Bicycle Dreams Showing in Colorado Springs

March 25th, 2012

2006 Race Across America

The Race Across America (RAAM) has been called the world’s toughest bike race. It is approximately 1.5 times the distance of the Tour de France but has a time limit of 12 days instead of the 3 weeks that the Tour de France takes. That makes for a minimum of 250 miles a day. RAAM racers are on the bikes 20+ hours a day and ride alone instead of in a pack.

I attempted the Race Across America in 2006 and dropped out at the Mississippi after 2,000 miles in 8 day. A movie about RAAM is being used as a fundraiser for the Incline Friends, the group that is working to legalize the Manitou Incline. Bicycle Dreams is a feature-length documentary about the 2005 RAAM. It has won awards at many film festivals over the last few years.

The Bicycle Dreams fundraiser is on Wednesday, March 28 at 7 PM at the Stargazers Theatre. Tickets cost $11 in advance online at imATHLETE or $15 at the door. Tickets are also available at the Colorado Running Company, 833 N. Tejon, and 9275 N. Union, Suite 120; Carmichael Training Systems, 600 S. 21st; Criterium Bicycles, 6150 Corporate Center Dr., and Team Telecycle at 615 S. Baldwin St. in Woodland Park.

There will be 2 RAAM finishers at the movie showing to tell about their personal experiences. They both raced the same year that I did. Fred Boethling set a new record in 2006 for the 60+ age category. He is now the organizer for RAAM.
You can read my Bicycle Dreams review here. If you want to more about RAAM, you can read my Race Across America FAQ here.

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Race Across Oregon

July 7th, 2011

Race Across Oregon 2004

In 2004 I did the Race Across Oregon (RAO). The race organizers, George and Terri, gave me the photo above (click on it to view it larger) at the post-race banquet. On the trip home, it got a bit bent so I put it under some heavy things to flatten it. When I looked for it a while later, I couldn’t find it. Finally when I was packing for our move to a new house last week, I found it.

Although I believe the original course was pretty much across Oregon, it’s been a huge loop around Oregon the last several years. In 2004 it was supposed to be 538 miles with over 40,000 feet of climbing. It ended up being shortened by 6 miles and didn’t climb up to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood because it was snowing too hard.

I’ve done 4 Race Across America (RAAM) qualifiers and RAO was by far the hardest course and also the race that went least well for me. To start off with, I wasn’t in top shape for the race. Then about 18 hours into the race, I used a nasal spray for my allergies that made me sleepy and I kept falling asleep while riding.

In an attempt to stay awake, I drank a bunch of caffeinated, sugary drinks. They ended up giving me digestive system problems. The digestive issues combined with riding many hours in rain, made it painful for me to sit on the saddle.

Around mile 300 I motioned my crew up to me and told them the race was over for me. The pain had become too much. I sat down beside the road and started crying partially from the pain and partially from the disappointment of not being able to finish.

Clearly that’s not the end of the story since I have a finishing photo. After letting me sit beside the road for a few minutes, my crew convinced me to get on the bike and ride the 60 miles to the next town so they could get some medicine for me. I was still pretty uncomfortable for a long time but I finally felt good the last couple hours of the race.

The course has changed some since I raced but I have no doubt that it’s still brutal. This year racers will take up the ultra challenge on July 23rd.

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New Spinning Guiness World Record

December 6th, 2010

George Hood Spinning for Guinness World Record

I wrote a while back that George Hood was spinning on a spin bike to set a new Guinness World Record. Not only did he succeed in breaking the record but he smashed it! The previous record was 200 hours and George rode for 222 hours 22 minutes and 22 seconds.

Because of the rules, the spinning record seems to be more about surviving sleep deprivation and a sore butt than it is truly an athletic accomplishment. The rules don’t specify the resistance used, only the average speed that must be maintained. That means very light resistance can be used but the legs need to keep moving a fairly good speed.

