ABOUT TEAM SPEEDY TURTLE
On the surface, it might seem like we’re simply two middle-aged men looking for the next adrenalin rush. But the Race Across America Bicycle Race is the culmination of a lifelong pursuit of pushing ourselves and showing people that we can. That they can. That YOU can.
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The Why Behind Dave and Team Speedy Turtle
I am incredibly lucky to have a family who ALWAYS encouraged me to dream and stretch the possibilities. When I was randomly offered a chance to drop out of college and tune pianos in Iceland, my Mom said, “That’s just out there enough that it might happen.” When I wanted to move to New York City from rural Arkansas via Greyhound and start school at NYU, my folks were fine with it as long as I could figure out the details (including the finances).
I’m not saying I always got what I wanted because I didn’t. But I achieved what I have because I figured out how to take it from a dream into reality. My parents taught my siblings and me that if we wanted something, we might be able to get it – if we worked incredibly hard. That combination of dreaming and work ethic has made all sorts of things fall into place.
This has nothing to do with me being blind, except that it was essential for me to understand from an early age that I was going to have to grind it out even more than sighted people if I’m going to get what I want. And I want to experience EVERYTHING!
Physical fitness keeps me grounded. It gives me an outlet for frustration and, well, life. It lets me eat all the sugar I want, which became crazy important after I quit drinking 20 years ago. If I don’t work out, I’ll gain a zillion freaking pounds, driving me deep into a (large) hole where I’ll hide and sulk and mope about body image issues.
My wife Dawn would probably prefer I chill at home for a while. I’ve had plenty of experiences to last several lifetimes. My adventures have included Ironman, tons of marathons, jumping out of planes, living in a country where I couldn’t speak the language, walking on fire, etc., but that’s just who I am. Fear pisses me off. I’m petrified of being afraid, so I fight back, which has served me well.
We’re ready for this challenge.
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A Little About Jim
I have always been a bicyclist by nature and I just love to travel that way. From that ride across MIchigan, I progressed to a ride across the country and then a ride around the world. Stops have included Helsinki, Paris, Cape Town and Hanoi.
I completed RAAM when I was 35. I tried again in 2021, but I DNF’d (did not finish) at mile 2500 of 3000. My body was shutting down and I knew it was time to quit. I don’t see DNFs as failures, although it was tough for me and the crew. But we have another chance to do it again.
I’m excited for a new challenge. Tandem definitely amps up the regular Race Across America. It’s another level. But it sounds so much fun at the same time, we’re just going to go do it.
Dave and I are both here for a common goal and we have similar personalities. We just love life and we’re just going to go for it.
Right now, you might have a few questions
Why are we competing as a two-person team in a solo sport?
Because one of us is blind (Hi, I’m Dave.) I have Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). It’s an inherited retinal disease characterized by severe vision impairment or blindness at birth. I can see if a light is on but not much beyond that.
The second athlete is the guide. (That’s me, Jim). Born and raised in Michigan, I’ve been riding all my life. My son and my wife also regularly join me on rides. In fact, my wife and I have been riding tandem for a few decades.
What race are we talking about?
The big one. The behemoth. The Race Across America (RAAM) 2024. It’s the world’s toughest bicycle race. A classic American tradition since 1982, RAAM draws racers from around the world. Solo racers have 12 days, and relay teams have 9 days to cycle across the United States.
We’re racing (although there are 2 of us) as a “solo” team. So that means we have a maximum of 12 days to traverse 3000 miles across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet.
The fastest solo racer has finished in just over eight days, riding between 250-350 miles daily, balancing speed and the inescapable need for sleep.
Why are we doing this race?
Because it’s there. We’re not necessarily trying to inspire people with disabilities to compete in ultradistance sports, as this definitely isn’t for everyone.
However, many people with disabilities don’t think these opportunities are open to them and we’re here to say, “You can do this.”
We’re here to say it’s not about the activity; it’s about fighting for something you want. You might have to grind it out if you want something. And if it’s fundamental to you, grab onto it.
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How can you help?
Well, first things first. Please donate to our team.
Secondly, we’d love it if you spread the word and the positive vibes. We want to bring you along with us. You can experience the ups (the first comes atop Wolf Creek Pass in the southwest corner of Colorado, rising to over 10,800 feet (3,300 m)) and the downs of the entire race with us.
Also, if you have anyone in your community, family, or network, who has a disability, please support them. They can make small changes and choices if they feel something (an activity, a sport or even a job) is currently out of their reach. They can take action where they are and do what they can do for now.
Why the name Speedy Turtle?
It’s mostly an inside joke. When you’re nearing the end of your race – whether it’s a marathon, a triathlon or an Ironman, you feel like you’re moving in slow motion. You’re not all that fast, but you ARE moving forward. So we say that we’re “speedy for a turtle”…
Interested in having us speak to your organization or group?
We’d be very happy to present our journey to your organization. Please contact us at email@example.com and let’s chat!