One of our favorite things is when different facets of our cycling worlds collide. This happened a few weeks ago when one of our local Feedback Sports racers, (and all around cycling do-gooder) Paul Majors was lead mechanic for the Love, Sweat and Gears RAAM team. As an official sponsor of RAAM, this local connection was dream come true. If you’re not familiar with RAAM (Race Across America), here you go…
Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well.
In 1982, four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination. Relay Teams were introduced in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. Team sizes are 2, 4 and 8 persons. Relay Team racing made the event accessible to any fit cyclist.
There is no other race in the world like RAAM. There is no race that combines the distance, terrain and weather; no other event that tests a team’s spirit from beginning to end. The Race inspires everyone who has been a part of it – racer, crew, staff and fans alike. RAAM is the true test of speed, endurance, strength and camaraderie, the ideal combination of work and play.
Now back to Paul and the team. We happily outfitted team Love Sweet and Gears with A-frames, Pro-Elites and RAKK (plus a few sets of tools). Fully dialed with Paul (and under the direction of Team Captain, Chuck Magnus and Team Director, Jay Wuchner) these super-human athletes finished in 1st place for all 4 person teams (and even out-paced most of the 8 person teams). They put our gear through the wringer for a 3000+ mile adventure. The team made the crossing in 6 days, 3 hours and 39 minutes – averaging 20.79 mph. We asked Paul a few questions regarding this phenomenal experience. After reading his answers, maybe you’ll be tempted to put RAAM on your bucket list as a racer or a mechanic!
FBS: Tell us specifically how our products made a difference at this year’s race.
Paul: First off, all of the other teams were in awe of our Feedback Sports set-up. We would pop out of our trailer, set up the A-Frame and start taking the bikes out. Each bike had it’s own safe place to land. The A-Frame was perfect–it sets up in less than 10 seconds and keeps the bikes safe and off the ground. We also used an A-Frame in the back ofeach follow van for the same reason, as the bikes go in and out of the vans well over 350+ times. It is so important to keep them safe and stable. One of the best parts of the Pro-Elite work stand is its flexibility. I could put any bike in it with so much speed and accuracy–regardless if it was some funny shaped TT bike or a road bike with an aerodynamic seat post. The Pro-Elite just always worked perfectly and quickly.
FBS: What was the hardest part of RAAM from the standpoint of the mechanics?
Paul: Believe it or not, one of the hardest parts of RAAM is before the race even begins. You have to get to inspection. For the head mechanic, this is a nerve racking time. There are so many rules and so much prep on the bikes to get ready for inspection. But I was prepared. We showed up and we set up two of the A-Frames. We placed 4 bikes on each A-Frame with it’s lights on and all shoes and helmets by each bike. Everything was organized and laid out. The extra wheels rested on the sides of the A Frame, out of their bags. The inspector showed up with a hard no-nonsense expression. She took one look at our layout and commented, “You guys look very organized.” Our inspection was over in less than 10 minutes. Then the inspector took pictures of our setup to show other teams how it should be done. Thanks to Feedback for helping us with all parts of the RAAM!
FBS: What are some of the other challenges you faced?
Paul: One of the other fun parts of RAAM is what we call “the fire drill”. Every 80 miles or so we change out racers. One pair of riders finishes their pull and another pair starts. With that we change out bikes as well. All this happens in less than 30 seconds and the vans need to be ready to put back on the road with the new racers and no stopping in forward progress. All of this has to happen in the dark in a new place every time. We color coded our A-Frames and RAKK so that all team members knew (based on the color) what bike went where. New bikes that were going into the follow van, were always on the gold A-Frame. The new bike going into the shuttle van, was always on the yellow RAKK. The next racers new bike, was always on the red RAKK. and the bikes that are coming off the road were always placed on the black A Frame. This helped eliminate the problem of the wrong bike ending up in the wrong place – and out of the 58 times that we performed the fire drill, we got it right EVERY time.
So there you have it. Perhaps the best example we could find, combing bike storage and maintenance to get a successful result…racing round the clock …for a week. Color us impressed, team Love, Sweat and Gears!! Congratulations to all involved and thanks for representing Feedback Sports products at RAAM 2017!
These events go back to the summer of 2014 when we had the 1st “Pro’s vs “Amos” contest (“amos” is just a rhyming abbreviation for “amateurs”). There was achocolate chip cookie bake-off followed by adodge ball tournament. There was laughter and tears. *It was mostly the laughing and the cookies that inspired us to keep this “challenge” going.
