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This is what he was made for, and now it’s finally happened. This past weekend Lance rode in a 300 mile bike race. I guess I should say JAMES rode in a bike race. Lance got to leap frog James for the entire 300 miles of ridiculousness, with me at the wheel, alone, for the very first time.
All those extra customizations Winnebago did for us on our pimped out Travato 59G were mostly for this purpose. We wanted an RV that would serve as the perfect cycling support vehicle, and would stand up to the kind of lunatic adventures James seems to rope us into. And I do mean lunatic, because who in their right mind would want to 1) race a bike 300 miles over mountains, 2) pay $300 to do so, and 3) rope their wife into tagging along for the “fun”. All I can say in James’ defense is at least he didn’t enter the 500 mile race.
Baptism By Fire.
Besides a few miles in town, I’d never driven Lance alone before the race. The race started at 7am on a Saturday morning in St. George, Utah. James pretty much tossed me the keys as he biked away. “Figure it out, honey! See you in 30 miles!” Great. Yay, adventures.
So what’s a girl to do who finds herself alone with a big yellow RV and charged with following a 300 mile bike race in unfamiliar territory? I plugged in the address for the nearest Starbucks, of course. There was NO WAY I was spending the day, without a Venti iced Americano in Lance’s cupholder. Okay, NOW I’m ready for this Race of Stupidity to begin.
Our first rendezvous point was Hurricane, Utah. No, guys, you just got that wrong. Your brain read, “Her-ih-cane,” didn’t it? As in Rock You Like A Hurricane, right? WRONG! The locals call it “Herkin.” I’ve lived in Utah almost 6 years now, and that one still cracks me up.
Herkin is about 20 miles from St. George, and right off the bat, I was driving on an interstate. Holy Easy Driving, Batman! When I later told James what a peach Lance was to drive, especially when compared to our last camper van, he went into this whole diatribe about the physics behind front wheel drive and crosswinds. I’ll admit, I pretty much just pretended to listen to him. All I know is, it drives like a car. I can sip a coffee in one hand, and steer with the other. Yep, life with Lance is good.
After the first stop, it was out into the desert and all its hotness. I can’t tell you how nice it was to crank the generator at these desert stops and chill out in the air conditioning. Looking at all the other support crews sweating on the side of the road, Immature Stef wanted to open the dinette window, where I was happily playing on the internet, and say “sucks to not have an RV!” Or do you think “nanny nanny boo boo” would have been more effective?
For the first 80 miles or so, everything was going great. We had our leapfrogging down rather well, and I was pretty puffed up about how good of a team Lance and I were. But then, as we dipped down into Arizona, there was a little hiccup. Thinking he was being smart, James had brought a second set of wheels. They were stored in Lance’s garage area along with all the other biking supplies. But this is only smart to a point. If the rest of the system were to break down, like say… Lance and I are 20 miles ahead with my phone’s ringer off … and then James blows not just one but two tires, well then all his smart planning gets thwarted. So, when I finally bothered to check my phone, and saw a text that simply read, “flat”, from James, I knew there was a chink in our perfect little leapfrogging system. With no shade around in the open desert and temps pushing 100, James had already been sitting there 10 minutes before I saw his text. He was 20 miles behind me. I did a sweet U-turn (wow, Lance!) in the middle of a narrow two lane highway and drove like a maniac to get back to James while he sweltered in the Arizona desert and watched other racers pass him. Ummm, sorry honey.
After that, Lance and I resolved to stay MUCH closer to James, and would only go ahead a mile or two at a time. The rest of the first day was mostly providing water bottles and snacks and cranking Lance’s air conditioner. James had prepped TWELVE water bottles before the race and stored them in Lance’s fridge. NO WAY could we have done that with a smaller fridge.
I even had tons of food in there and space to spare. So yeah, the huge fridge rocks. But even 12 water bottles weren’t enough. His highness, who was rather complainy the whole ride, wanted ice. So I had to find a convenience store, in quite literally the middle of nowhere, and get ICE. I’m happy to report that the ice stayed frozen in Lance’s freezer, even with 100+ temps. (And I will admit, James did complain less after he got ice.)
The other thing that really helped was our cell signal booster. There was a GPS app for tracking the participants (and in a 300 mile race, you need something like that). This was the only way I could tell James how far ahead or behind he was from the other racers in his group. Without our cell signal booster, there is no way I would have been able to run the app in some of the remote places we were.
Also, there were cattle.
This has nothing to do with Lance, but really, how are you supposed to race a bike through a cattle drive? Lance and I had to detour around the town, and James ended up getting lost as he tried to detour the cattle drive. Luckily a local resident was outside to help give him directions.
The first night ended in Panguitch, UT. Or, as James called it – Anguish. Day 1 was so hard, and traffic had been extremely terrifying on those narrow roads with no shoulders, that James was determined not to continue the race. And then we confirmed he was in second place. So that sealed it. Onward for the 2nd half of the Race For Masochists. This race provided hotel rooms, but Lance kept watch outside.
The next morning, while everyone else was making do with whatever they could cook in their hotel room, James had his regular pre-race breakfast, prepared in Lance. Immature Stef can’t resist, “heh heh, suckers!!!”
And so Day 2 began. And since this post is getting as long as the race, I’ll post about Day 2 separately. Stay tuned for that!
James and Stef, First of all our CONGRATULATIONS!!! James you did AWESOME going up and down mountains in the sweltering heat and crosswinds. Frankly, I agree with Stef you are a little crazy. Stef you ROCK driving Lance and being such a great support for James on something he apparently loves to do. We don’t know anything about bike racing so we were wondering what a PM RV is. What does PM stand for? We want to send good vibes to the three of you for your next bike event that’s coming soon.
Be safe all,
Maggie and Joe
Maggie! Your comments always make my day. PM RV refers to an RV that’s built from a Dodge ProMaster van. So, Winnebago buys empty vans from Dodge, and then turns them into Travato RVs. But they’re not the only ones building PM RVs. Roadtrek and Pleasure-Way, for example, also make RVs out of Dodge ProMaster vans. This is a pretty new thing, and most camper vans you see are built from Mercedes’ van, called a “Sprinter.” So, people are curious about PM RVs since it’s so new. Today James biked the route for his big race this coming Wednesday. I did, too, but I mostly lolligagged and stopped a lot and took pictures of buffalo and scenery (the race is at Antelope Island State Park, so very picturesque). It’s only around 20 miles, but it’s a national championship race, so a big deal. So we’ll take those good vibes! He’s so excited!
Very cool. There’s a good chance I’ll be using our PM for race support as well.
I’ve usually done support in minivans (Chrysler Caravan, Chevy Astro, Toyota Sienna) and also a couple time in a Prius (yeah, crowded with three of us, then the rider too). Using the PM will be luxurious.
Look me up for crewing if James ever gets an interest in doing further ultracycling events. Its kinda been my summer hobby for many years now, I love it. RAO, FC508, RAAM, RAW. Fun stuff.
Careful what you offer, Ian, you just might find yourself leapfrogging James!!! And very cool you’re designing a PM custom RV…definitely want to keep in touch and know how it goes!