crankedmag

{ ride a bike… everyday, everywhere }

Time in a Bottle (Post RAO Re-cap)

This past weekend was the Race Across Oregon, an event that I’ve mentioned previously and have been anticipating for some time now. The one we all know and love, Daniel Featherhead was Seattle’s contender and while he didn’t finish the race, he rode outstandingly fast and hard. I myself am extremely proud of him, and am proud to have been on his support crew, regardless of the outcome. We all agree that we came away with great lessons learned.

After getting the support vehicle inspected the crew was educated in the course and what to do and not to do as a rookie. Somehow, while we were attempting to heed that advice, we managed to fulfill most everything advised not to do. One thing that seemed paramount in our problems was the lack of sleep that Daniel got—we in the crew certainly could have gotten a few half hours more sleep. As John stated, we were sandbagged from the start, maybe so.

But hey, we were excited, probably a little nervous too. Three o’clock in the morning comes quick. We were off, and soon enough Daniel was in the pack leaving the starting line. The crew’s first priority was getting fuel for the Mercedes-Benz 207D, I assume the “D” stands for diesel. Our attempt at getting fuel reserves for the many hundreds of potential miles with no fill-up stations were daunted by the one Portland station we stopped at only selling single gallon containers. This proved to be an “issue” later in the day.

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The starting pack.

The first several hours of the race were great with excitement, getting a feeling of what it’s like to run support, how to do things, and how not to break rules (safety being priority number one for RAO organizers). We figured out the first day was when we were only allowed to leapfrog Daniel while he rode; van to rider hand-offs were not allowed during this time (this also meant reaching out to adjust derailleurs while hanging out the van window was prohibited), only able to get out and hand-off water and food to Daniel gave us the opportunity to stretch our legs frequently. The problem with this was all the other riders and their support crews were doing the same. This factor indicated to us an almost unrealistic and seemingly problematic dependence on cars (and fuel as we learned) in the RAO and likely other ultra marathon events like it. I’m not too sure what the alternative could be however—all in all it’s like an ironic co-dependence that’s always existed in bicycle racing.

Throughout the morning Dan’s progress and strength was high, impressive as usual. Especially with his care-free and can-do attitude beaming: at one point hearing his loud crew car approaching from behind he slung his spent banana at our windshield, just messing around, it produced peels of laughter in the van. Good ol’ Daniel, our nervousness for ourselves and for him diminished. This leapfrogging and attempts at communication via radio continued into the early afternoon, we couldn’t believe how early it was still, we couldn’t believe how much further this race entailed. 540 miles total—utterly ridiculous.

At one point the diesel situation became the Diesel Debacle, at Maupin we learned that the only pump in town didn’t offer diesel. We grew worried and spent the next half hour figuring out the logistics on having enough fuel for the long passage between fueling stations. Not only was their distance from each other an issue, their closing times were likewise a cumbersome detail to determine. There were many options, the best we determined left Daniel unsupported—with a loaded musette bag of course—for just under two hours and kept us on route (where we were able to get an idea where the leading three racers were). While the rig surprisingly got pretty good fuel efficiency, this Benzo was difficult to drive considering it’s lack of power steering and extremely short gears. Beware your choice of vehicles in next year’s RAO.

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Extra—non-regulatory—containers of diesel

We retrieved Dan as he was ascending some pretty steep switchbacks on the way to Fossil. He looked tired and hot; mild feelings of guilt for abandoning him crept in. Once he reached the summit, we dashed those guilty thoughts as we witnessed him rocket down the other side. The leapfrogging proceeded the same way for the most part until we began to experiment with vehicle-to-rider hand-offs.

At some point in the later afternoon, Daniel decided to take a break from the bike. Much to our resistance, we let him bust a nap; his complaints of heat-exhaustion, breathing difficulty, and shuddering cold seemed evident. It was a difficult decision to make, but we let him sleep. In retrospect this may have been the time we should have bagged the race entirely, but he got up, ate some food, straddled the bike and rode on.

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Daniel, about to devour a banana.

After darkness fell, the support vehicle was required to pace Dan with safety lights and such. His state seemed to progress further and further into exhaustion and delirium. At least that’s what it looked like through the windshield. At one point we broke out the binoculars to determine if he was riding in an appropriate gear—is there any delirium developing? is he aware of what he’s doing? It had the feeling of being one of those zookeepers observing and making notes about the caged gorillas. For the most part, it seemed good, but we had our concerns. We performed the hand-offs when needed and attempted to coddle him less; an attempt to keep him on his bike.

Some duration after Time Station 3 in Long Creek we were all growing weary, especially Daniel. I dozed in the passenger seat and was woke at 3:38 am while we were pulling over with Daniel; shortly after the decision to hang it up was made. After nearly a triple century in under twenty-four hours Daniel stepped foot into the van and took a very long nap, succumbing to his exhaustion, coldness, and at this point, likely delirium. It was a great weekend, ultra marathon style.

Check out some more photos here as well as a few updates from the weekend at Daniel’s site sevralprojex.com; donations can still be made for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America there as well. A big thanks to Daniel for letting me help on his team (I’ll fly out for future races!), thanks to the rest of the team (I think we rocked!), and thanks to the race organizers and other competitors (all very nice people).

