When RAAM racers are in the final day or so, they say they can "smell the barn." It means they're getting close.
Rob smells the barn. (It smells, not surprisingly, a lot like he does right about now.)
I just hung up with night crew cool guy Mike Desilet and he says that they stuck to last night's tactic of giving Rob a bit of a rest right around transition and then sending him on his way for the night.
These next 24 hours can be brutal for Rob and the crew. It's sort of obvious why this is so for Rob, but why the crew?
First, they are pretty tired themselves. Second, sometimes Rob rides like it's day two, other times he can barely get out of his own way. It is these low points that can be agonizing to watch for the crew.
Speaking of the night crew, if I am not mistaken, with the exception of one night when Jeff Sturges swapped out, these guys have gone straight through the race as a single unit. Joe Muprhy, Jeff and Mike are night crew GODS and, if there was any money whatsoever in this silly sport, they could hire out their total crew awesomeness to future RAAM riders. Though I suspect now that they've done it, they will both cherish the experience and want to purge it from their memory.
RAAM is unlike any other race in the world. It dishes out some of the worst punishment imaginable in sports, which brings out the best - in the riders, and the crews. And based on what I've observed from my perch here in Connecticut, this may be Rob's best and smartest crew ever.
I hope they are savoring the smell of that barn.