Who thought following RAAM would be like watching paint dry? This is one exciting race and there are many ways to keep track of the action! The intrepid RAAM media crew is posting frequent updates to the blogs hosted on the RAAM web site. These updates include short video clips as well as blog posts and photos. In addition, endurance cycling fans with shorter attention spans can follow the frequent tweets from the official "RAAMrace" Twitter feed. Individual riders and teams are also posting updates on their personal web sites and blogs and sending out email blasts through Google groups set up for the occasion.
Just after the halfway point in the race, four-time RAAM winner Jure Robic continues to ride strong and maintains a healthy lead over second place rider and 2006 RAAM winner Dani Wyss. It is not a very big lead, though and with Wyss is riding stronger than predicted, he continues to give Robic a run for his money. An upset victory for Wyss is not out of the question. Austrian Gerhard Gulewics, who crashed out last year, is riding very well in third position. Slovenian Marko Baloh is currently in fourth. Rookie Christoph Strasser from Austria, who was riding in the top group for most of the first 1000 miles, took a DNF at mile 1471 for medical reasons. These amazing riders have maintained a high level of competition in the front of the pack.
There has also been serious movement in the "back" of the field. With nine male racers having DNFed, solo rookie Kevin Kaiser has been climbing his way up from last position (where he was breifly due to several DNFs) to 6th. His pace has increased and he seams to be getting stronger with each mile. Kevin is currently the top US rider and it is not out of the question for him to finish in the top 5. Kevin rode RAAM 2008 on the two-person team Gran Fondo Fixie team with Jeff Bauer who is now a member of Kaiser's crew. You can learn more about Kevin (and make donations to his RAAM fund) at http://www.kaisercycling.com/.
The other amazing story of RAAM 2009 is the Great Grand PAC Masters, a four person team with an average age of 75! Riders Lew Meyer, Lee Mitchell, Robert Kash and Chris Stauffer have maintained an unbelieveable average speed of 15.6 up to mile 2105. UMCA Director John Hughes is serving as Crew Chief.
I rode with Lew Meyer on my first 400K in 2007. He is an wonderful guy and an amazing cyclist. Over the course of the day, he shared a wealth of information about training and equipment and I listened in awe to his stories of PBP and the Fireweed 400. More memorable, though, is what a strong cyclist Lew is. I remember fading a bit, having never ridden a 400K before, and having Lew lean over to say, "just get behind me and I'll pull for a while." I mean this guy was 73 years old and he was pulling me all over creation. Respect!
So there is no excuse. With plenty of ways to follow the action, dial in an update today and see what these superhuman cyclists are up to. The first finishers will pull into Annapolis some time on Thursday.