Let us start by saying A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for supporting Peter’s effort in RAAM. Your best wishes for racer and crew have been wonderful and it has kept his and our spirits high – THANK YOU AGAIN!
This is long-winded, be warned 🙂
You might ask yourself why have we injected song lyrics into these blog posts? Two reasons:
- For all of the Mindset riders who are following Peter and reading the blog, we wanted you to know there are songs other than those written and sung by Rush!
- Spending 12-16 hours in a van, following your rider, lends itself to listening to the radio to pass the time and at many points providing some inspiration to the posts.
Today was the day when we, in effect, finished one race (Race Across the West – RAW – 1,493kms and 17,000m of climbing ) and really dug into the big Kahunna that is the Race Across America. Many would believe that we had passed through the toughest part of the race as we travelled over the Rockies, which produced big amounts of climbing, combined with heat and winds. However, the toughest parts of the race are still to come. When we get to Ohio, the big test of climbing truly begins, so keep the positive vibes coming.
Lyrics modified from the Proclaimers:
When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be,
I’m gonna be the man who needs a massage from Diego
When I go out, yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man with Mindset kit from Izumi
If I get dehydrated, well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who gets rehydrated with G2
And if I chamois up, yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who chamois’ up with dznuts
But I would cycle 1,500
And I would ride 1,500 more
Just to be the man who rides three thousand miles
To fall down at your door in Annapolis
This day saw a change of crew, as Bruce moved into the team with Diego and Greg and Quentin moved into the gopher van with Mr. O. So, the perspective of the blog changes to the gopher van, hopefully another interesting perspective on the RAAM experience. We awoke at 6am in Cortez, CO, still giddy from the Raptor win, and got things ready for the changeover. It was expected to have Peter come through at 7:30. He arrived a bit early, we grabbed him some pancakes from the Denny’s across the street. The good news is that Peter was continuing to pee regularly, and he was able to get regular at the restaurant, again important for a successful traverse of the country.
Let me step back for a moment and describe the duties of the three vans. Van 1, aka follow van, aka Mona, is the escort vehicle for Peter. For the most part, during the day the van must be leap frogging Peter’s position on the road. Any support that is provided, we move up the road a few km’s and then stand at the side of the road to hand off the bottle, or the nutrition or anything else he needs. We have 3 cold coolers stocked with: #1 – G2 Gatorade, coke, ginger ale, water, and Greg Gannon feed concoction. #2 – we have food that needs to be “refrigerated”, watermelon, blueberries, small chocolate bars, strawberries, potatoes, eggs, butter, jam, cheese – cheddar or swiss or baby bells, turkey, chicken. Finally, in #3, we have the “Gatorade cooler” which is full of ice water, which we use for cooling towels and to dunk Pete’s arms into it for quick heat relief (while wearing his arm sleeves). In addition, to the coolers, there is a food bin that has Peanut Butter, bread, wraps, cookies, muffins, danishes, avocado, bars and any other need that Peter or the crew might have for nutrition.
During the night, those same duties are performed but in direct follow mode, this means the van stays right behind Pete during all times from 7pm to 7am. Consequently, in order for Peter to keep riding at night, the van must be able to move forward. For those of you with weak bladders, contemplate riding in a van for 12 hours that might not be able to stop, without bringing your rider to a halt. Can you hit a gatorade bottle from 1ft?
Van 2, aka Support Van, aka Jack, is the van utilized by the second follow team. Generally speaking, this van is utilized to move the team to the next most likely sleeping spot. The team “coming off shift” boogies 3-4 hours down the road (11-14 hours riding time) and gets something to eat, ensures there is gas in the van and then goes to sleep. We carry miscellaneous items in this van but nothing that would be critical to Peter moving forward as it won’t be available for the majority of the ride.
Finally, Van 3, aka forward van, aka Gopher. This is the van that is responsible for keeping the crews as happy as is humanely possible given the arduous experience of being in a van for 12+ hours, typically undernourished or if nourished it is with food our mothers would not appreciate. The Gopher is usually running from 7am – 10pm or so.
First item of the day is to ensure the vans have what they need for the day, water, Gatorade, bicycle parts, food, gas etc. Then we gather up the laundry from the team for washing and ensure that the team coming off shift is able to get some sleep. Thereafter, gopher is at the beck and call of the rider and the Follow Van. Need ice, sure, more Gatorade – absolutely; KT tape – we will search it out; hot breakfast, lunch or dinner – let us know what you are hankering for; change a tire – ok. It is also the job of the Gopher van to work with the Follow Van to establish the hotels that will be needed that evening, one for Peter every 24 hours or so, and 2 rooms for the crew each night. Given the lack of services in most of the towns that we pass through, the lack of connectivity with phones, and the uncertainty of our forward progress, this makes this a unique challenge of a guessing game. Of course, if everything is going smoothly, Mona is well stocked and Pete is experiencing no issues, the crew in this vehicle is going to be experiencing a lot of old-fashioned BOREDOM.
Ok, now that you have a Wiki orientation to the process, lets get back to Peter leaving Cortez.
After feeding, a quick change of his top, some further modifications of his shoes and insoles and off he went. Mr. O and I then gathered some laundry before heading over to grab breakfast with Janet, KMan and Dave at Dennys. Following breakfast, we took to doing the laundry for the team and visited Walmart to resupply the Follow van. We went back to the hotel to fold the clothes before making our way forward to Durango. Funny thing happened along the way. A man came into the laundry facility to ask us about Peter and the race as he had seen the decaled van outside. He was genuinely interested and very excited by the race, wanted to know all about the process etc and was truly engaged. This would not be the last time that people would stop us to ask about the race and our experiences.
As we finished the laundry, we got a call from Follow that Pete had flatted a rear tubular, and that he needed the climbing cassette off that wheel and onto another wheel. Only problem, they didn’t have a cassette removal tool, a chain whip or a crescent wrench. Solution: make phone calls to bike shops in town, collect the tools and get to the Follow van. Problem, nobody had a chain whip. No issue grab the others and go. We reached Mona just past Durango (the end of RAW) and the team had managed to change the tubular tire, but hadn’t put a valve extender on the tubular and consequently couldn’t get air into the tire. No problem, grab the wheel and race back to the Durango bike shop (where we had just been to get the chain whip) and get some valve extenders. We pulled the tire off to get the extender on and reapplied it, not an ideal situation (given the tire can move under hard cornering, which is the last thing you want!) but he could ride the tire up mountains and change the wheel for descents.
We dropped the wheel back with the Follow van and made our way forward to find some lunch for ourselves and figure out the accommodation for Peter and the crews. Peter focused on getting through Wolf Creek pass, and from there he could descend for almost 20 miles to South Fork where we had secured a room for him.
He got to South Fork by about 7pm (22 hours of riding), he had a massage from Diego, dinner of Mac & Cheese and chicken tenders (high quality carbs and protein J) and then down for a 3 hour sleep. The riding is taking a toll, the sit bones have been experienced chafing, the feet are rebelling a bit but the rider is strong. Peter is still very lucid, sharp and focused – hallmarks of an athlete that is ready to make RAAM a success.