to say your first attempt is to just finish. I’ve ridden at night enough to know weird stuff just happens. After that, I’d like to finish strong. If I’m riding well and am happy in the final days it’ll be a success. I think a team goal is to have the team happy with their performances, feeling like they gave what they had.

Why Camp Odayin?
I first heard about this camp a couple years ago during a presentation at work. Medtronic has a strong tie to this camp as a lot of the kids have our devices. It really struck me as a magical place. During the presentation I had one of those moments where you really step back and remember how lucky and fortunate you are. To never have gone to a summer camp because you or your parents were afraid you’d have a problem and be miles from a hospital. This camp allows these kids to forget they’re different and just be kids. Doing RAAM…spending that kind of money, that much time, crew, volunteers, organization, resources…just to ride a bike. It can seem a little silly. If what we’re doing can help Camp Odayin with their mission, help just a couple kids, it’ll be worthwhile.

Check out John's training journal by clicking on: or from the sidebar.

Monday, October 1, 2007

How You Can Support TSH

There are several ways that you can help make the Team Strong Heart mission for Camp Odayin a success. TSH is asking for your support through fund raising and sponsorship.

Individual donations made by family, friends, and colleges of TSH members make up the majority of our fund raising goal. Corporate sponsorship in the form of funding and in-kind services play a large role toward reaching our goal and proceeds from sales of TSH team clothing (jerseys, shorts, socks, & tee-shirts) along with raffle tickets also help make the TSH mission possible.

We are very grateful for the support we have received so far. If you are still considering supporting the Team Strong Heart mission, see below for a quick list of ways to do so.

Individual Cash Donations - (Online or Mail-in) Cash donations are tax deductible and collected by the Silent Sports Foundation. SSF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization EIN#. Donations to Silent Sports Foundation can be made online (credit cards accepted) by clicking the donate button below.

Donations are also being collected personally by TSH members OR donations can be mailed to: Silent Sports Foundation - Team Strong Heart - P.O. Box 2827, Minneapolis, MN 55402.

Corporate Sponsorship - if the Team Strong Heart mission fits the criteria for your company's charitable giving program we would like to here from you. TSH would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding our mission. Click here to contact us.

Team clothing is available in the Team Strong Store (coming soon!). TSH jerseys, shorts, socks, and tee-shirts are available for purchase. All items can be purchased online!

Thank you for helping us make the Team Strong Heart mission for Camp Odayin a reality!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Double Header Headwaters 100 & The Laurentian Divide Challenge MTB and Run Race/Tour

It was a gorgeous early morning, sunny and 50s, the Little Bemidji Lake is calm with fog rising from the lake. Loons are still sleeping. Temperature is warming up, the breeze has woken up the lake by stretching its calm nature. Riders after Headwaters 100 race are pumped up for the double header 2nd day race, the Laurentian Divide Challenge 20k mt. bike race/10k tour. A few thought the Yoga is a way of waking up their bodies in the secluded northern woods, many dove directly into the lodge for a hot breakfast meal.

Well, it turns out that this double header event is not just a race/tour, it is about supporting hundreds of kids who have suffered heart diseases. The race organizer promoted and put up this double header race/tour to raise funds to help these kids by donating all race registration proceeds to a non-profit organization who hosts hundreds of these kids at Camp Odayin for three weeks of each July -- free of charge to the kids.

At 10am, the first Laurentian Divide Challenge race/tour was on its way. These following warriors took on the Challenge after the Headwaters 100, totally impressed many spectators and made this fundraising event a history of its own kind.

The race results for 20k race, 10k tour, 5k run are:
David Hogland 1:06:14
Bernie Kaeferlein 1:06:15
Tim Sproul 1:06:16
John Rotach 1:06:22 (on his road bike)
Neil Eerdmans 1:06:30
Cindy Schlafmann 1:12:15
Andy Williams 1:17:14
Larry Schonhardt 37:11 (10k tour)
Melinda Silbernick 20:32 (5k run)
Jorge Paez 23:11 (5k run)

Bernie and Neil did an excellent presentation on Camp Odayin and mission of TSH involving in RAAM 2007 and TSH Forever in RAAM 2008 and many years to come. Also, Paul Sarver and Carol Ruda also did a super presentation on RAGRABRI 2007. The presentations and bonfire stories generated a lot of supports for TSH Forever RAAM 2008 from LSCs and their families.

Amy Xu
Team Strong Heart, 4-member team
RAAM 2008
612-991-4912 (cell)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Team Strongheart 2007 Rider Team Exchange

Thanks for shooting this Brendon! This was the second rider team exchange and the first night shift of our RAAM. I can only imagine what VMG or the Austrian team would say if they watch this..."we got beat by THESE guys???"
Considering that we were a full rookie team and a full rookie crew, this ain't half bad. I gotta say though, that we got A LOT better real fast! But hey, this is RAAM.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank our crew again (for the 1,000,000th time). You guys worked SO incredibly hard for us. Thanks another million!

Neil's signature bike

Great new video from Brendon! This one captures the emotion, nervous energy and anticipation at the 2007 RAAM start line.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Inaugural Minneapolis Bike Tour - Benefit for The Foundation for Minneapolis Parks - Sunday, September 16, 2007

Come join over 3,000 cylists!

The Minneapolis Bike Tour welcomes cycling enthusiasts, leisure cyclists seeking a challenge, families and friends to tour Minneapolis’ spectacular Grand Round Scenic Byway System. For the first time in decades, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is closing parkways and roadways to all motorized traffic! In addition the tour will conclude with a post party, which will include exhibits, great entertainment, food and merchandise.
Register onsite on Saturday, September 15 from 9am to Noon or Sunday, September 16 from 6:30am to 8:30am
Ride start between 7:30am and 9am for both 15 mile and 41 mile routes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

About Team Strong Heart

This June (2008) Team Strong Heart will race in the epic Race Across America (RAAM) in support of Camp Odayin. This coast to coast race will see competitors racing around the clock to complete the 3000+ mile course form Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD. Billed as the "Worlds Toughest Bicycle Race" there is simply nothing else like it!

Team Strong Heart was first the idea of Bernie Kaeferlein in 2006. Bernie said, I created Team Strong Heart out combination of passions for cycling and for helping people with Cardiovascular Disease. I've been a cyclist all my life and I've been involved in Cardiopulmonary Medicine for the past 14 years. I've worked in clinical research, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and for two wonderful companies, Medical Graphics and Medtronic.

