First riders through Pratt on Saturday
Their legs churn as they face each mountain and hill. These men and women have one goal in mind: ride his or her bicycle from Oceanside, Calif,. to Annapolis, Md., a distance of 3050 miles.
Race Across America is an ultimate challenge for extreme bicyclists. The grueling ride takes riders over mountains, across prairies and desert in all kinds of weather and temperatures as they ride day and night.
Riders have to fight through fatigue, sickness, injuries and overcome mental walls along the way.
Pratt is Time Station 26 on the route and has been a time station for several years. Support crewmembers record the time their rider passes the station at Walmart.
Lead riders who came through Pratt Saturday had to deal with persistent high winds that reached 45 miles per hour as they struggled to make headway across the state.
Solo riders push themselves to the limit. They will burn 9,000 calories a day and average about three hours of sleep out of every 24.
Leading the 50 and under solo as well as all other riders is Christoph Strasser of Austria who has an overwhelming lead of 448 miles and seven time stations over the second place solo rider. When Strasser came through Pratt he had only taken one hour of sleep in four days.
If he can keep his current pace of 17.28 mph, his predicted finish line arrival time is 11:14 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17 in Annapolis, Md. When Strasser hit time station 41 in Oxford, Ohio, he had traveled 2398 miles in five days, 18 hours and 48 minutes.
The second place 50 and under rider, Gerhard Gulewicz of Austria, is predicted to arrive at 2:56 a.m. on July 19, a full day and four hours later. He came through Pratt Saturday with loud support coming from the support vehicle sound system.
Swiss rider Hansi Nyfleler come to Pratt Saturday afternoon and got off the bike for a couple of hours of rest. Crewmember Pascal Houy of Amriswil, Switzerland, said
Nyfleler was doing well but was having a lot of trouble with the high wind. He was burning more calories and needed more fluids. He was also dealing with muscle fatigue from the wind.
But, overall, Nyfleler was holding a good position in the race and continues to lead the solo male 50-59 category. When he went through TS 33 in Jefferson, Mo., he had traveled 1,900 miles in 5 days, 15 hours and 3 minutes.
While he rested his crew took some time to relax too after checking the bicycle chain, tires, gears, replaced the armrest pads and washed the bicycle to prevent any kind of buildup that might slow Nyfleler down.
The race is divided into several age and team categories with solo riders, two person, four person and eight person teams.
It might seem that this would be an event for younger riders but don’t tell that to the Fuzzy’s Friends team that is riding in the four-person, 75 + age category. They came through Pratt Saturday and were on target to cross the Mississippi River Monday at a distance covered of 2050 miles in five days, 18 hours and 26 minutes.
Fuzzy’s Friends team members are Chris Stauffer (age 82), Lew Myer (age 80), Walt Chapman (age 70) and Ann Noone (age 52).
The team races in memory of Lee “Fuzzy” Mitchell who died in August 2013 and was an avid cyclist and competed in RAAM in 2009 in a four-man team all over 75 that finished the race in 8 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes.
The Race Across America web site is www.raceacrossamerica.org and covers everything about the event. To check when a specific rider or team will come through Pratt, click on RESULTS then click on Arrival Predictions – TS and select Pratt. It will show the approximate arrival time in Pratt. All times on the web site are Eastern Daylight Savings Time so if a particular rider is listed at going through Pratt at 18:00 hours (6 p.m.) just subtract an hour to get the actual time the rider is due. In this case it would be 5 p.m.
To check on all rider positions, click on RESULTS and LEADERBOARD.
Note: Greensburg, Kan. and Greensburg, Ind. are both time stations.