Sunday, January 23, 2011

History of RAAM Sleep

Here is a brief history of our sleep patterns during our first cross county rides.

John Marino set his coast to coast records in 1978 (13 days) and 1980 (12 days, 3 hours). He eventually slept less and less during his 1980 record and was sleeping only 4 hours per night.

In 1981 I started my Double Transcontinental Record Attempt from New York City. My goal was to ride 3,000 miles in 12 days or 250 miles per day. Many days I was able to start at sunrise and be finished by dark. Many nights I slept a full 6-8 hours. As I headed west across Kansas the headwinds were bad and I started riding more at night to miss the wind and heat. I finally reached California and I was usually sleeping from 1:00 AM to sunrise. Sometimes I was taking an afternoon nap. My East to West Record was 12 days 18 hours so I didn’t break Marino’s West to East Record of 12 days 3 hours. (my East to West Record still stands....somebody should be able to do it in under 10 days).

I slept 4 hours in California and started back at 3:00 AM.

On the return trip I started riding 275 miles most days during daylight hours. The first two nights I didn’t ride in the dark and got a full eight hours of sleep. The last couple nights I rode more at night to be sure I arrived in New York City before morning rush hour traffic. I finished in 10 days, 23 hours breaking Marino’s Coast to Coast Record.

Susan started her Transcontinental Record the next year in June 1982. She was making good time the first 4 days and she was on pace with my 1981 record. She had some slower days in the middle so she started riding more at night. She basically rode nonstop the final 600 miles from the middle of Ohio to New York City the final 2 days finishing in 11 days, 16 hours.

The Great American Bike Race (the first RAAM) started in August that year. After watching Susan ride the final 600 miles nonstop at the end of her transcontinental I calculated I could ride 600 miles nonstop at the beginning of my race. I rode the first 500 miles in 32 hours to Flagstaff, AZ and then 125 miles that evening to complete 625 miles in about 40 hours. I went to bed at about 1:00 AM because of thunderstorms and headwinds brewing in the area.

When I woke up at sunrise the next morning I still had about a 6 hour lead on John Howard. Those were the days of limited communication between racers and we only receive one vague update about rider positions per day. We had no idea if a 6 hour lead was good or not. Gradually I increased my lead by about 1-2 hours per day. I was sleeping about 3 hours per night. That GABR was my toughest race and I was totally wasted by the time I reached Kansas on the 4th night. I had a few total collapses the 7th and 8th nights and I slept about 6 hours those nights. I still finished with about a 15 hour lead but I was trashed.

Over the next 2-3 years the RAAM riders learned how to sleep less and pace themselves better. The diets and equipment made staying on the bike easier. Eventually Pete Penseyres and I cross the country in 7 days, 14 hours with only 9 hours of total sleep....(6 sleep breaks of 1.5 hours each).

Racing RAAM is always a balance of pushing to the limit and still having enough energy to race again the next day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Breaking In a Leather Saddle

Breaking in a Brooks Leather Saddle
by Lon Haldeman

Most Brooks leather saddles are very firm when they are new (similar to knocking on wood). The leather will eventually get softer to the touch but this could take several thousands of miles of riding in dry conditions. The following break in procedure is a way to speed up the process and still have 40,000 miles life expectancy from the saddle. During the past 30 years I have broken in at least 10 saddles every year. During a cross country PAC Tour event I recently broke in 20 saddles in 20 days for riders who wanted to ride a leather saddle the next day. I can break in my own saddles in less than one hour and 10 miles of riding. The following steps will take slightly longer, but they will break in the saddle in less than one week or 100 miles. The key is not to overly break in the saddle. You want to make the saddle comfortable enough to disappear beneath you.

Different models of Brooks Saddles are cut from different locations of the animal’s hide. The best and thickest parts of the hide are saved for only a few of the Professional model saddles. Personally I like the leather that is used on the B-17 model saddles. The leather is slightly thinner and it breaks in faster. All saddles of the same model are not the same and you can feel the difference with your fingers. The point is, thinner leather breaks in faster, and you need to be careful when using the following steps to break in your saddle. This break in procedures needs to be a balance of making the saddle comfortable but not ruining the saddle and making it too limp to offer good support.

What you need to get started.

2 gallon bucket, extra seat post that fits your bike, tin container of Mink Oil (it is a paste wax type of water proofing sold in the shoe department at Walmart)

1. Fill a sink or bucket with 2 gallons of hot tap water. The water should be quite warm but not too hot to soak your hands in the water.

