Tuesday, June 30, 2009



Patrick Doak, Carlos Moleda, Dr. Hannes Koeppen and Vico Merklein are extraordinary athletes doing extraordinary things.
They rode on handcyles and knew that no team has ever completed RAAM in 9 days before on handcyles. They knew it would be really hard, they knew it would hurt (physically and mentally) and they knew they would do it. Failure was not an option.
They arrived in Annapolis at 2.29am. The journey took them an incredible 8 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes averaging 15.02mph. THAT IS FANTASTIC!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Life is Good

Just returned from the RAAM banquet. What a nice evening. TeamCanBeVenture was awarded the Ian Sandbach Inspiritional Award. What an honor for our racers. Today was an unbelievable day. All of the planning, racing and hard work came to an end early this morning when TeamCanBeVenture crossed the finish line. What an accomplishment. The first handcycle team to complete RAAM in the allotted time.
We had a few speeches, many tears and a great time at the banquet.

I personally want to thank the entire crew and racers for the opportunity of a life time. The racer crews were unbelieveable. I don't think we lost more than 10 minutes due to wrong turns across the United States. The route is not interstate driving. You are on county roads, unmarked ranch roads and it takes total concentration to follow the route book and direct your driver who in turns directs your racer. You almost have to see it to believe it. I want to thank the racer navigators and the drivers for their devotion throughout the trip. Suzy/Joanna for Carlos, Mike/Billy for Patrik, Ralf/Chrissy for Vico and Joe/Joyce/Grace for Hans. The RV team was Alan/Martha. Our Penske truck driver most of the trip was Ron.
I want to thank the RV crew who spent countess hours preparing food, many times several different types for our racers, doing laundry sometimes 3 times in a 24 hour period. Assistaing in driving while racer crews slept. You have to crew RAAM to understand what really goes on. It takes all of these people to get the racers across the line. I think that Patrick said it correctly tonight. He said the racers got to do what they love. They rode their bikes day and night. The crews directed, fed and kept them comfortable. It was an honor for me to serve as Crew Chief. All of you made my job easy. Thank you so much.

Someone said tonight would you do this again. I think I would and I think several of the crew would also.

Now we start the returning of the vehicles and getting everyone home. I have made lifetime friends the past nine days. I was very fortunate to travel with two of my sons on this trip. For nine days I did not see the news, watch TV, read a newspaper or return phone calls to many friends. It was a trip of a lifetime and if you ever get the opportunity do this. You will not be sorry.

Thank you, Carlos, Patrick, Vico and Hannes for an adventure I will never forget.


better late than never...

well i promised friends and family that i would post along the way not realizing that very shortly after leaving Oceanside, CA sleep and the possibility of a shower would take precedence over contact with the outside world...
so i now share some of my collected thoughts and memories from along the way

-the excitement of arriving in San Diego and getting to Oceanside meeting the team and all the crew and still not really knowing what was ahead of us
-the start at Oceanside where we were all clean and fresh and pumped for the trip ahead seeing our guys cycle past the start line
-pigs in the middle of the road in Sedona, which i am sure would be beautiful during the day time. Sedona, not the pigs.
-the beauty of the beginnings of the desert in California leading into the beautiful red rocks of Arizona and Utah before it was 110 degrees in the shade.
-Lizards, a road runner, a jumping mouse all taking their chances in front of a hand cycle. A chipmunk didn't fair so well somewhere in WV.
-stunning views and so many wild flowers coming into the Rockies, some snow still visible in the distance
-trying to follow Vico on some of the crazy descents, one at 60 mph where the posted speed limit was 30 mph.... and trying to get it on film!
-wondering why we only pass coffee shops in cute towns like Taos at night or when Vico is on the bike and it is impossible to stop for a moment to enjoy the time
-the looks from the prairie dogs, elk, and pronghorns as the hand cycle sped by
-i heard my first ever crop report on the radio in Kansas... did you know the corn is silking and the soybeans are ahead of schedule this year?
-just in case you were wondering, Kansas looks the same from end to end, lots of grain elevators, a sprinkling of oil wells, and flat fields as far as the eye can see.
-Missouri=Misery high head and humidity... finally used my nursing skills and gave one of the guys some IV fluids for heat stroke and dehydration
-the excitement of crossing the Mississippi and knowing how close we were to the end
-i think i actually missed most of Illinois because i was sleeping or just completely out of it.
-coming into the Blue Ridge mountains in WV and feeling home again and also wondering what it will be like to follow Vico on these descents... he passed a car on one of them so you can imagine what it was like to follow...

