Team 4Mil is an 8-person squad of active and retired military members, competing in the 2011 Race Across America. Within the team and its 21-person crew, all of the military services are represented. The group raises donations and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs to aid injured services members.
In the days prior to RAAM, the team and its crew convened at Camp Pendleton, near the race start in Oceanside, Calif. The team, which includes members based around the country, took the opportunity for some rare group riding, race-specific practice and team bonding.
Navigator Jim Colgary talks to riders during a training ride to test rider radios. During the race, follow vehicles trail the riders to provide guidance and protect them in traffic.
Military police at Camp Pendleton discuss the team’s practice route through the base.
Major Jim Weinstein, U.S. Air Force, discusses transition technique with the racers. The 8-person race is formatted as a relay. Teams don’t use a baton, like in running events. Under RAAM rules, the rider finishing the leg of a relay must pass the next rider before the following leg can begin.
Major Joe Arnone, US Air Force [Ret.], talks tactics during a pre-race team meeting. Arnone is one of the team's most accomplished cyclists. He competed in the Olympic Trials in 1992 and 1996 for both road and track cycling and was a 6-time member of the U.S. Military World Championships team.
Crew Chief Tony Serrano meets with the crew to discuss transition logistics. During RAAM, the eight-person team was split into two squads of four. Each squad would race approximately 10 hours in a four-person relay format. While one team raced, the other would drive between 200 miles and 250 miles down the route, where it would position itself to take the next shift when the first group arrived. The teams leapfrogged across the entire country this way. At the points where teams exchanged, speed and efficiency were critical. Bikes, provisions and personnel all had to be switched out. To help provide adequate support, the team used two RVs, a large rider van and mini-vans to transport riders and gear.
Crew Chief Tony Serrano discusses transitions.
Crew members hook up a bike trailer to an RV. The team had two trailers, one for each four-person squad. The trailers had to be switched out during each squad exchange.
Kelly Mullins, a registered nurse and U.S. Army medic, prepares medical supplies for RAAM.
Filling rider bottles on the night before the race start.
Each racer had two bikes. Most brought a time trail bike for the flats and a road bike for the climbing sections.
A hotel ironing board used as a makeshift work bench at Camp Pendleton.
Lead Mechanic Will McGinty makes final adjustments to bikes before the start of RAAM.
Mike Taney adds required signage to the Team 4Mil support vehicles.
Mike Taney loads cases of water into the RVs. The team brought enough water to hydrate the entire 29-person team for the nearly 3,000-mile trip.
Crew member Phil Houck leads a pre-race safety meeting. Team 4Mil competed in the 2010 edition of RAAM, but its race was cut short after its RV flipped over while driving through Colorado. No one was killed in the accident, but several were injured. Houck showed a video of the wreckage to drive home the importance of safety during a race that offers limited opportunities for crew members and racers to sleep.
Beth Kelsey and Will McGinty, who were both part of the 2010 team, react to video of the RV wreckage.
Group shot of Team 4Mil racers and crew at the pier in Oceanside, Calif.
Team 4Mil's crew included two wounded warriors, Marty Gonzales [left] and Mason Poe.
Racers meet at the Oceanside start for a pre-race training ride on the course.
A bike trailer lined up for pre-race inspection at Oceanside. Every team must pass a thorough inspection prior to the race to make sure that all equipment and safety requirements are met.
A RAAM official inspects the Team 4Mil bikes.
Shoes lined up for inspection. Each shoe must have reflective tape on the heel for safety.
Team 4Mil at the required pre-race meeting for all RAAM teams.
Team 4Mil crew members at the required pre-race meeting for all RAAM teams.
Rider Captain Jim Weinstein
ENS Sam L. Curlee, US Navy
Maj Justin Martin, US Air Force
CPO Wayne K. Dowd, US Navy (SEAL) retired
Capt. Dan S. Schindler, US Navy Reserve
Maj Joe Arnone, US Air Force
Capt Kyle Pitman, US Marine Corps
Lt Roy Collins, US Coast Guard Reserve
Starting line at Oceanside.