Back in early 2006, I moved from talking about Race Across America (RAAM) with my riding buddies to actually working out the details. At the same time Cheryl Yano from the Heart Failure Society of America introduced me to Sara Meslow, the founder of Camp Odayin. I instantly fell in love with the Camp Odayin mission and wanted to help sponsor campers and raise awareness. Team Strong Heart was born. The name Team Strong Heart came to me easily through a double meaning of using strong athletic hearts through competition as well as through the strength of love and dedication to help hearts in need.

It's been inspirational to have so many others join the Team Strong Heart mission. I had a hope that Team Strong Heart would inspire others and I am so thankful to see that hope become a reality!

Team Strong Heart went on to become a successful reality finishing the coast to coast RAAM epic in 6 days, 15 hours, & 13 minutes. That earned them a spot on the podium finishing third overall (out of 16 in their class). The Team Strong Heart mission was realized and completed! or was it?

On the very day Team Strong Heat crossed the finish line in Atlantic City, NJ back in June ('07) a phone call was made, "Hello. This is Amy, I want to make a team! I want to make Team Strong Heart Forever!" Amy Xu is on the phone and states she wants to carry on what Bernie started! She wants to put together a Team Strong Heart for 2008. The next chapter begins!!

Team Strong Heart has now been entered into the 2008 RAAM race as the rededicated Team Strong Heart Forever. The 2008 team not only includes a new 4-person mixed team, but a second team, a soloist! Tim Case (returning team member of TSH07). These five riders and their support crews will once again take on the challenge to fulfill the Team Strong Heart mission and take on the 2008 Race Across America.

The success of Team Strong Heart is really measured by the support of others. Real success does not happen by crossing the finish line, but by the gracious support of those who contribute to the Team Strong Heart mission. Corporate and individual donations are key! Help make Team Strong Heart Forever a success and the real winners will be the campers at Camp Odayin.

Support Team Strong Heart Forever and we, the crew and race team, promise to give it all as we take on the epic challenge of the 2008 RAAM.

Thank you!

2008 Team Strong Heart Forever
Amy, Melinda, John, Jay, & Tim

Monday, September 3, 2007

Amy Xu Announces Team Strong Heart Forever!

Amy Xu has announced that she is forming a 4 person mixed team to race in the 2008 Race Across America and is racing under the name Team Strong Heart Forever. During our preparation, race and after, Amy has really been on fire with immense drive and passion!

During an interview in August, Amy said:

"I officially signed up the 2008 Race Across AMerica (RAAM), a 4-rider team, TEAM STRONG HEART Forever, on August 5, 2007. I had this desire starting from back in April 2007. I have been very fortunate to follow the news and progress of the 2007 RAAM and the members of the TSH, Bernie, Neil, Tim, and Greg. They have been inspirational and continue to help the 2008 TSH's preparation.

Currently we are in a preliminary planning phase, e.g. forming a team, preliminary talking with sponsors, gathering more information, etc.

The TEAM STRONG HEART Forever mission is to make this event last as long as the RAAM lasts or forever while raising awareness of CAMP ODAYIN as well as honoring individuals' passion for Silent Sports and team work for a life-time journey. The 2008 TSH Forever's goal is to form a 4-person team (mix) with 2-3 alternates and a crew of 10-12.

I am very grateful to have the 2007 RAAM TSH members' share their energy, experience, and provide their support. I also want to thank clubs and members, particularly from Loons State Cyclists, to support the 2008 TSH Forever team in this venture."

Keep 'em spinning Amy! We're pulling for you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Minnesota Trails Magazine Article

Kate Havelin a writer for Minnesota Trails Magazine interviewed Neil and I shortly after we got back from RAAM. Thanks for the great write up!


What a ride!!

Check out Neil's post on last weeks TSH ride!

Monday, August 27, 2007

QCTV Interview!

Neil and I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Jayne Ubl-Johnson the host of Suburban Mix last month. They did a fantastic job putting this together and wow, how about those guests!?! I would have loved to pack the studio with everyone though!

It was nice doing this interview after we had a month relive the stories of the race and crew. It still amazes me what a phenominal accomplishment it was for everyone and everything involved.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Representin' at RAGBRAI

Carol and Paul were representin' Team Strong Heart at RAGBRAI. Looking good Team!

"I am sending a couple of strongheart pictures from RAGBRAI. Carol and I wanted to represent Team StrongHeart on Iowa’s greatest bike ride. We wore our Jersey’s on two separate days. The Jersey’s really stand out and we received some nice compliments. I have included a few of the pictures that were taken while we were showing our support for StrongHeart. Use them as you will but if you need to scare the mice out of the outhouse, maybe a picture of neil from headwaters would be better suited."


Monday, August 20, 2007

Aren's Epic Ride!

Hey all!

Just wanted to share a great story of our youngest Team Strong Heart Rider, Aren Passenheim. He put together an epic ride with his Boy Scout Troop that most people could never imagine!

"Hello, I’m Aren Passenheim, I am a 14 year old boy from Coon Rapids, MN. Last year I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopothy.

I went on a 225-mile bike trip with my Boy Scout troop. There were 5 scouts and 3 adults riding. There were also 2 support vehicles that allowed us to rest during the ride when needed. We started in Coon Rapids, MN and rode to Many Point Scout camp which is between Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes, MN. The first day we went about 90 miles and rode to Camp Riply, where we set up tents and spent the night. The second day we rode to Osage, which was another 110 miles. We again set up tents and camped for the night. Our last day we finished the ride to Many Point where we then spent a week camping with the rest of our troop.

No one on the trip was injured, although we were all tired and sore when we were done."

From all of us on Team Strong Heart: Congratulations Aren!

Team Strong Heart is proud to continue our support for Camp Odayin, a camp for kids with heart disease in 2008!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Timothy Case goes Solo RAAM in 2008!!!

Posted by Tim Case
After having been a part of the successful Team Strong Heart effort in the 2007 Race Across America, I have decided to push the edge of physical and mental endurance and race in the 2008 Race Across America as a solo racer.
The ultimate goal of this new effort will be to continue to raise funds for Camp Odayin while demonstrating that the ordinary, every day bicycle rider/racer can achieve the extraordinary through dedication, perseverance and heart.
I continue to be inspired by the efforts of every single person involved with Team Strong Heart. The courage of the children and staff at Camp Odayin, the fortitude of the 2007 and 2008 Team Strong Heart crew and racers and the countless supporters and sponsors of our mission is simply magical and should serve as an inspiration to bicycle racers and non-racers alike.
2008 will be a great year for cycling and an even greater year for Team Strong Heart. My sincere hope is that my 2008 solo Race Across America effort will be an integral part of this process.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Laurentian Divide Challenge Mt. Bike Race/Tour

Hey all! Rainbow Resort is hosting a fun mountain bike race and tour on Sunday, September 23rd 2007 on their world class cross country ski trails. The event is sponsored by Team Strong Heart and all proceeds go to Camp Odayin! Special thanks to Amy Xu for putting this event together.

