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Old 06-25-05, 03:03 PM   #1
gpsblake
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RAAM cyclist killed during race across america.

Sad story

http://outside.away.com/outside/news/20050624_1.html

June 24, 2005 One of the country’s top long-distance cyclists was killed Thursday after apparently swerving into the path of a truck midway through a cross-country race.

Bob Breedlove, a 53-year-old orthopedic surgeon from Des Moines, Iowa, was among the top riders in the Race Across America (RAAM) when he slumped over his bike and crossed into the path of oncoming pickup truck near Trinidad, Colorado, according to race officials.

“He was an immensely popular person in the RAAM world,” said Paul Skilbeck, spokesman for the race. “Everybody loved Bob Breedlove. There is a real sense of loss.”

Breedlove, a longtime amateur cyclist with five previous top-ten finishes in the race, was leading the 50-and-older category when the accident occurred.

In 1989, Breedlove set a record for the fastest double-crossing of the United States, in just over 22 days. His nine-day, 19-hour effort in the 2002 Race Across America set a master’s record for a single crossing, according to Ultracycling.com.

-------more stories below-----------

http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pb...20/1001&lead=1

Robert Breedlove, the Des Moines surgeon and ultramarathon bicycle rider who was killed Thursday during a cross-country race, weaved back and forth along the road moments before slumping over his bike and veering into an oncoming pickup truck.

That picture, pieced together by race officials Friday from witness interviews, suggested to them that Breedlove's accident about 28 miles west of Trinidad, Colo., was the result of a health problem, not road conditions or a damaged bicycle.

"A roadside observer, a farmer in the field, said he noticed Bob weaving, and it sounded like it was happening for several hundred feet before the accident," said Lon Haldeman, a friend of Breedlove's and an organizer of the 11-day Race Across America.

"We still don't know why he was weaving, but it doesn't look like a mechanical issue, and it wasn't a traffic problem - we know that," he added. "It wasn't a dangerous section of the course or very busy. You could go five minutes without seeing a car."

The 15-year-old driver of the pickup did not have a license, and traffic charges were pending, the Colorado State Patrol said Friday. But an investigator said it appeared the driver took proper evasive action and did not cause the accident.

"He steered to his right, applied the brakes. He did all that was in his power," said Sgt. Anthony Mattie, the state patrol supervisor on the scene.

A medical examiner in Colorado scheduled an autopsy Friday, and results were expected late Friday or today.

"Was it a medical issue? Did he have a heart attack or a stroke? They're trying to rule that stuff in or out," Breedlove's twin brother, Bill, said Friday of why the autopsy was ordered.

The pickup driver and a 22-year-old passenger told race officials that Breedlove, riding a downhill slope on two-lane Colorado Highway 12, was hunched over his bicycle and swerved in front of the truck.

Breedlove, 53, died at the scene.

'We don't know anything for sure, but it seems he blacked out and swerved over because of that," Jim Pitre, race administrator, said Friday.

Breedlove, an orthopedic surgeon in Des Moines, is survived by his wife of 30 years, Gretchen, and four grown children: Molly Wince, 27; Ann Brown, 25; Erika Breedlove, 21; and Bill Breedlove, 20. His brother said a funeral was being planned for next week in Des Moines.

Race officials said that Breedlove was known as a cautious rider. They said they didn't suspect carelessness or simple exhaustion. No one affiliated with the race knew Breedlove to be suffering from serious health problems.

"I talked to him at the start of the race, and he seemed in good spirits, good shape. He didn't complain about anything being wrong," Haldeman said. "It was a tragic set of circumstances and bad luck all the way around. We're all still devastated."

Breedlove, who was five days into the 3,051-mile race that began Sunday in San Diego and ends Wednesday in Atlantic City, was in 12th place among 26 solo riders overall and leading the 50-plus age group. His racing crew trailed him and reported that minutes before the crash Breedlove had a drink and snack and appeared to be feeling well, said Paul Skilbeck, race spokesman.

Skilbeck said that memorial flowers adorned the crash site Friday and that organizers would host a tribute to Breedlove at the race's culmination. "There will be a film and pictures and stories celebrating his life and his cycling prowess," Skilbeck said.

Fellow cyclists, friends and former patients flooded online message boards Friday, praising a man who, by turns, they called a devoted husband and father, loyal friend, world-class cyclist and dedicated physician.

"He did my left-knee replacement surgery, and when the rehab would get very hard to deal with - both physically and mentally - he would always encourage me to keep going," wrote Diane Smith of Des Moines. "He'd never let me get discouraged. He was always thoughtful and considerate and kind. He will be missed by many, many people."

The Race Across America is a coast-to-coast trek in which riders pedal up to 22 hours a day. It is the world's longest bicycle race and, by many cyclists' accounts, the most grueling. Many riders have to quit during the race because of exhaustion or injury.

But that had not happened to Breedlove, who was described by other cyclists as internationally renowned for his skill and riding endurance.

