Rob White – Solo RAAM 2015

So, you missed RAAM.

by Will Parker on June 30, 2015 Comments Off on So, you missed RAAM.

Ok, so you missed Rob White’s 2015 Race Across America—the non-stop bicycle race across the continental United States which took place over the last 2 weeks. He did it alongside 3000 Miles to a Cure in order to raise money for brain cancer research.

I understand, though, things happen. Maybe your great aunt took you on a month-long motor-cycling adventure through Madagascar, or you finally decided to finish that Van Gogh puzzle you got for Christmas in 2011. Or maybe it was just that your internet went down, so you’ve been spending all your free time watching the Star Wars prequels on VHS.

Whatever the case, you’re in the right place.

Here’s the (almost) blow-by-blow recap:

Pre-race, Oceanside, CA:

Get to know racer Rob White with this video and blog post and watch this video to obtain a little taste of pre-race preparations from 3000 Miles to a Cure video intern Viviane Feldman.


RAAM Start/Day 1:

Rob started the race in Oceanside, CA at 1:19 PDT on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Here is the video update from the day, which saw Rob brave a steep and stunningly beautiful descent down from the southern California mountains–and into the brutal desert heat.

Rob going down the "Glass Elevator" on the way into Borrego Springs, CA: the beginning of the desert.

Rob riding the “Glass Elevator” down into Borrego Springs, CA: the beginning of the desert.

RAAM Day 2, the Desert:

Rob’s second day of RAAM brought the desert heat, and his first state-line crossed: Arizona. Here are the sunrise and sunset video updates from the day. In the evening, he began climbing out of the desert through the Yarnell Grade, and up into Arizona’s wooded highlands. It also brought some of the first signs of sleep deprivation from Rob–one of the consistently torturous elements of RAAM.

RAAM Day 3:

The descent into the Navajo Nation and the crossing of Utah’s stunning Monument Valley marked Rob’s third day of RAAM.

Utah's Monument Valley

Utah’s Monument Valley

RAAM Day 4, further than ever before: 

The Race Across the West (RAW) is a sister event to RAAM, which Rob completed in 2014. The event goes from Oceanside to Durango, CO. When Rob crossed through Durango in RAAM, he officially began setting a personal record for distance in one event with every pedal stroke. He also climbed Wolf Creek Pass, the highest point in the race. Here and here are the video updates from this milestone-heavy day.

RAAM Day 5:

After the physically and emotionally demanding climb up Wolf Creek Pass came the painful but beautiful ascent of Cuchara Pass. The difficulty of the ride through Cuchara was exacerbated for Rob because of lung issues he had at the high altitude. Right on Cuchara’s heels came the Great Plains of Colorado and Kansas. It was a more than ordinarily tough day for Rob on RAAM–but one concluded by a nice surprise.

Rob climbing Cuchara Pass.

Rob climbing Cuchara Pass.

Mike Johnston, a brain cancer survivor and friend of Rob’s who–along with his dad, a close friend of Rob’s, surprised him along the route.

RAAM Day 6:

The sixth day of RAAM was also Father’s Day–and Rob’s daughter and brother joined his crew along the route! The more oxygen-rich air of the plains began to soothe Rob’s lungs as he powered through Kansas.

RAAM Day 7, Missouri and Exhaustion:

Rob exited the plains of Kansas and entered the scenic rolling hills of Missouri. The day was also memorable because of a dubious milestone, though: Rob’s first time falling asleep on the bike.

RAAM Day 8: 

The Mississippi River is a major milestone for RAAM riders–both a sign post for the American East, and a reminder of the incredible distance they’ve covered since leaving the Pacific. Here is a video update from Rob’s 8th day, during which he crossed the great river into Illinois–but also continued to struggle from sleep-deprivation and general exhaustion.

An exhausted Rob is comforted by his daughter (and crew member, Rachel) after his nap on the eastern side of the Mississippi.

An exhausted Rob is comforted by his daughter (and crew member, Rachel) after a nap on the eastern side of the Mississippi.