Rainbow resort is also offering special rates on their gorgeous cabins on Lower Bemidji Lake so make plans to come up for the weekend and ride/race the Headwaters 100, ride/race the Laurentian Divide Challenge or just come up and hang in the north country and Itasca State Park!

Click on the links below for info and registration for the Headwaters 100 and Laurentian Divide Challenge. Team Strong Heart and Loon State Cyclists will be out in force for both of these great events!

We had a great time last year...check out these great photos!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Champlin Dayton Press Article

Thanks for the great story Wendy! I particularly like the Greg was the "fearless decender" part!

Read the entire article by clicking the link below.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Busy media week!

Neil and I just finished three interviews with the local media. Thanks to Minnesota Trails magazine, the Champlin-Dayton Press and QCTV for their interest in the TSH mission and the 2007 RAAM. I'll get these up on the blog as soon as they are published/air!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A note from Bernie Kaeferlein - Team Director

THIS is Team Strong Heart. Ten outstanding and dedicated crew members who put so much of their hearts and souls into the mission that mere thanks can't seem to cover the sacrifices that they made. Four slightly mental, but passionate, cyclists who love the sport so much that they would gratefully tackle the world's toughest bicycle race. Dozens of family and friends who gave up their time with us and supported our efforts as we prepared and competed, we are lucky to have you all in our lives. All of you have been an inspiration!

YOU are Team Strong Heart. I've been overwhelmed with heartfelt gratitude for all of our corporate sponsors who donated funding and services and to all of our supporters who donated funding and bought TSH t-shirts and jerseys in support of our mission. I am in awe that orders and donations are still rolling in!

It's been a dream that so many joined us to sponsor campers, expand programs and generate awareness for Camp Odayin! There are well over 200 kids who will attend camp this summer and will have a wonderful experience in part due to YOUR generosity and support!

Thank you all so much! You've helped make a bunch of dreams come true!


Sunday, July 1, 2007

A note from Neil Eerdmans - Racer

Dear Crew,
The more I think about this race, the more impressed I am with our crew. Why the crew doesn’t get a medal is beyond me. Can you imagine driving across the country at 20 mph? The bike was a time of peace and enjoying the trip. If you couldn’t ride during this, well, I don’t know what I would do. Many of the you were not cyclists and yet you were there for us every step of the way, simply incredible. Thank you to all the crew members who made this possible; you did an incredible job!!
The crew allowed the cyclists to live a sort of dream life on the road. It is the closest thing I will ever get to in terns of stage racing or understanding what that is like. I never thought I would be at dinners celebrating a race that I had participated in. I never thought I would be able to relate to racing or an event where so few have finished. I am not a racer but I love to ride my bike. This made me feel like a racer, I even shaved my legs!? I can’t thank you all enough for providing this opportunity and putting up with so much and keeping a level head!
Sorry about the night I was so cranky. I hadn’t slept for two days and I was mad at myself and took it out on you. That was entirely inappropriate. In fact, I wish I would have understood what an incredible job you were doing at the time. I should have been praising you from beginning to end for even making the adventure possible.
Without the crew I would have never had this "once in a lifetime" experience. There was talk of doing another one and my wife reminded me that it was a "once in a lifetime" experience. I still think I might be able to slip away when the kids are older! If I do, I hope I have the same crew. A crew that did the job no matter how filthy the task might be or how tired the crew member might be.
To Bill and Bernie, thanks for all of your work on this too. This wouldn’t have happened without your endless hours of sacrifice. I know that a lot of your equipment and personal capital went into this trip and I appreciate it. Thanks Bernie for letting me in on this adventure and for training with me through the winter. The training was fun and necessary to do as well as we did and for me to actually feel like I had a part in our third place finish. Greg, it was great riding with you and getting to know you! Thanks! And Tim, I will never forget our last night together!
A week out from this trip and I am simply thrilled I got to do it. I have all of you to thank and I sincerely can not thank you enough. I will never forget your sacrifice for this mission and I want you to know just how important you were to our accomplishing this goal. You, the crew, were the reason this worked at all.
P.S. A special thanks to Camp Odayin and a note that we are not done working for you. There are a number of people that want Team Strong Heart to grow and do other events to support Camp Odayin. There is an energy here that is real and we are working on ideas to ride for Camp Odayin and to spread the word! Team Strong Heart is growing as we speak!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A note from Tim Case - Racer

Hi all,
My last day in Minnesota has been very low key and has afforded some time for reflection about our team and the essence of what got us all to the finish line in "beautiful" Atlantic City.
I want each of you to understand that I am forever indebted to you for your tenacity, kindness and respect as we rolled across the country. I've been a part of some high performing teams (on and off the
bike) and some low performing teams and trust me when I tell you that at the end of the day, being a part of Team Strong Heart was the number one experience I've had in my short 30 years.
Returning to Colorado tomorrow will be
semi-bittersweet as the past three weeks have renewed my love for the people and places of the Twin Cities.
Since returning to the area I've reconnected with so many close friends that I'd long since lost track of, have rediscovered a true passion for cycling and have come back with a whole RV full of road-weary people who I now count amongst my core group of friends.
Each of you have made a vital impact in my life at a time when prior to the race I was already pinching myself about how good things had gotten for me. I just want to echo Bill's thoughts and thank you for shining yet another beam of light into my crazy little world.
See you out on the road...