From the details on George’s blog, you can see he wasn’t working all that hard since his average heart rate was only 77.9 beats per minute. Still it couldn’t have been easy with all the pedal revolutions and since his breaks couldn’t total more than 5 minutes for every hour of riding over the 9 plus days of riding. By my calculations, he would have turned the cranks nearly 15 thousand times.

George was riding to raise money for the Gunnar Hotchkin Memorial Fund. Gunnar Hotchkin was killed in Afghanistan.

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Jure Robic Dies in Accident

September 24th, 2010

Jure Robic

There’s some very sad news in the ultracycling world today. Five time Race Across America winner, Jure Robic, has died from a collision with a car. I haven’t found much information yet on the accident but according to an article I found he died at the scene of the crash. Here’s a link to the Google translation of the article.

Robic was known for how little sleep he could get by on in RAAM. In 2004 it was reported that in almost 9 days he had slept a total of 8 hours. The RAAM movie Bicycle Dreams showed how hard he raced.

He’s married and if I remember correctly he has one child. I pray for his family through this terrible tragedy.

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Win Gear or Entry to a Tough Race

June 15th, 2010

RAAM Team Icebreaker

Photo Courtesy Icebreaker

Racers in the Race Across America continue to ride toward the Atlantic. Tailwinds in the desert made for fast times early for the solo riders but storms in Colorado slowed the leaders down. Jure Robic continues his dominance of the race in his attempt to win a 5th time. He has crossed the Mississippi, 2043 miles raced with 961 miles to go. In the women’s solo race, Barbara Buatois has continued to increase her lead and has ridden 1894 miles.

The relay teams left Oceanside and are starting to catch the solo racers. The fastest team so far is Team Type 1 which is in the 8 Person Open class. They’ve averaged 23.3 mph over 1441 miles.

On of the teams this year, Team Icebreaker from New Zealand, is wearing Icebreaker’s new line of cycling apparel. Icebreaker makes outdoor merino wool clothing.

“The Race Across America is going to be a huge adventure for us, and we’re up for the challenge,” said VP of Product and Creative Director Rob Achten. “We’re excited to see how four cyclists with funny accents from the Southern Hemisphere can do getting across this massive country of yours.” Jeremy Moon, founder of Icebreaker, said “We’re looking forward to seeing how our gear performs and stands up to the test of this epic race.”

The team and support crew have been rationed two Icebreaker garments each for the duration of the race. Achten said, “We’re convinced that we’ll have the big speed advantage over our competition as we won’t have to spend time washing our jerseys, thanks to Icebreaker’s wondrous, non-whiffy merino.” So far not having to wash their jerseys doesn’t seem to be an advantage as they’re in 8th place in the 4-Person Male relay category and have ridden 1216 miles.

During RAAM, visitors to raam.icebreaker.com will be able to enter two contests: The Icebreaker Race Across America Daily Prize Draw and the Speight’s Coast to Coast Endurance Contest.

Icebreaker Race Across America Daily Prize Draw

Every day of RAAM, Icebreaker will be giving away gear. To enter the daily draw, simply post a message of support, ask a question of the cyclists, or answer the daily question via the raam.icebreaker.com website, Facebook , Twitter or email (raam@icebreaker.com). Each day, Icebreaker will randomly draw one winner to receive an IcebreakerGT top.

Speight’s Coast to Coast Endurance Contest

While Icebreaker is charging across America, people can enter to win one of four entries to New Zealand’s own coast-to-coast race, the Speight’s Coast to Coast . Taking place February 11-12, 2011, this premier multisport race traverses the South Island of New Zealand from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. It involves 87 miles of cycling, 22 miles of running (including a mountain stage that crosses the Southern Alps) and 41 miles of kayaking down the grade two Waimakariri River and through the Grand Canyon of New Zealand, the Waimakariri Gorge.

