Vic Armijo / Congress, AZ
June 16, 2011
The youngest racer in RAAM 2011, Steven Perzluha, celebrated his 20th birthday last week. The young racer, nephew of 2-time RAAM winner Danny Chew, stated prior to the start “My goal is to finish, hopefully in ten days as the top American finisher. I’m going to try to be conservative at the beginning and not blow up.” Yet it was he who led the early miles, being the first to time station #1, but was soon after passed by Christoph Strasser. The heat and pace evidently took it out of the youngster, who is now back in 19th.
But don’t count him out yet. Perzluha’s crew chief is his uncle Danny, who knows a thing or two about RAAM, having finished it eight times. And Perzluha has put in the miles it takes to be able to challenge this race. “My record for a 365 day period is over 34,000 miles,” he stated. Most of that was logged on trips he did with Chew, ““I put on a really good base with these cross-country trips. One was 140 days with 13,769 miles, from Florida and Alaska and back. “The next year we did a 61 day, 7,700 mile trip.”
He has shown that he has the speed too. “Two years in a row I did the Sebring 24 Hours,” he related, “The first year with 419.7 miles and the next year 462 miles.” And he has this to say to those who doubt that a 20 year old could have the toughness for RAAM, “With enough drive and passion to do it any person over 18 should be able to do this. I want to show the older guys that the younger guys can do this and be successful at road racing.” Yeah, road racing. He’s a USA Cycling Category 3 road racer. Not something most of his road competitors expect to find in a local criterium, “They may think it’s crazy. The other guys out there like having me there. I’m still learning—it’s my first year. I can pull the pack around most of the time and we’ll get in breakaways and I end up doing most of the work and then get outsprinted at the end. Doing RAAM I think it will make me come back stronger mentally.”