A fleet of minivans lined up to hit the road in support of RAAM teams.
Dan Schindler and Justin Martin line up at the start of RAAM. Teams are not allowed support for the first 24 miles of RAAM due to traffic and safety concerns. Team 4Mil sent two riders out at the start so that if one encountered a problem, the other could continue and finish that portion of the course without delay.
The starting chute of RAAM.
Justin Martin [left] and Dan Schindler roll off the start line.
Jim Weinstein zips down a 10-mile descent known as "The Glass Elevator" near Borrego Springs, Calif. Weinstein averaged 58mph on the descent which features dozens of tight hairpin turns.
Jim Weinstein on the flats outside of Borrego Springs. The team was treated to a 50-mph sustained tailwind, which helped racers hold speeds in excess of 40mph through the Southern California desert.
Kyle Pitman in the SoCal desert.
Dan Schindler takes a pull across the desert.
When night falls, cyclists and support vehicles turn on their lights.
Moonrise over the first team exchange point about 200 miles from the start near a border patrol inspection station between Glamis, Calif., and Palo Verde, Calif. The race started in the afternoon, so darkness fell by the time the first team reached the exchange point.
Will McGinty sets bikes on the team trailers at the exchange zone.
Wayne Dowd, a member of the second squad, prepares to roll off for his first leg of RAAM 2011.
As riders headed north through Arizona, the strong tailwind shifted to a cross wind, creating dangerous conditions for racers. Pictured is driver and navigator Shane Keating.
Kyle Pitman prepares for a transition in the Arizona desert.
Justin Martin at a transition point in the Arizona desert.
Sam Curlee [left] prepares to make a transition with Joe Arnone.
Justin Martin waits at a transition point in Arizona.
Justin Martin waits at a transition point in Arizona.
Kyle Pitman checks his race radio before starting a climb in the Arizona desert.
Kyle Pitman crests a climb in Arizona.
Dan Schindler in Arizona.
Ernie Holly, a filmmaker working on a documentary about the 30th anniversary of RAAM, interviews Justin Martin along the route in Arizona.
Will McGinty tries to spot an approaching rider on the horizon.
Roy Collins in a reflective moment at a team exchange area in Arizona. The day before the race start, Collins learned that his father, LeRoy Williams Collins, Sr., had fallen gravely ill. Collins continued on with the race, later learning at the finish that his father had passed away during the race. Collins Sr. was a B-26 pilot in the Army Air Force during World War II. "I know he was honored by what we were doing to support wounded warriors," he later recalled.
Sunset at Monument Valley, Utah. Unfortunately for the riders, it was dark when they passed through this section of the course.
Jim Weinstein rides into the sunrise outside Durango, Colo..
Kyle Pitman on the road in Colorado.
Dan Schindler dashes through Colorado.
View of the Wolf Creek Pass climb, which took riders from around 8,000 ft of elevation to nearly 11,000 ft. The eight-mile climb has an average gradient of 7%. Racers took short pulls on this section, sometimes only 1/4-mile each, to keep their speed high.
Will McGinty runs a bike back to the racer vehicle after an exchange near the base of the climb to Wolf Creek Pass.
Justin Martin climbs to Wolf Creek Pass.
Justin Martin at a transition on the climb to Wolf Creek Pass.
Looking down on the Wolf Creek Pass climb. Several of the route's switchbacks are visible.
Justin Martin near Wolf Creek Pass.
Kyle Pitman crosses the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass.
Inside the rider vehicle.
Crew members visited the site of the RV crash that ended the team's 2010 race. Pieces of the wreckage still litter the site.
Rose Barrett [center] with husband Jack recollect the RV crash, which happened on their property. At left is crew member Mandy Arnone.
Rose Barrett offers a prayer for safe travels for Team 4Mil.
After crossing the Continental Divide, riders were treated to miles of long flat and fast sections near Alamosa, Colo.
Zipping across the flats near Alamosa.
Riders prepare for their next shifts at a team exchange point in La Veta, Colo. Pictured left to right are Wayne Dowd, Roy Collins and Joe Arnone.
Joe Arnone of squad #2 [left] and Jim Weinstein of squad #1 exchange thoughts on race strategy.
A 15-mile climb up Chucharas took racers from 7,000 ft to nearly 10,000 ft.
Sam Curlee rips through the final climbs in Colorado as the sun sets over the Rockies.
Sam Curlee climbing through the Rockies.
Joe Arnone maintains his time trail position through the climbs.
Wayne Dowd leaves the Rockies behind and heads toward the flat lands of eastern Colorado.
Roy Collins goes out on a dusk ride as the route begins to flatten out.
Crew member Mandy Arnone cheers on the riders as they pass through eastern Colorado.
Beth Kelsey serves as both cook and masseuse for Team 4Mil
Beth Kelsey stirs up a pot of chili for the riders.
Phil Houck grabs a quick nap. Most crew members were lucky to get more than 4 hours of sleep per day.
Team 4Mil jersey drying in the RV shower. Fresh laundry was in constant demand during the race.
Crew members frantically work on bikes strapped to the trailer at night.
Crew members quickly make a team exchange in the rider vehicle.
Sam Curlee [left] reviews an official change to the race route with driver Doug Carter.
Driving into the sunrise in Missouri.
Inside the rider van. From left, Roy Collins, Joe Arnone and Wayne Dowd.
Wayne Dowd about to make a transition.
Wayne Dowd heads into the sunrise over the Mississippi River.
Joe Arnone does a track stand at a stop sign in rural Illinois while waiting to execute a transition.
Joe Arnone heads into corn country.
Sam Curlee darts through the cornfields of Indiana.
Patriotic display along the race route.
Joe Arnone speeds past a flooded cornfield in Illinois.
Sam Curlee rides through a flooded area in Illinois.
Dan Schindler [left] and Justin Martin talk strategy in the rider vehicle. As the racers hit the final days of RAAM, the strategy switched to shorter pulls so the racers could try to move from 2nd place into 1st.
Dan Schindler waits to make a transition with Kyle Pitman in eastern Ohio.
With the team taking shorter pulls, racers had to scramble to get back in the vehicles and move down the road in time to make the next transition.
After riding 2,000 miles, the body is willing to race on just about any kind of fuel.
Kyle Pitman hits the steep climbs of West Virginia.
Dan Schindler takes a cat nap in the rider vehicle. As the pace ramped up, riders were tiring fast.
After four days of racing, Sam Curlee [right] is feeling the fatigue.
Dan Schindler pushes up the three-mile-long Savage Mountain climb in West Virginia.
As the racers hit the eastern U.S., the humidity began to rise.
Justin Martin wipes the sweat from his eyes on day four.
Roy Collins crosses a bridge in Pennsylvania.
Dusk in Pennsylvania as Dan Schindler prepares to hit the road.
Nighttime transition area.
Sam Curlee checks in at Mount Airy Bike Shop in Mount Airy, Md. The shop serves as a "penalty box" where riders must sit out for penalties incurred on the route. Race officials trail teams throughout the race to make sure they don't violate rules. Most infractions result in a 15-minute penalty. Team 4Mil received no penalties during the race.
Roy Collins test rides a cruiser at Mount Airy Bike Shop.
Sam Curlee [left] and Joe Arnone high five during one of the last transitions on the route.
Team 4Mil crosses the finish line in Annapolis, Md., winning the RAAM 2011 Armed Forces Cup and finishing second overall in the eight-person division.
Team 4Mil with crew members Marty Gonzales [front left] and Mason Poe
Racers and crew at the finish line.
Wayne Dowd savors the finish.
After the finish, racers celebrated by jumping into the Chesapeake Bay. Pictured in air is Joe Arnone.