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June 22, 2012

RAAM: Nothing like a fine Schoch!

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 3:35 am

Swiss rookie Reto Schoch held off a stiff challenge from defending champion Christoph Strasser to win the 2012 Race Across America men’s solo competion.

Schoch finished the 2,987.54-mile trek from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis at 9:08 p.m. Thursday. He had to wait 1 hour, 45 minutes — the time advantage Strasser had because the Austrian had started the race 30 minutes later than Schoch and the 1:15 time credit awarded to Strasser because he ordered off the road because of a severe Colorado storm – to find out whether he had won the race.

Strasser, however, and his doctor made the decision to concede the race in Hanover, Md., according to a report by RAAM’s Vic Armijo at the RAAM Facebook page. Strasser crossed the line at 12:41 a.m. today.

“I have very mixed feelings about this race,” Strasser told Armijo at the finish line. “I made one of the best RAAMs of anybody — faster than (Wolfgang) Fasching and faster than Jure (Robic) did. But still I am second. That is hard, very hard.”

By finishing RAAM in 8 days, 6 hours and 29 minutes, Schoch became the only the third RAAM rookie to win the race.  Jonathan Boyer (1985) and Dani Wyss (2006) are the only other rookies to win.

His average speed ot 15.05 mph not only is a rookie record, it’s the third fastest in RAAM history. Pete Penseyres (15.4 mph in 1986) still holds the record, followed by Wyss (15.28 mph in 2009).

Strasser’s final time was 8 days, 9 hours and 34 minutes.

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June 21, 2012

RAAM: The final battle

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 9:28 am

(Updated at 2:50 p.m. CDT June 21)

By the end of Thursday, the the champion of the Race Across America’s men’s solo competion will be determined. Who it will be is up for grabs.

Both Swiss rookie Reto Schoch and defending champion Christoph Strasser passed through Cumberland, Md., this afternoon, meaning they have 131.6 miles left to the finish line in Annapolis, Md.

Schoch made it through at 12:35 p.m. CDT, while Strasser at 2:20 p.m. However, that means Schoch and Strasser are tied for the lead. How could that be? With a lot of help from Vic Armijo at the 2012 RAAM Media Team Blog, here’s the explanation:

First, because of RAAM’s staggered start system, Strasser started the race June 13 in Oceanside, Calif., a half-hour behind Schoch.

Second, Strasser received a 1 hour, 15 minute time credit after a strong storm June 16 near Walsh, Colo. Because of a tornado warning, the local sheriff’s department ordered Strasser to stop and took him and his crew to a nearby storm shelter.

For Schoch to win the race, he would have to finish more than 1 hour, 45 minutes ahead of Strasser. Schoch is projected to finish about 9:20 p.m. CDT today. Strasser is projected to finish about 11:08 p.m.

How much of a gap is there between the leaders and the back of the pack? Earlier today, two riders were still making their way from Washington, Mo., to the Mississippi River time station just south of Alton, Ill.  The Mississippi River time station is 917.39 miles from the finish line, so those two riders were more than 700 miles behind the leaders.

Women’s leader Trix Zgraggen arrived in Chillicothe, Ohio, at 6:30 a.m. CDT and maintains her comfortable lead.


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June 20, 2012

RAAM: Still a two-man race

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 12:06 pm

UPDATED: Today, Reto Schoch of Switzerland and Christoph Strasser of Austria remain neck-and-neck in the men’s solo competition of the Race Across America.

Schoch arrived in Athens, Ohio, at 2:22 p.m. CDT today, while Strasser arrived at 3:11 p.m. Stasser started the race a half-hour late than Schoch, so Stasser  is 19 minutes back.

Earlier today, Schoch pulled into Chillicothe, Ohio, at 8:30 a.m. CDT, while Strasser got there at 9:08 a.m.  Strasser was only eight minutes back in Chillicothe.

