2. All About Crewing

ALL ABOUT CREWING – Ultra Racers need competent and committed crew members to ensure their safety and their success! 

So what do Crew do?…. EVERYTHING… Except RIDE!

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CREW GUIDELINES – (Adapted from Race Across America and Race Around Ireland Resources for Crews – Click on links to find a lot more useful articles and infromation)

Flexibility, resourcefulness and a sense of humour are essential!

Race rules

Crew MUST know the race rules, and all other details. The rider/team could face penalties or disqualification because of crew errors! And you DON’T want to be that guy!

Safety is of Paramount importance

Navigation

Navigation is a key task in getting from the start to the finish. follow your routebook and you will be fine.

The Basics

The crew member in the passenger seat of the Support Vehicle is generally the navigator.

They will follow the route details in the handbook and communicate with the driver and racer where they are and when the next turn is. Everyone should know how to navigate as tasks change.  Reading directions is usually not that hard and you can figure it out on your own.

Keep the rider informed when s/he stops about turns or landmarks that are coming up. Give brief instructions about the route ahead.

  • . Distances of all information points

  • . Turn directions

  • . Type of junction or Signal.

  • . Signposts for route direction if you have any

  • . Road names or number

  • . Towns and cities, bypasses

  • . Information on road width/condition

  • . Cautions such as railway crossings, descents, bad bends, bad road sections

  • . Time Station

  • . Any other notes we feel are useful, such as lonely sections or stretches where supplies are not available.

Remember to reset the odometer at start! If you don’t or go off track you will need serious Maths skills to navigate by the route book.

Recommended navigation supplies:

  • • Highlighter marker – to highlight turns

  • • Pens – to mark landmarks and make notes

  • • Navigation tools, apps, laptop

  • • Routebook

  • • Flashlight/Headlamp – to see at night.

  • A clipboard and additional pads of paper can also be helpful.

CREW TASKS

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Control Points

At every Control Point, the crew must stop and get the card stamped and the time of arrival noted, or phone in, depending on race rules. Riders may continue riding, except at night.

As you go thru each Control point, you should check it off in the routebook, and note the time of passage.

Data Collection

The handbook has plenty of space to make notes or record time and mileage data which can prove valuable during the race. Many racers also like to review this data after the race. And for most racers, this is only one race in what will be a number of such events in future, the data is useful for long term participation. Race strategy and planning sometimes depend on this data as well. Some racers thrive on data like this. This can also give the Navigator something to do.

You can record:

  • Times at each Time Stations.

  • Times at various turns or references points.

  • When and where you stopped and for how long

  • When and where racer exchanges happened.

  • When and where you filled up with fuel.

With all this data you can calculate:

  • Average speeds for various sections and for each racer.

  • How long each racer is on the road?

  • How efficient your stops are.

  • Fuel efficiency of your support vehicles to know when the next fill up is needed.

What happens if you get lost or are off course?

If you go off the route, stay calm, use a GPS navigator if you have one. If not figure out your exact location and try and estimate where you went off course and how far you are from the point where you left the course. You may put the rider in the car to return to the point where you left the course. Call the race director before you put the rider in the vehicle. If you cannot get through, send an SMS or a WhatsApp Message to all Race officials.

Sleep Management

Sleep management is critical for everyone. If someone can’t function well because of lack of sleep, they are not much use to a racer, fellow crew members, or the race; they may in fact become a liability. No matter how you are involved with the race, don’t expect to get much sleep. You certainly won’t get your regular 8 hours; many crew and racers will not get more than 2-3  hours of sleep that day. You should also be aware that your sleep may be many bits of time versus one continuous block of time. The lucky ones are those that can sleep anywhere and in any position. When, where, and how racers and crew sleep could be some of the most critical and logistically challenging decisions of the race. In order for you to get sleep, it must be planned, it just doesn’t happen. Set out a plan so you get some sleep.

• Try to powernap for 15-30 minutes at a time.

• Even closing your eyes for 5 or 10 minutes without actual sleep may help.

• If you can’t sleep, just lay back and rest and close your eyes.

Team Racer Schedules / Sleep

Team racers will be on a rotating riding schedule and thus can know when they have an opportunity to sleep. Obviously the plan is to sleep while another team racer is racing. The sleep schedule for racers and crew may be different and you must ensure everyone has some scheduled sleep.

This particularly needs to be addressed if team members are riding and driving!

Staying Awake

You may have situations where you need to stay awake or you are part of a crew that follows a racer under night conditions. There are well known aids for staying awake.

Caffeine in various forms usually works for most people. This can include coffee, soft drinks, tablets, or various energy drinks. Remember – trying to stay awake is not as safe as taking a quick nap. You also note that the race organisation takes safety extremely seriously and if a driver is deemed to be dangerously tired they will be told to stop by a race official.

Tricks for staying awake:

  • Frequent eating gives you something to do. Cereal bar, raisins, nuts.

  • Drink lots and then you’ll have to use the bathroom, but you have to hold it since you’re driving.

  • Put the vehicle window down and have wind blowing on you. Or perhaps just aim the vents at your face.

  • Talk. Ask deep questions of life. Exchange adventure stories. Joke!

  • Jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups – something to get the blood moving. Some of these can be a challenge as while you are trying to stay awake, others may be sleeping.

To keep your Racer awake – WITHOUT putting them at risk:

  • Music, Cheering, singing

  • Tell jokes or read them humour

Do NOT use any anti-sleep drugs unless that is a normal prescription for you.

Watch out for your riders performance. Crew should make sure that the racers are riding according to the plan or strategy that is chalked out.

Watch out for each other

Your success depends on everyone getting sleep and functioning well. Look out for each other to ensure everyone is getting some sleep. It is also your responsibility to make sure you are rested and well and fit enough to proceed safely.

It’s a rewarding experience to get there and push your limits. On the other hand, pay attention to when you’ve really hit your limits. Know when you are out of it and when you really need sleep.

One of the most important things o remember is that it’s a team effort and you are all working towards a common goal. This means sacrificing some of your own comfort and sleep for the good of the team and to help the racers excel.

Crew Packing List

This will give you some idea of what crew should (and shouldn’t) bring for the race. Bring enough clothing so that you can be adequately comfortable in warm or cold weather but don’t bring too much; there’s just not enough room and you won’t spend much time outside, you’ll likely be in a vehicle with heat or air conditioning.

Hints

  • Remember space is at an absolute premium for everyone.

  • Bring items that you aren’t too concerned about getting beat up.

Items to Bring

  • Pens, Writing pad

  • Sunglasses, Cap, scarf

  • Pillow – a small travel pillow

  • Headlamp – this is a must

  • Car Charger, Cables

  • Driver’s license

  • Swimsuit

  • Watch or phone with alarm

  • Camera

  • Toiletries (towel, toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving supplies, lip balm)

  • Cash