RAAM Day 9: 

Rob did what he would later say was his best riding of the race on this day, moving quickly through much of Indiana and Ohio. But looming on the horizon was the steep and winding Appalachians.

RAAM Day 10:

Rob said before the race that the part of the course he was most afraid of was the Appalachians. Indeed, they would prove a harsh, but not hopeless, challenge.

RAAM Day 11:

Relatively severe physical injuries–including a pulled quad–became an increasing problem for Rob as he faced the last, mountainous, portion of the race, through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. But his determination to finish the race and to raise money for brain cancer research didn’t waver.



RAAM Day 12/Finish:

The last morning of Rob White’s 2015 Race Across America was his hardest–he broke his collarbone with under 100 miles to go until Annapolis (one of the injuries I alluded to above) and continued to struggle with extreme sleepiness and pain. Nonetheless, he finished the race. His dedication to the brain cancer research cause–and his perseverance during this last part of the race–overwhelm me.

He finished 9th overall.


If Rob’s effort inspired you, too, donate here or at 100% of funds go to brain cancer research.

And maybe send Aunt Mae a thank you note, too.


For the entire gallery from our photography interns, click here.

read more
Will ParkerSo, you missed RAAM.

RAAM the Terrible

by Will Parker on June 27, 2015 Comments Off on RAAM the Terrible


Today, Rob White crossed the Race Across America (RAAM) finish line in Annapolis, MD. Before the start of the non-stop 3000 mile bicycle race, I explored the question of who is Rob White? I thought that a RAAM racer story was a type of lifeboat tale–interesting because the listener could wonder about his or her own behavior in a similar situation. I still think RAAM holds interest for this reason. More and more as I’ve watched Rob race, though, I’ve begun to be haunted by a different question:

Who is RAAM?

For 11 days, Rob White slept next to nothing and hurt near unceasingly. This morning–his last morning of the race–he fell and broke his collarbone. 2 days ago, he pulled one of his quadriceps–a crucial muscle for every pedal stroke. Rob suffered through the last portion of the race in excruciating pain.

He said it took everything in him not to cry.

Throughout much of these last miles, it rained.

I don’t understand. I don’t understand the destruction of body and mind RAAM racers put themselves through willfully. I’ve tried and tried to understand this race through the lens of an American–a college kid from the comfortable middle class. But I think I’ve been looking at it all wrong. The Race Across America, I realize now, is an essentially Russian race. Its glorification of geographical vastness and suffering endured reminds me of Dostoevsky. Its way of peeling away racers’ pretensions, of turning their thoughts to God, screams of Tolstoy.

It is another Russian, though, who most embodied the spirit of RAAM: Ivan the Terrible. That 16th century Muscovite prince–the first tsar–was a great warrior (the conqueror of Kazan and Astrakhan) a reformer, and a devout Christian. He also killed his son and heir–supposedly with his own hands–and set a bloody precedent in Russian history by perpetrating its first great purge: the slaughter of the boyars by his black-cloaked secret police. Ivan, in many ways, was the progenitor of imperial Russia. He established many of the lasting traditions of the state–and shaped its despotic, brutal, but essentially spiritual character. (1)

His epithet, in Russian, is Grozny. The word does not just mean evil or bad, as the English translation would suggest. Instead, according to Vladimir Dahl, the 19th century Russian lexicographer, it has a more complex meaning. It means terrifying, but also awesome and magnificent. (2)

That is how I understand the race, now. RAAM the Grozny. Breaker of the strongest humans. Cruel and awe-inspiring. RAAM is capable of shaping the world for better, perhaps, but at great cost.

That is the race that Rob White finished today. He studied it, prepared for it, and, most importantly, did it with a good motivation: to raise money for brain cancer research through 3000 Miles to a Cure. He was cognizant of the suffering it would put him through–and dedicated his own willful suffering to those who endure pain without a choice. And Rob’s suffering during this grozny race did good. It inspired people and gave them hope:

Screenshot (27) Screenshot (26) Screenshot (25)

Four of the hundreds of Facebook messages were written by those moved by Rob's race.