Monday, June 25, 2007

A note from Bill Nicholson - Crew Chief

I hope you all have had some down-time to rest and recover from our trip. I don't think this email will be a summary for my experience, as that may be months simmering in my mind. I do want to convey my sincere gratitude to each of you for providing me with a wake-up call for my life.
After our return on Thursday, I have been back to work on all of my various projects, including bicycle races, my daily job, and other things. At every turn I am reminded of what I learned about myself during our adventure.
This was especially clarified for me on Sunday evening, when I attended a reunion of friends from a job I did for 8 summers during my teenage and college years. It was a summer camp for urban kids. Most of the staff that I worked with were not outdoorsmen, but were often like myself: had some experience in the outdoor arts, but were committed to a single purpose of giving city kids a chance to do things that are foreign to the 20th century experience. We were, for the most part, successful.
Our Team Strong Heart adventure and the crew I worked with reminds me of that crew: we took a group of comparative strangers and worked towards something larger and grander than any of us could have attained as a solo effort. And, as time unfolds before us, I will come to think of the grand time we had and the tales we will tell of the outlandish story of fourteen strangers helping one another across the continent twice in 2 weeks.
Each of you accomplished more than you can imagine, and I applaud the efforts you made for the Team and Camp Odayin. I hope that as time gives you perspective, you can apply the experience and spirit of our quest to your daily lives, and search for new pinnacles to summit. All of us were there at Wolf Creek Pass, and on Greg's shoulders as he made his amazing descent. And the weeks of work came together in the 'rollers (hah)' of West Virginia and Maryland; we truly became parts of a cycling machine that brought all of us home.
Thanks to you all,
Bill Nicholson
Crew member, Team Strong Heart 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

They finished! Six days 15 hours and 13 minutes, what an amazing time. I think Team Strongheart has exceeded all expectations, averaging 19.11 mph across the country and finishing 3rd is an excellent result. What a team and what a crew! The most important part of this endeavor isn't the results but the fact that it was done to raise awareness and funds for Camp Odayin. This is the real mission, this is what is important. This is why I'm proud to be associated with such a great group of people. Here's to the kids, parents and staff at Camp Odayin, you rock!

Signing out now, thanks for reading the past week, I'll let the heroes take back this blog...


Monday, June 18, 2007

Plus 45 minutes...

Bernie just called, they have their 45 minutes back on VMG, there may have been some mistakes in the posting of the times on the internet, but Team Strongheart's strategy in the hills is paying off. Tim and Bernie started it out when they attacked a 3-4 mile long 8% hill with a hard tempo, the excitement is definitely back in Bernie's voice, as he stated that was fun! Today has been the hardest day of the tour, but it's almost payday as they are expecting to be done in a little over 12 hours. After they get through the hills of West Virginny, the roads flatten out some, and they expect to cruise in. The first 2 4-man teams have already finished, so the race is on for third. GO TEAM STRONGHEART!!!

Almost heaven, West Virginia…. NOT!

350 Miles to go and Team Strong Heart has found themselves in a race for third place! Today has been hot hard and hilly in the Appalachians of West Virginia. Greg and Neil pulled an overnight 7 hour shift with Tim/Bernie now on the road. Neil and Greg are prepping to get back on the road. The lead they had over VMG has shrunk since they got to the hills. The Strong Heart guys are big flatlanders, for example they smoked through Kansas, but the VMG guys are smaller and better climbers. So this is making it interesting. Strong Heart has decided to fight for third and are changing their strategy. They are going to put the teams out for shorter intervals to try and make it quicker through the hills.

I finally got the interview I have been waiting for, I finally talked to Neil! He said it has been an amazing journey. He said RAAM actually stands for "Racing Across Americas' Worse Roads". Before RAAM started, he saw a statistic that said 95% of this years participants were rookies, and now he knows why. Do it once and you aint coming back. He said the one word that describes the trip is "Filth". It's the most filthy thing he has ever seen. The RV is a total mess, with no time to clean it. The riders go through 2-3 kits per day, so they are washed and hanging all over. And the high carb diets aren't friendly to the gastro-intestinal system. The four riders are like out of a Dr. Seuss cartoon "Horns out of a_ _ es"! Thus causing a strange mix of nauseus odors!

He said the crew has been amazing the way they have come together. Greg's friends Mike/Rick have been especially entertaining on the night shifts. The race itself is very "manic" you can go from it feeling like the best day of your life to man this totally (expletive deleted) in about 30 minutes. It is a physical and emotional rollercoaster. I asked Neil if he was going to keep his legs shaved, and he thinks so! His wife was initially against it, but right before he left, it was hmmm, not bad. And from the narcissistic cyclist view-point, it makes one feel stronger, to look down and see the muscles, I told Neil that the only reason I continue to cycle is so I have an excuse to keep my legs shaved!

Amazingly this journey is about over, and right now they are experiencing the toughest day of the whole journey. Neil said that the Appalachian climbs aren't as long as in Colorado but much steeper. It would be nice to finish on the podium in 3rd place, but it's not a motivator to Neil. As always he just wants to ride his bike and share with others the beauty of his personality. He really can't wait to get home, and he will be coming home to a hero's welcome, as we are all extremely proud of these guys! GO TEAM STRONGHEART!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

1800 miles only 1 flat?

Talked to Nuxie again today. He had just finished taking care of the only flat they've had (as far as he knows). That's some pretty good fortune, I typically flat about every other ride... Bill echoed what Tess said in her previous post about the free McDonalds food, it was like a banquet! They passed the halfway point last night in Pratt Kansas, today they are in Missouri. I checked the weather forecast it looks like they are going to be in hot weather for the remainder of the trip. I asked Bill how the riders were coping with soreness and Bill gave a shout out to Linda Bergstrom and Tess for the excellent jobs they have been doing in massaging the riders. That really helps. Bill said that they weigh the riders before and after they get on the bikes, recording their fluid intake, electrolyte intake and food intakes to keep them properly maintained. In the picture above from the start with Greg being massaged by his wife Angie, look to the left (or greg's right). There's Tim with his goofy silver aero helmet on, Zukko and I had commented to each other that Tim looks like he's ready to do a tour prologue of 4k rather than a 3,000 bike race! There's no much ventilation in that lid! Bill verified that Tim has been wearing the helmet at night, it's actually warmer and does provide some aero benefits. During the day it would be pretty hot. All the riders besides Bernie have a bike with aero-bars on as well. The aero-bars not only put the rider in more of an aerodynamic position but it is also used for resting in an event like a RAAM. Apparently Bernie was unable to get comfortable with them, so decided to go without. Well, I've got to go race at the track, SHORT, fast, no hills! Ciao!

ps. Tess, if you give the photographer my email I could post some photos.
pps. If anyone has any burning questions you could also e-mail me and I'll get the answer for you.

The Kindness of Others

I woke up at seven this morning to the sound of Tim, Bernie, Brendon and Gary making extremely crass innuendo (and some rather blatantly unwholesome statements besides) at each other. This is actually one of the best parts of this trip; even though I wake up tired, I wake up laughing.

I can't speak for everyone, but I feel like I've gotten more into the swing of this. Like there's an actual pattern, so that even when we're still tweaking the details, we're not all feeling clueless or anxious.

We had our Pratt, KS stop last night. Pratt was the town with the McDonald's giving out free food to the RAAM participants (crew and cyclists!), and since none of us turn our noses up at free food, we all got a meal. Even Kristy, who hadn't touched McDonald's in four years. It was appreciated by everyone.

