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
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.