2. Put the saddle in the water and make sure the saddle is totally under water.

3. Let the saddle soak for 5 minutes. Take the saddle out and flex the sides of the saddle with your fingers. The saddle should feel pliable but not limp.

4. If the saddle still feels stiff then soak it another 5 minutes. Do not over soak it because you only want to break in the saddle about 50% during this first process.

5. When the saddle feels pliable, remove it from the bucket then dry the saddle with an old towel. Rub the top and bottom for several minutes to remove as much moisture as possible. The saddle should still feel warm from the water at this time.

6. Before the saddle cools... immediately start rubbing Mink Oil on the top and bottom of the saddle. The warm leather will help melt the Mink Oil. The evaporating water will help draw the Mink Oil into the leather.

7. Rub and massage the Mink Oil with your thumbs into the “sit bone” areas of the saddle. Use lots of Mink Oil. Massage the saddle for at least 10 minutes. It is okay to leave some extra Mink Oil on the surface of the saddle and on the underside of the saddle.

8. Mount the saddle on a seat post and test the saddle for tilt and height on your bike. Put on some old bike shorts and go for a short 10 minute ride (shorter is better at this time). You should not ride very far on a damp saddle because you can distort the leather.

9. Your old bike shorts will have rubbed off the extra Mink Oil from the top of the saddles. When you know the tilt is correct, then park your bike and wait until tomorrow. Apply one more thin coat of Mink Oil and allow it to sink in overnight.

10. The Next Day test the saddle to see how pliable it is. If the saddle is quite stiff you can remove the seat post from your bike and soak the saddle in hot water again for 5 minutes then repeat the first process from yesterday.

11. If the saddle is feeling better then only apply more Mink Oil today. Put on your old shorts again and go for a longer one hour ride.

12. It is important to keep the saddle well oiled the first month. DO NOT let the saddle dry out. Apply at least 5 coats of Mink Oil during the first week of riding or before and after each ride.

13. After one week or 100 miles the saddle should feel quiet a bit softer and starting to fit you better.

Brooks Saddles have a tensioning bolt at the nose of the saddle. During the break in process you might need to tighten the bolt and stretch the saddle 1/2 turn for every 500 miles of riding. Usually after 3 turns (3 threads showing) and 3,000 miles the saddle tension is pretty stable for a while. For our old RAAM bikes we used to like using saddles that had been stretched about 10 turns (10 threads) after 20,000 miles. Those saddles were long enough to allow the rider to side fore and aft and have several different saddle pressure positions.

I hope this helps you enjoy your new leather saddle sooner.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

History of little Aracely in Peru

History of Meeting Aracely in Peru

We met Aracely when she was six years old. She lived with her mother and grandfather at a roadside restaurant with a thatched roof. Our bicycle tour had stopped there for lunch while riding on a tour over the mountains deep into the jungle. There were eight riders in our group and the grandfather asked us what we wanted for lunch. We will have “chicken” was the common request. The grandfather then took a section of steel pipe and started chasing and swatting at the chickens under the porch. We could hear the commotion as the chickens ran and squawked for about ten minutes as the grandfather chased them. The grandfather came upstairs empty handed and announced “No chicken today, would you like fish?”. We said “Okay we will have fish.” The grandfather then went and got his fishing pole and went down to the river to start catching fish.

During this long wait for lunch we were entertained by a charming little girl named Aracely. She brought us oranges from the tree, then she sat on our bikes and had her photos taken with the group. When our assortment of fish were finally cooked, we finished our lunch. As we were getting ready to leave the mother and grandfather asked if we could take Aracely with us because they couldn’t afford to take care of her. We couldn’t just take Aracely home but we said we would keep in touch with them. A few months later the mother wrote me a letter that she had moved to Lima to clean houses and Aracely was living at the Chosica Girl’s Home. For the past five years we have stayed in touch with Aracely and her mother. They have traveled with us each year on tours across Peru. Aracely has continued to learn more English and she is a helpful guide for our tours. Aracely is now one of the top students in her school and her favorite subjects are math and science. During her school’s recent talent contest she was voted “Miss Chosica”.

In Lima we visited her mother’s “house” located on the flat cement roof of a store front building. Her house was constructed of six pieces of plywood to make a box big enough to hold a bed, table and propane stove. One of her few possessions on the table was a thick photo album from our tours together. Aracely would like to live with her mother again someday but for now the Chosica Girl’s Home is a safer and better environment for her to live. That is why we continue to support the Chosica Girl’s Home.