It has been an intense 8 days 9 hrs and 6 minutes. Rolling into Annapolis this morning was exhilarating because we knew we had done it and we all knew we would get to sleep for more than 2 hrs. Most of us had had less than that in the previous 48 hrs. I felt guilty feeling tired when all I had to do was support and follow, I didn't cycle any of the miles we covered. It is hard to believe we put in over 3000 miles in the past 8 days but Ralf told me to train for this Vico has ridden over 8125 miles on his own since December. These guys are impressive nothing disabled about them, to be behind them in the follow vehicle as they power through a climb or cruise on some of the flats is impressive to say the least. And then even though they are exhausted to always be smiling and able to get back in the hand cycle for one last push is just unbelievable. These four athletes are some of the most impressive I have come across! We had an amazing crew that kept us fed and watered and showered almost every other day across the country. It was a huge group effort to get everyone safely and quickly from one coast to the next, our crew chief was excellent and I thank them all for everything. It was an experience... one I would consider again! Thanks for following us along the way and thanks for the support of the team and crew Can Be Venture!


It's official: "TEAM CAN BE VENTURE", is a RAAM finisher!
Our guys made it in 8 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes! It's amazing!
It has been an amazing trip! I will have to sit down with all my notes and write a very long post later!
These last 36 hours have been really difficult on our 4 athletes. After wheeling themselves under the scorching heat in the desert, cold, rain, going up and down hills, mountais, day and night, their bodies are hurting and they are really, really tired! But now, more than ever, the spirits are high and everyone is very happy!
I am just very thankful for the opportunity to have been part of this journey with all these truly amazing human beings!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How sweet it will be...

As the race comes to an end...

Jared (Patrick's son) and I were walking around downtown Annapolis today. We wanted to scope out the finish so we're not late meeting them tonight. This 9 day journey started years ago and this evening our team and crew will make it to the finish.

I talked to a few members of the RAAM staff this afternoon. Each of them said how incredible Team Can Be Venture is. It got me thinking. They are an incredible group of racers (and crew - we can't forget them). No, they are an incredible group of individuals. RAAM is simply (not to be mistaken for a simple race) an example of what these men are about. This is a hard race - ok, a very hard race for anyone, for everyone. So yes, it might be considered more difficult because the bikes weigh so much more and it's more difficult to climb (that's a bit obvious since it's never been done before) - but they didn't want an extended time allotment. They were going to do this race as they tackle everything else - by the same rules that apply for the masses.

I asked Jared last night if he was ever worried about the team not finishing. He said "no, because dad trained really hard and was ready. Of course they were going to finish." Well said Jared. There is the bigger message this race carries for this team and one I've found in being part of this journey. You have a goal, you come up with a plan, you work hard to be ready and then you attack it.

They knew no other handcycle team had done it in 9 days before.
They knew it would be REALLY hard.
They knew it would hurt (both physically and mentally).
They knew they would do it. Failure was not an option.

This is how these men live their lives and not because they are disabled and in chairs. This is who they are. I/we can learn a lot from them. I do everyday from Patrick - he is my gift (ok, enough wife mushy stuff).
Hit it hard baby. Finish strong. We're waiting for you (with your Woodford Reserve). We're so proud of you, the team and your FABULOUS crew.
Jennifer (& Jared)

Alan The Race Car Driver

The support crew is very grateful to Alan for driving the RV this entire trip. When we are not using the Route Book, Alan, using his GPS named Ethel. Well Alan has not updated Ethel in awhile. Last night we were going from Athens, Oh to Grafton, West Virgina. Sharon and Cathy were in "The Penske" using my GPS that had just been updated. Their GPS took them a different route and they were ahead of us. For those of you who do not know Alan, he used to drive race cars. Thus the trip began. To make a long, long story short. Sharon and Cathy made it to Grafton first. They were parked in the store parking lot and Cathy was outside shouting "we beat you" "we beat you". Just one more fun thing to keep us all sane.