Since both are expected to finish the race late Thursday afternoon CDT, their performances in the Appalachian Mountains will determine the outcome. The terrain start gets hillier east of Chillicothe, and the big climbs are in West Virginia and western Maryland.

Third-place rider Gerhard Gulewicz has arrived in Oxford, Ohio. Tamas Jarvas and Julian Sanz Garcia arrived this afternoon at the Mississippi River near Alton, Ill. Two other male competitors have passed through Washington, Mo., on their way to the Mississippi, and 10 other cyclists still have yet to pass through Washington.

Women’s leader Trix Zgraggen of Switzerland arrived in Greensburg, Ind., at 12:25 p.m. CDT today, while Canadian Joan Deitchman is more than 250 miles back. Deitchmann arrived at the Mississippi River at 3:11 p.m.

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June 19, 2012

RAAM: Welcome to Illinois

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 11:20 am

UPDATED: The top three men’s solo competitors and the top female competitor have crossed a major psychological barrier — the Mississippi River– in this year’s Race Across America.

Swiss rider Reto Schoch and Austrian rider Christoph Strasser passed through the Mississippi River time station, which is just across the river from Alton, Ill., late Monday. Schoch reached the time station at 9:54 p.m. CDT Monday, while Strasser got there at 11:58 p.m.

Schoch passed through Effingham — the final time station in Illinois — at 5 a.m. CDT today, while Strasser checked in at 5:58 a.m. Third place competitor Gerhard Gulewicz of Austria reached the river at 9:12 a.m. today.

A few hours later, Strasser  has tied Schoch for the lead. Strasser arrived in Sullivan, Ind., at 10:45 am.CDT today. Schoch arrived there at 10:15 a.m., but Strasser started 30 minutes later than Schoch during last week’s staggered start in  Oceanside, Calif.

Both are expected to finish the race in Annapolis, Md., Thursday morning or afternoon.

Women’s leader Trix Zgraggen of Switzerland arrived in Washington, Mo., at 12:13 a.m. CDT today. and she reached the river at 9 a.m. At her current pace, she’ll finish Friday afternoon.

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June 18, 2012

RAAM: Leaders approach St. Louis area

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 10:18 am

Assuming Race Across America organizers got their permit to race through St. Charles County, Mo., the leaders of the race will travel through the St. Louis area today and Tuesday.

Reto Schoch of Switzerland has regained the lead in the men’s solo division. He passed through Camdenton, Mo., at 8:43 a.m.CDT  today. Defending champion Christoph Strasser of Austria is in second. He checked in at Camdenton at 9:36 a.m. today.

At his current pace, Schoch is expected to arrive at Washington, Mo., shortly after 5 p.m. today, at the Mississippi River just south of Alton, Ill., about 9:30 p.m. today and at Greenville, Ill., about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Women’s leader Trix Zgraggen arrived in Fort Scott, Kan., at 6:21 a.m. At her current pace, she’ll arrive in Washington about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, the river about 8 a.m. Tuesday and Greenville about 11:44 a.m. Tuesday.

Time station volunteers will be doing a whole lot of waiting the next few days. Most of the remaining solo competitors are still racing through Kansas, and a few are still in Colorado. The team competition started Saturday, and competitors are spread out between Arizona and Missouri.

There should be some hot — and humid — racing in the St. Louis area this week. Highs are forecast to be in the mid-90s through Wednesday and dip to the low 90s Thursday and Friday with a chance of isolated thunderstorms, The Weather Channel predicts.

RAAM organizers needed a permit to race through St. Charles County because of a 2010 law that was passed after a failed attempt to ban bicycles from some roads in the suburban St. Louis county. To the knowledge of the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation, St. Charles County is the only county on the RAAM course that requires a permit. Read more here.

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June 17, 2012

RAAM: We have ourselves a race

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 10:39 am

Yesterday, Reto Schoch of Switzerland had what appeared to be a comfortable lead in the Race Across America men’s solo division.