This is her story from her diary....

My Infancy in Yurinaki
a dairy by Aracely

Hello friends, my name is Aracely and I was born in Yurinaki the 27 April, 1999 in Peru. At the present I am 11 years old, and live in the house “Home of Gina”. (In the town of Chosica 40 miles from Lima.)

My first seven years I lived in Yurinaki (located 200 miles over the Andes Mountains in the jungle). What I remember of that place is that was very green and with plenty of animals, like the zamaño that is a type of wild hog, also there were wild animals but they were far from my house.

In Yurinaki my house was made of wood and brick next to the river. I there lived with my grandfather, my uncle, my mom, my brother. Of my father I never knew nothing. My mom spoke me of him, but I do not remember him.

In Yurinaki my mother would awake me at 6 o'clock AM for breakfast. It was a very simple breakfast of only bread and oats. To be able to feed us my mom sold food in a restaurant and I helped her after school. I walked to school because it was very close across the river bridge.

My Godfather
I first met my Godfather Mr. Lon when his friends rode their bicycles to Yurinaki from Lima. They stopped for lunch at our restaurant where my mom sold food. My memory is that I gave him three oranges. I noted that he was a good person. He asked my name and my address. We wrote letters and I was surprised since from time to time he sent me things like knives for our restaurant. I never imagined that that man to who I only had offered oranges in the future would support me so much. I thought that my Godfather was a good person, but never I imagined that he was going to take me to so many places.

How I Arrived in Lima
When I lived in Yurinaki I had heard of Lima. This is the city of the capital and the people were going there to make a better future. I did not intend to go there and I never imagined that we would be able to move to Lima.

When I was 6 years old, my mom found some work in Lima at the house of a family. She went to Lima with my brother in January. I remained with my grandfather and my uncle, but I missed a lot my mom and my brother. Then my mom returned in April and she asked me if he wanted to go to Lima with them. I told her yes because I wanted to be with them.

My Arrival to the Home of Gina
I arrived at Lima at the age of 7. My mom had to work and she could not leave my brother and me alone. She was in search of a home for girls so that they take care of me. That was how I arrived at the Home of Christ, today called Home of Gina. I remember that the first day I felt fear because I was not going to be with my mom. I thought that I was never was going to see see her again. Then I calmed down upon knowing that my mom was going to be able to visit me.

My Days in Home of Gina
The Home of Gina is as my house. That place where they received me with the open arms and that up to now they worry about my welfare.

In the Home of Gina I like to be with my other companions. When a new girl arrives I try to play with them so that they do not they sit down sad.

In my spare time I like to play and to read. A book that I liked a lot was "Blood of Champions". I felt quite sure to know that my friends in the United States would help me and that they had not forgot me.

My Trips
Knowing my friends in the United States it has been marvelous because never I thought I would be able to travel to so many places.

First we returned back to the jungle to the places of Yurinaki, Pichanaki, Satipo and Iquitos. These are all places of the forest which is a quite large place. I remember that when I travel I am very happy to know that my country is large and marvelous. It is incredible the quantity of beautiful places that Peru has and that many people of the world come to visit.

In my last trip I went to Nasca the see the Nasca lines! We wanted to rent the small airplane but we could not rent the light aircraft because the only two airplanes that day were busy. We were able to view the lines from a tower and they are incredible. Then we went to see the museum of María Reiche, a German woman that dedicated their life to the study of these lines.

In the afternoon we started our long taxi drive to Cusco (two days, 400 miles). We slept in the town of Puquio where their streams fell in waterfalls. This was a very pretty place also.

The next day passes to the town of Abancay, where we saw several estates and trees. We stopped there to have some lunch. I would have liked to visited longer but we needed to keep traveling to our destination of Cusco.

Upon arriving at Cusco at first I felt a little fear because we could not locate our friend Clara. We needed to ask the friends of Clara in the streets. There were many tourists and finally we locate Clara and I calmed down. Cusco is a marvelous place, but is different when you see it in person. In school I had learned much data on Cusco, but nothing of compares to the fact of being there to enjoy it.

The next day we went on the train to Machu Picchu. Upon being there I could not believe the contrast to my home in Yurinaki. My jungle home is a simple place. Now to see this marvelous place I never believed that I would go to a place like this. It was very surprising there when I saw the houses of stone where the Incas did the great work. I feel happiness and pride that Machu Picchu is chosen as a world wonder.

