What a scene at the start – over 50 teams from all over the world. A few of them we know from previous races, particularly the German crew on Team Equipe Schwarz. It’s enough to say we’ve shared a few beers with them over the years….
The race started at noon local time (3pm EDT), but with are over 50 teams leaving in a staggered start we were the last ones to leave, so the GCG didn’t roll out of the starting gate until 3:45. All 8 riders rode out together, but within a half mile the 4 day shift riders peeled off and rode back to our Sprinter van, and immediately drove 200 miles to check into a motel in Blythe CA to catch as much rest as we can.
A little about how we’ve organized the rotation of our 9-person crew, 8 riders and three vehicles. First of all we’re split into two teams, each including 4 riders and 4 crew. The “night” shift, with Coach Tony, Jerome Rossetti, Dave Payne and Lisa Wilson, will ride from approximately 5:00pm to 5:00 AM EDT(the official race time from start to finish is Eastern Daylight, so we leave our clocks and watches on EDT the whole race). They will be accompanied by crew members Lynn Teague, Celeste Burr, Stephen Harrell and Neil Fleming. The “day” shift includes riders Frank, Joe Daniels, Lee Amlicke and Jane Eastham, plus crew members Charlie Robinson, Bruce Zavodny, Brigette Killion and Amy Westergren-Amlicke.
Each shift splits up, 2 riders and crew, between the 2 mini-vans. These mini-vans will alternate as the “follow” vehicle – the van that follows closely behind the rider on the road. The follow van will have one rider on the road and one rider in the back. The other van will drive ahead 10 to 20 miles, position a rider on the road ready to ride, and wait for the current rider and follow van to catch up. When the exchange occurs the new rider will start out and his/her van will then become the follow vehicle. The 2 vans continue hopscotching this way for 12 hours (to approx 5am or 5pm) when we will do a full shift change of all riders and crew. At time the shift that just finished their riding will hop in the Sprinter van with their gear and drive 200-250 miles to the next motel to eat, sleep, clean up, do laundry and shop for the next day. If all goes smoothly there will be time for about 3-4 hours of sleep, although for the first couple of days the riders may be too keyed up sleep at all.
The multi-talented Chad Carter, our 9th crew member, is driving the Sprinter Van, shuttling the day and night teams to and from the exchange points and the day’s motel. He is also our on call emegency medicine, massage and physical therapist. It’s always good to have a ex-military man on board and we are very happy Chad is here with us.