Monday, July 6, 2009

12 Days - 3 Hours - 54 Minutes

So what is in a time frame such as 12 days, 3 hours, and 54 minutes? In Race Across AMerica there are over 3,000 miles and 100,000 feet of climbing. There is a single cyclist with the will to conquer the weather, self-doubt, and unending roads. For Janet Christiansen and the Osprey Crew, there is more than a year of training and preparation. There are countless days of sacrifice – sacrifices of time, social activities, and self comfort. Then there are the rewards. The reward of knowing you are only the 25th woman in the world to ever accomplish such a feat. The reward of conquering a course that beat you the previous year. And let’s not forget the rewards of satisfaction, pride, and accomplishment.

People often ask, "What is RAAM?" It may seem like an easy question to answer, "It's a non-stop bicycle race across the United States." But, for the riders and crew RAAM is so much more. RAAM is an adventure, something that is to be experienced, a personal challenge, an accomplishment that few will achieve, and a race that will tests the limits of what the human body can do. RAAM tests each rider’s resolve to complete the race and challenges the crews ability to manage a multitude of tasks simultaneously.

This year Janet and crew met RAAM's challenges head on and beat the RAAM course in 12 days, 3 hours, and 54 minutes. My fellow crew members and I will forever live in awe of her accomplishment and are incredibly proud to have taken part in her success. We will recount this adventure to friends and family for rest of our lives.

For me, it was truly an honor to serve as this team’s crew chief. Each crew member met every challenge in good spirit and tackled tough moments with humor and unending dedication to the task at hand. The crew gave of their time and comfort to see Janet to the finish line safely. They met many challenges such as lack of sleep, constantly working on the move, bike issues, rider comfort issues, and navigation through back country roads. This race is simply not possible without a crew and we had one hell of a team!

Greg: The mild mannered team member extraordinaire who jumped into the crew at the last moment and met every challenge we threw at him with a smile and a constant sense of calmness. Thanks to Greg, and his company WatchMyRace, our fans were able to follow us across the country using the GPS tracker- an awesome tool for any race! Greg was also responsible for many Twitter and blog updates. Job well done Greg.

: Our massage therapist and humorist. Kat could lighten even the tensest of moments and always greets everyone with a smile. She is a wonderful crew member who always brightened the day - and the night. She was always flexible, eager to help, and a great person to have on your team. Kat also kept race fans up to date on Twitter. Thanks for all your dedication Kat.

Patty Jo: The one and only Snow Kitty. I can’t begin to express how grateful I was to have Patty Jo as a member of our team. There is no other crew member that I have ever worked with, that has more experience and expertise at crewing than Patty Jo. She could read Janet like a book and took amazing care of her through the night. She was an invaluable member of the team and kept us all smiling.

Lisa: Our assistant mechanic and navigation expert. She spent countless hours before the race locating resources that we may need in the smallest of towns. Her time was well spent as we referenced her document on countless occasions saving us a lot of time while on the course. She stepped up to meet all tasks including driving/navigating virtually solo when Kat became ill. Way to step up to the plate and keep our race going!

Tom: Our bike mechanic and one of our returning veterans. He kept four bikes working across the country (one of which was supposed to be only for parts but he pulled it together at Janet’s request). He stayed flexible even as we adjusted shifts to give him more time to work on the bikes in a more stationary situation (during Janet’s sleep breaks). Great job on keeping us moving down the road Tom.

Kathryn: Another returning veteran that gave us our logistical genius and co-crew chief. She was an integral part of our planning for this year’s RAAM which started at the end of RAAM 2008. She was always positive, organized, and could anticipate Janet’s needs. She was also my crew partner and helped keep me on track. Thank you for all your incredible dedication to this year’s RAAM efforts.

Lastly, I have to thank our ground crew – these are the individuals that supported us and fed us a constant stream of information about the race that helped Kathryn and me make decisions.

Richard Newton: Thanks for helping us build the best RAAM van on the course. We had other RAAM crews ogling over it at the start and finish lines. I also want to thank you for the morning calls with the race statistics and rider positions- those calls were extremely helpful.

Brooks and Marion Reid: Thank you for helping us prepare the weekend before the race, the race statistics, and the words of encouragement (some fantastic poems which will be posted soon). Brooks it was great having your views and stats as we crossed.

Sam Beal: Last year’s crew chief and this year’s sounding board as things came up while making our crossing. Thank you for taking my calls.

Tom Miller: A consummate friend, last year’s co-crew chief, and the person responsible for getting me into the sport of Ultra Cycling- thank you.

Together the Osprey Crew accomplished the near impossible, we got our rider across the finish line safely and well within the time cutoffs while keeping our wits and our humor. Thank you Osprey Crew for your devotion and efforts. And, thank you Janet for allowing me to be part of such an absolutely amazing adventure.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Live GPS Tracking & Twitter Updates

Live GPS and Twitter tracking here and on TeamOsprey Page configured by WatchMyRaceHERE IS THE RAAM ROUTE WITH TIME STATIONS View RAAM-2009/TEAM CAN BE VENTURE in a larger map

SEND JANET SOME LOVE @TeamOsprey, Login Here:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Less than 2 weeks!

