Combining a Garage and Hotel Room on the Road
The racing of bicycles has evolved over the last century into an international sport.
It used to be that short circuit bicycle races, or Criteriums, were the most popular form of road racing in North America. Now famous road faces like the Tour de France have begun to change the focus from speed to distance and duration. As a result, road races today are growing in length as the athletes endurance abilities increase.
The challenges this presents to race organizers and race teams are numerous. For example, the LoToJa Bicycle Classic (the longest one-day cycling road race in the United States) covers 206 miles from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming.
Ultramarathon races have also increased in popularity. These are long single stage race events where the race clock runs from start to finish. The race can last for days with riders taking breaks on their own schedules, and the first cyclist to cross the finish line becomes the winner.
The Race Across America, also once known as the Great American Bike Race, is one such popular ultramarathon. The Race goes non-stop from coast-to-coast with cyclists racing somewhere around 3,000 miles in about 7 days.
These long distance races utilize ?Support and Gear? vehicles. These caravan cars, or follow behind vehicles, trail the pack in support of their racers.
Today race teams are utilizing conversion vans as sort of a combined garage and hotel room on wheels.
Long distance bike race caravan?s usually consist of a police escort, a press car, race officials, and neutral support vehicles all ahead of the racers.
Following at a safe distance behind are the medical vehicles, the team vehicles, and finally the Broom wagon.
Many of the Support and Gear vehicles (or Support and Grub as some call them) require customization to fulfill the individual needs of the race team. This is where conversion van comes in handy.
These custom vans must transport bicycles with a bike rack on top, store spare parts, tires, inflater pumps, etc. They need to be furnished with a 12 volt fridge and stove for food preparation, and include some sort of porta potti on board.
These follow behind vehicles must be dependable enough to travel various terrains with ever changing weather conditions and provide bunks for naps or sleeping accommodations for when the team travels between races.
Customization of these vans must also include flashing warning lights, two way race radio equipment, GPS tracking systems, and in some cases a generator.
The number of actual racers on a team may vary, but the mechanic, support staff, team manager, and riding crew all must live and travel together in their customized conversion team vans.