West Virginia Mountains

The mountains in West Virginia have really been tough on the racers. Patrick said every part of his body hurts but we are going to finish tonight. We only have 214 miles to go. When we move from time stations to time stations we move as a caravan. Early this morning the caravan of the RV, the Penske truck, Carlos van and Patricks vans made our way to La Vale Md. When we crossed the state line for Maryland and the big sign said welcome to Maryland my emotions took over. I had tears running down my face for about 10 miles. I could not beleive we were finally this close.

I started thinking about what these men have down this past week. All I could think about was the team motto:

"We believe that we all strive for a better and more fulfilling life. We understand that life is not something that we can control or predict. However, how we approach the way we live our lives and tackle obstacles and challenges along the way, can dictate how our lives Can Be".

Therefore, we are Team Can Be Venture.

I remember 31 years ago when Patrick was in the hospital in Indianapolis. His Dad and I thought why did this injury have to happen to Patrick and we were really feeling pretty sorry for Patrick and our situtation. Then we went down the hall and saw a young boy tied in a wagon. He had no arms and no legs. Suddenly, we realized that we were blessed and we should be grateful. This week I have seen why he was given those arms. Those arms have wheeled him across the United States. This team has shown all challenged athletes that anything is possible. I am so proud of this team.

Will update you later.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

As we are driving tonight the sun is setting here in West Virginia. It is so beautiful. When Patrick ask me last Christmas do to RAAM with the team I had no idea of the fun we would have. Watching these four men break into two sub teams and the sub team go out every eight hours and ride in the joy sun, rain and cold is remarkable. Their dedication to the sport is unbelieveable. Many people thought this team would not make it and here we are just 314 miles to go. For me, it has been an honor and a priviledge to support this team.

Today, Martha's 90 year old Father and her brother Nelson came to see us in Athens, Ohio. He watched a team transition. He really enjoyed the visit.

Will update later.


Back Home Again In Indiana

Here we are in Indiana. For the Doak's, Patrick, Mike and Barb this back home again in Indiana. Kokomo, Indiana was home for us a lot of years. Patrick really wanted White Castle hamburgers. The Penske truck made an unscheduled stop in Bloomington to get 30 White Castles. We are sorry for Billy being in the van with Patrick, Mike and 30 White Castle.

We are on the homestretch. We can not believe we have been on the road for 7 days. It has been one long continous day. The racers are doing wonderful. The long days and nights are starting to take a toll on a few but the rest of us are hanging in.

Ron got to sleep with his eye mask. He woke up and was going in the store with the mask on. You might be a redneck on the Race Across America if you were an eye mask in to the store.

Friday, June 26, 2009


It's been an amazing trip!
From the sandy beaches, the orange trees, and rock hills in California, the red rock in Arizona, Monument Valley in Utah, the Mountains in Colorado, and even the openess of Kansas. Every day it's a differente landscape! Different people.
The group is made of so many different people, but everyone's goal is the same! Make it to the other side! Carlos, Pat,Vico and Hannes, you guys are amazing!
Let's get there!


Another under 100 degrees heat!
Vico and Hannes rode all night and made great progress!
Carlos and Pat took over during the day and made over 140 miles!
These guys are amazing!
Everyone look tired, but after passing the halfway mark we feel like we can smell the ocean!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Missouri is HOT! HOT! HOT!

Vico and Hannes took a beating from the relentless Missouri heat! Carlos and Pat relieved them and are now on the road as the sun goes down! Everyone's tired but spirits remain high. The guys drive and determination are keeping us all going! We are now past the point of no return, it's easier to go forward then to go back!