Warren Fairleigh is the fellow who set up the McDonald's stop. He is currently serving in the army over in the Middle East. He couldn't even be here to receive our gratitude in person. The people working at that particular McD's gave out loads of cookies with tags featuring Warren's name and his email address; if those of you reading would also send him an email to thank him for caring about your loved ones, we would appreciate it. He's or Thanks, everyone.

The sunsets in Kansas are beautiful, for the record. Also, Kansas is full of fireflies.

There was a route alteration in Wichita last night that no one knew about until Gary and I turned onto 119th and encountered a road block. I called in, got the right directions, returned to the course… and discovered the GPS was playing silly-buggers with us. Cue ten minutes of confusion, followed by shutting off the laptop completely and relying solely on the 'RAAM Bible' for directions.

It figures that the GPS would act up when I'm the only one using it. Everyone else was going out of the book.

At some point while I was sleeping this morning, we crossed into Missouri. Missouri -- at least, in this part -- is significantly less flat than Kansas is, and has more trees and water, and bright orange lilies growing wild along the side of the road.

I don't really have much else to observe right now. Everyone in the RV is sleeping except for Brendon (who is driving) and me (who is navigating and, at the moment, taking the time out to blog).

Oh, a good thing to note: Team Strong Heart is definitely in third place right now, after some back-and-forth "Are we, or aren't we?" "By a lot" is all I know about the specifics (check the RAAM website for details). We're slowly gaining on second, though I think we'll all be thrilled just to keep third.

Ooh, breaking news! A photographer fellow by the name of Eric who appears to be from Team Donate Life (Team 605) just came over to visit and request an email address. He and his group saw Team Strong Heart burnin' rubber last night, and he got some pictures. The race will probably be over before we can post any photos, but he's got my email.

We're currently stopped at Time Station 32, over halfway across the country. They're offering free food here, too, so I'm off to dig in!

EDIT: Huge thanks to Lena and Eric (I hope I spelled his name correctly) for providing food for us. The home made beef brisket and chili was delicious!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Neil clicked his ruby red slippers and the next thing you know they're in Kansas! Today's call was special for me because it was Nuxie! Nuxie is the nickname I gave to Bill Nicholson last year at the Opus Race Series. Bill is an USCF official and with me being a race promoter, him and I would go at it from time to time. Bill wasn't attached to a club so I urged him to become part of Loon State. He's a self-admitted geek and is invaluable to the team with his logistical and technical knowledge and connections. He's been wanting to be part of RAAM for 3-4 years now and when Bernie posted on the Loon State web site that he was looking for a crew chief Bill had heard I was interested and he was all over it. Then I back out and leave him high and dry! He reminded me of that today!

I don't think Bill has talked to anyone in a while because he talked my ear off. They had just hit the first time check in Kansas and Neil and Greg were finishing up their pull with Tim and Bernie itching to get back on the road. With Bernie back almost at full strength and everyone getting into the routine things have been going great lately. The only hiccup was when the RV got lost in Colorado and forced Tim and Bernie to ride an hour and a half longer than planned. So I was wrong in yesterday's post, the riders did not ride any extra miles, just extra time. Bill took the blame for that one. Bill said that the Wolf Creek pass was miraculous. They tackled the 4,000 foot climb with all four riders doing 1 mile pulls, then Greg won the lottery and got to do the downhill. Bill was driving the support car at the legal speed limit and Greg got a good mile and a half lead on him, now that sounds like fun! The team is now in 3rd place again, they've been hopping back and forth with Team VMG and the Austrian team. Bill said they run into those guys all the time at the rest stops. Seems like there is a lot of carmaraderie between the teams crews, they cover each others meals and do some smack talking as well. Bill said the one teams crew is subsisting on gas station hot-dogs. Ok, this may not be family friendly but I found it funny, Bill has been subsisting on bagels and peanut-butter because he wants to limit his bowel movements. He's proud of the fact that he is yet to use the RV biffy!

As for the 10 member crew, they have been stellar. Being around bike racing Bill knew what he was getting himself into, but many of the crew members were new to all of this. When asked how they spend their time, the jobs don't sound very romantic. It's mainly driving, cleaning biffies, draining septic tanks, preparing drinks and food for the riders and living on very little sleep. Bill got 5 hours of sleep in the subaru last night, doubling his sleep intake for the trip. They are "only" 3 days into the trip, but it seems like a lot longer.

I made the mistake of asking Bill what technical gadgets he had, and most of it went over my head, but they've got 3 gps units, one for each vehicle. His boss at Change Masters provided him with some gadgets that enable them to have a rolling internet cafe. They've had difficulties getting online because of the remote areas they've been through but he anticipates that soon they'll be hitting civilization and be online. Civilization -Kansas? (I can make cracks like this, my mom's from Kansas). I told Bill to have Neil call me next, I can't wait to hear what's going on in his head! Thanks for reading, they appreciate all the support and well wishes!

in ur Kansas, rockin ur osm!11!!! (hahaha)

We've almost made it to the half-way point, and I think it's fair to say the crew is handling it a lot better than we expected. No one has attempted homicide, nor has anyone seriously declared they were defecting to another team (though we've joked about it; Team NUBS might appreciate an extra hand, after all...)

For a bunch of rookies, we're kickin' butt. In spite of losing about two hours of racing time, we're in third place. We didn't really start out to compete, but the competitive streak has been surfacing in the racers and in the crew.

You're probably wondering about those two hours. About an hour and a half of it was due to an RV navigational error early yesterday morning (...Yeah, my bad. Though I hear the van missed the turn, too; Kristy was the only one paying attention to the GPS, and thus the only one to tell the rest of us where we messed up). We had a very irate pair of cyclists and an agitated crew chief as a result of that one, though Bernie and Tim were patient enough to not strangle anyone for it. The remaining time was due to a bike problem last night/v. v. early this morning. I don't know the specifics; something about the wheel wobbling in a dangerous way while Bernie was descending.

Otherwise, things are amazing. The crew has been getting along fabulously well, and no one has threatened to kill each other (except me and Kristy, but this is normal.) I keep forgetting I'm crossing the country with -- quite literally -- a bunch of strangers.

Tell everybody: Team Strong Heart is rockin' hardcore.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Feeling Better....

