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Team Wolcott

Gallery - Part 3
Safety Measures - Relective Tape

RAAM rules require that crews and riders take serveral precautions for our safety. Since riders and their support crews will be on the road day and night, with motorists and trucks, making sure that we are visible is one of the primary concerns.

Applying reflective tape to the bicycle is one requirement, and Keith now has all of the required reflective tape on all three bikes and on the three sets of spare wheels. The photo shows the reflective tape on the seat stays, the cranks, the forks, and three strips on each side of each wheel. Every time we get something done, we are one step closer to getting to the starting line of RAAM!

Reflective tape

Thinking about Shermer's Neck
Shermer's Neck is an acute medical condition named after long-distance ultramarathon bicyclist Michael Shermer. During the 1983 Race Across America, he developed pain and extreme weakness in the neck muscles to the degree that he was no longer able to hold his head up. Several RAAM competitors have struggled with the condition, which can significantly debilitate a rider. Over the years, riders have tried different methods to provide support for their neck muscles so they can continue riding. (Click here to see some examples.)
Alberto Blanco
Leah Goldstein 2011
Riders and their crews construct various contraptions to provide support for the weakened neck muscles. Frames made from PVC pipe, bungee cords, and other lightweight materials have all been tried. (Above, Alberto Blanco, 2011 RAAM)
Leah Goldstein, 2011 RAAM winner for solo women age 18-49, was struck with Shermer's Neck while still in the Rockies. Despite the pain and fatigue, she still won her age division. (Click here to read her story.) Did we mention that this is the world's toughest bicycle race? And RAAM riders and crew are tough people!

Shermer's Neck is more likely to afflict solo riders than team riders, and though we don't expect that Keith will encounter this challenge, it is nevertheless smart to be prepared and to experiment with some possible remedies. Thanks to Christine Mullen for the great idea for an inflatable support. Duct tape works great to re-shape and re-size an inflatable pillow and attach it to the bike. It's versatile and comfortable.

Another device we hope never to use - a bungee cord that gives gentle support to hold up Keith's head.

Bungee cord to hold head

We Have a Race Number! 509!
Keith: "Of course it is not really important, but RAAM race numbers have been assigned and I have a prime number! I am 509. Since the start is done by starting with the highest numbers and then decreasing (with the RAW riders going first), I will be the 20th rider to start out of 66 total. They start about a minute apart so I will start around 12:20 PM on June 10th. Less than 12 weeks to go now!"

Radio Road Test Results
Here's a report from the road today (March 20): "We got a good test of the Cardo radio system today. The weather was finally nice enough for us to both be outside, so we each wore a set. Despite the high winds, we could hear each other clearly. We knew the range was roughly line of sight, but several times we exceeded the advertised .3 mile range, since we measured .5 mi several times and even .6 mi once. We are most pleased with it."

Practicing Pit Stops

We were finally blessed with a warm spring day on one of the scheduled Saturday training dates, so Keith and the crew practiced pit stops.

Ellen set up a simulated layout of a support crew van in the driveway, and Keith made repeated loops (meanwhile riding 90 miles) so the crew could practice all the procedures to be done during a roadside stop.

driveway setup
The support van will have resource materials the crew can consult as needed (including the planned routine for different types of stops, e.g., daytime stops, night-time stops, brief stops, longer stops, etc.)
The two-way radio will help the crew communicate with Keith about the planned stop. Here (at right) during the simulation, Shelia was wearing the headset and could pick up Keith's transmission that he was nearing the pitstop. This sets the crew into action.
The "Stop Box" contains a few essentials which will need to be handy for Keith's use at every stop -- chamois butter, wet wipes, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.
Here he comes! The crew has already set out the folding chair, and while one crew member (Lisa) gets ready to take Keith's bike, another (Dick) is ready to help Keith take his shoes off.
Take the shoes off, provide a quick foot massage, help apply sunscreen...
Another crew member acts as the "foodie" and makes sure Keith gets the food needed at that stop (and then records it in the log so we'll know how he is doing with the planned calorie intake.)

During a pitstop, the bicycle also gets a check-up. Here, Dick takes a look at the rear tire, which is showing quite a bit of wear (because these are Keith's training tires and he's been putting a LOT of miles on them.)

During the actual race, a bike check-up might include a wheel change, adjustment of the derailleurs, or a quick lube of the chain.

Water bottles on the bike are replaced with freshly filled bottes, and additional nutrition is stashed onboard.

Pit stop completed, and off he goes!
During the training, we used a stopwatch to see if we could complete all the planned tasks within the time period allocated for that type of stop. During today's training, we managed to complete the work well within the time goal, but we freely admit that we were working under ideal conditions (all the participants had plenty of sleep the night before, for one.)
Replacing an inner tube in the tires can't always wait for a convenient time and location, so we practiced trying to do this while sitting in a "van."

Though it's much easier to pump up the tires if one is able to stand up, theoretically, using the floor pump in a van ought to be possible...

More pit stop training sessions will be planned soon.