Four of the hundreds of Facebook messages written by those moved by Rob’s race.

And it raised money ($27,000 at the time of this posting) that will help cure brain cancer. Money that will help to heal someday those who cannot now be healed.

Rob faced RAAM Grozny with love and endurance.

It was terrible, but magnificent, too.


read more
Will ParkerRAAM the Terrible

Rob’s RAAM Day 10

by Will Parker on June 26, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 10

Rob took a long nap (by his RAAM standards, at least) early this morning–one of my favorite parts about today was seeing him looking refreshed this morning. He practically sprung out his chair after a short time-station stop and hopped back on the bike.

Rob makes his crew laugh at the time station in Athens, Ohio.

Rob makes his crew laugh at the time station in Athens, Ohio.

He needed his rest, because today he began racing through the Appalachians of West Virginia–the part of the course he said he feared most before starting the race.

Rob crossing into WV.

Rob crossing into WV.

Tomorrow brings a little more of the mountains of West Virginia, and then the deceptively long final push through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and then Maryland again to the finish in Annapolis. With around 300 miles left, the end is almost in sight for Rob: but many grueling challenges (and many hours of cycling) remain in store for him.

Support Rob during his final push by donating (100% of donations go to funding brain cancer research) at



read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 10

Rob’s RAAM Day 9

by Will Parker on June 25, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 9

The people we call family–whether they share close genetic ties or not–are usually those who have experienced many of our most important moments. They have shared our joy and mourned our pain. A Race Across America attempt, with its many moments of triumph and pain, often draws family together to support their racer.

Rob made his way through Indiana and into Ohio today. He continues to inspire me with his endurance and kindness. He is exhausted, but he keeps riding.

Rob made his way through Indiana and into Ohio today. He continues to inspire me with his endurance, kindness, and humor. He is exhausted, but he keeps riding.

Rob has received wonderful support throughout the race from his extended family (especially from those impacted by brain cancer)–as well as from his nuclear one.

Rob's sister, Suzy, and her husband drove from Wisconsin to cheer him on in Greensburg, Indiana this morning.

Rob’s younger sister, Suzy, and her husband drove from Wisconsin to cheer him on in Greensburg, Indiana this morning.

A brain cancer diagnosis calls for that same sort of family support–both emotionally and physically. Those who meet this call mourn the pain of their family member’s illness, and share in their joys and triumphs.

Help increase those joys and soften those pains. Donate today at 100% of funds donated to 3000 Miles to a Cure fund brain cancer research.


read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 9

Rob’s RAAM Day 8

by Will Parker on June 23, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 8

Rob raced well today–powering through the much of eastern Missouri last night, crossing the Mississippi River this morning, and putting much of the Illinois portion of the Race Across America course behind him this evening.

Rob, finishing the last segment of the race before the Mississippi.

Rob, finishing the last segment of the race before the Mississippi. RAAM racers are driven across the river itsel

Simultaneously though, Rob appeared more groggy, confused, and punch-drunk today than in any other day so far in the race. Waking him from his mid-morning nap on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River was difficult to do and hard to watch.

An exhausted Rob is comforted by his daughter (and crew member, Rachel) after his nap on the eastern side of the Mississippi.

An exhausted Rob is comforted by his daughter, Rachel, after his nap on the eastern side of the Mississippi.

Even in these dark moments, though, Rob has not wavered in his commitment to finishing his race to raise money for brain cancer research. His charming personality dulled by pain and sleep-deprivation, he nonetheless has been consistently kind to both crew and other supporters. And, most movingly to me, he has so far willed himself to get back on the bike after every stop–with very little cajoling from his crew–even after more than 2,000 miles of cycling in 8 days.

If you are inspired by Rob’s kindness, willpower, or just his impressive athletic performance so far–give to 3000 Miles to a Cure to support his cause.

read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 8

The Charity Tollbooth

by Will Parker on June 23, 2015 Comments Off on The Charity Tollbooth


I drove the 3000 Miles to a Cure media crew SUV up to the concrete booth and commenced an (ultimately futile) search for loose change to pay the Kansas highway toll–moving with that frenzied urgency that often strikes me when I reach the front of lines.

