Tuesday, June 24, 2014

RAAM!!

Sunday evening through Friday evening.
Housesitting requires homemade pizza.

Motorcycling in the Gila National Forest



I was house sitting in New Mexico for my friend Roxie.  Not that the house really needed much attention.  But she was out of town and pretended like it was important for me to be there and fill the bird feeder every two hours.  So I obliged.  

As I sat watching Family Guy, the phone rang.  It was my friend Rick.  He was working on a team doing the Race Across America, from San Diego, CA, to Annapolis, MD.  The race began in a week and they had no mechanic.  Also, no budget.  Naturally, I said yes.

Step one:  a very fast (for me) drive from New Mexico to San Diego.  Departing Tuesday morning and arriving Wednesday afternoon and I started right in.  There was a lot to do and the race began Saturday, ready or not.
Stopped at a Dairy Queen.   Seeing this VW on blocks, I decided to get my Blizzard "to go."

Breakfast in a cafe that made me feel like I don't travel enough.

One of the highlights of the preparations was building an exotic bike I’ve never seen before, using parts I’ve never worked with.  Like building a jigsaw puzzle without the box.  Not to mention that one of my all time favorite motorcycle racers, Ben Bostrom, would be the rider.  No pressure.  Ha! Sarcasm!  Tons of pressure!!

I worked most of Friday on this bike, starting on it around 11:30 AM and finishing close to midnight.  It was a pretty complicated build, and you don’t want to hurry something that is going to spend the next seven days racing.  For that matter, you don’t want to build a bike the night before it is going to spend the next seven days racing.  But that is the way it goes, in racing.

Saturday through Friday.

We left Ocean Side, California, shortly afternoon.  Four riders doing a relay, two cars, one RV, approximately 15 crew members.  This race has been lost because of not enough crew members.  Hopefully, we have enough.
Racing tires are applied to the rim with glue.  It's pretty close to an art form with horrible consequences for getting it wrong.


The days got blurry pretty quick.  There was some heat in California.  There was a wicked wind in Arizona.  Monument Valley around sunset was spectacular.  Utah-Colorado-Kansas-Missouri went by in a blur.  Illinois-Indiana-Ohio are a bit blurry too.  Then there was a 25 hour shift as navigator during which we passed through several more states.  In the end, the race was down to the wire.  The second place team was right there all the time, but in the last 24 hours of the race, they made a navigation error that gave us an advantage of one hour and twenty minutes at the end of 3000 miles of racing.  Our time was 5 days, 11 hours, and 43 minutes.  We didn’t stop.  The RV was constantly trying to get ahead of the riders, two of which would be on the road while two rested.  It was a rather tiring event.

Monument Valley, AZ, around sunset. 

Team director dozes while serving as a bike stand.



Important stratagy meeting.



This screen shot shows the route, the dots are racers, either teams or solos.

First place.
Ben Bostrom, Dave Mirra, me, Dave Zabriskie, Micky Dymond

We made this happen.


The band Motley Crue had nothing on this motley crew.

Team Director Micheal rocking the bike-mechanic sideburns.


Turns out, he's not really Silent Bob.


For a week I’m back to normal, but at the end of the month I’ll be heading to China for the Tour of Qinghai Lake.  Two weeks of racing and several days of traveling.  And as usual, it will be reviewed here.