First, we are so proud of our Team FARA cyclists for such a strong start. Mary & I last saw Sean and Mike at an exchange near Time station #2 in Brawley, CA. They should be tucked into bed for some well deserved rest by now, and Kyle and John pedaling away on 78 on their way to Blythe, CA.
They are accompanied by Crew Chief- Mike Bryant (Kyle's Dad), Phil Vickers (Sean's Brother), Blake Andrews (Kyle's friend), and Mike Gore (Sam Bridgman's friend). The crew makes sure the riders are protected from traffic, that their path is well lit, that they know which direction to travel, are well fed and hydrated, and that the transitions between riders is safe and within the rules.
Everyone is decked out in stylin reflective gear and headlamps. (When we get a good photo of the crew in their gear, we'll post it.) Most of this crew has worked back to back shifts (ie on the road since the start)---and they retire for the evening at 4am and a new shift begins. The RV was manned by Stephen Parsons (Erin's O'Neil's friend) and Bob O'Neil (Erin O'Neil's Dad) on the first shift. Steve masterfully navigated some curvy, narrow and hilly terrain to get to the meet up point with the riders back in Borego Springs. Paul Konanz (Brianne Konanz's Dad) and Tracy Allgeier (Mike Mellott's friend) are at the helm of the RV now-----finding quiet places to pull the RV off the road so resting riders and crew can get some sleep. They juggle that with the need to stay ahead of the riders on the road. Diane Bryant (Kyle's Mom) and Aaron Farley (Kyle's Roommate) have had the food prep shifts--keeping the fridge well stocked with sandwiches and making sure the riders eat. Mike Andresen (FA parent), drove one of the rider follow vehicles at the start. Mike meticulously researched the Day 1 route for the team to ensure that the riders were well informed of the challenges of this route---and planned their coverage accordingly. Mary and I spent the late evening attempting to chase down our first "go for" run. The mandatory safety flags on our two follow vans got pretty beat up over the first 80 miles---so we went in search of replacements. We struck out at Home Depot---and with most stores closing by 9pm we decided to make our way up the course to put us in closer position to the team tomorrow morning as well as possible safety flag suppliers like Walmart or Sears.
One of the things I find most striking about the crew's role is the care, focus and coordinated effort required of the group. There is constant communication between two way radios in the different vehicles to keep everyone moving in the same direction and on the same page. There is also an awful lot of care and focus---crew watching out for cyclists, crew looking out for other crew. Great work team!