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Preparations and Crew

 

We flew out on Friday September 9. Neither John nor I had a lot of vacation time, so we weren't able to help drive support vehicles across the country to the start. We did hear incredible stories of breakdowns and non-stop driving that made us a bit thankful we had missed this pleasure, and a bit worried that the bad luck might continue on the trip. However, despite having to replace the radiator, water pump and fan belt in one vehicle, and have the trailer hitch collapse as they pulled into the parking lot on the way out, we had an almost trouble free west to east crossing, with just one dead battery, and one flat tire.

When John and I arrived the welder was busy working to repair and reinforce the trailer mountings. Since we were unable to start loading vehicles and trailers until this work was done, we reassembled our tandem. After a few hours in the sun, wearing sandals and shorts, we both noticed that we had sunburned the tops of our feet - a part that rarely is exposed to sun. We decided that we would really have to be more careful using sunscreen throughout the trip. We were eventually able to start loading the vehicles and meet the other crew members. We first met Victor and Gladys Gallo. I had actually met them a few years before in France before riding PBP, when the hotel had accidentally put me in their room. After flying all night, I wanted some sleep, but the key turning in my door prevented that. I was eventually given another room. I must say that this meeting was much better, and we really enjoyed getting to know them both. Victor's sense of humor was fabulous and Gladys was great as she put up with our constant requests to stop and take pictures on our non-riding days. Having crewed for both PAC Tour and RAAM many times, Gladys was also a great source of information about both.

Roger Mankus had joined the crew as a last minute replacement. John and I had met Roger last spring while in Texas for a RAAM qualifier. Roger had done PAC Tour before, crewed on a few RAAMs and attempted a solo and a tandem crossing with Nick Gerlich.

Beau was the resident massage therapist. Beau has done many, many US crossings as a massage therapist on RAAM. He gave the most incredible massages. John and I both were recipients of his magic touch. Roger is also a certified massage therapist, and served as a backup. Massages were available for an additional, but very reasonable charge.

Eric, the bike mechanic, arrived later in the evening, driving the van with hopefully the final repairs. The last crew member we met was Karen Zmrhal, who was to be our roommate off and on for the next ten days. One female rider had signed up for the first week only , and once she left, Karen would join her former roommate. In the meantime, the crew doubled up. We actually knew quite a bit about Karen before the trip, since she is the mother of a good friend. Of course we had to promise not to spill any of Terry's secrets to his mom.

Saturday was quite busy, as riders arrived throughout the day, checked in and assembled bikes. John and I tried to run last minute errands, but ran out of time before John was able to get his hair cut. Fearing a meltdown in the desert, we bought a battery operated trimmer, and at John's request, I proceeded to give him the worst buzz cut he's ever had. It looked pretty bad, but he assured me that he was happy with it and that he wouldn't have considered riding through the heat of the desert with his former locks.