One of our favorite things is when different facets of our cycling worlds collide. This happened a few weeks ago when one of our local Feedback Sports racers, (and all around cycling do-gooder) Paul Majors was lead mechanic for the Love, Sweat and Gears RAAM team. As an official sponsor of RAAM, this local connection was dream come true. If you’re not familiar with RAAM (Race Across America), here you go…
Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well.
In 1982, four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination. Relay Teams were introduced in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. Team sizes are 2, 4 and 8 persons. Relay Team racing made the event accessible to any fit cyclist.
There is no other race in the world like RAAM. There is no race that combines the distance, terrain and weather; no other event that tests a team’s spirit from beginning to end. The Race inspires everyone who has been a part of it – racer, crew, staff and fans alike. RAAM is the true test of speed, endurance, strength and camaraderie, the ideal combination of work and play.
Now back to Paul and the team. We happily outfitted team Love Sweet and Gears with A-frames, Pro-Elites and RAKK (plus a few sets of tools). Fully dialed with Paul (and under the direction of Team Captain, Chuck Magnus and Team Director, Jay Wuchner) these super-human athletes finished in 1st place for all 4 person teams (and even out-paced most of the 8 person teams). They put our gear through the wringer for a 3000+ mile adventure. The team made the crossing in 6 days, 3 hours and 39 minutes – averaging 20.79 mph. We asked Paul a few questions regarding this phenomenal experience. After reading his answers, maybe you’ll be tempted to put RAAM on your bucket list as a racer or a mechanic!
FBS: Tell us specifically how our products made a difference at this year’s race.
First off, all of the other teams were in awe of our Feedback Sports set-up. We would pop out of our trailer, set up the A-Frame
and start taking the bikes out. Each bike had it’s own safe place to land. The A-Frame was perfect–it sets up in less than 10 seconds and keeps the bikes safe and off the ground. We also used an A-Frame in the back ofeach follow van for the same reason, as the bikes go in and out of the vans well over 350+ times
. It is so important to keep them safe and stable. One of the best parts of the Pro-Elite
work stand is its flexibility. I could put any bike in it with so much speed and accuracy–regardless if it was some funny shaped TT bike or a road bike with an aerodynamic seat post. The Pro-Elite just always worked perfectly and quickly.
FBS: What was the hardest part of RAAM from the standpoint of the mechanics?
Paul: Believe it or not, one of the hardest parts of RAAM is before the race even begins. You have to get to inspection. For the head mechanic, this is a nerve racking time. There are so many rules and so much prep on the bikes to get ready for inspection. But I was prepared. We showed up and we set up two of the A-Frames. We placed 4 bikes on each A-Frame with it’s lights on and all shoes and helmets by each bike. Everything was organized and laid out. The extra wheels rested on the sides of the A Frame, out of their bags. The inspector showed up with a hard no-nonsense expression. She took one look at our layout and commented, “You guys look very organized.” Our inspection was over in less than 10 minutes. Then the inspector took pictures of our setup to show other teams how it should be done. Thanks to Feedback for helping us with all parts of the RAAM!
FBS: What are some of the other challenges you faced?
Paul: One of the other fun parts of RAAM is what we call “the fire drill”. Every 80 miles or so we change out racers. One pair of riders finishes their pull and another pair starts. With that we change out bikes as well. All this happens in less than 30 seconds and the vans need to be ready to put back on the road with the new racers and no stopping in forward progress. All of this has to happen in the dark in a new place every time. We color coded our A-Frames and RAKK so that all team members knew (based on the color) what bike went where. New bikes that were going into the follow van, were always on the gold A-Frame. The new bike going into the shuttle van, was always on the yellow RAKK. The next racers new bike, was always on the red RAKK. and the bikes that are coming off the road were always placed on the black A Frame. This helped eliminate the problem of the wrong bike ending up in the wrong place – and out of the 58 times that we performed the fire drill, we got it right EVERY time.
So there you have it. Perhaps the best example we could find, combing bike storage and maintenance to get a successful result…racing round the clock …for a week. Color us impressed, team Love, Sweat and Gears!! Congratulations to all involved and thanks for representing Feedback Sports products at RAAM 2017!