Race Across America cyclist has local connection

Brandon Case
Pratt Tribune
Denmark native Martin Landsmann's five-person support crew for the 2021 RAAM event came from across the U.S. and included, from left, John Henry Maurice, Keizer, Oregon; Heidi Walker, Amarillo, Texas; Kenny Beal, Crew Chief, Ventura, California; Dave Bowlin, Surprise Arizona; Martin Landsmann, Denmark (and Massachusetts); and Charles Ollinger, Carrboro, North Carolina.

As Race Across America cyclists and support crews traveled across Kansas recently, one team with a bit of a local connection called it quits in Pratt when their cyclist Martin Landsmann from Denmark experienced a painful medical condition. 

The local connection involved Heidi Walker of Amarillo, Texas, who attended college with Pratt Tribune blogger Brandon Case at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Her involvement with Landsmann began when she met his crew chief, Ken Beal, while on vacation at Monument Lake, Colorado. He called her a few weeks ago and offered her a spot on the team. 

Her "inside" information reveled that sometimes these RAAM events bring much more real drama than the average person might think. She said that one stretch of this current race was especially emotionally draining: going through the Arizona desert, where temperatures reached 125 degrees. 

“It was a hard, hard time,” she said. “I cried several times, as we were trying to get enough electrolytes to Martin.” 

Walker said Landsmann's situation was life and death at that point. She said that several racers dropped out of the event in the Arizona desert. 

Crew chief Beal said that team members were handing Landsmann a bottle of electrolytes every three minutes as he cycled through that heat. 

Beal said that Landsmann has been consuming a completely liquid diet for the duration of the race, adding that the cyclist burns approximately 6,000 calories per day. His fuel includes nutrition/protein drinks from Kate Farms, as well as electrolytes, energy drinks and even soft drinks. 

The five members on Landsmann’s team rode in one of two support vehicles: a direct follow vehicle, which many in town will recognize, as racers come through, closely trailed by a vehicle with flashing lights. The following vehicle holds two of the racer’s three bicycles, as well as nutrition, parts and tools, and other items needed to support 

For Landsmann, and most of the RAAM riders, there is also a support van that contains supplies needed by the crew, primarily, such as clothing, food and beds. 

Beal served as the single crew member for Landsmann in the Natchez Trace Parkway race last October. Landsmann completed the entire 444 miles of the Parkway in 24 hours and 25 minutes, which qualified him to race in the RAAM this past week. 

"The biggest challenge of supporting Landsmann, or any distance rider, is being in the right place at the right time,” Beal said. 

He described Landsmann’s schedule while in Pratt like this: he showered and received a 20-minute massage from crew member and massage therapist, Dave Bowlin. After that, Landsmann sleep for about four hours and then resume the race. 

Unfortunately, Landsmann was not able to continue his ride after pedaling 1,542.4 miles in seven days. On Tuesday, June 22, the 51-year-old rider called it quits due to ongoing issues with saddle sores. 

Though Landsmann's team was disappointed for the early exit from the 2021 race, Walker said her experiences were life changing. 

“It’s been a grand adventure to do something with people I never met before, doing things I’ve never done and going places I’ve never been,” she said.