Today, Christoph Strasser of Austria is your RAAM leader. Strasser caught up with Schoch just before the Greensburg, Kan., time station and arrived there at 8:06 a.m. CDT.

Schoch got to Greensburg three minutes later, but RAAM’s Facebook page says Strassser’s lead is actually 30 minutes at that time station because Strasser was late in starting the race.

Strasser has increased his lead. He arrived in Pratt, Kan., at 9:57 a.m. CDT today, 15 minutes ahead of Schoch. At his current pace, he would arrive in Washington, Mo., about 3:45 p.m. Monday, the Mississippi River about 8:15 p.m. and Greenville, Ill., about 11 p.m.

Strasser’s progress is astounding considering the late start, cramps and dehydration issues early in the race and battles with storms while riding through Kansas.

On the women’s side, Trix Gzraggen of Switzweland continues her domination over  Joan Deitchman of Canada. Gzraggen arrived in Pratt at 8:29 a.m. CDT today. Deitchman is about 310 miles behind.

At her current pace, Gzraggen would arrive in Washington about 12:40 a.m. CDT Tuesday, the river about 6:26 a.m. and Greenville about 10:03 a.m.

Joan savors an apple fritterDeitchman may be well behind Zgraggen, but she looks like she’s having more fun. RAAM’s media team caught up with her in South Fork, Colo., and caught her eating an apple fritter and sipping a vanilla mocha – a scene more closely associated with the Tour de Donut than the Race Across America!

(Joan, there still is time to register for the Tour de Donut on July 14 in Staunton, Ill., should that competition fit into your racing or training plans!)

Tracy McQuair, the woman giving Deitchman a massage, described for the RAMM blog how RAAM has gone for Deitchman: “Things are going very well. She had a wonderful climb up the hill today. Things are going just perfectly. Nothing unexpected. We have good days, we have rougher days and she makes her way through it. She’s put together a good crew, she’s put together a good plan and she has a back-up plan for everything.”

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June 16, 2012

RAAM: Saturday morning update

Filed under: racing — Tags: — Roger @ 12:04 pm

Two Swiss riders, Reto Schoch and Trix Zgraggen, continue to dominate the major solo divisions of this year’s Race Across America.

Men’s solo competition

Schoch passed through Trinidad, Colo. (1,131.24 miles), at 10:13 a.m. CDT today. He’s ahead of Austrians Christoph Strasser and Gerhard Gulewicz, who have made it through La Veta, Colo. (1,065.81 miles).

At his current pace, Schoch is expected to pass through the St. Louis area Monday and finish the race early Thursday in Annapolis, Md.

The top American in the race is Kurt Searvogel, aka Tarzan Rides, of Sheridan, Ark. He’s in 12th place.

Women’s solo competition

Zgraggen owns about a 220-mile lead over Canadian Joan Dietchman. American Cassie Schumacher is about 270 miles back.

Zgraggen passed through Trinidad at 8:15 a.m. CDT today. At her current pace, she would pass through the St. Louis area early Tuesday and finish the race early Friday afternoon.

You can see more updates at RAAM’s race leaderboard.

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June 14, 2012

RAAM: They’re off!

Filed under: cycling,racing — Tags: — Roger @ 10:01 am

It’s been a fine start for a couple of Swiss cyclists in this year’s Race Across America.

The men’s under-50 solo division started Wednesday in Oceanside, Calif., and Reto Schoch already has covered 342 miles to take the early lead. As of 6:44 a.m. CDT when he arrived in Salome, Ariz., he was averaging 21.24 mph. Current estimates show he could pass through the St. Louis area Sunday, but I suspect it will be later than that.

The solo women started their race Tuesday, and Trix Zgraggen has taken the early lead. She has covered 536 miles as of 6:45 a.m. CDT today. She averaged 13.15 mph going into Flagstaff, Ariz., and current estimates show her passing through the St. Louis area Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

The time stations closest to St. Louis are in Washington, Mo., the Mississippi River just south of Alton, Ill., and Greenville, Ill.

