Packing for an expedition is always the hardest part - most stressful, complicated, and least rewarding. But this is way worse, especially since it's something none of us have done before. So there's T-shirts to get printed, flashing lights to fit to the top of the van, inspections to be on time for, food to buy, bike supplies to get, and those weird extra things, like finding a cigarette lighter extension so the lights can actually get to a power outlet. Six people tripping over each other, all with ideas on everything, trying to run this thing like a democracy instead of having assigned roles. An interesting cultural experience in my own country!
The most frustrating thing has been the difference in sense of time. I've spent some serious time getting to understand the sense of time (or lack thereof) in India, so I've come to understand that 5 minutes actually means as-long-as-it-takes. But here, we get a 15 minute penalty on Samim's final time if we're late for vehicle inspection. So leaving the hotel at 10:30 really does mean 10:30, not 11:00 or whenever we get around to it. Despite what must be extremely annoying nagging on my part, we're still en route to get our food, at 6pm the night before, let along organizing the vans or getting to bed early. It should all be fine as long as we're ready to go and Samim gets to sleep early tonight, but it has taken a fine balance between patience and trying not to let us get too far behind!
Tomorrow, though, at noon, Samim will start riding from the beach here in Oceanside, CA (just north of San Diego), and be on the clock until he arrives at the other side, in Maryland, in 9 or 10 days. 18 other solo men will be riding the same route, along with five women who started today and assorted other teams of 2-8 people. They're all crazy. But inspired, and that's why I'm here, to help him achieve his dream. (Different than hallucinations - those will come later, when lack of sleep sets in...)
We'll have internet connectivity in the van, so I'll be able to update. There will also be lots of forms of electronic media (live streaming video from the van, twitter, facebook, blogs etc), but I'm not sure where or what they all are, or when they'll be up. There's always Google, but there's also the leaderboard at http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/raam/rcrank.php
Go Samim, Go!!!!