We are back online! Sorry, our hands were tied on posting updates ever since Colorado and we are now in Missouri. The reason was that our RV’s generator choked and died for good. We tried to get it fixed in Kansas (Jeanine has relatives living in the area and they helped us find somebody who may be able to fix the generator.) Unfortunately the generator was totally shot. But we eventually found a car recharger that can work with 110-120 volt plugs such as one for our media’s laptop computer. It is a 220 watt portable power inverter.
Now enough of our minor problem! We are still rolling along like a well oiled engine and I suspect that some of us are starting to think about the possibly of breaking the overall 4-women team transcontinental record. The current one is 6 days, 12 hours, and 28 minutes set in 1996 doing the route from NW to SE of USA (we have been using the route from SW to NE for nearly a decade now.) We however are trying to keep things toned down and have our riders just ride the race. The last thing we want is for them to get burned out. Furthermore, there will be steeper mountains and plenty of traffic lights in the last 1/3 of the course. Stay tuned!
Isabelle got well again at the end of the 2nd day and has been riding 100% of the planned workload with Cat as her 4-hour shift partner since then. (We basically have two riders out in 4-hour blocks while the other pair rests.)
Cat still has her climbing power and was motorizing up the Rocky Mountains. Unnecessary to say, she was kind of giving the male riders a hard time on the climbs. I noticed one male rider on a 8-person team managed to keep up with Cat on a long climb in Arizona, but he then didn’t bother to chase after Lori on the descent. Was he burnt out by Cat? I often wanted to try helping other teams by advising them to not try chasing after our girls, but I don’t think anyone will listen anyway.
A male rider on an 8-person team in Colorado told us he was scared of Cat.
Kansas was very good to us with its rolling hills and some tailwinds. I can tell you that I had quite a challenge capturing our riders on “film” (digital now) all the way across Kansas because they were sometimes going so fast I could get only 1-3 seconds of close-up videos from the roadside. I tried to tell one of them to slow down, but I don’t think she appreciated my suggestion.
We didn’t have a bicycle flat tire yet (that I know of), but we did have a leak in the Nevada Van’s rear tire. We got it fixed at a rural auto shop while the other support van did twice the crew work. Talk about hard crewing.
Our crew is eating almost as much food as the riders do! The crew may not need to train on bicycles for months before RAAM, but they surely are kept on their toes 16 hours a day. My last meal was a plain turkey and mayo sandwich because we were out of cheese and lettuce. I commented that I assumed we were out of “green stuff”, so Jeanine gave me green M&Ms for my sandwich. Good to know our riders haven’t lost their sense of humor.
As far as I could see, we are somewhat in rhythm now. A few crew members however still have trouble sleeping throughout their 8 hour shifts with the RV moving about 1-2 hours per 4 hours.
I gave up my sleep schedule and sleep whenever I need it mainly because my duty is taking pictures and I didn’t want to miss some photo opportunities such as our riders climbing Wolf Creek Pass and reaching the halfway point of RAAM. I am so glad of this decision even though I have been sleeping between 2 to 3 hours at a time in “uncomfortable” places such as RV’s dining seat or in the 24/7 rolling support van, since all beds in the RV are occupied except during my original sleeping shift.
The riders are still eating well even though I understand they are starting to get a bit sick of sandwiches and such. We just have to keep them eating and everything in between to keep them going as strong as they have the last 2,000 miles!
Al and Leslie are continuing to do an excellent job keeping all of us fed and keeping the RV reasonably clean. (I still can’t smell any body odors or mold even though the entire crew won’t be showering until the finish line.)
Cat’s special hub on the front wheel of her Titanflex slipped out of position last night and we think we may be able to fix it. If not, I have a feeling she will be riding the climbing bicycle she borrows from ActionSports most of the time. She said that using a regular front wheel on her Titanflex will be harder on the arms. This is because that special hub thing she likes puts the front closer to the ground and thus yields less torque force.
The only real major problem costing us valuable time and energy was getting lost in the darkness of Kansas. Of course, the road signs are not always visible. With Lee’s experience, the GPS, and William’s map on his iPhone, we took about 10 minutes figuring out where to go, then got there and continued the race. It wasn’t fun losing even one second in this way, but we are moving on.
We passed a few soloists today and they looked “all right”, but they still had about 1,300 miles to go. I expect to see more pain on the faces of soloists up the road.