Ulysses, KANSAS (VN) — After spending the first couple of days trading the lead and otherwise staying within shouting distance of one another, a distance of about 60 miles now separates RAAM Solo Male leader Christoph Strasser (Austria) from second-place racer Marko Baloh (Slovenia).
The two are still both on record pace, with Strasser holding an average speed of 16.36 mph and Baloh riding at a 15.69 average.
Realistically, both will slow in the coming miles.
Baloh still has his characteristic smooth-as-silk pedaling form, albeit a bit slower than a couple of days ago, which is good. Seeing wobbling and pedal mashing in a rider like Baloh would be a dead give-away that the race is taking its toll.
Perhaps the 44-year-old Baloh realized that continuing to play cat and mouse with Strasser, 15 years his junior, wouldn’t be wise, especially considering that the race hasn’t yet reached the half-way mark.
Fatigue and boredom
One of the challenges of RAAM is keeping the rider and crew motivated. Fatigue and boredom take their toll so a smart crew finds ways to relieve a little tension and provide some comic relief.
Baloh’s crew filled this important role yesterday by standing at the side of the road doing “The Wave” for him as he passed. In past RAAMs crew members have donned hula skirts, clown suits and such.
Riders have been sprayed with Silly String and have been the target of squirt gun assaults. And yeah, there’s a reason that the RAAM rule book specifically states that road-side nude dancing by crew members is strictly prohibited.
While Strasser is still looking great on the bike, like many RAAM riders before him, he’s reached a state where he’s fine on the bike, but needs help with everything else as evidenced just past midnight on Sunday morning at the Montezuma, Kansas time station.
As he stopped a crew member held the bike while another helped him lift his leg over the bike and then assisted him into the support van. A flurry of activity followed as Dr. Ranier Hochtatterer spoke with him.
One crew member pulled off his shoes and changed his socks, while yet another brought him food. Eventually Dr. Hochtatterer helped him to his motor home to “take care of business” and then returned him to the follow van to finish his meal.
Just a few minutes later he emerged from the van, and Dr. Hochtatterer helped him toward his bike, which was being held up by a crew member. They helped him onto his bike and off he rode. The entire pit stop took less than 15 minutes. Impressive. 1375.5 miles down, 1,616 miles to go.
Strasser’s RAAM effort is as good as any. He all the equipment that anyone could hope for, has an experienced crew and perhaps foremost, he has Dr. Hochtatterer, a renowned sports doctor and orthopedic surgeon from his native Austria.
He’s worked with some of the best endurance cyclists, including Gerhard Gulewicz (currently in 3rd) and 3-time RAAM winner Wolfgang Fasching. According to Dr. Hochtatterer Strasser had two hours and 25 minutes of sleep on Saturday and after leaving Montezuma, was scheduled for another sleep break at 4:00 a.m.
“When we get to Greensburg (the next time station). How long, we’ll see,” Dr. Hochtatterer said. “He’s eating well. He’s had no problems with eating. No problems at all. He’s eating sandwiches, he drinks Ensure — a calorie drink — he drinks Coke, electrolyte drinks.”
Meanwhile Leah Goldstein is holding a fantastic pace, having covered 1323.40 miles so far. Later today she’ll reach the halfway mark just past the Pratt, Kansas time station.
Her crew reports that she’s in great spirits. According to a crew member the normally serious racer is in good spirits, “She’s cracking jokes and giving us the ‘Royal Wave,’” he said.
STATISTICS (10:50 am EST)