To enter, participants need to send an email to raam@icebreaker.com telling of their own story of extreme endurance (limit 50 words). The winners will be chosen at the conclusion of the Race Across America and the four best, most courageous, most outrageous stories will win a place in the Speight’s Coast to Coast 2011 (a $1,000 value).

Grip Your World

This giveaway isn’t RAAM related but the deadline to enter Vibram’s “Grip Your World Giveaway” is this Friday. Grand prize is a trip for two to France and tickets to the world’s most famous ultra-trail marathon, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Plus 20 second place winners will win a pair of Vibram’s Five Fingers shoes. Entry is simple: just visit www.gripyourworld.com, Vibram’s new website for outdoor enthusiasts, upload a photo (and share a story if you like!) and you’re entered to win.

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Race Across America 2010

June 11th, 2010

Race Across America

The Race Across America started this week. It’s a 3,000 mile non-stop race across the US that has interested me for over 20 years. The course currently starts in Oceanside, CA and finishes in Annapolis, MD.

The long distance with little sleep is made tougher by tight time cut-offs across the country. In a typical year about half the racers that start make it to the finish. In 29 years, fewer than 200 have finished. My 2006 solo RAAM attempt ended at the Mississippi River after 2,000 miles of riding.

The solo women and Dex Tooke in the 60+ solo men category started on Tuesday at noon Pacific and the rest of the solo men started at noon on Wednesday. The relay teams will start on Saturday afternoon at 2 PM.

Once again 4 timer winner Jure Robic has opened up a good lead over his closest competitor. He has almost caught all of the women that started a day ahead. Robic said last year he wouldn’t race again after dropping out after claiming an unfair advantage was given to winner Dani Wyss.

Interestingly the solo womens class is lead by Barbara Buatois on a recumbent bike. Although a recumbent bike can be an disadvantage with lots of climbing, she has made it into Colorado and only has a couple big climbs before hitting the flat lands for many miles.

You can follow the race on the Race Across America website, the RAAM Facebook page or the #raam2010 hashtag on twitter.

In addition to RAAM, there’s also the Race Across the West (RAW). It covers the first 860 miles of RAAM from Oceanside, CA to Durango, CO.

Also check out my Race Across America FAQ.

Current Solo RAAM Standings After Almost 48 Hours

Solo Men

  1. Jure Robic – 814.03 miles – 18.82 mph
  2. Gulewicz Gerhard – 763.89 miles – 17.61 mph
  3. Mark Pattinson – 724.30 miles – 16.27 mph
  4. Rob Morlock – 679.68 miles – 15.64 mph
  5. Matthew Warner-Smith – 679.68 miles – 15.39 mph
  6. Georg Payer – 607.86 miles – 14.57 mph
  7. Tony O’Keeffe – 607.86 miles – 14.32 mph
  8. Julian Sanz – 607.86 miles – 14.31 mph
  9. Ian Fillinger – 607.86 miles – 13.83 mph
  10. Dr. Michael Nehls – 607.86 miles – 13.82 mph
  11. Ferenc Szonyi – 607.86 miles – 13.63 mph
  12. Ross Muecke – 607.86 miles – 13.38 mph
  13. Kevin Kaiser – 607.86 miles – 13.31 mph
  14. Thomas Strebel – 536.11 miles – 13.32 mph
  15. Samim Rizvi – 536.11 miles – 11.72 mph
  16. Holger Roethig – 536.11 miles – 11.62 mph
  17. Eric Dufor – 441.65 miles – 9.98 mph
  18. Scott Dakus (DNF) – 441.65 – 14.19 mph

Solo Men 50-59

  1. Timothy Woudenberg – 607.86 miles – 13.18 mph
  2. Team AFU/Rex Racing – 536.11 miles – 12.02 mph
  3. Paul Carpenter – 536.11 miles – 11.08 mph
  4. Gregor Komescher – 536.11 miles – 11.75 mph
  5. Michael Dunlap – 482.88 miles- 11.01 mph
  6. Valerio Zamboni – 441.65 miles – 10.03 mph

Solo Men 60+

  1. Dex Tooke – 763.89 miles – 11.58 mph

Solo Women

  1. Barbara Buatois – 857.68 miles – 12.61 mph
  2. Michele Santilhano – 857.68 miles – 12.39 mph
  3. Sandy Earl – 763.89 miles – 11.49 mph
  4. Amy Xu – 763.89 miles – 11.19 mph
  5. Sabrina Bianchi – 763.89 miles – 11.18 mph

See the latest standings on the 2010 RAAM Leaderboard.