My Dreams
In the future I would like to be tour guide, since I like the languages, the history and the trips. I dream that with the first money that I would make is to help the Home of Gina, because that was the first place where they received me. It would hope that the other girls that enter should reach their dreams as I.

I would like to travel to other Peru cities like Arequipa and Lambayeque, etc. It is important to know other places because thus I can learn more about each place and be able to be the best guide of tourists!! My gratitude's.

I want to thank all the people that made possible my trips. I tell them thank you for everything that they do for me. It is a little difficult for me to understand why the people of another country have so much appreciation for me. I thank the day that my friends first found me in Yurinaki.

Thus also I give thanks to the Home of Gina by receiving me. They are my family and never I will forget them.

Many Thanks.


Job Opportunity

Travel Story by Lon

I was driving through Mississippi scouting Southern PAC Tour routes for next September.

I stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast. The restaurant was empty except for two waitresses and the cook behind the counter waiting for customers. I took a seat at the booth near the grill and looked at the menu which doubled as a placemat.

After a minute the waitress asked me what I wanted. I always get the All American Combo which includes a waffle, 2 eggs, 2 sausage patties, hash browns and 2 pieces of toast with jelly for $6.39. Coffee is $1.30 extra. I calculated with tax the total was a little over $8.00 and that still left a nice tip for the waitress out of a $10 bill.

I wasn't real hungry so I told the waitress I only wanted the waffle and 2 eggs and 2 sausage and coffee. She could hold the hash browns and the 2 pieces of toast. I asked if I wasn't getting the hash browns and toast if I could add a teaspoon of pecans on the waffle. The waitress said "No problem. I will recalculate your order without the extra items"

While I was waiting I noticed an employment application in a dispenser near the counter. I took a copy and checked out the four simple questions.

1. Are you over 16 years old?

2. Do you have reliable transportation?

3. Have you worked at Waffle House before?

4. List all criminal convictions on the lines below.

I was wondering what kind of people apply to work at Waffle House. I was about to find out.

My breakfast came and I ate everything. The eggs and waffle and sausage were perfect. Even the coffee was good. When I was done the waitress brought my ticket. The total was $10.41 including tax. I double checked the placemat menu for the All American Combo price and it should have been about $8.00.

So I asked the waitress why my breakfast increased over $2.00 when I ordered less food. She said what I ordered individually added up to $10.41. If I had ordered the All American Combo the total of all the items together cost less. This is what happen next.....

LON: Did you ever see the movie "Five Easy Pieces" when Jack Nickolson tried to order wheat toast at a restaurant?

Waitress: Who is Jack Nickolson?

LON: Never mind. Just charge me for the complete All American Combo and I will pay for the items I didn't get.

Waitress: You can't do that because I can only charge you for the items you received....and you ordered pecans in your waffle. Pecans are 45 cents more. If I add up all the items you received the total is $10.41.

(Visions of Jack Nickelson flashed in my mind again as I scratched my head at her logic. Maybe I was missing something so I tried to talk slow and reconsider what I was asking)

LON: Are the Combos pre made? Did I mess up the cook buy NOT having him make something?

Waitress: No. All the orders are cooked fresh.

LON: So I actually saved the cook work and saved food by not ordering hash browns and toast?

Waitress: That's right

LON: Okay. Can I pay $6.39 for the All American Combo, plus $1.30 for coffee, plus 45 cents extra for pecans? That's about $8.60 with tax and you will still have a some extra left over for a tip. (As I held up my $10 bill.)

Waitress: I am sorry. I have to charge you for the food you received.

LON: You mean I should have ordered the Combo and left the hash browns and toast on my plate?

Waitress: Yes. That's right. On the menu 2 eggs are $2.99 and the pecan waffle and sausage are $5.59 and the coffee is $1.30. Your total is $9.88 and with tax is $10.41. I have to charge you for what you ordered. Do you want to talk to the manager?

(The manager is the cook who was still standing next to the grill in the empty restaurant waiting for something to do)

He had heard most of our discussion that had happened up to that point. The manager looked at me like I was a jerk asking for a deal.

Manager: So this is what you want to do. You only want to pay for the Combo even though you didn't get the hash browns and toast?

LON: Yes. Is that okay?

Manager: You didn't get the COMBO then. You got eggs, a waffle, sausage and coffee and that cost more than a COMBO.

(I could see this discussion was going in circles and my logic wasn't making any sense to the manager or the waitress.

Manager: Okay then. If that is what you want. (He said with a glare)

I gave him the $10 bill and said "keep the change".

I don't think I would ever pass the employment application test for Waffle House.