Wednesday, June 9, 2010

*REPORT FROM THE ROAD: 6-9-2010 10:20 PM EDT*

Here's a nice pre-race shot of smilin' Rob Morlock, just before the start:

John Browne checked in a few minutes ago, just after the transition from day crew to night crew. He says all is going perfectly. Rob feels great and is enjoying a nice tailwind on his way into TS2 in Brawley, CA.

For the curious, here's how crew transition works:

Once the sun sets, the rider and his pace vehicle are to be treated as a single unit. THEY CAN NOT BE SEPARATED for safety reasons. So, after dark, if the van stops, Rob has to stop.

For this reason, the transition from day crew to night crew will take place about 1/2 hour before sunset. This allows the crew to give Rob fresh bottles of food and water and send him up the road by himself for about 15 minutes.

The shuttle van parks on the side of the road and waits for Rob to ride by. The pace van then pulls up in front of the shuttle van and you have about 5-10 minutes of controlled chaos. Fresh water is brought in, along with a fresh cooler of groceries and food for Rob and the night crew. Rob's clean laundry is brought in and dirty laundry hauled out.

Each member of the day crew will brief his night crew counterpart on items of note. For example:

- The day crew driver might tell the night crew driver that Rob want him to stay about 20 feet behind him, not 30 feet, and to crank the music.

- The two navigators will talk about Rob's mood, health etc.

- The two mechanic/chefs will discuss any bike issues or perhaps Rob's food preferences (besides his Spiz.)

Then, the night crew gets into the pace van and drives up the road until they catch up to Rob and settle in right behind him. The music comes on and Rob gets ready for a night on the bike.

Tonight's crew:

- Mike Desilet (driver)
- Jeff Sturges (navigator)
- Joe Murphy (mechanic/chef)

Rob will not sleep tonight. He'll ride straight through, 12 hours, until the transition back to day crew and the cycle starts all over again, for another 12-hour day shift.

Some random thoughts:

  • At this point, it's too early to read any tea leaves. Through Time Station (TS) 1, Rob was in 6th place. Nothing good or bad about that, other than he took it nice and easy, averaging just under 18 mph. Thirty minutes separates 1st place from 10th place. Patterns will start to form after about 36 hours. The only metaphysical certitude is that Jure Robic will be out in front. Everyone else will still be working out their place in the long-haul pecking order.
  • When you look at the arrival and estimated time station times posted, everything is based on east coast time. They call this "race time". The reason? Since the riders will be going through four time zones during the course of the race, it would be impossibly confusing to report things in local time. Since they are all heading east, Eastern Daylight Time is the official standard for reporting everything in the race.
  • This enormity of this race can not be overstated. Anything that happens in the first 3-4 days has little meaning on the ultimate outcome. Some people have said that the real race begins at the Mississippi River. Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows NOT to go out too fast at the start. Well, multiply that by a bazillion and that's RAAM.
So, enjoy a good night's sleep and think about Rob, out there in the California desert, pedaling his bike and jamming to some Jethro Tull or Moby. And we'll see you right back here on Thursday morning.

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