Welcome to my collection of ultra-distance equipment I've assembled to support RAW 2019. Some are borrowed from the experiences from other RAW and RAAM athletes, Pro Tour teams. Some were used and tested at Hoodoo 300. Others are motivated by my engineering experience with telescopes and instrumentation, and adapted for the extreme conditions we expect crossing the desert. It's all just some of the logistics to keep the rolling feeding machine following me across the west going.
The Primary Bike-My 2007 Serotta HSG
This was my team bike back in 2007 with I rode with Bethel Cycles in New England. I had some of my best racing seasons on this bike. Serotta only made a few of these--mine is serial number #49. In New England, it was my go-to bike for Tour of the Battenkill with its 20 or so gravel segments. I think it really is the perfect balance between a stiff road racing bike (I still do crits on this bike occasionally, it tracks wonderfully), and endurance riding. It absorbs vibration, and has an all-day-long comfort that only a Serotta can have. Its titanium seat tube, chain stays, and lugs always get attention from bike geeks. Check out the Chris King Ti cages, also from 2007--simple, light, a bit retro, and never drop a bottle.
Today its upgraded to Dura-Ace 11-speed and just for RAW, outfitted with a new Reynolds Strike SLG deep 62 mm wheelset and Panaracer Competition 25 mm tires. The original team bike also had Reynolds wheels, one of which is still rolling 12 years later. For the race, a clip-on aerobar will be added.
More recently, the cockpit and saddle configuration on the Serotta have been customized specifically for the ultras. The drop bars have been replaced with Profile aluminum Ozero aero basebars, Profile T2+ extensions (now discontinuted), and Cee Gees aero pads. A Light and Motion Urban 1000 FC lights the way, and gives a highly visible daylight strobe.
How many different kinds of tape can you use for a 930 mile bike race? Lots.
Refect-a-Gold Heat Reflective Tape
This will be a bit of an experiment. As most Arizona cyclist that ride in the heat of the day know, the radiative heat from the road can just completely bake your feet. It's not helpful that most cycling shoes are black on the bottom, and efficient absorbers of the heat. Some RAAM cyclist have painted the bottoms of their shoes white. I researched heat reflective tape, and found this product. These products are typically used in industrial and motorsport applications to shield components and the vehicle interior from the extreme radiative heat from the engine. The Design Engineering people recommended the Reflect-a-Gold product for this application as it should reflect much more effectively than the silver colored tape. If nothing else, my white Fizik R1 Infinto shoes with shiny gold soles will look like winners.
We have two different communication systems for RAW. The primary system is a pair of Terrano XT bluetooth based headsets. They provide 13 h of talk time with a bluetooth based intercom to the crew. The bluetooth claims a range of 1.2 km, more than enough for direct follow, but marginal for leapfrog support. The headset will also pair with a smartphone and take calls. With a pre-programmed quick dial, a single button can call the crew when we are leapfrogging and out of range. In testing, the wind noise suppression has been really exceptional. The no-touch speakers are great (can you imagine 900 miles of "ear-chafe")
Our backup system are Cobra ACXT645 walkie talkies. We had hoped these would provide enough range at Hoodoo to support leapfrog support well, but they disappointed, especially since we sprung for the higher power units, and the FCC license. This will be the backup COMM, and car-to-car COMM in northern AZ. I did not expect the claimed 35 mile range, but was hoping for 1-2 miles. Finding a suitable earpiece has also been a challenge, the one we used at Hoodoo failed, leaving me only keying the mic, and my crew not hearing anything. We have a new push-to-talk headset for RAW, but wind noise and comfort do not even come close to the Terrano.
During the race, the crew ends up charging all sorts of things in the car, cell phones, my comm system, and most critically, my lights. All these devices that have "all day" power, like taillights, become things you need two, three, or more of, with one constantly charging in one of the vehicles. Minimum current for charging most devices is 0.5 A, and rapid charging requires 2.0 A. Many built in USB outlets underperform, and current out of battery based chargers can also be uncertain. So, we have a tester, mostly so we can evaluate and discover which outlets will work, and which may not. While we will probably have every bike light in my collection in a giant "light of last resort" box in the car, keeping the primary stuff charged is critical, and finding out from the crew six hours into the night "I had this plugged in, but its still not charged" would kind of suck coming into Blythe CA at 2 am.
Apeman Dash Cam
Because of an incident at Hoodoo--I had a passing truck throw a bottle at me at night around the 200 mile point, we are adding dash cameras to all the follow vehicles. Fortunately, the bottle missed me, and shattered harmlessly into a million shiny pieces in the headlights, and I avoided a flat. If needed, the cameras will document any similar incidents on the road. On a more positive note, we will get quality HD video with a wide angle 170 degree field of view, during direct follow to document the race.
Signs, Lights and Triangles
One of the support vehicle challenges is to simply get all the warning signs, lights, and the slow moving vehicle sign to fit on the car and not obscure the crew's vision, or the lights. For Hoodoo the original plan was to use a plastic triangle and high strength magnetic tape. But, we we just out of room. The solution was a hitch mount flagpole holder, which fit into the 2-inch hitch receiver. The sign is bolted to the upright. We modified the part a bit to move the triangle as close to the tailgate as possible and still allow it to open, then added some reflective tape to make sure it was visible in parking lots.
The reflective "CAUTION BICYCLE AHEAD" sign is a custom magnetic sign from Signazon.com.
The smaller team sign is non-reflective (which is a more durable surface that allows taping the sign to non-metallic surfaces or the top of the windshield) was also from Signazon.com.
The pair of amber warning lights are WoneNice 48 Watt 8 LED emergency hazard flashers finished off the crew car kit for Hoodoo.
At RAW, we will run with a very similar setup, but with signage provided by RAW.
High Visibility Vests
All the crew should have high visibility vests, both day and night. At Hoodoo, the rider needed one after dark as well. We have been through several different vests, both on the bike and for the crew (Hoodoo requires the cyclist to have one at night as well).
We used these green SAFETrail vests which were light enough to be worn all the time in the car, and cheap. They even come with a nice stuff bag, and ankle straps. It did not really fit tight enough on the bike to be ideal, but for the crew, they were great.
More recently, we been using Salzmann 3M Pocket Safety Vests. Nice pockets, and a bit more robust.
On the bike, I've gone to an adjustable strap style vest, following the example of several riders at RAAM (they are not actually required at RAAM). It adjusts tightly, but is a bit of puzzle to get on and off for clothing changes at night.