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Old 06-16-11, 07:35 AM   #1
Homeyba
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My RAAM update from the road

It's been an eventful day first day. Marko Baloh has been occasionally sharing the lead with Strasser and Gulewicz. They are 350 miles in and averaging 21.5mph! Not bad. They had a pretty strong tail wind last night which helped them quite a bit. One unfortunate incident happened yesterday on the descent into Borrego Springs. Team Teal's rider (two man RAW team from Canada) hit a jeep that pulled a u turn in front of him. He had to get life flighted to the hospital with serious injuries. Hope to hear an update on his condition today from race HQ. It’s been very interesting being a race official after being a racer in four of the last five years. You can definitely tell the veterans from a lot of the rookies! I haven’t given out any time penalties yet. Just some warnings for half hearted stops at stop signs. We’re working the back end of the solo field. We’re seeing way more time off the bike than you do with the riders up front. Time to get back to the riders.
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Old 06-16-11, 07:39 AM   #2
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21.5mph, They're absolutely flying. Do you get much sleep being a race official?
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Old 06-16-11, 07:54 AM   #3
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There are two of us in the car so we go in shifts at night. So, yeah, we get plenty of sleep (at least so far!).
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Old 06-16-11, 01:36 PM   #4
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This is compelling reading; I'd like to know all you care to tell about the race. I hope the injured rider comes out o.k. Have fun out there!
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Old 06-16-11, 01:44 PM   #5
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I see that one of the solo women, American Janet Christiansen, has dnf'd but can't find out why. That's gotta suck this early on. I just hope she is alright.
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Old 06-16-11, 04:14 PM   #6
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I know Janet and she is not a quitter. Something bad must have happened. I haven't heard of another crash so I'm hoping it's not that. It's been really hot in the desert this year. Some of the slower riders have been riding in 105+ heat. Janet and the other women left a day early so I don't know how they've been getting along. I've seen some very interesting strategies. Some successful, others not. One rider is riding 4hrs and resting for an hour. She's fast on the bike but is in last place. One rider slept in a motel last night when the low temp was 80deg. and now has to try and ride in the heat. One with no aerobars, etc. One rider started in new shoes/pedals and for some reason his knees started hurting (imagine that ). At least he brought his old shoes/pedals. Some of that is just rookie mistakes but what will tell whether they will be successful or not is if they can adapt their strategy. I talked with Danny Chew today, he’s crewing for his nephew. He’s young, only 20yrs old. He probably couldn’t have a better mentor.

The injured rider will hopefully be ok but according to the paramedic he had a head injury so they need to be careful. If you have questions feel free to ask.
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Old 06-16-11, 09:42 PM   #7
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Night is falling and we're heading into Prescot with the middle/back of the solo riders. Dispite the heat only a few riders DNFed because of it. Janet Christiansen being one of them. She also was having a knee problem. Bummer. We've been harping on the crews all day to keep thier riders hydrated and cool to avoid heat problems. We're finially heading into the mountains so things should cool a bit for them, at least till we hit the plains. Then they'll probably have heat and humidity!
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Old 06-17-11, 03:48 PM   #8
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Its early afternoon and we're sitting in good old Tuba City (679miles). It looks like all the RAW teams are done. Nothing official here but I think TEAM RAAM was first. It's hot again today, 97degrees, but not as hot as yesterday. Plus there has been a 27mph cool wind out of the SW all day. That means the riders have had a stellar tail wind or a side wind at the worst. No crashes that I know of or any new DNF's. That's good news! It does look like some of the RAAM rides may not make the time cut-off in Durango though. A couple of them are going to have to really hot foot it! RAW rides have the luxury of no cut off times but I think a couple reallyStrasser's slow riders may change that next year. Strasser's pulled a little lead over Baloh and Blanco passed Gulewicz. Still pretty close up front!
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Old 06-18-11, 12:05 PM   #9
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Great updates. Keep them coming. I watch all day at work and some at night at home. My friend just finished RAW and a bunch of us have been following closely and lookinf forward to the report.