It’s an urgency spawned from social fear: the fear of incurring the disapproval of the drivers, coffee buyers, or grocery shoppers behind me in line by slowing them down. I bet you’ve felt a similar fear, at one time or another. After all, we humans are deeply social creatures, concerned with how others view us even when in the relative safety and anonymity of our cars.

So when the tollbooth attendant began commenting on the 3000 Miles to a Cure decals which covered our car, I answered only tersely, trying to hurry the conversation–and the change for my five dollar bill–along.

Finally, the toll light turned green. I accelerated away, stress dissolving as I glided into the right lane and set the cruise control.

I think we can often be like me, a toll-payer, in the way we give charity. We hear or see a call to give, feel a tinge of guilt, social pressure, or emotion, then give some money–alleviating the stress and allowing us to continue on our way. The entire process, from hearing the need for money to clicking “confirm donation,” takes place quickly and almost thoughtlessly.

This toll-payer mentality allows us to calm our consciences without embracing feelings of empathy and love–or engaging our rational minds farther than what is needed for a quick assessment of the charity’s trustworthiness. Cognition takes effort, and emotions can be uncomfortable and draining, so we avoid them.

In so doing, though, we miss out on an opportunity to engage emotionally with our chosen charities’ stories, and think critically about their operating procedures and goals, stretching our minds and souls–and growing in our aptitude to think and emote positively.

“So what?” you might say, “I give charity to make a difference in the world, not in myself.”

And I get that. We don’t always have the time or energy to engage in self-improvement–and it is better to give quickly and coldly than to not give at all. When we choose to do that, however, we run the risk of limiting not only our own growth, but also our gifts’ efficacy. Charities are operated by human beings, who as a general rule are motivated to a large degree by social concerns. The engaged and expectant gaze of donors surely improves their motivation to spend donated money honestly and effectively.

As you follow Rob White’s Race Across America attempt this year with 3000 Miles to a Cure, then, I encourage you to invest your emotions, reason, and money.


But then stick around for a while and

Watch as Rob endures extremes of weather, aching limbs, and sleep-deprivation while racing across the country.

Rob earlier today, just after crossing the Mississipi.

Rob this morning, just after crossing the Mississippi into Illinois.

Let yourself be inspired, saddened, or both.

Read about 3000 Miles to a Cure’s goals, principles, and founding–and learn how donations to the charity are spent to advance knowledge of brain tumor genetic profiles, helping healthcare providers better know, and thus treat, brain cancer.

Get comfortable with the stress it will take to do these things–if you’re like me, you spend enough time in cruise control, anyway.






read more
Will ParkerThe Charity Tollbooth

Rob’s RAAM Day 7

by Will Parker on June 23, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 7

Before writing this, I prepared for bed. I brushed my teeth, flossed, and showered. Soon, I will crawl into bed. I’ve completed a similar routine everyday for the past week. During that same time every evening–and through almost all day and night, Rob White has been cycling, only taking a handful of hour and a half naps throughout the race. Today, the effects of mounting sleep deprivation came to a head, as Rob fell asleep while on the bike.



He started the day off better in eastern Kansas, making good time through the pond-dotted transitional land between the plains of Kansas and the rolling green hills of Missouri–battling back and forth throughout the morning with spirited Swiss RAAM racer Isabelle Pulver.


Rob entering Fort Scott,  Kansas.

Rob entering Fort Scott, Kansas.

In the afternoon, his exhaustion worsened and–as I mentioned before–he fell asleep for a moment. Luckily, he awoke and righted himself. The support crew immediately put him down for nap.