Bernie checked in with me this morning after pulling the night shift with Tim. He's back on the bike! He's feeling much better and feels recovered from his dehydration experience. He's feeling so good that he was finally able to eat something of substance: a Sonic Double-Cheeseburger! Now I kind of wish I was out burning all those calories so I could have one of them babies! Bernie is so happy to be riding again that him and Tim even tacked on an extra hour and a half riding, seems they got lost! I'm blaming that one on Nuxie! :) Sounds like people are starting to get into a routine and are getting more rest. On a family note, Bernie's parents who live in Colorado are going to meet him briefly at Alamosa. That will be a welcome respite. The team was heading to Cortez Co when I talked to him. They should be in Kansas tomorrow, out of the mountains and into the wind. I don't know what is worse. Bernie said that the scenery has been amazing, riding in the desert at night is like being in a planetarium. I asked him for any funny stories, and he said I'll have to get them from Neil, so here's hoping I can talk to him eventually. Thanks to the supportive comments, I'll pass them on to the guys next time I talk to them. Go Team Strongheart!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Starting to Feel it...

Bernie just checked in with me 1:45 CST. The usual excitement in Bernie's voice has been replaced by weariness. The Team just left Prescott and are on the TS 7-8 route. After a good start things have started to unravel a little bit. Bernie says that they made a typical rookie team mistake and started out too hot. Now they are starting to pay for it. This morning Bernie had to be taken to the Prescott hospital to get 2 liters of IV to treat dehydration. It has been extremely difficult to get enough food and drink. Bernie said that all 4 riders are probably running nutritional deficits. Neil has lost 4 pounds already, while Greg and Tim are maintaining. They're each burning approximately 6,000 calories a day, it's hard to consume that much. Sleeping has also been difficult. With the crew and riders all sleeping on the RV, it is difficult to get rest with the RV always on the go. The riders and the crew are all in sleep deprivation. They had to force Nuxie to get some rest. Bernie said he has probably slept a total of 3 hours so far. So while Bernie has been out, Neil, Tim and Greg have been forced to take turns riding. They have been taking hour and a half long pulls each. The route from TS 6-7 had a difficult climb to Prescott and Greg hammered it all by himself, while other teams were able to rotate the climb with more guys. Bernie said he is starting to feel better, he'll need to rest some more before he can get back out there and give the other 3 stalwarts some relief. They have concsciously backed off the pace as there is a lot of riding left.

Thanks to Laurel's comment post I found the pictures, here's a link to a team picture, when they were a little bit fresher. Till the next update, hang in there Team Strongheart!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And they're off!!!

After all the preparation and planning the moment Team Strongheart has been waiting for finally arrived. There was a 13 mile neutral parade to get out of town before the race started with Bernie taking the road first. The way they are riding the race is that they are broke into two teams. Neil and Bernie are one team and Greg and Tim the other. They plan on taking 4 hour turns. During this 4 hours the one group will be sleeping while the other group will be riding the race. One rider races at a time with the support vehicle bringing the other rider up the rode. Then when the rider on the road catches the relief rider, the relief rider takes over and the other rider rests and in turn is taken up the road. They practiced this in their training and Bernie says it works quite well, they don't take long turns so they can stay fresh. They will be repeating this for the entire 3000+ miles! This shows how major of a role the support car plays in advancing the riders up the road, the support staff play as much of a key role as the riders do in this endeavor.

The teams were started with 30 second time gaps and Team Strongheart started 36th out of 39 teams. As of midnight on Day 1 Team Strongheart is currently in 3rd place out of the 16 4-man teams! After time station #2 they are averaging 20.17 mph. The beginning was hot and hilly and according to Bernie, Neil took some strong pulls up the hills out of the San Diego basin to move them up in the race. The race started in the afternoon so a lot of the desert riding will be at night when the temperatures are more bearable. He said the downhills were fast and fun. They both drank 6 water bottles from the start to time station 1. Greg and Tim took over and rode to time station 2, then Bernie and Neil will ride through time station 3 to time station 4 before being relieved. We'll have to give these groups names, any suggestions? I'll keep you posted as reports come in. You can follow the race on line at
This is so exciting!

Ready to Race!

Unbeknown to me, Neil aka "American Flyer", shaved his legs before he left Minneapolis. They look smooth, and much faster! (Thanks to Jay Thompson, Velogeek for the pic)

Here's some more exciting news. The guys are going to be guest "diarists" on For cyclists this is the pinnacle website of cycling. Us addicts usually check out at least 3-4 times a day. Now the boys are going to be famous! When I talked to them yesterday they were busy prepping for the big show. They were doing interviews, getting pictures taken, basically living the rock star life. Bernie said that they had gotten in a good night's rest the night before. They hadn't ridden their bikes much since leaving Minnesota, but were hoping to get in a spin yesterday to check out the equipment and get rid of some nervousness. There's already been one area of concern, Neil was losing his voice and had a chest cold, his wife convinced him to get checked before he left, and he was diagnosed with bronchitis! He's on anti-biotics, hopefully he heals quickly. The Dr. reminded him that "your wife is always right"! How true!

They depart today at 4:00 PM CST or 2:00 PM PST, so after a year of planning and training it's almost go time!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Rider Report

Hello All, Skibby here. As Tess is going to be giving crew reports, I will be posting entry's for the riders themselves. There was a time when I was going to be part of this "epic" journey, but after meeting with RAAM veteran Ben Popp, I realized this wasn't for me. I could also see how badly Neil, who was an alternate at the time, wanted to do this, so I gladly gave up my spot. Good move to, he's a much stronger rider than I am! One thing I noticed in this pic of Bernie and Neil, is that Neil still hasn't shaved his legs! For those of you who aren't familiar with bike racing, most racers shave their legs. There are a myriad of reasons but the main one is that you're showing that you're part of the bike racing clique. With Neil being the independent person he is, refuses to shave his legs. However, I am willing to donate $100 Camp Odayin if he shaves his legs! Any one else willing to do the same?