Please keep posting.
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Old 06-18-11, 02:22 PM   #10
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Really appreciate the updates, Homeyba!
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Old 06-18-11, 03:39 PM   #11
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Haven't had good wireless connections since Tuba City. I'm sitting in Pagosa Springs right now. Another beautiful day in Colorado. It looks like all the RAW teams finished yesterday and what's left of the solo riders are trying to beat the deadline tonight. It's been a pretty uneventful day for the most part. A couple riders ended up in the hospital. Both with aggravated pre race injuries and I think they will both be back on the bike soon. As far as their ability to finish I don't know... It's got to be tough when you are hurting this much so soon in the race. Interestingly enough, no solo male RAAM racers have DNFed yet! That's pretty amazing! Only two women are still in the hunt and I've got my fingers crossed that they will make it. One was having so issues but I think they've got a good handle on it. It's amazing that you can suffer an injury and make the appropriate changes to allow the rider to not only continue on the bike but also heal as well. If anyone is considering racing RAAM and really good sports physiotharipist/emt is essential and worth their weight in gold! There are some highly skilled professionals riding with some of these racers. The teams should be out on the road and headed for the desert now. Haven't heard much from back there yet. We should be seeing the first teams come through the solo ranks in Kansas. I'll be heading up Wolf Creek Pass in a bit. Lots of great memories up there!
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Old 06-18-11, 04:06 PM   #12
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Very interesting to read your reports. I keep checking the RAAM leaderboard in conjunction with your reports and reading between the lines. Combined they make for a great "picture". Thanks for your posts!
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Old 06-19-11, 12:33 PM   #13
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We had our first male solo rider DNF last night. He was one who spent some time in the hospital in Pegosa Springs. Got to give him credit for getting out and giving it another shot. Altitude and bronchial issues are a bad combination though. I think most of the solo guys are over the 1/3 way mark now. Some of them are really struggling though. The winds have been really strong for the solo racers since day one and they continue today. It's really blowing over Cuchara and La Veta Passes. Easily in the 25-35+mph range! Luckily it's been mostly tail and side winds but up here in the passes the wind is swirling all over the place. I saw a small water spout on North Lake, just south of Cuchara Pass. I've never seen anything like that on a lake before. We also watched a golden eagle snag a fish out of the lake. The teams are cooking right along. They haven’t had the wind advantage that the solo riders had but it’s been favorable non-the-less. The first teams are still averaging around 25mph going through Prescot!! Team JDRF is racing with two 16yr old crew chiefs! They are doing pretty good too from what I’ve heard. The solo racers are finishing up the last of the Rockies and heading into the plains. I heard they had some wild weather for the solo riders heading into Walsh Co. The mid west may be flat but it ain’t boring!
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Old 06-19-11, 10:07 PM   #14
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This is GREAT, Homeyba: having RAAM updates from someone who’s actually done it. The insights are terrific. Thanks!

Watched Strasser come through TS 27 (Maize, KS – NW suburban Wichita) this afternoon. Might have missed him had I not figured out midway in my circuitous (bike) ride there that the Leaderboard times are Eastern, not local.

Weather was a typical summer day in this cycling paradise: at or near 100 degrees, 105 heat index, southerly winds gusting in the 30s, mostly crosswinds for today’s route. How does an Austrian acclimate so quickly and so well? Wow!

Some quick observations:

1) Based on our keeping the same gap once I found him and turned around back to TS 27, I’d say he and I were both riding maybe 18-19 mph at the time.

2) He and his following van turned a mile too soon before TS 27. A few fans had gathered there to cheer, and had to run back to their cars and chase them down to tell them they were supposed to continue straight. The route directions online make no mention of any turns along this part of the route, even at the TS, so I wonder what they were thinking. Perhaps the small band of fans at an intersection in the middle of nothing confused them.

3) I’m pretty sure the 5 or 6 turns in the Wichita area were marked in previous years. I rode back and forth to all of them later in the afternoon and noticed there were no markings this year.

4) When Strasser finally made it to TS 27 (a large convenience store), a “RAAM Official” tan Explorer had already arrived. Strasser stopped at the stop sign of the nearby intersection, then continued, with a big wave our way. We all turned to the race official, puzzled. “He doesn’t have to actually stop to check in,” he said. Surprised us.

I was the only fan there on a bike. One of the others asked me if I was an ultracyclist. “No.” I finished my 90-mile ride at home with cold watermelon, a shower, air conditioning, a great meal, and my wife’s company. Strasser did not. He’s an ultracyclist, and a good one at that.
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Old 06-20-11, 06:35 AM   #15
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Strasser has built himself up quite a lead right now, a time station and a half. The winds were quite torturous last night. Solid 25-35mph side winds. Some of the smaller riders were really struggling with it. I think that will continue today. It's supposed to be a little cooler in KS today but it's still going to be hot, the lady in the kwikshop in Greensburg said it was only going to be 103 today. I saw a rider go down for a 2hr sleep at 6:00 this morning. A better stratagem might have been to keep riding while it is still cool (only 89) the sleeping in the afternoon when the temps are the hottest. I didn't see the rider first but he may have just been exhausted and needed sleep. Sometimes plans have to be changed out of necessity. We had some excitement while outside the Kwikshop when the town’s tornado sirens went off! I think it was just a test as nobody seemed too concerned. As far as the time stations go, the riders do not have to stop at any of them. Their crew is responsible for calling in the time when the rider goes by. The teams are still smoking their way into the Rockies. I talked to one of the teams and they are getting some rain. If they all are, that will slow them down a bit. I still expect them to be catching the slower solo riders in Kansas and Missouri
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Old 06-20-11, 10:31 AM   #16
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Judging from the time stamps, Strasser did the same thing yesterday: slept 2 hours or so in Greensburg just before sunrise.

