Saturday, June 20, 2009

Well-oiled machine

Our vehicles have passed inspection; our registration books have been approved. Per the official RAAM rules, we have delivered coffee cups from Cleveland and San Diego to RAAM race officials, and we have been approved to race. We’re ready.

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to watch all that goes into the planning and preparation for Race Day. In a brilliant feat of engineering and forethought, Charlie has built and installed a shelving unit for the Follow vehicle – the minivan that will drive directly behind the racer. The van has been stripped of most of the seating and now holds the shelving unit with plastic drawers clearly labeled “Richard’s shorts,” “Charlie’s jerseys,” "Electronics," "Richard's skullcaps," "Medicine," etc.

On the other side of the van, specially built shelving holds water, Ensure, water bottles, salty Pringles and other foods. The shelves fit perfectly, leaving just enough seating room for the the three-person Follow crew and a narrow passageway on the floor where the retiring racer will rest in hour intervals while he is off the bike. One of our crew members, Eileen Hardy, cut a foam mattress into the specific shape to fit the floor of the van and then sewed a specially shaped mattress cover for it.

The RV team took stock of how the specifics of RV travel works. We had to learn about proper dump station procedures, how to make coffee for the awakening racer and how to check for back up generator power. Above all in the RV is conserving water so that it never happens that there isn’t enough available water for racer showers. Crew members can live dirty; racers need the shower. The plan is for RV crew to get into a motel once in a 36-hour period - we'll get our showers then (if we make it into the motel - everything is subject to change.)

A master shopping list was made and Jonathan Jahant, John Welch and Ken Runyan went shopping to ensure that we have everything we might possibly need – Velcro, foam padding, garbage bags, bungee cords, plastic tubing, pop tarts, bagels, fruit, protein bars, gallons and gallons and gallons of water.

The Gatorade and Perpetuem powder (liquid nutrition that the racers drink) was loaded onto the RV. Essential instructions and phone numbers were taped to the dashboards of all three vehicles. Pens, pencils and highlighters were velcroed to the dash as well. A Ziploc bag of quarters is placed in the glove compartments for those areas of the country in which we won’t get cell phone reception and have to call Race HQ at every time station.

Charlie, who is a master of detail and an organizational wizard, has thought of everything. It’s been an incredible experience just watching this team put his master plan into action – every person is adding his or her expertise to the project, but Charlie is given credit for being the mastermind organizer. We are definitely prepared for every contingency; still, there are so many things that can happen. There’s no way to foresee every single possibility. If there was, Charlie would have done it. As it is, he’s come as close as humanly possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Reaching Heights:

Jeannie - we love your blog and we are humbled and impressed with the 18+mph pace with serious climbing and a head wind.

Please give our love to Richard and Charles and thank them both for designating the RH music programs to benefit from their RAAM ride.

Richard's photo graced the front page of our local paper last week -The Sun Press. Donations are coming in!

Keep up the great work - crew and riders!

-Patrick, Joy and RH trustees