Let the Racing Begin!

Day 8 commentary Racing has Begun

Jefferson City to Greenville, IL – 158.2 miles, 

This is the day, when the navigator came to the forefront and navigation was critical to our success. In our vehicle, we have settled in to the same roles, Greg in the driver’s seat, Diego as navigator and QB working the kitchen. We were now moving from largely rural settings to far more town and city settings with multiple detours or route changes.   The huge challenge is ensuring the rider doesn’t get lost, which seems easy given our van can accelerate to 130mph on the speedo and Pete is just riding his bike, but indeed things get complicated. 

Living Life Large

We turn to Queen and Freddie Mercury for inspiration today

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle 

I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride it where I like

You say 508, I say RAW

You say 808, I say TorTOUR

You say car, I say hey man

Bullitt was never my scene

And I don’t like Fast and Furious

You say Specialized, I say Tarmac

You say God give me a choice

You say Lord, I say Christ

I don’t believe in Peter Pan

Frankenstein or Superman

All I wanna do is

Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles

I want to ride my Specialized, Franco and Scott

I want to ride my bicycles

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride my bicycles

I want to ride my bicycles, RAAM is coming your way

So forget all your duties, oh yeah

Solos and Teams, they’ll be riding today

So look out for those turns, and don’t get lost

On your marks, get set, go

Bicycle race, bicycle race, bicycle race

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle 

I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

(I want a) bicycle race

Thanks Kathy for all of the Support!

This stage was relatively uneventful for us although exceptionally difficult from a navigation point of view.  Diego had certainly brought his “A” game today has we moved through a myriad of route changes in order to avoid significant amounts of flooding. While there were several occasions where one might have heard “are you sure, are you sure, check it again”, Diego was steely in his resolve that we were on track. 

Diego, don’t be feeding the wildlife!

Then it happened 🚴‍♂️🥇, a race broke out. At about 100 miles into the effort is when I would say “RACING RAAM” began.  We were starting to get messages from home that suggested Peter was fourth, with indefatigable Christophe Strasser leading the way, Marco Baloh and Jakob Olsen, a 25 year-old Dane who won last year’s 24 hour time-trial race with 478.8 miles completed, battling for the remainder of the podium.  Peter was sitting fourth just ahead of a kiwi.  An interesting side note, during one of the occasions I have been able to run alongside Peter, during this race, one time was climbing to Yarnell. I was spritzing him with freezing cold water and Peter says, “do you see that guy who just passed me”

QB “no Pete I didn’t” Peter-“he’s 25 years old and he left me like I was standing here!” QB -“That is the beauty of youth Pete.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now there was an intensity that extended beyond the current stage, there was a focus on who was up the road and who was behind us.  An urgency has begun for Peter and it was contagious for the crew.  

When the going gets tough, sometimes the tough need a bit of rest – this is a 15min nap

Navigation interlude:

Just to describe the process of navigation for everyone so that you have a perspective on the opportunities to get lost.  First, the route for the Race Across America is captured in a route book that is 136 pages long, with 55 stages each comprising 2 pages. One page is a map, while the facing page is the turn by turn directions. RAAM tried to be meticulous, with way points in between turns to try and ensure you are on course. For many of us, we have given up reading maps and become heavily reliant on gps. While gps is allowed, HQ is very clear that only the map book is the definitive reference point for the race route.  As a process of following the book, Janet and then CA, created sticky notes for each time stage. They are colour coded by turn. The navigator uses these stickies to remind the driver of the upcoming turns so that the driver stays alert and will peel each sticky once she/he completes the action (turn right, turn left etc.). One of the critical pieces of the whole process is the tripometer. At the beginning of each time station, you should reset your trip clock to zero as each stage has its own distance.  The navigator will then tell the driver that at 52.4 miles, there is a right turn and at 53.6 miles there is a left turn. These directions will each have a sticky note, that the driver peels off and hands to the kitchen for disposal. All seems simple…right?

Nutrition at 7:30am for driver and navigator

Well the whole process works really well until you factor in the rider. The rider is solely dependent on the crew to tell him/her where to go.  Of course, if you have a lot of history riding a particular stage (as Peter does with stage 1), then you may not need the crew telling you where to go. Otherwise the Follow needs to ensure the rider knows at all times where they are going.  Of course, remember after day 2, Peter was working on 3.5 hours sleep/day – which makes concentration challenging. Finally, there is one key rule, if you have been given no instructions…then straight is always the answer. This last bit seems very easy, with 8 hours of sleep and no buzzing cars around you, but add in fatigue, darkness, heavy rains and tricky intersections and things become messy quickly.  

So the cadence is as follows: navigator understands the route, conveys upcoming changes to the driver and passes sticky notes across to the driver for turns.  Then yells out the window to the rider to describe those changes. ‘The driver and rider then execute and then you rinse and repeat. When things become tricky, often I would jump out to let Pete know what was coming, of course when we have a rapid succession of turns, this can be challenging. With wind noise, automobile and trucks wizzing by, it is definitely difficult to hear. Up till now, we only have had two missed turns, one of those tight left-right ones where he went straight for 50ft before he stopped and one where we didn’t get to him in time to veer right. On that occasion he got about 500m past the exit and the rules say we have to put him in the van and drive him back. 

So there you have it, the backdrop to travelling 3,000 miles with a rider who needs to be directed from Oceanside to Annapolis. 

The remainder of the shift was pedestrian with very few exciting things happening. We handed over to Janet, CA and Dave and made our way to the next sleep stop. 

One thought on “Let the Racing Begin!

  1. Amazing story telling, beautiful pictures, perfect choices of lyrics … Thank you QB for keeping us connected to RAAM as much as possible 🙂

    Like

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