TruckStop Showers

Did you know you can take showers in truckstops. We were at a truck stop this morning taking showers. They told us it would be $9.00 a shower and we would have paid $20.00. Cathy and Sharon sucked up to the manager and we got the showers for $6.00. I wasn't outside but I think they were out in the lot being lot lizards.

The doors on the showers locked on the outside not the inside. Martha was taking a shower and someone opened the door from the outside. He had a big smile on his face and said he was sorry. Maybe this is why we got the showers for $6.00. We may write a book about this trip when we are finished.

Thursday Afternoon Update

We are in the Ozark Mountains. Some climbs but nothing like the Rockies. Looks like we are on schedule to cross the Mississippi River. Like any large family traveling we have had some up and downs. Carlos, Hannes, Patrick and Vico look really good. People along the way have been so kind it strengthens your faith in the American people.

The RV/Penske truck crew is very busy. Yesterday in a 24 hour period I was in 3 laundermats in three different cities. We passed a bicycle team yesterday and we were all very excited about it. I myself have found several places that I want to come back and visit.

We have seen one shining sea,

We have seen the spacious skies in Arizonia and New Mexico.

We have seen the amber waves of grain acroos the whole state of Kansas.

We have seen the purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain in Colorado.

Everytime we cross into a different state we all agree that when Katharine Lee Bates wrote the words to America The Beautiful she must have been doing RAAM.

The good thing is we are all still speaking to each other and still have our goal to reach the second shining sea in Annapolis.

Yesterday we were parked at a city park in some little town in Kansas. I was sleeping on a picnic table with my Brahmin handbag as a pillow. Made the whole homeless look real.

Janet, got your email, thanks for your support and keep following us.

It is amazing how 18 people (most had never met each other before) have learned each others likes, dislikes and what pushes their buttons. I lost my cool in the RV a few days ago and found that I can do that and we still laugh about it and get along. Before we left on this adventrue I apoligized to everyone that if I offended them any in way I was sorry.

Life is good on the RAAM road and I am so very proud of our racers and crew. This is the true endurance for all of us.

I am even thinking about volunteering to crew next year. Who know I might make this my retirement crew.

The RAAM officials have been outstanding along the trip. Their management team can be proud of the team that have put together to support this adventure.

Got to get a little sleep, will update you later.


Still in Kansas, but not for long!

We're still doing great despite temps over 100 degrees, LOTS and LOTS of bugs and seemingly endless stretches of flat roads and grass. Spirits are high, riders are "gung ho" , crew is holding up (despite lack of rest) and handcycles are in good shape. Marveling over the vastness and beauty of the United States.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

flat tire!

62 miles after Elkhart, right before transition, Carlos blew a tire! Patrick took over at transition without missing a beat. Now 75 miles from Elkhart, Carlos is back on the road with a new tire. No time lost!

They made it to Elkhart!

With 4 hours to spare!!!!! They are making some GREAT time today.
Patrick is expecting they'll be at the halfway point later this evening. They need to make it to the Mississippi River by 5 p.m. on Friday.

WooHoo! They are very excited!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hopi Stop Store

Thanks so much to you guys at the Hopi Indian convience store. The history lesson was wonderful wouldbelive the Hopi have a store on one side of the road and the Navaho on the other side.

Thanks for your hospitality.


Lost Earring in Mexican Hat

I evidently was doing the Mexican Hat dance in Mexican Hat. I lost one of my pearl earrings. More sentimental than value.

Thank you Congress, Arizona TS Representatives

Thank you Congress, you guys are wonderful. The water, lemonade, t-shirts and swimming pool was awesome. Your hospitality was wonderful and so appreciated.

We will not forget you.

TeamCanBeVenture Racers and Crew

Update from Kathy

Crossing the open range, Ron in true Tansey form avoided a cow on the side of the road. If we would have had time we would have had a cow roast.

I have been amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone along the road has been. Seeing American in 9 days isn't as bad as we think with great people.

I was very thankful that my driving through the Rockies was during the night. I had no idea the dropoffs were even there.

Update you later,


Update from Dr Joe

As of this moment the race is on. We have a critical deadline to meet by 3:00pm tomorrow. We have gone through the Rockies and now we have to push and pedal as hard as we can. This is not about a scenic tour.