Last night Bernie and the crew called me while they were traveling through Utah. Bernie, Greg and Tim are all on the RV and expect to arrive in Calif on Sunday. Neil is flying out and will meet them in San Diego. The race doesn't start until Tuesday but there is a lot of prep work that has to get done. First and foremost is getting their bicycles ready for the event. Not only do they have to be mechanically sound but for all of the night-riding that they will be doing, they have to have lights and reflector tape on the bikes. From the sound of Bernies voice, I can just tell how excited he is. He's like a kid on the day before Christmas Eve! Stay tuned as I will be providing daily posts from the riders, giving their perspective on the RAAM and how it is treating them. Remember that the race can be followed at as well. Go Team Strongheart!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

On the Road to RAAM

Hello, readers! This is Tess, one of the crew members on this grand, cross-country adventure, and now the designated Head Journalist. (Just a fancy way of saying I'm in charge of updating the blog.)
The story thusfar:
On Thursday evening, Linda, Kristy and I arrived at Bernie's to help with packing and make the Friday morning departure a little easier. (I learned my first important lesson of the trip: Pack light! Do not, however, forget your clothes in Wisconsin...) There was a lot of arranging of Stuff, and debates over what was necessary and where we would put it, and travel plans were discussed with the people driving.
Friday morning went without a hitch; no one needed an alarm to wake up, we were so excited to get on the road, and Bernie made fantastic waffles. The goal was to make it to Boulder, Colorado before parking for the night, with an estimated time of arrival between midnight and three AM.
What followed was ten hours of midwest green and a very pretty sunset -- not terribly thrilling, but the weather was pleasant -- and another six hours of driving in the dark until we found Tim's street.
We managed to fit nine people into one RV for sleeping. If you can avoid it, I would recommend against ever having to do this; just because we could find the space doesn't mean it's a comfortable idea.
Since it was definitely after midnight when we arrived (we were tucking in for bed at 12:45; how we made it there that fast, I'll never know), we hadn't really gotten a good look at the scenery. Waking up, as a result, was a surprisingly pleasant experience. From the street Tim lives on, you can definitely see geological features those of us living in the midwest can only dream about.
We ate breakfast at Panera, which was a new experience for me. (The Egg Soufflé with spinach and artichoke hearts? Delicious.) Once we were fed, and the gas tanks on the vehicles were filled, we set off again, now with ten of our fourteen team members.
As I write this, it's 5:32 PM local time. We've traveled through the mountains, and we're somewhere in Utah. We spent about an hour or two stuck in traffic due to a car accident (engine fire? Definitely involved fire, and a big charred spot on the ground) in the mountains in Colorado. We made the best of it by starting a little dance party along the side of the road. Kristy and Linda and I did a little T'ai Chi. We all observed that, if we had to get stuck in traffic anywhere, we'd probably picked the best place for it.
When the accident was finally cleared, Bernie let off a little steam by honking in the tunnel through the mountain, which started a chain reaction of people honking their horns in the tunnel just for the joy of it.
While many members of the team will riot before having to drive through Iowa and Nebraska again, we all fell in love with the geological features we've been seeing from Boulder until now. Even in the more arid terrain, it's gorgeous.
So. From wherever we are in Utah, the last I heard was that we're heading towards Las Vegas, Nevada, and then towards San Diego/Oceanside, California. I'm hazarding a guess that it will be at least eight hours before we arrive. In spite of how much time we've spent in cars over the last 36 hours, I would say we're all still playing nicely with each other. Bernie's said it before, and I happily reiterate: We have an excellent group on this trip. I'm so glad to be here.

Big thanks to Bill our Crew Chief for setting up WIFI in the RV! Coast to coast, rolling connectivity!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder (sing it with me now)!

I can't believe its really time to go...after a year of preparation, training, work to pull all this together, we're finally heading out at 8am. We'll be driving down to I-80 and then west to Boulder to pick up Tim Case, grab a few hours of "good" sleep then finish the second 1,000 mile stretch to Oceanside.

I think the drive out will be an adventure in itself!

I'd like to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of our friends, family, supporters and sponsors that helped make the Team Strong Heart mission fly!

You can follow us at!

Stay tuned to the blog for all the details!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Team Strong Heart Story on KARE 11!

Eric Perkins from KARE 11 did a great job representing Team Strong Heart and Camp Odayin. What a lot of fun!
Perk Rocks!
Click on the following link to see the story and video:

Monday, June 4, 2007

Perk at Play!

Hey all!

Just wanted to give you a heads up that Team Strong Heart will appear on the "Perk at Play" segment during the 10pm newscast on KARE 11 this Tuesday, June 5th!

Neil and I had some serious fun interviewing and shooting clips with Eric Perkins. What an exceptionally nice guy! Funny too! That's right...nice and funny...funny like ha, ha...

We're really looking forward to seeing some more local coverage for Camp Odayin and the TSH mission. Thank you KARE 11!

Perk Rocks!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tyler's Camp Odayin Story

Name: Tyler Hometown: Northern Minnesota

Diagnosis: Hypoplastic Left Heart

Surgeries: 7 open heart surgeries, 3 tracheotomy, 25 total surgeries

What I like about Camp Odayin:
I like fishing the most!
I enjoy meeting people from all over the country. I also enjoy the arts and crafts and participation
in the evening stage thing-comedy and talents.
I even like the horseback riding!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Team Kits are in!

Mt. Borah just sent us our Team Strong Heart Kits today! Many thanks for our clothing sponsor for developing and providing all of our race jerseys and shorts. These fit and look great!

Karen, thanks so much for all your work on the design!

Now wouldn't YOU look good in one of these jerseys?
You can order yours today! All profits go directly to Camp Odayin!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

RAAM Rehersal

A close third on the list of great things that happened on the May 12-13 weekend with Mother's day and the Fishing Opener taking the 1 & 2 spot (although some may argue the order), our pre RAAM rehersal really impressed us all!

Left to right in the above photo: Greg Kostik, Timothy Case, Neil Eerdmanns, Bernie Kaeferlein, Jon Boshea, Mike Nelson, Bill Nicholson, Tessa Hart, Brendon Stefancic, Linda Bergstrom, Stephanie Wisnet and Angie Kostik [not pictured].

RAAM is not only physically demanding on the riders but is also physically and mentally demanding on the support crew. The logistics of getting 4 racers from coast to coast in the fastest time possible while ensuring the utmost safety is tremendous.

Our team will use an XL motor home for crew and rider rest, and two minivans that will serve as a rider follow vehicle and rider support vehicle (takes the next rider up the road for the hand off). This is the "light" version of what some teams will employ to get from coast to coast. Some teams will use two motorhomes and 3 support vehicles but that takes no less than 12 crew members. Our goal is to use a strong and energetic crew of 8 to minimize costs and environmental impact (although the environmental impact is already significant!).

I was really impressed how well all of us were getting along, working together and problem solving for just having met and being thrust into close quarters and stressful conditions. The weekend goal was to focus on the logistics of navigation, vehicle use and rider exchanges. Neil and Bill worked out a 110 mile loop in the rural farmlands northwest of the twin cities that were then loaded onto three laptop computers with for each vehicle. The route was exceptionally hard with numerous turns and contained some new roads that were not accurately depicted on the GPS.

