Rob and I have been friends since 1977, when we met in junior high school. We have been cycling together since 1987. Well, I say "cycling together". I stopped being able to keep up with Rob around... 1987.
Rob is the best cyclist I have ever personally known. He rides faster and climbs hills better than most.
More important, he is an equally good husband, son, brother, police officer and friend. He has a huge heart, which he puts into everything he does (just ask anyone about the neat painting job he did on the back edges of the shelves he installed in the crawl space of Kate's and his house.)
The thing about RAAM is - it really does not care much about any of that. Sometimes a crash can take you out of the race in one fell swoop. In other cases, it is a thousand little cuts. Mechanical problems, nutritional upsets, bronchitis, hydration, saddle sores - whatever. Any one of those things is not a deal breaker, but multiple road blocks can lead to a premature end of the road.
It is not for lack of training or planning or dedication or heart.
It just is.
Rob has now competed in four RAAMs. He has finished two. In all four, he rode farther, faster and stronger that anyone I will ever know. Just going to the starting line of RAAM is an act of courage beyond comprehension. Everything else is just gravy.
Rob's the man. And I am proud to call him my friend.