Borregans Cheer Race Across America Cyclists
Last updated 7/14/2019 at 10pm
Colan Arnold, Race Across the West (RAW) soloist in the Over-50 category, is fortunate to be alive.
On the afternoon of June 11, about four hours after the start of the race in Oceanside, Arnold was heading down the 12-mile descent of Montezuma Grade, otherwise known to cyclists as "the glass elevator," and punctured a tire.
"Front tire shredded, concussion, scrapes and broken ribs," he later reported on Facebook.
Arnold is recovering now (kudos to his helmet-maker), but the incident reveals the dangers inherent in cycling across terrain under conditions that include heat (111-F in Borrego on race day), bad weather (tornadoes in midwest), long treks during both day and night across vast prairies, and of course steep mountain grades, all with traffic considerations. It's not called the toughest bicycle race in the world for nothing.
On Saturday June 15, Austrian 4-person Male Under-50 Team Alpha – Tischlerei Groemmer came zipping through TS-01 Borrego Springs at 7:23 p.m. Sounds of cheering support crews and locals could be heard even with windows closed along Palm Canyon and at Christmas Circle. Locals came out on both the 11th and 15th to cheer the racers on as they passed through Borrego Springs.
Austrian Christoph Strasser owned Race Across America (RAAM) 2019 for the seventh consecutive year (eight years total, 2011, 2013 – 2019) finishing first with the fastest solo male time of eight days six hours 16 minutes, finishing the 3,069-mile race 37 hours, ahead of second place solo male, Denmark's Jakob Olsen.
Strasser's 2014 world record of seven days 15 hours 56 minutes still stands, as well.
Another way to measure Strasser's victory is by the number of states between himself and second place. At the end of his grueling race, Strasser was three states ahead of Olsen. He led all male soloists from the starting blocks in Oceanside back on June 11, his moving average speed during the race 19 mph. That's faster than a golf cart at full throttle. He stopped and rested a total of 10 hours during the entire race. Yes, the man is a machine.
Many of the RAW/RAAM cyclists ride to promote and for the benefit of charity organizations, and in 2019 will raise a combined total of more than $2 million for causes of each team or soloist's choice.
The first RAW 2-person team to enter Borrego on race day was another American team, EY Legacy Builders, with rider Paul Webb (see photo) showing his good spirits after taking on the treacherous Montezuma Grade downhill leg of the race where Colan Arnold crashed.
"I always get the downhill sections," he said unscathed and with a big grin. An appreciative crowd of onlookers cheered, applauded, and encouraged Webb and other riders as they approached Christmas Circle.
Congratulations to all the participants – racers and crew – and even to those who started but did not finish, because in this, the toughest cycling race on Earth, just being a part of it reveals genuine character.
And thank you to the Borregans that came out to greet the support crews during their stopover at TS-01 Borrego Springs and to cheer the racers on as they passed through. Media coverage was global.
To look up RAAM/RAW 2019 information and learn more about RAAM/RAW 2020, visit http://www.RaceAcrossAmerica.com. For more information on RAAM qualifier 6-12-24 Hour WTTC coming to Borrego Springs Nov. 1 – 2, 2019 visit http://www.24hrWorlds.com.
Full story in the June 27 issue of the Borrego Sun.