The RAAM team competition starts Saturday.

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June 1, 2012

RAAM needs permit to race in St. Charles County

Filed under: cycling,Missouri,racing — Tags: , — Roger @ 3:10 pm

The Race Across America ultramarathon endurance test begins  June 12, and competitors are expected to make their way through the St. Louis metropolitan area the following week.

But in order to pass tthrough St. Charles County, Mo., RAAM had to get a permit because of a law passed in October 2011. Below is an excerpt from the law; you can click on this link to read the rest of the law, minus some minor amendments that were added to the bill:

No event, contest, procession, or parade containing twenty-five (25) or more cyclists on any highway, roadway or street within a two hour window, or any number of riders and a chase/support vehicle, shall occupy or proceed along any highway, roadway or street in the unincorporated county except in accordance with a permit issued by the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department.

This law was the one of the offshoots of a 2010 effort by St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil to ban bicycles from some roads in that county, including some RAAM is using.

Not surprisingly, the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation disagrees RAAM needs a permit to ride through St. Charles County. Here’s a excerpt from a recent post from Brent Hugh, the federation’s executive director:

But for RAAM officials, the permitting process borders on the ridiculous–as they discovered this year when the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department informed them that they must receive a bicycle event permit before RAAM riders start to come through the county.

Imagine if RAAM had to obtain a special permit for each county it passes through along its 3,000 mile route–hundreds of different counties and jurisdictions.  The race would be an absolute impossibility.

I encourage you to read the rest of Brent’s post at the organization’s website.

The RAAM course enters St. Charles County a few miles after competitors cross over the Missouri Highway 47 bridge Missouri River at Washington. It uses Highways T, D and Z before heading east on an Interstate 70 frontage road. North of the cities of St. Peters and St. Charles, it takes Highways B, C and H as well as Missouri Highway 94. In West Alton, it turns onto U.S. 67 and crosses the Mississippi River into Alton, Ill.

Getting back to the race itself, the solo women and 60+ solo men start their 3,000-mile trek from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., on June 12. The solo men start June 13, and the team competition begins June 16.

Once in Illinois, RAAM takes a familiar course on Illinois Route 140 from Alton to Greenville, U.S. 40 or other Interstate 70 frontage roads to Effingham, then veers away from Interstate 70 toward Sullivan and Bloomington, Ind.

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January 25, 2012

Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet

Filed under: bicycling,Illinois,Missouri — Tags: , — Roger @ 1:40 pm

Looking for a bicycle, bicycle parts or opportunities to get involved in bicycling?

Trailnet is presenting the annual Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet on Sunday, Jan. 29. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gateway Convention Center at 1 Gateway Drive in Collinsville, Ill. (The Gateway Center is northwest of the intersection of Interstate 55-70 and Illinois Route 157.)

The expo features a classic bike show and a bike corral where people can buy and sell bicycles. The event also features booths from bike shops and organizations.

Once again, the St. Louis Cycling Club/Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society will have a booth at the show. You’ll be able to join us for sign up for the 15th annual Tour de Stooges at our booth.

I’ll be there later in the day, and I look forward to seeing my friends in the bicycle community!

BICYCLE DREAMS: If you’re looking for something to do Thursday night, Big Shark and Trailnet is presenting “Bicycle Dreams,” Stephen Auerbach’s documentary film about the 2005 Race Across America.

The screening will be at 7:00 p.m. at The Moolah Theatre, 3821 Lindell Blvd in St. Louis. If you act quickly, you can still get tickets online for $11; otherwise, it’s $15 at the door. Proceeds from the event will benefit Trailnet.

I reviewed “Bicycle Dreams” two years ago. It focuses on the drama of RAAM, an ultramarathon races across the country and Dr. Bob Breedlove, who died when he was struck head-on by a pickup truck near Trinidad, Colo., during the race.


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