Since then we’ve invited many strong, fun women to join in on the shenanigans. While the cast of women is ever changing (life happens), the spirit of this event never will. This will always be a somewhat silly celebration of the pure joy we all have for our sport.
Pros & Amos: Tri-Style
In a digital-cyber-y version of 303’s famous Pros v. Amos challenges, we pit famous local “Amo” Katie Macarelli opposite a couple “Pro” athletes you may have heard of… Olympic World Champion Gwen Jorgensen & Professional Triathlete Alicia Kaye! And we’re talking about how Pros live their athletic lives and learn their lessons, compared to Amos… What it’s like as a female role model, mistakes they’ve made, and how they’ve overcome obstacles along the path to stardom… Read on to find out who’s a brainiac with multiple degrees… who hurdles barbed wire fences with ease… and who’s favorite prize ever was 20 pounds of steak.
Here’s some background:
GWEN JORGENSEN Gwen Jorgensen is a professional triathlete from St Paul, MN. Gwen is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion (2014, 2015), and 17x ITU World Triathlon Series race winner. She also likes to read, try new foods, and hang out with friends and family.
2016 Olympic Champion
2015 World Champion
2014 World Champion
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Member
2013 USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year
2014 USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year
2015 USA Elite National Champion
2014 USA Elite National Champion
2013 USAT Elite National Champion (Sprint and Olympic Distance)
First USA Woman to win a World Triathlon Series race
15-time ITU World Triathlon Series Winner
2010 USAT Rookie of the Year
2010 USAT Elite Duathlete of the Year
ALICIA KAYE Alicia grew up in Canada and began participating in triathlon when she was 11 years old; she became a professional triathlete at the age of 14. Alicia spent her teen years racing triathlon while juggling her academic studies. While completing her undergraduate degree in Sport Psychology she met fellow triathlete and now husband, Jarrod Shoemaker. Since meeting Jarrod she has began racing for the United States and also completed her masters degree in Athletic Counseling. Some of Alicia’s proudest moments include winning Canadian Junior National Championships in 2001, and winning the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in 2013. In her spare time Alicia works as a mental trainer and runs a skincare company with her husband Jarrod, called Endurance Shield.
And our “Amo,” KATIE MACARELLI Katie is a Colorado native who grew up on a dairy farm on the Eastern Plains. She got her start in the Colorado cycling scene competing in triathlons for about five years until she realized that running is the worst. She’s a mom of two teenage girls, a year-round bike commuter who hates driving but loves cyclocross. She is currently the marketing manager for Feedback Sports.
Here we go! 1. Have you ever googled yourself? Any oft-repeated MISconceptions out there that you’d like to clear up? Any rumor or tall tale that just keeps popping up on Wikipedia? Here’s your chance to set the record straight. And if not, give us your best pretend fake fact.
GJ: I’ve googled my husband, Patrick Lemieux, but don’t google myself. I think one thing people may assume is that I come from a running background, however I actually come from a swimming background and didn’t start running until I was a junior in college.
AK: Yes, I’ve googled myself. It almost always just to find an image or to find articles written about a recent race. Maybe once every few years I’ll look to see if anyone is saying something mean or false, but I’ve never found anything truly negative.
KM: I work in the digital marketing realm, so of COURSE I have. The only misconception I’ve ever found was an article that listed me as living in Portland. I’ve never actually been to Portland, but it sounds lovely. *I generally disregard everything past page 5 on google, because it’s like reading the comments on Pinkbike. It will just make you mad and/or confused.
2. How has your rise to fame affected your performances? Has there ever been a time when the spotlight really helped you? Or worked against you?
GJ: I am an introvert, so it took some time to get used to the media attention and fans walking up to me. I now enjoy being able to share my experiences, but still need my alone time to recharge.
In 2012, after I qualified for the Olympics I had a bunch of media engagements lined up for the week of a WTS race in San Diego. I did an all day photo shoot along with other media the week leading into the race and I believe this contributed to my poor performance. I think I almost finished dead last.
AK: I had my breakout year in 2013 winning the Lifetime Series and Toyota Triple Crown. I thought it would be this ultra grand moment where everything would change. But life went on as normal, the money and/ or result didn’t change any of my relationships- we were just able to make a big fat mortgage payment instead;) What was interesting was in 2014 I really struggled to find purpose and meaning after achieving all my goals in 2013, trying to replicate them again in 2014 was an entirely different experience.
KM: I’m not famous, but I do find it hard to get to the start line to any race because I often stop to hug, heckle and/or say hello to friends. As it turns out, missing the start of a race directly impacts your performance.