So the good news is that #115 and #116 completed the stage successfully. The less good news is that Richard’s #77 did not. After a great run in the morning in very pleasant temps – we fetched up at the HD dealership in Rock Falls IL, where we received a warm welcome.
We left on schedule but it didn’t take long for the 1915 bike to lose power and slow to a pace that looked very unlikely to make the finish line. Keith and I hung with Richard as long as we could – but at 415pm he very firmly gave us team orders to book. So we duly booked and made it to the finish with 12 minutes to spare.
The problem with his bike was diagnosed as a broken tappet guide and the team are working diligently to resolve.
Which is an appropriate segue…… so these blog posts have focused on the bikes and the stages – but what is happening behind the scenes? How is the sausage made?
So the day starts with someone getting up at 5am to start the crockpot of porridge – only the best steel cut oats. We gather at the trailer to eat around 6am-7am depending on the stage start time, and the riders start getting ready, while the crew pull the bikes off the trailer. The crew being Ryan, Grady (Scott), Felix, Reid, Mark and of course Alton!
The riders go to event control to get the route for the day – a long strip of paper that is mounted to the rollers in the map box and is fiddly in the extreme to manage. Then the riders depart and now the crew have to tidy up whatever is not already loaded – and then drive to the stage finish by a direct and different route. We are talking three trucks, two of which are towing the workshop trailer and the equipment trailer.
Depending on the stage – they will arrive as early as noon and they will set up in the parking lot of whichever hotel we are staying in – and get room keys for the entire team. Set up is no small deal – two 12 x 15 canopies, tables and chairs, coolers, three bike lifts, lighting, etc etc. Then the riders will arrive at stage end and the bikes are hustled into the lifts, the oil is drained, the bikes are thoroughly cleaned top to bottom, clearances are checked, oil and fuel replenished, pivots and bushings greased – and all mechanical issues addressed.
At some point food is either delivered or we go to a nearby restaurant. Based on experience so far, the crew will spend some time helping other teams – especially Ryan since he is a welder and fabricator par excellence.
At the end of the evening, the bikes are loaded in the trailer, the canopies are taken down and everything loaded back in the trailers ready for tomorrow’s early start. So, as you can see, the crew are working one hell of a lot harder then I am.
By the way, you can read all the bios in the Team section of the blog site.