We’re counting down the days and in two weeks we will be on our way, waking up on the other side of Blythe. This week we’ve been finishing up non-RAAM tasks and catching up on some of the RAAM ones –

- I’ve been checking on the rental vans and still need to make motel reservations in Blythe;
- Lisa’s working on listing hotels, bike shops and other businesses we may need along the way;
- Bill is compiling binders of information for each vehicle and going through our inventory;
- Janet is contemplating a weekend in Borrego for some last desert training;
- And Kat is somewhere along the California coast as part of the AIDS/LifeCycle 8 Massage Team.

Next week we get even busier. On Wednesday Bill and I go up to LA to pick up the follow van so that we have time to set up the inside for all of the stuff we need to take with us. On Friday Janet will pick up the secondary follow vehicle. And then on Saturday the crew starts to arrive for a weekend of van setup and organization, first aid training, shopping and any last minute prep.

New news: Greg has joined our team and has offered to setup GPS tracking for Janet across the county. This will allow everyone to follow us more closely than time station to time station – you’ll be able to see where Janet is between stations too. Greg is also going to set us up for posting real-time pictures and videos. Thanks Greg!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RAAM Training Weekend

The training weekend was a huge success and we met our goals of testing out the van sound systems as well as giving our newest members a run down on crewing, direct following, and leap frog support. I think we have a fantastic team and I am very happy with how things went. I hope that those that were able to participate enjoyed the trip and were able to get some sense of what crewing is like (although we were only doing the basics). Lisa put together a great route that was very scenic, hilly (we even had a simulation of the flagstaff climb and the Gerome decent), and an all around great place to ride - I am a little jealous that she has such beautiful training grounds - although a bit windy. She, her husband, and her dog Sprocket were fantastic hosts and we really appreciated them sharing their beautiful home with us!

The van audio and rear light setup worked very well and Janet really liked the sound levels (as all of us who were able to ride did). I went with a bumper mounted design in an attempt to get the sound source as close to the rider as possible. This worked great with only one minor drawback, if you are in the van with the windows up it can be difficult to tell how well the sound is projecting. So we will have to pay attention to ensure that (a) music is playing and (b) we don't let it repeat too many times.

On the way home I proposed the following shift organization and Janet likes the groupings, so the crews will be (subject to change):

Bill - Crew Chief and EMT
Kathryn - Logistics

Tom - Mechanic
Lisa - Navigation Specialist / Mechanic

Chris - Mechanic
Patty-Jo - Crewing and RAAM knowledge base (whose mind I will surely be picking at the end of each day during RAAM)

Kat - (Massage) Arrives part way into the race and will probably relieve someone on of C-Shift first. This will give her the opportunity to work on Janet before she goes down for sleep our longest period of time that we are not moving.

Also on the way home, I discussed with Kathryn and Janet the possibility that B and C crews rotate through the primary follow van within the first six or so hours of the race with me there to help or answer any questions about the van etc.. The first section where we are allowed to direct follow is Christmas Circle in Anza Borrego, so we may start that around there or where the follow vehicle picks up Janet after the self support area (leaf frog support until Christmas Circle). I know from experience that the first day is a very exciting time and I think it will be nice to get you all involved in that first part. It is also a very important area to do everything right (NOTE: It is always important to do everything right) because there will be many RAAM officials and the racers are much closer together for the first day.

I hope to add some photo's from our weekend as I get them from the crew...stay tuned!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How Janet uses Hammer Nutrition Products

I have noticed a definite uptick in energy levels and ability to recover since taking Hammer Nutrition supplements (at mealtime!) regularly. Because the Hammer Nutrition people focus on endurance and stamina based athletes, I have confidence that the components in their Race Caps, Mito Caps, Anti Fatigue and Premium Caps go a long way to maintaining the levels of vitamins and intrinsic factors that athletes in training tend to deplete. This does not replace a decent well balanced diet, of course, but it takes the burden off the athlete of having to figure out what supplements to take or guess what might be missing from the diet. I can train with more confidence knowing I can recover more completely. A casual search on the Internet shows that the ingredients are part of well known metabolic pathways or extracts of well known homeopathic remedies. I consider taking HN supplements an essential part of training and as important if not more so with keeping my equipment well maintained.

And of course there are the proven on-the-bike products; nothing fights the bonk and keeps me in electrolyte balance better than eCaps. Sustained Energy (served chilled) is a great alternative to typically sweet race food, and ideal when conditions make solid food difficult to take. Hammer Bars are also a preference; easy to chew, they ward off the bonk for a good 1-2 hours. This is especially advantageous out on my longer RAAM training rides when I can easily hit the wall late in the day/evening, and might be miles from the nearest food store. HammerGel is a favorite quick source of calories when it is impossible to take time to unwrap energy bars or mix powdered drinks, (e.g. trying to stay with a hard riding group or keeping up the effort on a long tough climb). It always gives me a quick boost and ‘rescued’ me innumerable times when I found myself teetering on the edge of bonking.

