A procession of bicycle riders is making its way through Pratt as Race Across America holds its annual competition that challenges the best bicycle riders in the world to a 3,069.25-mile race from Oceanside, Calif. to just outside Annapolis, Md.
Riders in the event burn up to 10,000 calories a day, as they tackle a variety of terrain from the beach to the Rocky Mountains to the desert southwest, to the hot and humid plains of Kansas and on east to the Atlantic Ocean.
One rider, Ake Haraldsson of Kumgalv, Sweden, came through Pratt Monday morning as he reached the half waypoint in his race. He had traveled 1,543.21 miles in five days, 18 hours and 37 minutes. He still has 1,526 miles to go.
Pratt is one of time stations along the race. As each rider passes the time station, the crew sends the information to RAAM that keeps an extensive website detailing the location of every rider and team in the race. Pratt has been a race time station for many years.
Haraldsson said he was feeling good and was averaging just over 11 mph. The Rocky Mountains and the desert were some big challenges for him as was the heat and humidity in Kansas.
Each rider travels with a support SUV following behind to provide protection for the rider and supplies of food and water and repairs when needed.
A motorhome also goes along to provide a place to sleep although most riders only get two or three hours of sleep a day.
Haraldsson and his crew decided to take a rest break a couple of miles west of Pratt for some lunch around 9 a.m. A crewmember said breakfast was around 4 a.m.
As Haraldsson pulled back onto the shoulder of the highway, the rider from Team Brixen-Martin from Italy came past just a minute or so later. A member of Haraldsson’s crew waved the Swedish flag in a salute to the rider as he went past.
The leader in the race is Pierre Bischoff of Germany who went through the Washington, Mo., time station around noon Monday. He had covered the 2,027.23 miles in 5 days, 21 hours and 19 minutes at an average speed of 14.35 mph, according to the RAAM website.
Second behind Bischoff is Mark Pattinson of Great Britain. He reached the Jefferson City, Mo. time station Monday covering the 1,950.06 miles in 5 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes. Pattinson is about 77 miles behind Bischoff. Both are estimated to complete the race on Thursday, June 23 when they touch the Atlantic Ocean with their front wheels.
That means Bischoff will travel 3,069.25 miles in just 9 days, on a bicycle, with about two to three hours of sleep a day.
There are male and female single riders as well as two-person, four-person and 8 person-teams in the race. Age groups are under 50, 50 -59, 60-69, 70-74. The team riders travel much faster than the solo riders. Team DMS of the USA traveled 987.72 miles in 1 day, 23 hours, 26 minutes averaging 20 mph. They are estimated to finish the race on June 24, traveling the 3,065.25 miles in just over six days.
To track the RAAM racers, visit www.raceacrossamerica.org then select “race coverage” and “results.”