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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Two Weeks Past

James and I have returned from the depths of southern Oregon—Ashland. Cool town, nice friendly people, pretty easy getting around via bike, the weather was decent, could have been better/warmer/dryer. Getting to and from Ashland could easily have been more convenient; never had either of us had such a difficult time getting somewhere with our bikes. The irony in this is, of course, the fact that UBI, one of only two bicycle mechanic training facilities in the country, is in Ashland.

The two weeks started off with our traveling to Portland for the Filmed by Bike show. This was, as always, a good time. I wasn’t really up for Friday’s Midnight Mystery Ride, but evidently I was up for something on Saturday night. Being that we were staying in Portland until Sunday to travel to Ashland, we enjoyed the Saturday viewing of the show and were invited by Ayleen, the Rev. Phil, and others to have a smaller “ride” for some lively party action; we ended up on “Pirate’s Island” where evidently I was nearly beheaded by a flying pallet without even knowing it. Good raucous times. Ridiculous. Needless to say, the drive via rental car to Ashland was quiet and subdued.

The following two weeks were spent attending the United Bicycle Institute where we took part in the Professional Repair and Shop Operation class offered there. Barring the results of our tests, we will be certified bicycle technicians. (We’ll be getting our test results back in the mail sometime next week.) As far as the class went, it was pretty cool.

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UBI “training” facility. Some other photos of the classroom can be found here.

We never did actually find out what that old shack was all about, I can only imagine the relief of the instructors when they got promoted from gravel and rusty nails to clean linoleum. The instructors were all-about cool guys, knowledgeable and very helpful. The other students were also about what you’d expect, cool bike enthusiasts; the several we hung out with were all really great people. I’m happy to know I made some friends out there. It was great meeting you all; you too Raul.

The schedule of the class was eight hours, probably about half hands-on, half lecture. At times the lecture grew tedious, but that was really just the factor of the clean and organized walls of tools tempting us to use them. I’m no stranger to most of these tools so that wasn’t the most exciting part; actually learning an exact methodology on using them accurately and precisely however was. Some of what I’ve learned up to this point has been learned through trial and error, a new level of precision has been added to my quiver of mechanical skills. As one fellow student put it, he no longer is the monkey with a stick working on bikes. I’ve also added a level of confidence, especially when working on newer bikes and components (10spd, hydraulics, suspension, etc.). Granted I do still reserve the right to break out the kung fu hammer and “cold-set” some steel when I need to. Calculated persuasion sometimes comes in handy when dealing with less than high-end parts.

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The trip back in Glen’s over-loaded and over-weighted car.

With this added confidence, completed curriculum, and hopefully certificate, I’ll have luck in continuing this line of work for years to come, wherever I’ll be (that town the horses race in in Kentucky is next). Because I really do enjoy wrenching on bikes and I’ve been itching to get back to it at Wright Bros. since about Tuesday of last week during class. Who knows, maybe I’ll have my own shop one day somewhere. What kind of bike shop? Like mentioned in the class, the mom & pop shops are disappearing, being replaced by “retail establishments” that sell bikes. Not sure how I feel about that myself, I guess time will tell.

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FBB

This next month coming up is going to be a busy one. I’m excited.

All will be normal until Friday the 11th when my wife and I, along with James & Shellie will be heading down via Amtrak to Portland, Oregon to enjoy the wild festivities on Clinton Street. That’s right, Filmed by Bike.

Do it yourself, get down there, bring some old tubes I hear, watch what are expected to be some great bike movies!

There’s been some chatter about it around town up here I’ve heard, and seen…

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Anyone have some floor or space to let four friendly bikers crash for a few nights in Portland?

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Race Across….

I’ve heard of the Race Across AMerica, or RAAM as it’s called, but I’ve only recently been introduced to a qualifier for it called the Race Across Oregon. They don’t just let anyone compete in riding across the States, you have to be approved for the pain. There are other qualifiers of course, the well-known Furnace Creek 508, the Tejas 500, or others.

One gentleman we’ve all read about in the pages of Cranked is going to compete in the Race Across Oregon this coming summer. Yes, Daniel Olsen, written about in issue two: Daniel Featherhead, this guy has put the miles on and he’s training hard for this one too. One of the cool things about his competing in the RAO is he’s also collecting money for donation on the side. All proceeds for Daniel’s efforts will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Daniel’s a great guy, show him you think so too and support his efforts for this worthwhile cause. Check out his website describing Daniel’s aspirations, the team helping him, and donate some money to AFA at sevralprojex.com.

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