Here’s an excellent video update from 3000 Miles to a Cure media intern Aly Moser:

Keep watching as Rob battles exhaustion over the crucial next few days–and donate to support brain cancer research at


read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 7

Rob’s RAAM Day 6

by Will Parker on June 22, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 6

For RAAM riders, the relatively flat plains of the American Midwest can be a welcome relief from the deserts and mountains of the West–but it can also be a furnace where chronic race-inflicted injuries become disabling salient. After around a week of almost non-stop riding, many riders accumulate a laundry list of these health problems, including saddle sores, edema, chafing, and lung issues.


No exception, Rob suffered from several of these maladies as he began biking through the Plains yesterday–suffering especially from chafing and difficulty breathing. Today though, extended time in the relatively oxygenated air (as compared to the atmosphere of the Rockies) and the flatter terrain brought an average increase in his speed–and a slight ranking boost after 3-time RAAM champion, Cristoph Strasser dropped out of the race due to lung problems: Rob moved up to 7th overall in the men’s division.

Tonight, Rob continues his journey to raise money for brain cancer research as he races through the plains of eastern Kansas.


read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 6

Rob’s RAAM Day 5

by Will Parker on June 22, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 5

Rob had a hard day. We caught up to him just after sunrise as he began his summit of Cuchara Pass in Colorado. Flanking the winding mountain pass are majestic rock outcroppings, which look like the desiccated backbone of some long-dead behemoth.

Rob climbing Cuchara Pass.

Rob climbing Cuchara Pass.

Though moved by the beauty of the natural scenery, Rob struggled to maintain his speed and spirit as he gritted up the pass (“This is taking away my cherub-like demeanor,” he gasped to us). The oxygen-poor air of the Colorado Rockies, after the desert sand and heat of Arizona, made it difficult for him to breathe.


After successfully completing the climb, Rob began a long rolling descent into the city of Trinidad, Colorado–which marks the end of the Rockies and the beginning of the Plains portion of the Race Across America. There, he used an inhaler for his lungs.

He struggled in the farmland of eastern Colorado, too: this time because of the oppressive afternoon heat, worsening chafing and continued lung difficulties (though flat, much of the plains of the state still sit about a mile above sea level).


In the evening, outside of Springfield, Colorado, though, he was met with a nice surprise: A visit from Mike and John Johnston of Minneapolis. Rob and John are close friends, and Mike (John’s son) is a brain cancer survivor.

Rob with John Johnston

Rob with John Johnstond

Buoyed by their support–and some treatment for his chafing–Rob went on to have one of his fastest nights in the race, averaging 19 miles per hour between Ulysses to Montezuma, Kansas.

Donate at (100% of every donation funds brain cancer research) to support Rob as he continues his brutal race across the country.


read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 5

Rob’s RAAM Day 4

by Will Parker on June 20, 2015 Comments Off on Rob’s RAAM Day 4

Today brought a big milestone in Rob White’s 2015 RAAM attempt: his passage through Time Station 15 in Durango, Colorado, and into what is for him uncharted territory. Durango marks the finish line for the Race Across the West (RAW) which Rob completed in 2013. So from mid-morning today forward, Rob has been continually setting his own personal record for race distance.

Rob taking a break in Durango.

Rob taking a break in Durango.

Before reaching this milestone, Rob had a rough morning. The night crew said he felt disappointed by his performance thus far. So we spent much of the morning trying to cheer him up with words of encouragement from the online community of friends and brain cancer research stakeholders. It seemed to work, at least a little: he was in fine humorous form while taking a break at the RAW finish in Durango.

The rest of the day brought more challenges including a long climb up Wolf Creek pass (the highest point on the RAAM course).

Rob climbs Wolf Creek Pass alongside Crew Chief Bryan.

Rob climbs Wolf Creek Pass alongside Crew Chief Bryan.

He faced it in good spirits, though–with the help of his crew, which cheered him on the whole way. Tonight, Rob makes his way through the high plains of southern Colorado and will face the lesser-known, but at least as difficult for RAAM riders, ascent of the Rockies: Cuchara Pass.

After that, it’s the long plains of Colorado and Kansas. You can stay tuned and support Rob’s quest to fund brain cancer at

read more
Will ParkerRob’s RAAM Day 4