Late February saw us driving down to Wembley for a day’s seminar on Race Across America. The day was run by father and son who run the Race, not only do they have huge experience of organising the race, but Dad has raced as both a Solo and a Team of Two.
We’d hoped to get many things from the seminar; mainly, how the race worked in terms of logistics, we also wanted to find out whether it was best for our support team to drive cars and stay in motels, or whether we should have a Mobile Camper. Oh, and Tom and I wanted either Toms dad Eddie or our mutual friend Pete to be so enthused that they agreed to be Crew Chief 😉.
It quickly became clear that having a mobile camper was not necessary and a large expense. The camper has some plusses; a toilet, cooking facilities. But other riders experiences told us they are difficult to sleep in when moving, and due to their size they can’t follow the whole race route. Oh and they are ridiculously expensive. Chatting to other racers we decided upon having the team in two cars following the riders. This would mean one car with the riders at all times and the other car is free for logistics, stopping at a motel for a quick sleep or shower, filling up with fuel, shopping, washing, etc etc etc.
The day was mind blowing. Eight hours to cover every aspect of RAAM, the most amazing thing was that this was just bullet points, highlights, not the details!!! Suddenly like a sledgehammer over the head you begin to realise what a massive logistical challenge this is to organise. Follow two bike riders across the US, sounds easy right. Er no apparently!!
During the desert crossing, it’s too hot to leave a rider on the road in 50 degree heat for too long. So 15 minutes turns on the bike are recommended otherwise your rider cooks. So while the rider is cycling away, the support car has to drive up the road, find somewhere safe to pull right off the road, get James’s bike out, Tom arrives, bike in back of car, overtake James, repeat. This is complex. During that 15 min period the navigator will be checking the maps and turns on the road, bottles need to be filled, food allocated, rider wet wiped etc. It is constant.
Every aspect of daily living becomes that little bit more complex when you have limited space and are moving across country. Where to have a number one? Or god forbid a number two in the middle of nowhere, and US police are not keen on nudity of any sort. Washing – Tom and I will change bib shorts every four hours, and shirts, this alone is 12 pairs of bib shirts that need washing every day.
And so the day went on, we talked about kit we needed, preparations before the race, food, washing, sleep, navigation, communication between rider and team, dealing with emergencies, following at night ……..An awesome day. Really good for letting us know what the previous Unknowns were. Nothing to fear now, ha ha ha .
Oh, and most importantly, Pete is gonna be our Crew Chief. Thanks Pete. You are gonna smash it.
Pete is everything Tom and I wanted in a Crew Chief, keen, a doer, organised and calm in a storm. BRING IT ON