Friday, June 15, 2007


Neil clicked his ruby red slippers and the next thing you know they're in Kansas! Today's call was special for me because it was Nuxie! Nuxie is the nickname I gave to Bill Nicholson last year at the Opus Race Series. Bill is an USCF official and with me being a race promoter, him and I would go at it from time to time. Bill wasn't attached to a club so I urged him to become part of Loon State. He's a self-admitted geek and is invaluable to the team with his logistical and technical knowledge and connections. He's been wanting to be part of RAAM for 3-4 years now and when Bernie posted on the Loon State web site that he was looking for a crew chief Bill had heard I was interested and he was all over it. Then I back out and leave him high and dry! He reminded me of that today!

I don't think Bill has talked to anyone in a while because he talked my ear off. They had just hit the first time check in Kansas and Neil and Greg were finishing up their pull with Tim and Bernie itching to get back on the road. With Bernie back almost at full strength and everyone getting into the routine things have been going great lately. The only hiccup was when the RV got lost in Colorado and forced Tim and Bernie to ride an hour and a half longer than planned. So I was wrong in yesterday's post, the riders did not ride any extra miles, just extra time. Bill took the blame for that one. Bill said that the Wolf Creek pass was miraculous. They tackled the 4,000 foot climb with all four riders doing 1 mile pulls, then Greg won the lottery and got to do the downhill. Bill was driving the support car at the legal speed limit and Greg got a good mile and a half lead on him, now that sounds like fun! The team is now in 3rd place again, they've been hopping back and forth with Team VMG and the Austrian team. Bill said they run into those guys all the time at the rest stops. Seems like there is a lot of carmaraderie between the teams crews, they cover each others meals and do some smack talking as well. Bill said the one teams crew is subsisting on gas station hot-dogs. Ok, this may not be family friendly but I found it funny, Bill has been subsisting on bagels and peanut-butter because he wants to limit his bowel movements. He's proud of the fact that he is yet to use the RV biffy!

As for the 10 member crew, they have been stellar. Being around bike racing Bill knew what he was getting himself into, but many of the crew members were new to all of this. When asked how they spend their time, the jobs don't sound very romantic. It's mainly driving, cleaning biffies, draining septic tanks, preparing drinks and food for the riders and living on very little sleep. Bill got 5 hours of sleep in the subaru last night, doubling his sleep intake for the trip. They are "only" 3 days into the trip, but it seems like a lot longer.

I made the mistake of asking Bill what technical gadgets he had, and most of it went over my head, but they've got 3 gps units, one for each vehicle. His boss at Change Masters provided him with some gadgets that enable them to have a rolling internet cafe. They've had difficulties getting online because of the remote areas they've been through but he anticipates that soon they'll be hitting civilization and be online. Civilization -Kansas? (I can make cracks like this, my mom's from Kansas). I told Bill to have Neil call me next, I can't wait to hear what's going on in his head! Thanks for reading, they appreciate all the support and well wishes!


Anonymous said...

Way to go Team Strong Heart!! You are surely living up to that name. All of Greg's family and friends are watching closely. Our prayers are with you all. Dave Kostik

The Deuel Family said...

We would love to see Neal riding in those red shoes! Great Job!!! Keep up the amazing job.

Anonymous said...

Way to go TSH! Glad to hear the team is back on the mend and in synch! This blog has been most entertaining to date and the comment on the biffy is well understood...I had a similar situation on sailboat trip through the Great Lakes once!

Don't be afraid to stop at McDonald's on the way! That Qtr. Pounder with Cheese is both nutritious and just what a calorie burning machine can use! (Okay, I'll admit it's a self serving post as I am a MCD shareholder!)

Anyways, looking forward to future updates and best of luck the rest of the race!!!

TY 8)

Home Skillet said...

hey neil - thought you should know I am enjoying a Blue Moon Belgian White right now - feet kicked up and relaxed...i am 40 miles out of breaking my goal of miles in one week... 300. i had to do something while you guys crossed America - if 300 is light to most of anyone reading...good for you - its alot for me. great report skib - love it - arent these guys just amazing!!!!!!

Laurel said...

Bernie's wife, Laurel, here! We're very happy to hear that Bernie's feeling better! I find it terribly ironic that he was the one to get sick, since this has been his baby for the past 15 months or so! Bernie...WE LOVE YOU! Yesterday, Bernie called us as we were walking through the National Archives in Washington, D.C. We were staring at the Declaration of Independence when he called, and our youngest, Chrissy, yanked the phone out of my hands and squealed, "DADDY!!!" Then our middle, Teddy, took the phone. By the time the phone got to me, Bernie had to get onto his bike and I didn't get a chance to tell him how much I love him! Nick, our oldest, who's sitting right next to me, reading the blogs, reminds me that he hasn't had a chance to talk to Dad, either. Bernie...Nick sends his love.
On a separate note, I'm thankful that Skibby finally explained who "Nuxie" is. I know all of the crew and had been perplexed for awhile.
Crew...I can't tell you how much it means to me that you're suffering so much just to take care of the riders. They could not do any of this without you. You are so valuable to this mission that I thank you from the bottom of my heart! As a Catholic, I joke around with Bernie during suffering moments and say, "Well...Purgatory is EMPTY right about now!" LOL.
Loving you all, thankful that you're doing alright, and praying for your safety.
-Laurel Kaeferlein