June 21, 2011
I feel good.
Everything is good.”
The crew in the Mighty RAAM Media 1 van found Christoph Strasser today, on his way in to time station 39 in Bloomington, Indiana. His arrival there at 3:36pm EST today marked his 2263rd mile.
The big news is that Strasser, with a current overall average speed of 16.22mph, continues to have the long-standing RAAM record of 15.4mph in his grasp. If he can continue to hold his pace for the remaining 726 miles, he’ll be the fastest since Pete Penseyres way back in 1986. But within those remaining miles are some of the toughest in RAAM. The Appalachians of West Virginia are especially daunting. Unlike the sustained climbs of the western states where a racer can develop a rhythm and where there are long descents where a rider can recover, the hills of West Virginia and into Maryland, with one climb after another, are like doing hill repeats for 200 miles.
We hadn’t seen RAAM solo male leader since Montezuma, Kansas, over 700 miles ago. And he seemed genuinely happy to see us as we pulled alongside and asked how he was feeling. His response was emphatic, “Good, good. I feel good. Everything is good.” And we sincerely believe him. He looks like someone out on weekend ride. His cadence is high; he’s solid in the saddle and not drooping over the bike as many RAAM riders are by this distance into the race. And it’s evident that he’s doing everything that he can to trim those crucial seconds; he stands and powers over the tops of the climbs, he tucks in tight to the bike on the descents, and he shifts up and pedals hard on those descents—everything that a racer would do in a “normal” race. This isn’t to say that he’s immune to fatigue, “A little bit sore, yeah,” He admitted, “Some saddle-sores, the legs of course, the feet. But not too much. Everything is within the normal range for such an event.”
To keep such a pace means minimizing his off-the-bike time. Strasser explained how manages that aspect, “I sleep for about one hour twenty minutes per night. My crew is so good trained and working well. I don’t do anything, I lay myself down and when I wake up everything is done. I am prepared. They put the clothing on. They do everything for me. I just have to go up and ride.”
There you have it. Strasser is proven to have the speed to win RAAM 2011 and to possibly break the speed record. He certainly has the crew. And what he has accomplished so far shows that he has the sheer determination for the job. In setting his 1986 record, everything came together in sync for Penseyres; his fitness, his equipment, the weather and that dash of luck that is always a part of racing, all came together in what Penseyres described as “the perfect storm.” Whether fortune is kind to Strasser remains to be seen. But as I sit here clicking away on my lap top in Bloomington, Strasser has been gone for about ninety minutes. And the wind, showers and possible thunderstorms that the National Weather Service promised us this morning seem to be arriving. The next 24 hours will be crucial for Strasser. We here in the Mighty Media 1 van will do our very best to keep you fans posted.