HN also has an excellent line of clothing. I use almost every clothing item sold by Hammer Nutrition in my normal training rides as well as weekend event. I am very satisfied with their comfort and durability, especially the gloves and shorts.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crewing for Janet - sent to prospective crew members last month

Thank you all for your interested in Team Osprey 2009 - Annapolis or Bust!!

There is much to do in preparation before the June 16th start date and one of our priorities is gathering, organizing, and educating the crew members. This weeks conference call was encouraging with so many interested in becoming crew members all with cycling experience, some with crewing experience and a number of others with some very useful skills. Our road crew will consist of a lean mean crew of six and at least two alternates in case a crew member cannot make the start line, or for an emergency while we are on the road.

For those of you new to crewing RAAM, let me start by saying crewing RAAM is like no other crewing experience you may have had. There will be high points and low points along the way. You will get to see some of the most amazing scenery and some of the most boring mundane
repetitive scenery (you actually get excited to see a grain silo in the distance) along the way. Before I crewed RAAM (which I have crewed twice) I had ridden many double centuries, rode Furnace Creek 508 as a two person team, and crewed Furnace Creek 508 two or three times
(can't recall how many it was before I crewed RAAM). Even with all those experiences the 508 seemed like a stroll through the park compared to crewing for RAAM. This is not meant to scare anyone off, but I want to ensure everyone understands the rigors of crewing a non-stop race that will take us approximately 11 to 12 days to complete. Now this is not to say that we won't have a whole lot of fun on our crossing!

While there are a number of specialty duties that crew members will be performing there is a huge array of tasks we will all be doing keeping us amazingly busy for sitting in a vehicle for so many hours. The key to crewing RAAM is to stay flexible, always be prepared, sleep when you
can, stay positive, remember that the rider comes first, keep things organized, and have fun. If you have no or limited experience crewing a non-stop race (heck, even if you are crew member extraordinaire) I recommend that you read this brief article by Lee "Fuzzy" Mitchel:

As you listen-in on our conference calls you may hear us talk about various positions/duties. Keep in mind that you will perform all the duties (and then some) during our crossing. We will be using thee vehicles: the primary follow van (cargo van), secondary follow vehicle/chore
transport(mini-van or similar), and a small car for the sleeping crew. Our crews will be setup with two people per vehicle running eight hour shifts. This provides us with three eight hour periods which will be broken into: follow, chores/driving to catch up, and sleeping.

Crewing for RAAM rider is a major commitment and I want to ensure that everyone is aware of the adventure ahead...

I look forward to getting to know some of you better and crewing with some of the others for a second time. I have to say that Janet assembled the best RAAM crew last year and we are well on our way this year.

Bill Osborn - Team Osprey Crew Chief

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Planning Update

This past week has been a fairly eventful one. The most notable event was receiving sponsorship from Hammer Nutrition. They will be providing Janet with a variety of nutritional fuels and supplements to help with her training and RAAM race. Additionally, Hammer will be providing Janet with items such as shorts, jerseys, socks, gloves, and a jacket. We cannot thank Hammer Nutrition enough for their generosity and encourage you to take a look at their products:

We have also received word that Action Wipes will also be sponsoring us this year. Action Wipes are like baby wipes but better, they are bigger, thicker wipes designed for active adults. I have to say that it is amazing how dirty you get after a long distance ride and I for one will cary these on my next double century ride. Action Wipes will be keeping Janet and the crew clean and refreshed through the day and night. You can learn more about Action Wipes by going to:

Catching up on past a past item, Janet's employer Express Logic (ThreadX) has also sponsored her for RAAM. Express Logic provides software for embedded applications. We are so grateful for their generous sponsorship and understanding as Janet trains and prepares for RAAM. To learm more about Express Logic go to:

If you are interested in sponsoring Janet or know of someone or comapany that would be, we would greatly appreciate your help. Take a moment and read through our sponsorship information: Sponsorship Details.

Another item off our checklist is the rental of our primary follow vehicle. I found a great company that provides 15 passenger vans full of features such as game system, DVD player, IPOD compatible stereo, power everything, and built in inverters so we can plug our laptops and battery rechargers right in. An additional benefit is that the company is 100% carbon neutral (gotta love a green company). We will be using the same van for our crew training trip that will be happening at the end of April. So we will get a test run with it before the start of RAAM.

On the training front, Janet has been adding up the miles with a number of long weekend rides covering 450+ miles in a weekend. The weather here has been great, but it is beginning to heat up a bit so she will get some heat training in this weekend.

Last but certainly not least, we are still looking for one additional crew member. It would be wonderful to find someone with mechanical or medical training, but neigther is required. Our crew is a group of fun loving people who are dedicated to getting Janet across America quickly and safely.

Well that's all for now...