1. San Diego sheriffs dept pulled us over for a several hours.

2. Broken bike (2 derailers). Our racers repared the bike at 2am. in the Walmart parking lot.

3. Must speak Shimano about new gears.

Dr Joe

Report from Antonito, Colorado

The support team is in Antonito, Colorado ready to move on to Taos, NM. The mountain climb the last two days have been really tough on the racers. We had a bike problem and hopefully that is now taken care of. We have to be in Elkhart, Kansas tomorrow afternoon at 3pm. The guys are saying no problem. Yesterday we were at a RV park in Mexican Hat. We all got showers, what a treat. Have you ever dried your hair with the hand dryer in the ladies restroom. It is real fun!!!.

The racers and the crews are being fed well and taken care of. For the support team the moving and cooking never ends. When a team comes in you have to feed them, prepare what they want for their next 8 hours, fix breakfast when they wake up and send them on their way. Once they leave the next team is here to start it all again.

The crews can't wait to get in New Mexico and get Indian Tacos. I think if we do not get some of them they will be upset.

This is the first time I have had a chance to update in several days.

Will try to do a better job updating.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Need more info - faster?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm feeling a bit glued to my computer since the race started. I spent some time on the RAAM website and found some helpful info. Thought I'd share it with you.
Looks like they just made it to TS #11 (Mexican Hat, Utah) about 10 minutes ago.

Use the below link.
Use the drop down on rider/team report (select #T412) to get info on the time station arrival times, average speed, miles left to ride, etc.
Use the drop down on arrival predictions - rider/team (select #T412) to get estimates of when they are expected to reach the remaining time stations. Remember they need to make it to Annapolis by 17:00 on Monday, June 29th.


The RAAM-2009 start was nothing short of amazing! The presenter for the teams was Gabriele Reece, who was also cheering on her husband, Laird Hamilton, who is part of Team Surfing USA.
The National anthem was performed Jimmy Hendrix style.
And they were off!
For Team Can Be Venture, Hannes started the first leg, followed by Vico for the first few miles. Then Carlos and Pat took over right after TS-1.
The landscape was amazing! California is beautiful! We got to see the beach, orange orchards, the endless rocky hills and, even the “happy cows from California”! The panoramic views were breath taking! The night skies are amazing! The sunrise with a sliver of a moon in the horizon will never be forgotten!
The transitions have been perfect! I guess all the practicing was worth it after all!
The only snag we encountered was when Pat was stopped by a San Diego County police officer for what he thought was some irregularity. But RAAM Officials were very prompt to clarify everything, and we were on the move shortly after.
The Team is pretty well and moral is really high! We are making good time to all Time Stations.The support crew is doing an amazing job in keeping everyone fed, clean and rested!
Check back later for more news!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Race Start Pictures

Here are a few pictures from the start. They had Team Can Be Venture lead out the riders - very cool!

Update from Patrick

About 2 minutes after reading Barb's blog Patrick called. My first question is what is this about a run in with the Sheriff's Department in SD? Short story is that they got pulled over - some issue about the van following Patrick being against the law. They were stopped about an hour an 40 minutes - ugh, not good when every minute counts. Patrick estimated they lost about an hour of time. Thanks to the RAAM Officials for your assistance. And we were worried about Vico staying out of trouble!

Patrick and Carlos just finished their first shift. Patrick said he was thrilled to be done with the "glass elevator." It's about a 4,000 foot drop over 8 miles (in the dark, no less). They have about 200 miles under their belt at this point. They're heading to base camp now to get some sleep while Hannes and Vico ride.

Made It First Night

We are in Blythe, California and we made it through our first day and night. Only major problem was with Patrick and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Can't take Patrick anywhere.

We will be heading to a RV park for showers (yes we are going to get showers) and water in the RV.

Will update you later.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

and so it begins...

