RAAM: Riders Cross Finish Line

Borrego's Own Compete

 

Last updated 7/6/2024 at 9:30am

RAAM

Many will tell you, it's a "tough race," and it certainly is not over-exaggerated. Race Across America is dubbed as just that, and it is also one of the most respected and longest running endurance sports events.

RAAM finished not long after its 845-mile counterpart, Race Across the West (RAW), as riders endured multiple weather changes, leg and body cramps, bumpy roads and climbs.

Team Infinity, the two person crew of Borrego's very own Sylvia Maas and Tami Kerns competed in the women 50-59 age category, and finished the race in eight days, 21 hours and 12 minutes with a 14.37 mph average.

Maas and Kerns endured the climbs and weather, but for Maas, she had an additional battle against herself. Maas fell asleep riding, twice; with one time ending up in an embankment.

Maas wrote, "As I planned for this year's crossing with teammate Tami Kerns, I tried to anticipate problems ahead of the race to help decrease their impact. I have suffered from insomnia for decades and I had concerns about not sleeping during RAAM." During her last solo RAW, she was able to sleep and take breaks. But this time, she could not.


"The only time I could fall asleep was on the bike. The first time I fell asleep was just past Montezuma Creek, she said. Maas struggled to stay awake, resulting in her waking up at the bottom of an embankment.

"My crew had just watched me go down, barely missing slamming into a pole, and it freaked us all out. The next six days were an incredibly painful exercise in trying to stay awake on the bike."

On the bike, her crew did everything they could to keep her alert.

"I was just trying to stay awake and alive. My crew of Mike, Elisabeth and Tom, managed most of the dark hour crewing and they kept me awake and on the bike. A lot of double and triple shot espressos and encouraging words!!! Fortunately, Tami was flexible and was able to sleep when I couldn't, so we worked our exchanges around my insomnia. I found that I was better once the sun was up, so we arranged sleep breaks around daylight and we kept moving forward."


The last night of the race she said, she was in the midst of her struggle to keep my eyes open, and fell asleep riding again. Luckily, Kristi was driving the follow car and saw her veer to the right, directly into the concrete guard rail and honked. "I woke up and slammed on my brakes and am so lucky that although I ran into the guard rail I had stopped myself with only a bruised ankle. It could have been so much worse."

The duo managed to cross the finish line together and Maas emphasized the importance of having incredible partners, when riding team, and the crucial role crews play in a successful crossing.

"Tami could not have been more supportive and a better teammate. I feel so very fortunate to have had her in my corner. We would not have finished without her flexibility and positive attitude. The entire team stepped up and helped us to the finish, everyone with the goal to finish. And we did!!! And this is what RAAM is all about."

After pedaling 3,063 miles from Oceanside, Jimmy Ronn (Sweden) rode onto the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk this morning as the first-place Solo Male Under 50 rider and overall solo winner, as well, with a time of eight days, 18 hours and 11 minutes with an average speed of 14.58 mph. Met by his crew and his family, the tall 41-year-old winner of last year's Race Around Poland looked remarkably well considering how he'd spent the past week and day. His time is the fastest since 2019 when 6-time solo winner Christoph Strasser (Austria) posted 8 days, 6 hours, and 16 minutes (15.44 mph). Strasser hasn't raced RAAM since, but he's still the event's biggest fan, and like most fans, he was at home "dot-watching" Live Tracking. Strasser even sent a his congratulations to RAAM staff to relay to Ronn.

Ronn's fast finish is all the more impressive considering this was his first RAAM. "I'm a rookie. My team is all rookies. But we did our homework, read about it, and studied about it. So it felt like I thought it would. To ride your bike across a continent is really quite crazy. So it's hard."

Lukas Kaufman finished second in this year's race with a time of eight days, 23 hours and 12 minutes. Sharing to his fans and supporters, Kaufman said, "I have been at the finish line of the toughest and longest road bike race in the world, the Race Across America, for a week now. I probably still can't fully understand everything that has happened in the last few days."

"The race itself went brilliantly and almost better than I had hoped – my entire media/support team was WORLD CLASS. My performance on the time trial bike was much better than in previous years, but I still have a lot to improve in this area. I was overjoyed when I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes as the second and best Austrian. THANKS to my parents – THANKS to Kathi and Paul - THANKS to my RAAM team – THANKS to my great sponsors – without you none of this would have been possible!"