Watch the winds today. Gusting to 43 in parts of Wichita at 11:00 AM. Usually gets windier in the afternoon.

A front's already through Liberal out west. Winds will change to the NW. Someone somewhere in Kansas will get hammered by strong thunderstorms late afternoon or evening.
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Old 06-20-11, 10:45 AM   #17
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Homeyba,

The way, in Kansas, to tell a tornado siren test or drill from the real thing? If nobody seems concerned, it's a drill. If they run outside with their video cameras, it's real.
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Old 06-20-11, 10:55 AM   #18
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Sleeping just before sunrise is a circadian rhythm thing --- trying to keep the mind/body in tune with the physical/lighting clues in the environment. It's a tradeoff between seeking a more temperate riding environment and one where the mind screams at teh body "WTF are you doing riding in the dark you fool? You're tired. Go to sleep!"
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Old 06-20-11, 11:11 AM   #19
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Homeyba,

The way, in Kansas, to tell a tornado siren test or drill from the real thing? If nobody seems concerned, it's a drill. If they run outside with their video cameras, it's real.
Yeah, that's what I figures since nobody went running for their camera.
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Old 06-20-11, 11:26 AM   #20
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Sleeping just before sunrise is a circadian rhythm thing --- trying to keep the mind/body in tune with the physical/lighting clues in the environment. It's a tradeoff between seeking a more temperate riding environment and one where the mind screams at teh body "WTF are you doing riding in the dark you fool? You're tired. Go to sleep!"
Yep, I've been there many a time myself! I didn't want to really say they were doing it wrong because the rider and crew chief really have to make that decision. We absoulutely do not want a rider out on the road who is exhausted or falling asleep. I also know how exhausted you can get riding in the Kansas heat plus the winds only get stronger in the afternoon. All a recipe for going slower. That being said, I talked to his crew today and he would have liked to ride till the afternoon before sleeping but he was just too exhausted so to sleep he went. They did the right thing.
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Old 06-20-11, 02:20 PM   #21
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Nods - was a shift-worker for years. Some people can adjust with no problem, others have trouble. Catnaps, even 1 REM-cycle sleep shifts can make a big difference, especially if timed so one wakes up just as the sun comes up --- big time help for some people. Personally, I like night riding though I've obviously not done it after 3-4 sleepless days involving extended strenuous exercise.

Anyway, it's an interesting race to try to follow. Keep the reports coming please. ;-)
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Old 06-20-11, 06:36 PM   #22
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Wild weather in Kansas! A nasty storm cell just boiled through near Wichita. There was hail coming down just smaller than a golf ball and at one point the wind just about picked the car up! I believe that we were pretty lucky though because there were riders in front of it and behind it so I don't think anyone was in it. That hail was big enough to hurt! On the positive side on the back side of the storm the temperatures dropped from 95+ to 68 degrees and the wind is nearly calm now. I haven't heard from up front lately so I don't know how or if the front solo riders were affected. There was another rider hit by a vehicle this morning. One of the 4 man teams had a rider struck by a Simi outside of Tuba City in the early morning. The driver either couldn't or didn't see him because of the morning sun in his eyes. Amazingly the racer will live but he's going to have to have extensive rehabilitation. His helmet saved his butt! His team is soldiering on with just three riders. Good for them!!! I talked to him briefly in the hospital he was a bit incoherant from the morphine but and I know that's what he wants.
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Old 06-20-11, 08:05 PM   #23
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Great reports. Following closely and your reports are wonderful. One rider has dents in his helmet from the hail. A friend who rode RAAM twice said Kansas was the toughest part.

Keep the reports coming.
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Old 06-21-11, 09:27 AM   #24
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Good stuff Homeyba,

Good vid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=AdbsamAKWPQ
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Old 06-21-11, 10:38 AM   #25
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There were some 72 mph winds recorded last night in Wichita.
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