As we flew into San Diego Joana asked me, do we know what we have gotten ourselves into? I said, "No way!" I looked out the window at the desert terrain and wonder, how will our guys feel about handcycling through that? But I am inspired by our motto "Life based on what can be instead of what is." I am excited and nervous about the days ahead, I hope my medical skills go unneeded. I am inspired by our athletes (the standing ovation was over the top), amazed by the scope of this event and the number of teams and crew here in Oceanside. It seems that everything has been thought of, our crew is organized; and it is a phenomenal group! I feel confident that the first 24hrs will produce plenty of stories. Check back soon.

Team Photos/Race Start Day Update

A few pictures from yesterday.

What a crazy week it's been here in Carlsbad, CA. There's tons of excitement in the air at our hotel right now. I'm not sure how much sleep everyone got last night but everyone is walking and taking pretty darn fast. Vans are undergoing last minute prep and our hotel rooms are emptying out. We're leaving in 1 hour to head to Oceanside for the start of the race, which begins at 5 p.m. EST. All 4 racers will begin the race together and then Hannes will lead the team for the first section. Hannes is already all business and reviewing the course (again) - the first portion is unescorted so he will be on his own for the first 20 miles or so.
I can't believe RAAM is finally here. Patrick has been talking about this race for years and planning this for almost a year and a half. Thanks for all your well wishes. Our plan is to update the blog daily. Please keep our riders and crews in your thoughts and prayers.



Yesterday was the day for equipment inspections and team presentations!
We got all the vans, RV, handcyles and gear ready for inspection.
Later in the day thera was a ceremony to introduce all the teams that are racing today.
It was great to see so many commited people. All the crews were cheering everyone on! It was really great!
Team Can Be Ventura was introduced to the crowd and got an standing ovation!
After the ceremony they were interviwed by the RAAM crew.
This is going to be a great adventure!


Friday, June 19, 2009


Yesterday after an afternoon of practicing transitions and meetings, it feels that we are almost ready to go!
Today we have a full agenda with registrations, pictures, shopping for supplies and, of course, more meetings and instructions!
And, did I mention practicing transitions???
Check back later!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The whole group is now in San Diego. Chrissy and I were the last ones to arrive this afternoon! We had a great flight from Atlanta/GA here. The only empty seat in the plane was the one between us, which gave us plenty of room to stretch our legs and relax! Chrissy even stepped up to the plate when a passenger was not feeling well and the flight crew asked for help. Nothing like traveling with a nurse that carries a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope in her carry-on!
The plan for this afternoon is to practice our transitions and make an inventory of our medical supplies to see if we need to do any last minute shopping!
The vans are ready to go, everyone is in great spirits and ready to rock!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


My wife and I woke up in Barstow , California this morning on our way to Oceanside from Boston . The trip’s been uneventful to this point and a good opportunity to get to know my wife again after so many months of work and training. And yes after 3000 miles together in a van, we’re still married even though a few billboards along the way offered a one day divorce. That’s the upside. On the other hand it’s been a reality check. I wouldn’t say I had underestimated the task at hand but seeing how our rental van got batted around in the winds and how it struggled to climb the hills in the Rockies made me really think about what we’re doing. I was a little torn more than once between how beautiful it was to look at vs. how much it’s going to suck to ride on the way back.

Here’s a couple of shots from the trip… The first is me testing the claims of the folks at 5 Hour Energy Shots. I averaged about 4. I found they work faster when you inject them directly into a vein… The other is just outside of Denver . Not the same route we’ll take back but similar in certain parts. My hat’s off to the folks at Chrysler. I had no idea you could drive a vehicle that long redlining the tachometer. It doesn’t idle so well anymore though and doesn’t shift out of 1st gear but I think it’ll be fine. Besides I paid an extra $24/day “insurance” in case “those” situations arose.

Talk to you soon… Pat

Friday, June 12, 2009


Sun Life Financial Sponsors All-Star Handcycle Team's
Record-Setting Quest in 3,000-Mile Race Across America...more

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I just got the medical supplies for the race. We hope we won't need to use any of it, but we'll be well prepared for any scrapes, scratches, sunburns, upset stomachs, aches and pains that we might encounter!
Thanks Dr. Mike and Lisa Abidin for the support in donating these supplies!