Third-place solo finisher, 29-year-old Dominik Meierhofer (Austria) arrived on the RAAM starting line with proven speed, having done very well in European ultra-cycling events. He showed that speed throughout RAAM 2024, especially in the flatter sections where he often had the fastest overall speed average. "It was a tough race," he laughed on the finish line state in Atlantic City.

"The most where I was struggling was the heat. The first day in Borrego Springs after 6 hours I was on the sand at the roadside and everything came out (laugh), and I felt, 'Oh, this will be a long race!' But my team said, 'C'mon, it is only a race. It is a long race, anything can happen. The nights were very good when it got cooler. The problem was, when it was hot, I drank a lot of cold water, so my throat was not the best anymore. So the next days, I was maybe a little off of the race pace, but we were always pushing and fighting."

David Haase (USA) came into this year's RAAM as the statistical favorite, having the fastest previous RAAM finish of this year's riders with a personal best of 8 days 20 hours, and 6 minutes, a time that would have won RAAM in most years. Haase came in first for the solo male 50-59 category and fourth overall solo.

For the majority of RAAM 2024, Haase was in a position to break the age 50-59 average speed record held by Marko Baloh (Slovenia). On the finish line stage, Haase acknowledged Baloh. "We started our RAAM racing in about the same time frame. And neither of us have won (overall)," Haase said. "But I would say we've had some pretty good finishes."

A few times in previous RAAM finishes, Haase has claimed, "This is my last one." One year on the finish stage, he even announced that all of his bikes, and his custom-outfitted Sprinter van were for sale. Yet he returned just a couple of year later. "I won't say that this year," Haase laughed on the stage – perhaps eyeing the possibility of the age 60-69 record he'll be eligible for in 2027. "But this was a harder race all the way through. I had a really good crew to start with."

Allan Jefferson came in right behind Haase for second solo male 50-59 category with 10 days, three hours, 35 minutes and an average speed of 12.58 mph.

Both competitors in the RAAM solo female 18-49 category did not finish.

The Swiss ultra-cyclist Nicole Reist was actually supposed to have reached the finish line. However, only about 70 km from the finish, it happened: Nicole Reist fell and lay unconscious for a short time. Shortly afterward, she was responsive again but was taken to hospital for further examinations and did not finish the race.

It was clear earlier that the targeted women's speed record from 1995 would not be achieved. Cycling almost 5,000 kilometers at an average speed of over 21.3 km/h, i.e. in a maximum of 9 days and 15 hours – that was the declared and boldly announced goal of Reist for her very last individual project after her career had already ended. It was clear that everything – really everything – had to fit together perfectly in order to break the 29-year-old women's speed record of the American Seana Hogan from 1995, set on a much shorter route at the time.

It is the first time in 14 years that she has not finished a race. But it was clear much earlier that she would not be able to break the women's speed record. "I was less able to cope with the lack of sleep than in previous races."

High temperatures, not only in the desert but also over large parts of the rest of the route, an above-average number of construction sites with waiting times of up to 20 minutes, and once again a lot of crosswind and headwind – the external influences of the RAAM were not her side this time either.

"We briefly discussed as a team whether we should stop or just make it a coffee trip as a final trip for Nicole," reveals team leader Christine Wylenmann. "But Nicole is definitely too much of a sportswoman for that, even after her retirement. Giving up was never an option for her – even if, in retrospect, it might have been better."

13-year-old Kiki Punke becomes the youngest female to finish Race Across America. The Punke's, a family of 5, set off on a 9-day adventure to complete "the world's toughest bicycle race". They put together an 8-person relay team and arrived at the finish line in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Monday morning.

SUB6 (USA) finished first in the two-person male 18-49 category, followed by Domestici.cz.

For more results, visit: https://www.raceacrossamerica.org/raamweb/raam_menu/

Racers will be back in Borrego Springs in November for the annual 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships. The six hour racers will start on November 3, while the 12 – 24 hour is November 1 and 2.

For more information, visit http://www.24hrworlds.com/about.

 
 
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