Tony, Jerome, Dave and Lisa flew through the night, taking advantage of the cooler temps to make it all the way across the Mojave Desert by to Blythe CA by 5am (EDT) where we in the day shift took over. We were able able to ride in the cool night air for 4-5 hours before the sun started blazing – high nineties in SW Arizona. It cooled a little – to the mid-90s – when we climbed up into the mountain leading into Prescott, which is about 5000′.
One big difference in our strategy this year with an eight-person team is that we have a lot of manpower to tackle the difficult climbs. We learned in the West Virginia Mtns in 2010 that we can really speed up our climbing time by breaking the climb up among 3-4 riders, changing out every mile 1 or 2. We tackled all the difficult climbs in AZ this way today.
Overall we had a great first day – faster overall speed vs our 4-man team times, never got off course, no penalities, and never lost any time on our exchanges. Most importantly the crew did job no 1 – kept the riders safe. Still, it was a stressful day for the 12 crew and riders who are all new to this crazy event. Everyone wanted to do a perfect job, but it’s inevitable that there will be first day glitches as everyone gets the routine down.
We are all exhausted. Time for bed to try and get 4 hours before we get up at midnight (9pm local time!) and make the 3 hour drive to catch our night shift somewhere near Kayenta, AZ and head toward Monument Valley.