June 16, 2007

Quick look at two men in fine form

Just a quick look at Tim and Glenn as they zoom down the roads of the US in the Race Across America - Glenn on his Nocom and Tim sporting his yellow ear and riding the VK2

June 15, 2007

Out of the mountains

It was a priviledge to help our riders into and over the Rockies - on the climbs up Wolf Creek Pass, the pass into La Veta and Cucheras Pass, they fought like men possessed to make up the time lost on that eventful first night. Glenn in particular was determined - you will see the results on the time station into Alamosa Colorado, where the team came close to the time station record - 24.94 mile per hour. The record is 24.99. And riding behind him as he descended at over 60 miles per hour was a real treat.

Wolf Creek Pass was cold - snow lying on the ground below the level we were riding and the waterfalls running strongly. Standing out there in shirtsleeves and shorts was quite something - but then this is the story of RAAM - heroes in every dimension fighting it out against the elements and against themselves. Coming out the mountains this morning was awesome - watching the sunrise from the top of Cucheras Pass alongside two of the solo women's teams was special. The opening views down to the plains above Trinidad Colorado.

It seems that the riders are getting back to good shape - they have got to within 30 minutes of Team Bacchetta and are steadily making their way up the 4 man teams and we note that Team Body Exchange have dropped out. RAAM extracts its retribution. We look forward to seeing what our bikes can do into Kansas headwinds compared with the more upright bikes.

Now we (i.e., the crew working the RV and the sleepers) rest in Ulysses Kansas - looked after very well by Avis Gibbons of Single Tree Inn and orchestrated by Scott Nichols of the Chamber of Commerce. We have seen all manner of places along the way and this one is a real treat.

June 14, 2007

Into the mountains

We started the day heading into Monument Valley a little before darkness broke - for a first time visitor it was an awesome view. Not sure how the riders liked it - we're a bit disconnected with what they are doing when we are positioning the RV for the days provisioning.

Road is a steady climb for about 30 miles though climbing only 3000 feet. As we are coming through quite early the temperatures are not too high - think that will come later in the day though there is a cooling breeze as we sit in Cortez Colorado waiting for the team to arrive.

Team Bacchetta - our two man recumbent rivals came through just as we arrived - we are still paying for the misadventures of the first night.

Onwards and upwards into the Rockies with a lining of snow on them.

June 13, 2007

Toughing it out

Well what a way to introduce the rookies on the crew to RAAM.

Tim and Glenn started out well and made really good progress. We had a few logistical issues to sort out to get the RV ahead of the riders to do crew changes before the darkness shifts. RV route was very pretty seeing the transition from coast to desert in relatively short distance.

Troubles for the team began not long after we reached Interstate 10 and darkness together. Glenn started a procession of misfortune with a small crash - he took off too quickly for a changeover and hit the dirt - elbows gone. The Interstate debris was the biggest challenge. The Nocom is not responsive to evasive action - if you get to see the debris anyway. First part of bike damage. Tim was next to hit the dirt - touched the soft shoulder and down he went. Badly banged up elbows though no serious damage to the bike. Glenn took over and had his turn - this time it was a front flat at high speed (40 mph). He threw the bike down on one side and then pulled it back t the other - result = evenly matched road rash on both cheeks - much worse than Tim's.

Took a long while to get Glenn patched up and back onto the bike to relieve Tim - and we struggled on as best we could. Getting off that Interstate and onto Arizona roads was a relief. As dawn broke we begin to count the cost on man and machine - and hoping that the heat would not be too bad. Seemed to spend a lot of the day going back and forth to patch up this and that.

Heat began to tell and we had to pull Tim off the bike and let Glenn back out there for a long pull - through the pain and all.

They say that when the going gets tough the tough get going. These boys are going to have to be tough - heroic as they have been so far.

June 12, 2007

Teams on the way

It's been a pretty quiet morning. Team had breakfast together and we started the first of the close in briefing sessions. Tim made it down but Glenn was able to get to sleep until 9am.

After breakfast we were into the last minute things - building spare wheels as the parts arrived from LA (thanks Dana); making sure each of the follow vans had food for both riders; getting bike spares and tools properly stashed in the frogger van.

About van support. We have a pace van that follows the riders. During the day this van will be close by. At night the rider must be in the headlights of a van at all times - we will use this van. The frogger van will leapfrog the riders to do rider exchanges. This van carries the retiring rider and the bike spares and bike mechanic and lots of rider food. The frogger van will relieve the pace van for gas stops and in the event of a mechanical issue with the van. The RV acts as the mothership and carries the sleeping crew and sleeping rider at night. RV crew does most of the shopping; reprovisioning of the follow vehicles and does the laundry.

All was peaceful until 12 when the shopping expedition was delayed in returning - a few nerves then. They made it by 1pm - quick unload and down to the start. The start was all about introductions and staging the riders. The race starts with a parade route for 13 miles before racing begins - so this is all pretty relaxed. At least the sun is out. Back to base for last minute things and then up the road we will go. For the RV this is to Salton City (TS2). For the follow vehicles it's off to mile 23 where staged support can begin.

June 10, 2007

Solo race started today

What a rush it has been to get from 1 week to go to the start of solo RAAM.

Since last Wednesday when the "down unders" arrived in San Francisco we have gathered together 3 vans - an RV to house the team on the road, a pace van to follow the riders and a leapfrog van (maybe that should be a ROO van) to carry and setup the next rider. We have wired all 3 vans for radio, emergency lighting, public address and music, and power sockets to drive computers, hairdryers and massage beds. We have spent a lot of time on California's urban highways to get to LA first and then to Oceanside, a little north of San Diego. We have run some practice sessions to get the newbies used to the rigours of the rules and what has to be done to change over riders safely. And we have eaten a lot of Mexican food - here at Oceanside we are 53 miles from the border. It's also been a bit like being in the army - "hurry up and wait" - sure that will change when we get on the road and have 36 hours of experience under the belt.

Been some special interactions. We had a great session on Saturday afternoon at Bent Up Cycles in Van Nuys near LA - home of the team sponsor. The team talked with many customers. Tim and Dave had a go at a fully faired trike - the cruise missile did not look out of place on the airfield perimeter. Jon shot some great video when Tim and Glenn did a shakedown ride
for viewing here. thanks Jon for a lot of fun. You're a legend and the picture of Dana at the end of the video has the greatest smile.

And today we wandered down to the start of solo RAAM. A special day too. For the Ausies it was a chance to meet two Aussies competing - Kerry White in the womens and Richard Vollebregt in the mens. Richard recently broke the trans Australia record and has the longest hair of all the solo competitors. At the time of writing both were in 3rd place around time station 3. For the afficionados it was great to see the former riders return especially the former winners.

After that it was fun and work. Fun with Team Bacchetta and work on the practice sessions around Camp Pendleton - Tim and Glenn managed to talk their way into riding right through the camp on their ride home.

And today's challenge is to tell us what you think about the picture above - what's up? Comment below or email to the team at info@teamvelokraft.com