Vic Armijo / Clarksburg, West Virginia
June 22, 2011 7:45 EST
Overlooked by many is 6th place RAAM Male Solo Chris Gottwald. Prior to the start of RAAM 2011, when in-the-know RAAM fans discussed the contenders, Gottwald’s name was rarely mentioned.
That’s surprising since we’re talking about a former US road pro; the rider who took 4th place in RAAM 2009 and was named RAAM Rookie of the Year. “I left a lot on the table in 2009,” he said. “If you look at my time splits early in the race I was one of the fastest guys coming out of here (Oceanside) and into the mountains. And then at the end of the race I was really full of energy. I slept a lot that year. I was getting six and seven hours a day. I finished about eleven hours in arrears to Baloh and Gulewicz so with just a little bit of cutting back on sleep I should be right up in contention.”
So far in RAAM 2011, Gottwald has ridden sort of under the radar. He was up near the leaders in the very early miles of RAAM 2011, but then settled into a pace that saw him drop back as far as 12th in Arizona. “We’re running a pace race,” says crew member Tony Giovanazi. “A lot of the guys went out hard and fast. Now they’re all coming back to us—it’s not that we’re catching up to them. They’re slowing down while Chris is maintaining where he’s been. You look at the average speeds and Chris has barely dropped down from the start. Physically he’s a hundred per cent still. He’s really well trained for this. So he’s had no real issues at all. The one thing we had problems with was coming through Kansas the other night—we had cross winds. That beat him up a little bit. And today we went through a construction area and that torn up road kind of dingled up his feet a bit, so we stopped at the next time station for ten minutes and then was back on the road. He’s tearing it up.”
Perhaps RAAM pundits overlook Gottwald due to his not coming back in 2010, or to his quiet demeanor and laid back approach to his cycling career, “I’ve always been sort of the guy next door who rides his bike a lot,” he said, “…the guy who’ll come home at the end of the day with perhaps a big win against some big names. And then I’ll go home and enjoy what I’m doing and perhaps sit down and have a cheeseburger and a milkshake with my kids when I get home.”
Well kids, when daddy gets home from this race he may need to sit down (or lay down) longer than usual, and he may want an extra cheeseburger…or two.
About the only issue Chris Gottwald has had so far was a flat on day one, not even 50 miles in to RAAM 2011