The first 5 hours of the race
It is now 9pm on June 11th and the first day of the race is off to a good start.
I am writing this from a moving RV in the Salton Sea Desert East of San Diego. So I hope my Sprint wireless connection stays good!
We rode from Ocean Side, CA to Anza Borrego Springs in about 4:45, 15 minutes faster than our schedule predicted. The distance was about 88 miles. So we're happy. Robert, Dennis and Rich all did a great job riding and are feeling good.
Scott and Brian get the patience award. They drove with Nick and Aaron in the RV to Borrego Springs and they didn't get to start riding until 7:15 tonight when we pulled in. Right now they are tearing across the desert with some mean night riding.
Our team: the riders are Dennis, Scott, Brian, Rich and Robert. Our FANTASTIC crew members are Nick, Sean, Randy & Aaron. The team cannot thank nor praise the crew enough.
Here is a high valley 30-40 miles East of Ocean Side.
Dennis is the rider ready to start as soon as Rich gets to this point. Randy is assisting wonderfully!
The country East of Ocean Side / San Diego has beautiful upland valleys at 2000' to 4000' high, so things were a more pleasant temperature for much of todays riding, after an initial hot, hard climb.
Rich had not one but two major mechanical break downs, but we were lucky that neither cost us even a few seconds of time.
The first was in the initial leg where, because our support vehicle was not allow in the first 30 miles, Rich and Robert rode together, to guard against the unlikely event of a mechanical problem with a bike. As luck would have it, Rich broke his chain when he stood up and tried to catch Robert a couple hundred feet ahead of him. Robert kept riding and our SUV follow vehicle was allowed to come back and get Rich. We had a spare chain and Sean was able to swap it in in just a couple minutes!
On Rich's next 'pull' (that's lingo for turn riding), his pedal broke off the crank! Unbelievable. We've never seen anything like this. Sean was able to put the pedal right back on.
At this point we hope we've gotten all our 'mechanicals' out of the way for the whole 1000 miles. Thanks Rich!
This is two follower vehicles for two other teams. This early in the race the riders and teams are still pretty closely spaced so we often have 2-4 follower cars pulled off the road at the same spot waiting to do rider exchanges. Every body cheers everyone else on.
Another gorgeous high valley.
Pretty flowers right by the road.
Mountains are getting higher as we climb to the 4000' crest. We are about 30 miles from Julian, and we passed
Sean and Randy are talking with Dennis. He is all ready to ride as soon as Rich speeds in. We try to not lose a second in the transitions, so the new rider is already starting to pedal when the rider finishing his pull rolls in. There is no 'baton' that gets handed off, we just have to have the 'wheels cross'.
The finish of the first leg was in a lovely very hot desert town called... Borrego Springs. It is about sea level.
This is the view West from Borrego Springs at the mountain crest we rode up to, and then down.
I (Robert) got to ride the 4000' descent from the mountain ridge above Borrego Springs. It was a blast. It was one of the best descents I've ridden: smooth pavement, almost no cars, and the grade was not so steep that I had to brake all the time. My top speed in the descent was 52 mph, I averaged 35-40 mph during the descent, which is chicken speeds. Pro riders would have done it 50-60 mph. It was in the mid 70's at the top of the ridge at 7:00 pm as I crested it and 10 miles later at the bottom it was 95 degrees at 7:30.
Here we are with the RV in the Borrego Springs. As soon as I rode in to town, the Brian & Scott riding team took off like rockets.
The RV has a nice feature of a shower hose on the outside, so Dennis, Rich and Robert got to do a bit of a clean up for our 4 hour break. We chilled in Borrego Springs for about 1.5 hours.
This is another team in Borrego Springs.
Rich is calling home to his wonderful wife. She is great. The historic rains and floods in Wisconsin occurred the day before Rich had to fly to California for the race. His basement flooded with sewage. Bummer! We all think his wife is AWESOME for letting him still go to California...
The sun sets over the mountains west of Borrego.
Hard to see, but this is downtown Borrego Springs.
he freezer is well stocked in the RV. I like this gang - they have a preference for *dark* chocolate, which is my favorite too.
Each of the riders should need to consume about 12,000 calories during the 55 hour race.
We each have 6 sets of clean bike clothes for our 6 shifts we'll be riding (6 shifts of 4 hours each). But after each ride, before we put our clothes into our dirty laundry bags, we like to air dry them so they don't get mildew. So our RV is getting to feel quite homey. We are proud of our domestic skills!