Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Green Mule

Here is the big news for 2011:

The RRCC has a motorboat. And we intend to use it.

It all began when Stuart committed to the Fall Trip but can't make it down until late Friday night November 4. There are others who can't make it in time for a morning departure either - and since it will be a full day paddling on Friday it will be too far to take a canoe down to the campsite in the dark the way Rob did on the Eleven Point River. But...what if we had a big, flat-bottom jon boat? ...With an outboard? ...And a spotlight?

That was just the excuse we've been looking for. Because the RRCC needed one of these things years ago without ever knowing it. Now, we not only have the perfect vehicle for Midnight Riders, we have solved the problem of the overloaded canoes forever.

Bikers call it a "Sag Wagon":

A sag wagon is a support vehicle for cyclists. As a general rule, cyclists on tour call the vehicle a sag wagon, while racers prefer the term “broom wagon.” In either case, the sag wagon can be a vital part of the team which support cyclists along their journey. On long tours and trips, many cyclists grow quite attached to the sag wagon and its drivers, thanks to the comfort that the sag wagon provides.

The origins of the term “sag wagon” are a topic for debate. Some cyclists believe that it is an acronym for “Support and Gear” or “Support Aid Group.” Others suggest that it may be related to distressed or weary cyclists “sagging”, or trailing behind the pack. In either case, the sag wagon can be a lifesaver for cyclists, since it carries everything from water to medical supplies. Many of the staff on board are cyclists themselves, sitting out an event for various reasons or simply enjoying the opportunity to help out.

Usually, the touring sag wagon takes the form of a large, sturdy van or truck. It is designed to hold food for the cyclists, along with camping gear and other equipment. The sag wagon may drive ahead to the night's designated camping spot, so that the cyclists are welcomed to a fully set up camp when they arrive. In other cases, the sag wagon trails slightly behind, keeping an eye on the cyclists and picking up stragglers who may need a brief break from the open road.

Using a sag wagon for a bicycling tour allows the tour group to include a wide range of cyclists at varying levels of physical condition. The wagon can carry the bulk of the cyclists' luggage, making the bikes much lighter and more easy to handle. It also brings along a sense of home, and since a van can carry far more food than a bicyclist can, it usually indicates that good supplies will be less spartan than they might be on an unsupported trip.

In racing, the broom wagon specifically seeks out cyclists who may need medical attention or a rest. The broom wagon meanders through the course route slowly, making sure that stragglers are cared for and meeting the needs of cyclists who may need anything from more water to a lift, so that they can withdraw from the race if they are experiencing physical problems. Staff on the broom wagon usually have medical training so that they can evaluate cyclists in distress.

Cowboys never called it a Sag-anything. They called it a mule. They figured out a long time ago that if you're going to be hauling cast iron cookware, bottles of whiskey and guitars, you better get a mule.
So we did.

No comments: