Vic's Reports

In 2014 retired Marine John Bandy happened to hear a radio program mention that RAAM was finishing nearby in Annapolis. As a long-time endurance athlete he was inspired and called fellow Marine retiree Tim Robert, “’Hey Tim,’ I asked, ‘You wanna do a 2-man RAAM team?’”

Eventually the two decided to do a 4-man team and recruited two more Marines, Felipe Rael and John Rose and it was decided that the quartet would do more than just ride across the US. Bandy explained, “We’re doing RAAM to challenge ourselves, but more importantly, raise money for the Semper Fi Fund which provides support and funding for wounded warriors and veterans, not just for Marines, but for all services. A lot of folks here support us and we just want to get out there and do our best for the Marine Corp.”

Bandy talked about his team’s background, “We’re a team of four Marines; two active duty, two veterans. I served 30 years, and Tim put in over 20 years and then we have two active duty; one is a master gunner sergeant, Ryell, and then John Rose is captain. So we have a master gunner sergeant, a captain, I retired chief one officer 5 and Tim is a lieutenant colonel. So we’ve got a pretty good mix of Marines. We all know each other from Hawaii; we were all stationed there, although we’re kind of spread out now. We’ve all ridden together at one point or another. As far as cycling, I’m more of a Triathlete. I do Ironman and endurance events. Tim does Ironman and Ultraman. John is more cycling and Phllip does Ironman. So the four of us are all endurance cyclists, but we’ve never come together in a single event. It’s hard to find four people that are this enthusiastic to ride across the US. So we’re fortunate that all of this came together.”

The four RAAM rookies will make their way to Annapolis aided by a crew of 14 headed up by crew chief Jen McVeay. “She’s a seasoned crew chief,” Bandy said, “She’s crewed Ultraman—you name it, she’s crewed it. She wants to add RAAM crew chief to that list. A lot of the people that she’s collected up to crew for us, she’s crewed with in the past. They understand what it is to endure sleep deprivation and be going for days on end. None of our crew is going out without an understanding of what’s involved. Jen has put together our ride plan, who’s going to support who, how the shifts are going to work—the whole nine yards. We’re a 4-man team and we’ll do it as two 2-man teams and each team is going to go for eight hours. We’ll all get together and all meet for the first time together in Oceanside on June 14.”

“Our goal is to finish between 6 and 7 days. And we understand that there’s a trophy for an all-veterans team. So we want to be the first veterans to cross the finish line and earn that award. With the caliber of riding that each of us is capable of doing and with the crew that we have, I think we should be able to achieve that. We proudly served our country and we’re anxious to get out and show folks what four Marines can do. A lot of folks think we’re crazy and don’t understand why we’re trying to ride 3,000 miles. But if you don’t challenge yourself, then what do you have?”

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