Breakfast after our 6 mile warm up ride
Today was a relaxation day where we all got a chance to meet each other. Many of the riders have done past PACTour events so there were lots of happy reunions and catching up. We did a short ride to the beach then went to breakfast on Mission Dr. where the portions were enormous. Fortunately we are still in load mode so we did our best. Lon always manages to find the best places to eat, especially for breakfast and desserts.
The make up of our group varies widely. Scott Luikart and Mark Pattison are solo RAAM veterans and are likely going to be the fastest riders in the group. After that there are a couple of other guys that are probably pretty strong, then a broad group of riders with varying backgrounds and fitness levels who will sort out over the first couple of days.
At our group meeting the ground rules were laid out - mostly good sense stuff but mixed with reality - if you don't follow the rules, you won't be riding. Managing a group of fast and faster riders across 160 miles/day does put limits on what the support team can do. If you are behind the group and not gaining ground, you will be shuttled up. If you get off course and are behind the support vehicles, you are responsible for getting yourself to the hotel. Echeloning on windy days is fine, but be aware of traffic behind you - get over. On long hills, break into smaller groups, single file on narrow roads. Pull over to let cars pass when necessary. These all make sense, but, as Lon and Susan know, this is a very aggressive group and keeping things under control requires a strong hand.
After dinner Jim and Pete Penseres, two legends of the Race Across America in the 70s and 80s talked about some of their early experiences in racing across the country, such as figuring out best methods of training to ride at night, eating and the evolution of liquid nutrition, aero bar concepts and REM sleep patterns. These are the same issues that today's RAAM riders and Randonneurs deal with. Jim, Pete, Lon and Susan were leaders in the early discovery and application of what is widely accepted as standard practice today.
Sunday is a fairly easy day, 125 miles, about 8,000' of climbing, up and over the coastal mountains into the hot Imperial Valley. We are ready to ride.