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2011 Race Across America: Strasser and Baloh both on record pace

On the third day of the 2011 Race Across America race leader Christoph Strasser and chaser Marko Baloh were both on record pace, with Strasser’s overall average speed being 18.31 mph and Baloh holding 17.29 mph.

Second-place RAAM solo Marko Bahlo reached the Continental Divide at the 10,857-foot summit of Wolf Creek Pass Friday just before sunset

Both were in eastern Colorado Saturday morning and were expected be at least halfway through Kansas by Saturday night.

In the 30 years of RAAM no one has ever kept this kind of speed this far into the race. With more than 1,000 miles behind them and 2,000 to go. their speed will certainly drop.

The speed record for a completed RAAM is 15.4 mph, set by Pete Penseyres in 1986.

Two-time RAAM winner Penseyres was on hand at the Oceanside start line earlier this week and spoke of his record-setting ride.

“Everything worked,” he said. “I tried a whole bunch of new stuff; the aero bars, liquid food, I had a disc wheel that year. Everything I tried worked. After that race I knew that I didn’t have to come back.”

That his record still stands is truly amazing considering how much bicycles have advanced since the mid-’80s — lighter and more aerodynamic frames, better shifting, more gears.

Third place is held by RAAM newcomer Alberto Blanco (USA). When spotted Friday just outside of Cortez, Colorado, nearly 800 miles into the race, Blanco said he hadn’t slept yet.

“I tried to get some sleep last night,” he said. “I was down for about 30 minutes but couldn’t get to sleep. I’ll try again tonight. I don’t think I’ll have trouble … at least I hope not.”

And fortunately he did. Saturday morning his crew chief, Robert Hernandez, reported that Blanco got two and a half hours of sleep in Alamosa. “And we’re up and running again and headed to La Veta,” Hernandez added.

So far all of the male solo riders in all of the age groups remain in the race, which is surprising considering the heat during the first two days through the deserts of California and Arizona. In most years a few have called it quits by now.

Women solo & age 60+ men

David Jones, leader of the age 60+ men seems to be enjoying his third RAAM.

While Leah Goldstein (Israel) continues to hold a fast pace, her bid to challenge the record of six-time winner Seana Hogan appears over. Goldstein’s current overall average is 11.97 mph, short of Hogan’s 13.22 mph record.

On Friday second-place rider Caroline van den Bulk, back for her second RAAM, reached the 679-mile marker in Kayenta, Arizona, and stopped there. When she still remained there several hours later RAAM watchers surmised that she was perhaps taking an extended sleep break — until a crew member called RAAM headquarters to report that she was pulling out due to illness.

“We’re having a good time now!” age 60-plus leader David Jones said Friday at sunset as he reached the bottom of the climb to 10,857 foot Wolf Creek Pass.

“I’m doing good. I’ve had some bad moments, but you get past them,” he said.

Asked how long he thought he’d ride into the night, he answered: “As long as I feel good. I’m definitely going to South Fork, or maybe to Alamosa.”

Meanwhile second-place 60-plus rider Dave Elsberry is about 80 miles back with Dex Tooke in third about 100 miles back.

Statistics (10:45 am EST)

Men solo under age 50

1. Christoph Strasser (Austria), 1129.60 miles ─ 2 days 17 hrs 3 minutes ─ avg speed 17.37 mph
2. Marko Baloh (Slovenia), 1064.6 miles ─ 2 days 13 hrs 34 minutes ─ avg speed 17.29 mph
3. Alberto Blanco (USA), 1006.30 miles ─ 2 days 12 hrs 47 minutes ─ avg speed 16.56 mph
4. Gerhard Gulewicz (Austria), 1006.30 miles ─ 2 days 14 hrs 46 minutes ─ avg speed 16.03 mph
5. Mark Pattinson (USA), 911.90 miles ─ 2 days 14 hrs 29 minutes ─ avg speed 14.59 mph

Women solo under age 50

1. Leah Goldstein (Israel), 1064.6 miles ─ 3 day 16 hrs 58 minutes ─ avg speed 11.97 mph

2. Caroline van den Bulk (Canada), 482.50 miles ─ 1 day 19 hrs 20 minutes ─ avg speed 11.13 mph

Women solo age 50+

1. Kathy Roche-Wallace (USA), 857.60 miles ─ 3 days 15 hrs 38 minutes ─ avg speed 9.79 mph

2. Janet Christiansen (USA), 342.60 miles ─ 1 day 1 hrs 56 minutes ─ avg speed 13.21 mph

3. Debbie Tirrito (USA), 286.60 miles ─ 1 day 19 hrs 15 minutes ─ avg speed 6.63 mph

Men solo age 60+

1. David Jones (USA), 959.70 miles ─ 3 days 12 hrs 37 minutes ─ avg speed 11.34 mph
2. Dave Elsberry (USA), 857.60 miles ─ 3 days 9 hrs 20 minutes ─ avg speed 10.54 mph
3. Dex Tooke (USA), 857.60 miles ─ 3 day 12 hrs 36 minutes ─ avg speed 10.45 mph

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