Breedlove completed the solo Race Across America four times before, finishing second overall in 1994. Three years ago, at age 50, he pedaled 2,890 miles from Huntington Beach, Calif., to Atlantic City in nine days, 19 hours and 47 minutes to set the transcontinental record for solo cyclists 50 or older.

"The guy was amazing," said Kirk Brill, a Des Moines cyclist who knew Breedlove and admired his passion for the sport. "He was revered all over the country. . . . He was one of a kind. I doubt if Lance Armstrong were 50 years old he could compete with Bob Breedlove."

Friends said Breedlove was well-prepared for this year's race - he rode up to 15,000 miles a year to get ready for the event - and was shooting for a top finish.

Friend and fellow Des Moines cyclist Kittie Weston-Knauer said Breedlove was a great cyclist, "but those who knew him will tell you he lived for his family and his kids and everyone around him."

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http://www.cyclingnews.com/road.php?...RAAM05/RAAM056

Day 5 of the 2005 Race Across America was jolted by the second fatality in the race's 24 year history. On Thursday at around Noon, 53 year old solo rider Dr. Bob Breedlove was killed when his bike collided with a pick-up truck West of time station 20 (Trinidad, CO) near the tiny town of Weston. Over 1,000 miles into the race, Bob had just climbed up 9,941-foot high Cuchara Pass. He was in 12th place and leading the 50+ division at the time of the accident, and trying to break his own 50+ transcontinental record average speed 12.26 mph set in 2002. The other death was two years ago when 30 year old Brett Malin hung a U turn at night in front of an 18 wheel truck he didn't see on the crest of a hill near Pie Town, NM. His 4 person Team Vail was leading the Team race when the accident happened. The race went on that year like it is this year. Both Bob and Brett died doing what they loved.

I had a great pre-race interview with the greatest RAAM rider to never win the solo men's race, although he has won the tandem division twice. Bob placed 7th in his rookie RAAM in 1988. In 1989, he set the still standing double transcontinental record of 22 days, 13 hours, 36 minutes by first riding from his home in Des Moines, IA to Irvine, CA as a warm-up for a 3rd place finish in RAAM that year, followed by a cool-down ride back home afterwards. In 1990, he won Tandem RAAM with partner Roger Charleville - their time was 46 minutes faster than solo winner Bob Fourney. In 1992, he won Tandem RAAM with partner Lon Haldeman - their time would have placed them 4th among solo finishers. In 1994, he placed 2nd in RAAM ahead of me.

Bob has been with his wife Gretchen since they were 6 years old. His fraternal twin brother Bill has been on all of his transcontinental crossings. Being in a group practice with 19 doctors made it easier for him to slip away for long rides. He used to ride 15-20,000 miles per year, but this year rode 8-10,000 miles, which were more quality. He has ridden 4 Paris Brest Paris' on tandems, and considers his 1999 Elite PAC Tour with his 14 year old son on a tandem to be his most cherished athletic feat.

In Bob's RAAM bio, he said his ultimate goal was to keep riding a bike until he's 80 and he was most intimidated by illness, injury or death. The thing he would most like to express to the world is love. With love this world would be paradise. Bob was full of love and extremely humble and helpful to all those who knew and loved him.

As we were interviewing Mike Trevino late last night, he revealed to us that Breedlove was responsible for him to turn from marathon running to ultracycling. Growing up in Iowa, Trevino heard all about Bob's transcontinental crossings, and sparked Mike's interest in our sport. Bob can never be replaced, however his spirit can live on through those people he touched so dearly. I was very lucky to have been able to ride some of my million miles with Bob in my rookie 1994 RAAM. My long term mileage goal becomes more important than ever because of people like Bob.

Leader Robic rode 324 miles his 5th day giving him a 5 day split of 1,789 miles. This is 72 miles less than he did last year, and 142 miles less than Pete Penseyres rode the first five days of his 15.4 mph record. When we asked the Robic crew about Jure and the 15.4 mph speed record, they told us that Jure doesn't care at all about breaking it. Our camera guy briefly jumped into Robic's support crew, and found out the $40,000 it costs him to do RAAM is a huge factor to overcome. One of Robic's support vehicles ran out of gas near time station 17 in Mount Vernon, KS (the halfway point of the race). Although Robic's pace has slowed to less than 15 mph, he now has a very comfortable 9 hour lead on Trevino. Rookie MacDonald was closing in on Trevino, so the interesting race might be for 2nd place.

I ate a free lunch and dinner at McDonalds restaurant in Pratt, KS along the route. The owner Steve Strecker offered to feed any RAAM rider, crewmember, official, or media person for free. He wants his restaurant to become a time station next year.

The minimum speed of 10.52 mph has started taking its toll on the riders. At or after time station 17 in South Fork, CO, Kevin Walsh dropped out when his average speed was 9.23 mph. Kish is in big trouble, as he hasn't moved from time station 19 in La Veta, CO for a full day. Karl Traumueller was able to increase his speed after it reached a low of 10.13 mph. Riders have to reach the halfway point (time station 27 in Mount Vernon, KS) by Saturday, 15:00 race time.
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Old 06-25-05, 03:11 PM   #2
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