Sunday 31st May was our first Crew Training Day for Ireland. The day began with tea and bacon butties. First up was a detailed look at the race route which is marked up ominously on a big map in Team PB HQ (our kitchen!). It was the first chance for everyone to see exactly where the route goes, where the time stations are and to start to think about the race strategy.
Next up was a demo of the Cardo BK-1 system which we will be using for comms. Not that I felt like a bit of a plonker standing in the rain outside in my bike helmet…. We tested the Cardo in Ireland and were very impressed at the distance it covers, the ease of operation and the clarity of the audio (and lack of background noise, considering the wind).
With beverages topped up, it was then back to the kitchen for Kyle to take us through the roles and responsibilities of the crew as well as the crew roster. This was a really interactive session, with everyone raising some very good points for us to take forwards. One particular take-home message was Adrian’s emphasis on hygiene whilst handling the bikes. Whilst I’ve always been very hygiene-conscious (dealing with animal bodily fluids every day makes you that way!) and had already factored this into our success strategy, none of us had quite realised the implications of handling bikes and wheels that had been toiling through mile after mile of countryside, particularly when realistically my immune system will be struggling.
With this in mind, Adrian then took us through the basics of wheel changing. Emphasis will be on getting it right as quickly as possible rather than a flying change, especially as we all get more tired. Fingers crossed that we wont’ be doing it too often….
After lunch and finalising travel arrangements we headed out to try and put it all together. I donned my cycling kit, the trusty Renault donned its amber flashing light and the team took it in turns to don the Cardo as we negotiated the A4 and some of the country lanes practising direct follow and leap frog. Everyone took it in turns driving and navigating. We did some wheel changes (my sincere apologies to Zoe to making hers difficult by putting my springs in backwards – well spotted Moose!) and no doubt some passing Sunday riders wondered quite why I wasn’t capable of changing my own wheel!!
We re-grouped at the house for a final cuppa and round-up of the day before everyone headed off. It was only as we went to put the Renault away that we realised that we’d just fallen foul of one of the key lessons from both the RAAM and RAI seminars….. ALWAYS LEAVE THE KEYS IN THE VEHICLES! Our car key was safely in Adrian’s pocket, 8 miles away in Reading! Off went Kyle to retrieve it and was rewarded by the sight of the red-necked Phalarope, a rare bird which Adrian (a keen bird-watcher) had spotted that morning.
Over the next few months we will be having further evening sessions, culminating in another training day in August which will be the dress rehearsal for the main event! My thanks to the crew for giving up their Sunday and for their continued support.