We kept the exchanges short to maximize this training opportunity. We switched riders every 15 to 30 minutes and exchanged with the RV riders and crew every 1.5 to 2 hours. Initially, this pushed up the stress level while the crew learned to navigate and exchange. The riders learned proper exchanges and night rules. It didn't take long before things were running smoothly in light of a challenging course and a frantic pace of rider exchanges.

The best part of the rehearsal was seeing the humor and compassion that the team demonstrated for one another. Mind blowing to consider that at the beginning of the day on Saturday, that was the first time most have met each other in person!

We'll be adding more photos and video of the rehersal over the next several days. Check out Team Strong Heart Photos and Videos.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Camp Odayin Article Appears in Congenital Cardiology Today!

One of Team Strong Heart's key sponsors to promote awareness for Camp Odayin just published "Camp Odayin - A Camp for Children With Heart Disease" article in their May Issue!

Click on the following link. The article appears on page 6.

Congenital Cariology Today May 2007 Issue

They have also graciously agreed to run advertisments for Camp Odayin for the remainder of 2007.

Thanks Tony! Thanks Richard!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Team Strong Heart in the News!

Click the following link to read about how the students at Oxbow Creek Elementary School in Champlin, MN raised money for Camp Odayin.

Anoka-Hennepin students raise money for Camp Odayin

Great work kids!!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tucker's Camp Odayin Story

Name: Tucker Hometown: Waconia, MN

Diagnosis: Aortic Stenosis

Surgeries: One, with a second surgery scheduled for the end of March.

What I like about Camp Odayin:
Camp is to make friends who have heart conditions. It was also fun to do all the things we did at camp--crafts, games and walking around.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

24 Hour RAAM Simulation

Greg, Neil, Tim and I and our Crew Chief, Bill did our first "RAAM style" 24 hour simulation with support vans this weekend. We had two goals in mind. First, team building. This was the first time that all 5 of us were able to get together and ride. Second, we really wanted to get a feel for what the logistical challenges are for leapfrogging vans and rider exchanges in 3 and 4 rider rotations as well as learning to navigate with GPS and mapping software.

We learned lots! First off, we are blessed to have such a great group of people in Team Strong Heart! We work and ride exceptionally well together. Second, we really got a feel for the challenges that come with rotating riders every ~30 minutes. To make things a little more difficult, the riders also had to crew for each other! It's was valuable for the riders to get the opportunity to learn crewing. Although 30 minute rotations might seem odd for a simulation that last 24 hours or a race that lasts 6 to 7 days, it allows the riders to keep the intensity significantly higher without tapping into reserve stores or breaking themselves down. Being competitive in RAAM means keeping the average speed over 3100 miles at 20+ mph!

Most competitive RAAM 4 person teams employ a rotation strategy that keeps two of the riders out on the road for 2 to 5 hours (depending on conditions and time of day) while the other two rest in the RV. The two riders on the road each are assigned a support vehicle (mini van) and two crew members. The first rider puts in a 30 minute ride with the support vehicle closely following for safety. The second rider gets in the other support vehicle and drives about 8 to 10 miles up the road and waits for the first rider to overtake. The two riders overlap wheels or tag and the second rider with his support vehicle heads up the road for a 30 minute effort while the first rider is driven up the road 8 to 10 miles. On and on...during the RAAM we anticipate up to 350 rider exchanges in the 3100 mile course!

If one rider gets injured or ill, the rotation goes to a 3 person rotation that gets more complicated. Each rider will be on a 3 hour shift with a new rider rotating in every 1.5 hours while maintaining the same 30 minute efforts. This requires more work from the riders and crew.

We started off at noon on Saturday on a loop around the Stillwater area. Great scenery, good hills. Greg was taking college tests and couldn't make it out until 4pm so we worked on rotating three riders. At 5 pm, we rode over to Champlin to get experience with night riding on some safer roads and base the "graveyard" shift out of my house. Since the riders were also crewing, no one would get any rest or sleep unless we stopped the driving. Even with that no one got more than 2 hours of sleep. Neil and I got done with our shift at around 6am. I whipped up a big batch of waffles and we all got up wolfed down our first "real meal" and headed back out for more practice...only this time Angie was with us and having 2 crew made life significantly easier!

Our next big practice session is scheduled for May 12 & 13. We've planned a 36 hour simulation with 6 crew members, all 4 riders, two support vehicles and an RV to learn how to run things just like they are planned to happen in RAAM. I've heard that the best plans are typically blown away after 24 hours of RAAM, so this experience is extremely valuable in teaching us how to adapt and roll with the punches!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Team Strong Heart Jersey Design!

A huge thank you to Karen West-Reger for all her hard volunteer work! The jersey and shorts design look great! Karen must have come up with at least 30 different designs and revisions over the past couple of months, each one worthy of racing in. Very impressive considering this is Karen's first cycling jersey design experience!
If you'd like to show your support for the Team and Camp Odayin, this jersey is also available for purchase. All profit from jersey sales will go directly to Camp Odayin. Contact to order yours!
Click on for all Team Strong Heart Merchandise on sale now! A very cool way to "Show" your support!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Rose's Camp Odayin Story

Name: Rose Hometown: Lawrence, KS

Diagnosis: Two time heart transplant recipient. The first transplant was at age 4, because of restrictive cardiomyopathy, probably because of a virus attacking her heart, and was in congestive heart failure. The second was at age 12, and was necessary because of severe coronary artery disease, probably because of a low grade constant rejection.

Surgeries: Two total surgeries-low in numbers, massive in intensity! She’s also had close to 40 cardiac caths.

What I like about Camp Odayin:
I love meeting people my same age that have been through the same thing as me. It’s great to share stories about our experiences with surgeries, and I’ve made some amazing friendships. I love the location of the camp, Minnesota is beautiful and it’s nice to get away from the heat of Kansas for a while in the summer. I hope that I can go back to camp again next summer.
I know that I will have a wonderful time!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

First Team Photo!

We had fun getting together last month for the second round of testing at Dr. Halvorsen's lab and taking an opportunity to take a few photos with all the racers in the same place at the same time. We took pictures in different locations both smiling and serious. Note to team: we don't do serious well (they were more goofy lookin' than serious!) :-) I don't think we'll ever make the cover of GQ...but we do look better on the bike!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Marisa's Camp Odayin Story

Name: Marisa
Hometown: Cambridge, MN

Diagnosis: Familial Cardial Miapathy (enlarged heart)

Surgeries: 3, not including the several picc lines and biopsy’s.

What I like about Camp Odayin:
I love the fact that I’m around kids with the same disease. It makes me feel accepted and being able to share like experiences. I love the activities and want to volunteer when I am old enough. All of the staff is very friendly, I feel safe, just like I’m at home.