Monday, June 27, 2011


“Never underestimate the value of a good tailwind!’
Vic Armijo / City Dock, Annapolis, Maryland
June 27, 2011
To be an official finisher RAAM Racers have exactly 12 days to cover the distance from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland. Many riders over the years have encountered delays and difficulties along the way, causing them to come in beyond the cut-off and not be eligible for an official finish that puts them in the record book and entitles them to a finisher’s medal.
Geoff Brunner came in today right on the cut-off. One more minute and he’d forever regret that time in Kansas when he spent some extra time brushing his teeth, or that red light that he got behind in Ohio “If only I’d pedaled a little harder when it was yellow!” But none of that matters now. He made it.
While the official finish line is a few miles back, there’s a ceremonial finish at City Dock where the spectators gather and the awards are presented. Brunner’s young son sat waiting for him there, seated next to Geoff’s grandmother. Geoff stopped short of the line and called his son to join him—together they walked across the line. Amid the cheering of congratulations and the marveling at his making it so close, Geoff quipped, “Never underestimate the value of a good tailwind!’ Indeed Geoff. In RAAM as in life the most valued results are sometimes the ones that you fought for and almost didn’t get. And sometimes just a little bit of extra help is appreciated. Congratulations!

DEX-TOOKE: “No more unfinished business!”


Vic Armijo / City Dock, Annapolis, Maryland

June 27, 2011 12:00 Noon, EDT

Sixty-one year old Texan Dex Tooke had a score to settle with America. Last year he tried to cross it, made a courageous effort, but the 3,000 mile width got the better of him and he pulled out of the 2010 Race Across America, in Cumberland, Maryland, just over 200 miles from the finish. But today he made it, crossing the finish line today with a time of 12 days, 19 hours and 46 minutes, averaging 9.71mph in his pedal-powered journey from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland.

He was met at the finish by his crew of “Dexans,” made up of friends, family and even some members of the Spinning classes that he teaches. That’s right, along with his normal job in inside sales at Marathon Heaters, this energy dynamo helps other with their fitness at a local fitness gym where he’s been a popular instructor for years, “I enjoy it, it's a hoot,” he said.

But Dex wasn’t always a healthy and vibrant senior citizen. “When I was 28 years old I was a smoker and I was out of shape,” he related, “I went out to a local track in my home town, I was going to run a mile around the track and I couldn't make it one time around. I had to walk the straight-aways and run the curves. That's when I decided that it was time for a life change. It's a matter of life-style and it's a matter of choice."

Dex addressed the crowd at the awards stage with a few brief, but heartfelt sentiments, “In 2010 I had my own challenges I wanted to accomplish. Now I realize that isn’t about the 3,000 miles and it isn’t about the challenge. It’s about hope and courage for everyone—even if they don’t ride a bicycle. I was riding this year not just for me, but for a whole lot of other people. And that made my journey across America just a little bit easier.”

Throughout this 30th annual Race Across America, whenever fans, officials and other racers have discussed how the riders were doing in the ongoing race, the conversation almost always got around to Dex and comments of “How’s he doing?” and “I’m rooting for him.” Thank you Dex! You’ve really have succeeded in more than just a long bike ride—you really have reached and inspired a multitude of people.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

ALBERTO BLANCO: 4th Place & Rookie of the Year RAAM 2011

Vic Armijo / City Dock, Annapolis, Maryland

June 25, 2011 11:53am EDT

Alberto Blanco (USA) took fourth in this 30th Race Across America, and was honored as RAAM Rookie of the Year, but if RAAM had a “Human Drama Award,” Blanco surely would have won that hands down too. For despite developing a severe case of “Shermer’s Neck” (the complete shutdown of fatigued neck muscles) in Colorado, he continued to hold onto his fourth place position that he’d held since California and keeping pace against seasoned RAAM veterans Gerhard Gulewicz (Austria) and Marko Baloh. Even more amazing is that as recently as one day before the finish he had pushed past both and briefly held second place before being passed by Mark Pattinson (USA) and being re-passed by Baloh.

