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Chris Benchetler getting it good. photo - Peter Morning
Team Clif Bar Blog
Jun 6, 2006
RAAM: Preparations

Kenny S., one of our field managers, has decided to ride his bike across the United States in the 25th annual Race Across America (RAAM). He leaves from Oceanside, CA, this Sunday, and rides as fast and as far as he can every day, until he reaches the finish line all the way in Atlantic City, NJ. Phew.
Gretchen, Kenny’s crew chief, will be with him every stroke of the way. Here’s a look at her preparations for the big day:

Friday, June 2nd

It’s a nerve-wracking experience when you stop counting the time left in weeks, and switch to days. Yikes. Some days I envy Kenny’s deceivably easy task of riding into killer fitness. But instead, visions of route maps, 2-way radios and Bag Balm dance through my head (not to mention who will have the honor of applying that last item when Kenny’s exhausted).
Currently, I’m at the stage where brainstorming has to end and decisive decisions need to be made. Vehicles are set—a CLIF van, a rental mini van and a motor home. Bike supplies, tools and CLIF product have been set aside. I’ve thrown sleep strategies at Kenny, he’s countered back, and we’ve now got a game plan we both know is smart and strategic. Who knew planning how much ice to start with, and the associated melting rate, could be so critical?

As I start to create a "welcome kit" for each crew member, my heart rate escalates. If you want to test your selling skills, try pitching volunteering for a RAAM crew. It’s a great emotional spin that few can deny would go down as one of those "once in a lifetime adventures," but hard to actually find folks with equally enthusiastic employers, family and wallets.

All seriousness though, my energies are firmly focused on tightening up the final crew before I develop a full fledge ulcer. Any takers?

Sunday, June 4th

Today it reached 94 degrees in Boulder, CO where I live. That’s going to be frigid compared to the first hours of RAAM. So while I was riding my measly 5-hour ride today, my head started spinning about how to keep Kenny cool (and calm and collected) during the first 24 hours of the race. You definitely can’t win the race in the desert, but you can dig quite a deep hole if you’re not smart.

That thought led to a trip to the hardware store to browse at the pressurizable hand-held sprayers for "drive-by cooling." Seeing as the normal use is to apply weed killer or exterminate crunchy insects, I bit my tongue when an older sales person approached me and asked what I was trying to "get rid of."

My list of to-dos upon arrival in San Diego keeps growing. Speaking with those who have crewed before me, the organization of all the "must haves" in the follow vans is paramount. I chuckled to myself when reading a story about a team that lost the TP at an inopportune time (who’s sacrificing their t-shirt?). Time to see what new Rubbermaid and Tupperware items have been developed, and fight my printer to create labels.

Note to self: it will be dark for just about half of this journey, make the labels easy to read with the beam of a headlamp.

Food planning is relatively easy for Kenny. He’s got a wicked addiction to CLIF product and otherwise has a garbage disposal of a stomach. We’ll plan out the healthy "musts" he needs to get down for nutritional purposes and leave some leeway for the remaining calories he needs to consume each day.

I quizzed him recently about all the various odd items he’s consumed on epic training and racing endeavors. I’ve compiled it into a massive cheat sheet/grocery list for the crew to select from when days into the race absolutely nothing will sound appealing.

It would make any junk food addict drool.


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