- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 26 June 2009
"Nice job, buddy. You’re just going to fly right on through this town," said Team Type 1 Coach Nate Keck to rider Bob Schrank.
Cruising at 28 mph on his Orbea Ordu time trial bike, Schrank gave the "high sign" of acknowledgment without interrupting his cadence.
This is business-as-usual for Team Type 1, which has been leading the eight-rider team division of the Race Across America (RAAM) since the 150th mile of the 3,021-mile (4,861 km) race that began Saturday in Oceanside, Calif.
Not only was Team Type 1 ahead of second-place Team ViaSat by nearly two hours and 45 minutes at 6:30 a.m. EDT, but the team of riders who all have Type 1 diabetes is knocking out the miles faster than any squad – or anyone, for that matter – has ridden across the country since RAAM team competition began in 1992.
Nearing the halfway point of the race, Team Type 1 is averaging 24 mph and riding at a pace nearly three hours faster than what Keck had calculated going into the race. Key to maintaining that record speed will be favorable weather conditions, he said.
"We want to get through Kansas as quickly as we can today in the hopes we can get into areas where we don’t have to worry as much about the wind," Keck said. "We had a section last night that we had a headwind and a strong cross wind. That really takes its toll on the guys."
Late Monday night, Team Type 1 caught up to and passed its first solo participant, Switzerland’s Hermann Bachmann of the 50-59 age division, who left Oceanside, Calif., nearly three days before the team competitors.
"Those solo riders are amazing," Keck said.
While Team Type 1’s eight riders (Jeff Bannink, Simon Bennett, Alex Bowden, Matt Brooks, Tom Kingery, Lonny Knabe, Schrank and Mark Suprenant) cruised along, Team Type 1 RAAM Manager Dave Eldridge had his own race to manage.
The fourth-year crew chief was jamming through northeastern New Mexico in an attempt to get a new RV up to the team to replace the one that had its transmission go out Sunday morning near Mexican Hat, Utah. Unable to find a dealership close-by Monday, Eldridge rented a U-Haul, loaded it with the belongings from the broken-down RV and drove to an RV dealership in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Never did he imagine so many logistical headaches – particularly one in which he would have to deal with having only one RV for 20 crew members and eight riders.
"This just doesn’t fit into the plan," Eldridge said late Monday night. "But it’s certainly something we have to plan for in the future."
The RV breakdown was the second of three major vehicular mishaps for Team Type 1 in a 24-hour span between Sunday and Monday. A fire destroyed one of the team’s minivans early Sunday and a crew car ran out of gas Monday morning.