By Vic Armijo
June 14, 2013. Pagosa Springs, Colorado — Three thousand miles is an immense number in bicycle terms. And it takes more numbers to put in perspective what an undertaking it is to pedal from California to Maryland. The buzz prior to this 32nd edition was that the event was hosting three recent winners—Reto Schoch, Christoph Strasser and Dani Wysss—all of whom had done RAAM in times around the 8 days and 6 hours neighborhood, and that under the right conditions one of these legends could become the first to post a time of 7 days and change. In doing so that rider would also break the 27-year-old, overall average-speed record set by Pete Penseyres in 1986 at 15.4 mph. The next best was Dani Wyss in 2009 with an average of 15.28. Schoch's final overall average last year was 15.05 mph. Christoph Strasser,’s 2011 average of 14.94 mph ranks him as 4th fastest ever.
Strasser is currently on track to reach that magic 7-days-plus number with a current average of 18.13 mph. And while he’s currently five hours behind in second, Schoch could still do it too as his current average thus far is 16.52 mph. Wyss with a current average of 15.53 mph is out of the hunt for the record—all riders slow down in the latter miles of RAAM.
Here are some more interesting numbers comparing this year and last year. Early this morning, Strasser reached the Alamosa, Colorado, time station 5 hours and 35 minutes ahead of Schoch, a pace that is just short of five hours faster than he did in 2012. Schoch, on the other hand, reached Alamosa an hour and ten minutes slower than he did last year.
What does this all mean? The only thing for sure is that this is an exciting year. With just over a third of the race over anything can still happen. It’s often said that the race doesn’t really start until the Mississippi River, and that’s still about a thousand miles away. And let’s not forget the relentless hills of the Appalachians where Schoch used his climbing prowess to pull away from Strasser.