Blanco arrived at the finish line this morning at 1:00am EDT in a time of 9 days, 9 hours, 10 minutes, averaging 13.28 mph for the total distance. Two factors allowed Blanco to earn such an impressive result despite the condition of his neck; one was the brace cobbled together by his crew, using a back-back frame, a support fashioned from their roof rack’s bicycle wheel holder, and copious amounts of duct tape. The other was his sheer resolve to continue not just riding, but racing, “I can’t even tell you! The guy’s determination is just amazing,” his crew chief, Dr. Robert Hernandez said, “Not only is he a very talented bike rider, but he’s got a heart of gold. He’s very courageous and I’m very happy and proud.”

Blanco was equally as proud of his crew, “The crew, they did it. We’re only six people and everybody was a rookie except one. For them to help me across the country—and in pretty good shape—I had the best crew in the whole race. That’s without a doubt. I rode the bike and they did everything else.”

On hand at the finish was his wife, Veronica Maldonado, a past RAAM winner, having been on a 4-person mixed team back in’97. Asked how it was for her to see the race reports and know that her beloved was suffering so, “Horrible!” she said, “The pictures were so hard to look at. But I kept in touch and Robert his crew chief was assuring me that he was okay and riding well and that meant a lot. I took a redeye flight from California on Friday and as I was boarding the plane he was in second. It was a fight to the end. It was difficult. But he’s here. What a tight race. Unbelievable. I thought it would be a sprint finish or something! It was that close at that time.”

Alberto’s finish was unique. He arrived at the line, still in his brace and wearing a pair of pink Mickey Mouse ears on his helmet. He stopped beneath the banner and was greeted by some of his crew, who proceeded to take off layer upon layer of duct tape that was used to attach his head and helmet to the brace. He was obviously happy to be at the finish, but the fatigue of the ride had obviously taken it’s toll—the man was sunburned, exhausted and judging by his dazed stare, he was obviously ready for some serious R&R. On the awards stage, RAAM Race Director George Thomas said joked about Blanco’s physical appearance, “By that look of joy on your face tells me that you’re coming back next year.” Blanco response? “I’m coming back for sure!”


Vic Armijo / Best Western Hotel, Annapolis, Maryland

June 25, 2011 10:02am EDT

For the racers RAAM is a grueling and exhausting experience of battling the elements and the course to get to the finish line. For the crews RAAM is a grueling and exhausing experience of battling the elements, and the course, the dying power inverters, the always melting ice in the ice chest, the quest for cell service, the inevitable “differences of opinion” with other crew members, etc, etc, in what can seem like an endless trudge to get to the finish line. And then the work begins...

This morning we spotted a number of zombie-like people sporting dark sunken eyes and fresh sunburns, as they removed all the various bits o’ RAAM equipment from rental vans and RVs and going about the task of sorting it all and packing it up.

Overheard were some saying things like “Next year we’ll...” While others were saying, “I can’t beleive you talked me into this. You people are nuts!”


Vic Armijo / City Dock, Annapolis, Maryland
June 25, 2011, 2:00pm EDT

Italy’s Paolo Aste finished at 12:52pm EDT today in a time of 9 days, 21 hours and 19 minutes. His average speed from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland was 12.6 mph. Paolos English is practically non-existent, so a crew member translated for his post-race interview with Race Director George Thomas, “He was very hot in the beginning. I had good feelings in the beginning, especially the first two days. Overall I’m very happy,” his crew member said. He concluded by saying, “He want to compliment the RAAM people—it was very well organized. He saw beautiful places He is very tired and wants to sleep, but first he wants to eat! Good idea Paolos.

grande gara! RAAM vi ringrazia per competere. Congratulazioni. Vedremo che nel 2012?

I love Raam!

I am standing somewhere on the RAAM route. As you can see I am enjoying being here with Race Across America. There is nothing else like it!

It is a really fun time to cheer the riders and follow them all and get their stories to the fans!

Thanks so much for following my posts. See you in Annapolis!

Andre the driver.

Media 1 hard at work on the road!

Today the Media 1 crew is in Annapolis, Maryland.

Before we arrived here this shot was taken by our infamous photo guy Vic Armijo en route!

I hope you like it. I am hard at work as you see helping Andrew who is our video journalist.

You can view photos and video from Media 1 here on the Race Across America website.

See you in Annapolis!

Andre the Driver