UltraRob

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No 24 Hour Indoor Cycling Record this weekend.

February 14th, 2010
Al Smudz February 2010 24 Hour Indoor Cycling Record Attempt

Al Smudz didn’t succeed in his 24 Hour Indoor Cycling record this weekend. Vinnie from SaveGasBurnFat.com was doing great updated throughout the day on the webcast. Ultra rider David Holt was there helping with handoffs. Vinnie and I crewed both for Holt when he attempted RAAM.

Al was riding strong early on but started having bad stomach problems before he hit the 12 hour mark. The stomach problems slowed him and he missed the 200 mile and 12 hour records that Michael Secrest set on his way to setting the 24 Hour Indoor Cycling Record a few years ago.

The last update from Vinnie was 13 hours into Al’s record attempt. He had completed 1891 laps and 293.75 miles. His average speed at that point was 22.58.

Here are a few thoughts from Al after he ended his record attempt.

This is Al. Today wasn’t my day. You chase a dream and you don’t always get there the first shot. Sports are great because…sometimes the agony of defeat is the great motivator. I’m just a working stiff. I do this because I love cycling. I don’t have any sponsors and the only value I get is from looking myself in the mirror and getting the satisfaction that I did my best today. I really wanted to bring the excitement of an event like this to you. Other than the WR is was my second goal. I hoped people could see that ordinary people can be competitive in sports even though they don’t have the genetics to be a pro whatever. It takes goals, discipline, and sacrifice, but its possible. I guess my journey isn’t over. I hope I’ll bring your WR attempt #2.

Thanks for looking in. I haven’t read the event yet but I hear people from all over the word shared the magic. The world needs to see us normal guys dream.

For me. Well its back to the drawing board. I only had something like this happen one time. It was at the Race Across Oregon 2006. That defeat really motivated me for a year, and I was able to come back and win the next to years. My brother had a good observation. He feels my aggressive position made it hard for my heart to send blood to much besides my legs. My stomach didn’t process very well today and my vision was extremely blurry. That points to circulation because my water and carb intake was pretty close to what I wanted. Back to the drawing board. Its been an ugly day, but I’ll live to ride again.

Thanks, Al

In the dirt, endurance mountain mountain bikers are wrapping up their race at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.

UltraRob

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24 Hour World Record Attempt This Weekend

February 12th, 2010
Al Smudz

Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb 13, Al Smudz of Monroe, Michigan, will attempt to break the UMCA 24-Hour Indoor record of 535.86 miles currently held by Michael Secrest. Secrest average 22.32 mph for 24 hours.

Al is an accomplished ultracyclist having won the Race Across Oregon twice and the Sebring 24-hour once. He has been focused on this record attempt for over a year.

If you are in the Los Angeles area the weekend of February 13th, you are invited to stop by the Home Depot Velodrome. There will also be a webcast during the record attempt. I’m not sure what they’ll be showing besides Al riding in circles hour after hour.

If all goes according to plan, Al will circle the 250-meter track about 3500 times and average close to 23mph.

UltraRob

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Race Across the West Shortened for 2010

January 13th, 2010

2 years ago the Race Across the West (RAW) was started. Starting with the Race Across America (RAAM), it went the first 1,000 miles. The finish was in Taos, NM for the last 2 years.

