Over the weekend of May 5-7th, 5 riders and 8 crew from the team assembled from Canada and all over the USA for a simulation/practice weekend in West Virginia and Maryland.
We used the RAAM route, riding over some of the toughest stretches of the race course. While the mountains of West Virginia are not as high as the Rockies, they are very steep and the vertical adds up as one climb follows the other. The weekend was a great opportunity for riders and crew to come together. We spent many hours practicing the skills we will need for the race, both during the day and at night. The most important of these is to have safe and swift rider exchanges.
On the longest and steepest climbs we were changing riders as frequently as every 10 minutes. This helps keep up our average speed, but it requires everyone to work as a coordinated team. Other key skills we practiced were route book navigation and radio communication via earpieces with the riders. While we had terrible weather, with cold temperatures, driving rain and high winds, we learned a lot and had a very productive weekend. The race is less than six weeks away – we are all getting both excited and apprehensive.