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Status Update

Yeah, not posting a lot lately; sorry, been busy. I’m not only getting ready to move to Louisville, but also getting ready to go to Oregon to help Daniel with his competition in the Race Across Oregon, (he’s still looking for donors for the charity: the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America check out his site and donate!) In between all of this I’ve been finishing up work at the chocolate factory, yeah Theo! and picking up some hours helping out the folks at Freerange Cycles (and no, I’m not working at Wright Bros any longer—that ended a few weeks ago). There’s also the business of actually planning our life in Louisville that’s been hectic: jobs, school, a place to live, actually driving there. And many more things I’m sure we’re forgetting!

Brooke and I had a going away party at the Rendezvous this past weekend, thanks to everyone who made it out. It was great seeing you all there. Anyone who couldn’t make it or wanted to see us and hang-out some more, get in touch, time’s-a running out!

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Interactive Expectations

It’s nice to know when your expectations are confirmed. There are certain people in this town that more often than not fulfill my expectations. This isn’t to say I’m exactly happy to get derisive and smug glares from certain folks downtown; I’m really just surprised it’s so consistent. I expect certain people to remain smug and negative—I suspect it’s in their blood. However, it’s admittedly kind of confusing to get that reaction in response to a simple head-nod. Oh well, moving on. The other side of the coin to this is coming to expect positive interactions from others.

Craig—always upbeat it seems (article on him from the last print issue). It was cool running into him the other day on Eastlake. I don’t get south of Lake Union that much anymore, but lately my errand-running is taking me and my B.O.B trailer everywhere. Chatting with Billy at Monorail a few weeks ago—another positive experience. Seeing Terry almost every time I turn around is a nice surprise too. Meeting and talking with Dave at the Dutch Bike shop was very cool. There have been many more lately I could list.

I’m not really sure why, but I may stammer my words and not always have something witty or even coherent to say, but I am genuine when I say it excites me and stokes me out when I run into positive people that are open to talk and exhibit happiness. These experiences, no matter how brief or insubstantial they might be, linger. They actually affect my interactions with others moments or even hours later. It’s good to be able to recognize them individually as such; instead of pondering the negativity, I’ll recognize it for what it is and push the bad aside. Maybe this will direct me into some state of nirvana bliss one day.

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These positive interactions with people around town are some of the things I’ll miss about Seattle. The amount of negative interactions and experiences I’ve gotten from others also isn’t why I’m leaving, they’ll just be happily gone from my immediate world and hopefully replaced with more cheerfulness and optimism.

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Rigid for Him

Campagnolo has introduced their newest group, 11spd. Neat. Explore the site and find out how much more rigid and precise it is: 11speed. This upgrade, it would appear, is certainly made for the racer. I must admit though, those levers do look cool.

Insert Spinal Tap joke here.

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Paring Down

Well, Brooke and I are still heading to Louisville. Our time here in Seattle is dwindling fast—faster and faster as the departure date approaches it seems. We hope to get the chance to see and hang out with everybody before we leave, but if that doesn’t happen, make sure to see us off at the little going away party we’re having at the Rendezvous next week.

One certain thing that is nice about moving, I’ve stated before, is the idea of getting rid of “the stuff”. Not The Stuff from the movie, but all the excessive possessions we find ourselves carting around the country. Sometimes you should really examine it all and question it’s necessity. We had a moving sale last weekend and were pleasantly surprised at how well we did. It certainly lightened our load, almost to the point that we’re wondering if we even need the truck we’ve got reserved—the smallest, a ten-foot step van. Unloading it into a new place in Louisville I bet will be a cinch.

Louisville looks like a cool town too. Many people ask why we’ve chosen there to move to, and of course the answer is for Brooke’s school, but there’s other reasons too. I suspect things will be less expensive there, especially rent. I also suspect that the bicycle community there is just burgeoning and that’s really exciting. Gas is equally expensive there, so it’ll be interesting to see what, if any, bicycle growth occurs in Louisville. It’s already beginning to happen I’ve think. These reasons coupled with the fact that the both of us are really looking forward to some change in our lives. Shaking it up a bit, per se. I’ve been in Seattle for too long, I myself need a change of scenery.

“So you’re moving there blind?” This is another question we get a lot. No, neither of us have been to Louisville before. And that’s part of the adventure! It’s the same way I moved to Seattle, it’s part of “shaking it up”. To be fair though, we’re fortunate enough to have noticed Google’s Street View and this has given us the ability to view just about any and all prospective neighborhoods to live in, what the streets are like to ride on, and generally what the town looks like. It’s rad, but I certainly know this doesn’t really compare to the actual experience of exploring the streets in person! It’s a pretty helpful tool nonetheless.

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…too many yellow lines, where’s the lane?

I still have a lot to do before we leave. There’s the going away party, there’s helping Daniel with his Race Across Oregon, a small number of items to still get rid of (minor furniture, an alto saxaphone, among others), and I’m sure a million other things to plan for the trip across. Posts to the website will be sparse for while.

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Ka-Booom!

Yep, we got some lawn chairs, we’re gonna sit out in the middle of the street tomorrow night and enjoy some fireworks. Gotta remember though, this handy mnemonic I heard for the first time the other day: Get your fifth for the Fourth, on the 3rd. The liquor stores are closed here in Washington state tomorrow folks. Have a great Fourth of July!

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We’ll be using them for the Fremont Outdoor Cinema too. Saturday=Hot Fuzz!

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