A few days ago I had the privilege of chatting with a friend of mine about her experiences crewing for solo RAAM cyclists over the past 4-5 years. Being a rookie I listen to everything anyone is willing to share. I took notes feverishly and relished in her ability to just “say it how it was.” It was real. It was raw (no pun intended). It was refreshing and fun. You can’t imagine my delight when she decided to recapture some of her thoughts and send them in an email to me later! I was lucky enough to hear them all over again and this time she wrote them down forever memorialized now in this post!
I have copied and pasted her email in it’s entirety below, only editing names to keep things private. She wrote this email for me to send to my crew and so my name is mentioned throughout. But her name and the names of anyone else mentioned will be changed to spare them public nature of this post. Enjoy her passionate explanation of what my crew needs to know:
After our conversation I wanted to send you this and you can forward to your crew if you wish.
Hello all!! My name is Lizzy Crew and this is my 5th technically 4.5 year crewing a RAAM rider, solo. I was on a half a crew my first year. I have been on a crew with one successful finisher in 2014 so I am going to use him as an example..his name is Joe Cyclist and had to be the BEST rider EVER to crew for here is why.
Prior to RAAM Joe Cyclist had a plan and every single person on his crew–me included had to assure him that this race was 100%no doubt about HIM. Whatever it took to get him to Annapolis WE were willing to do. I will use the example I told Ben on the phone. Joe Cyclist was from ________ so he was a Starbucks maniac..SPECIFICALLY Starbucks….a certain way. Every morning it was the job of our runner car to get him a Starbucks coffee FROM a Starbucks…not a shit cup from a hotel or whatever. There was one morning where logistically we were in the middle of NO WHERE Midwest and the closest Starbucks was literally like 175 miles away..it was my shift so sleep (and trust me when you can get sleep you will want it) So I got up extra extra extra extra early to drive to this Starbucks….get his coffee specific and had it to him within the time frame he requested. He was also SUPER specific on things like vanilla shakes. HE wanted 2 a day….and not just a McDonald’s vanilla shake…OH NO..it had to be a HOMEMADE thick ….vanilla shake handed off to him on the bike with a straw in a styro foam cup…I am not joking.
My point is this THE RACE IS NOT ABOUT YOU!!) I am not yelling at you guys just making sure you understand that.
On the flip side BEN–the race is for your crew to CREW and for you to just shut the F up and pedal your bike. THAT IS IT. Ben should never ever ever ever ever have to make logistical decisions or know anything other than….where to turn and that you all called the Time station and RAAM updates.
I told Ben it may be a good idea to give people specific titles. For example one person is the expert GARMIN person…..knows every thing about how they work, one person reads the que sheets in the route book and takes notes and keeps track of nutrition. One person makes the drink bottles and has nutrition ready etc. The person driving has to always know when gas is needed and plan accordingly. We never let our tank get below half…EVER.
One person has to be able to turn into the DEVIL from HELL ..meaning if Ben stops on the side of the road for no reason…YOU MUST TELL HIM To get on his bike….and not baby him. Only let him stop to pee (under 1 min set a watch timer) or take a sleep break. Tee crew chief in my opinion should know Ben the BEST out of all of you …know how he deals with emotion…and knows what he needs….and can be honest with him. The more he stops the more it takes him to get started…do not let him stop..NEVER let him stop.
Understand that Ben is going to get tired and I have told him the best thing he can do for the crew is give TOTAL trust and control and THANK YOU guys. He is going to hate you..he is going to tell you in his head to go fuck yourselves, he is going to ask why the heck did you just do that? DO NOT take any of this personal. He is riding his bike a major distance on no sleep and yes to us he is nuts.:)
Another thing DO NOT LET HIM USE AEROBARS. He does not need them. They can cause Shermers neck..which is a bitch to deal with. When Joe Cyclist did RAAM he had to earn aerobars in Illinios..he also came from a strong triathlon background.
Saddle sores there is a solution and I will share it with you in another email….this WORKS for sure.
Speaking of ass trouble…someone have a direct connection with whoever FIT Ben on his bike. His fitter will have all his measurements and if he is fact needs to drop his saddle or whatever…MAKE SURE HIS FITTER is in the know. We used a fitter advice on the fly for Joe Cyclist and it WAS AWESOME!!!
I say this with love …unless Ben’s wife is part of the crew or significant other….DO NOT let that person talk to him unless it is about positive stuff…and on the same note…SOCIAL media..if he decides to get a CARDO unit to talk to him on the bike….someone ask people on face book to post messages and thoughts to him and freakin’ read them to him …let him know people care or are making fun of him..whatever…Joe Cyclist loved that stuff made him smile and laugh. If this other person starts with smoochy shit…..don’t tell him that stuff…pedal pedal pedal pedal AND pedal is all he needs to know.
Here is what I know about the officials. MAKE SURE YOU PULL OFF THE ROAD….the exact amount or more ASKED of you by RAAM…and DO NOT impede traffic. Make sure you know when you can direct follow your rider during the day….there are specific places and make sure YOU HAVE SAFETY VESTS ON at 7 pm..no matter if it is dark or not…everyone in the vehicle MUST have one on.
Make sure you have a first aid kit and someone that can do medical stuff on the scene…
If Ben wants something that is way the hell out in left field….FREAKIN find it somehow. If you have to tell him to wait an hour..then be honest. Also don’t make up the route if there is a major climb..just tell him that. BE HONEST with him…DON’T TELL HIM GOSSIP ….JUST POSITIVE STUFF.
Here is a list of stuff you all should bring:
- One pair of comfy pants and 2 pairs of athletic shorts.
- A warm jacket it will be cold in Colorado.
- Tennis shoes.
- Clean undies
- Make sure you have chargers for your phones and Ben’s tracker.
Some of this is misspelled but I am tired and just on the fly sending. If you have anything let me know. Here is my number put it in your phone NOW 555-555-5555. I am always available on RAAM…if I can be. Before as well. I will be in Oceanside with my 2016 RAAM Solo racer on June 10.
Here is the truth. I literally SLAPPED Joe Cyclist across the face at 3:41 am in middle of nowhere Colorado. He asked me to…I felt terrible…for the next 6 hours with him as a person I would NEVER do that….he wanted me to and so I did. LOL
Just be yourselves and cheer him on and other riders too:)
SEE YOU ALL IN OCEANSIDE 🙂
TEAM ___________ RAAM 2016.”