The Race Across the West was seen as a race that filled the distance gap between the 500+ mile RAAM qualifiers and the 3,000 miles of RAAM. It allows those planning to do RAAM a chance to test themselves further and gives those that don’t think they can finish RAAM something bigger. RAAM organizer Fred Boethling told me when RAW started that he expected it to become bigger than RAAM.

It seems that since it’s “only” 1/3 of RAAM, racers haven’t been taking it seriously enough. In 2 years there have been 17 RAW racers and only 2 of them have made it to Taos.

In 2010 the RAW finish is being moved to Durango. It will be 180 miles shorter and have 16,000 feet less climbing than it has the last 2 years. I think Durango is a much nicer town to to finish in. Of course the racers may be too tired to care.

When I raced RAAM in 2006, I was still feeling quite good when I got to Durango. Ok, quite good considering I had ridden over 800 miles in under 3 days and slept a total of 4 hours. I was also pacing myself to go many more miles.

There was a big discussion on the ultracycling list when the shorter route was announced about how it was being made easier. A couple people posted that it really shouldn’t be easier. Since it’s shorter they should be pushing themselves harder. It may not take as long but they should arrive at the finish with nothing left.

There was also a discussion about how the existing record wouldn’t be valid any more. Since the RAAM course has at least small changes each year, the most relevant record is average speed. The RAW route distance change is bigger than is normal for RAAM so I’d expect the RAW average speed record to be easily broken this year.

I don’t know if it’s because the route is shorter or more people are hearing about the race but there are already as many registered for the Race Across the West this year as have raced in the last 2 years. Hopefully racers won’t take it even less seriously now that it’s shorter.

UltraRob

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Wyss Wins RAAM, Robic Drops Out!

June 25th, 2009

Wyss has won the 2009 solo RAAM. He raced 3021 miles in a time of 8 days 5 hours 45 minutes. His average speed of 15.28 mph wasn’t much slower than the record of 15.4 mph. Pete Penseyres set the speed record in 1986 and no one has been able to break it.

In a very disappointing end to the extremely close battle between Wyss and Robic the last couple days, Robic dropped out of RAAM with 54 miles to go. Here’s what’s posted on Robic’s blog

Jure was the fastest cyclist on this years RAAM. On the last time check TS51, he came few minutes before Dani Wyss. Because of the penalties, issued controversially, because of the rules not aplied always in the same manner and because of not issuing penalties to others, Jure and his crew decided not to finish the race as 2nd, but step out of it on TS51.

Today it was written the history of RAAM. Jure and Dani staged the toughest fight ever and on the end the fastest didn’t won.

Robic’s 2 penalties on the road seemed legitimate. My RAAM update yesterday has more details on the penalty Robic received yesterday. The only thing I’ve found about the one at the start was that someone saw him urinate at the side of the stage and thought he might have gotten a penalty for it. I don’t know for sure.

His crew claimed that Wyss ran a stop sign and didn’t get a penalty. Of course when Mike Trevino was close to Robic in 2004, they accused him of cheating. Trevino actually stopped but finally was convinced to continue but never was close to Robic again.

Whether or not the penalties were fair, I think it’s poor sportsmanship to just quit. Still no official word from RAAM so there may be more to the story.

Update
Robic didn’t change his mind and received a DNF. Jure Robics crew has posted a few videos that they claim show reasons Wyss should have been penalized and wasn’t. Because of the way he feels he was treated this year, he says he won’t be back to RAAM.

In the video I’ve embedded below, it does seem that Wyss made a right turn at a red light, did a u-turn and then turned right to avoid the red light. This is against the rules. I had to watch it a couple times but then it seemed clear what he had done. RAAM officials thought it may have been accidental and gave a warning instead of a penalty.

They have a video showing Wyss over the double yellow line. From what I can see, he’s staying in the center out of the way of traffic when he pulls out until his follow van comes in behind. It seems like a safe thing to do and no penalty should have been given.

In another video he grabs the butt of a girl cheering him on. You can argue about tastefulness of it but I don’t know of any RAAM rule against it.

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