Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Continuing the topic of European sports, Christoph Strasser of Austria continued the northern European streak in the Race Across AMerica (cycling), reaching Annapolis at 8:23 this morning after 7 days, 15 hours and 56 minutes on the road.  His average pace (inclusive of the very few stops he made)?  16.42 mph.  That's right -- a very respectable pace for a club century, done back to back to back 30.2 times.


This makes Strasser 2014 the fastest ever for RAAM (beating his own record from last year) and the third fastest human to cross the country by bicycle.  First and second place go to Haldeman and Penseyres by tandem in 1987, though not as part of RAAM.  (Thanks to S_ for pointing this one out.)

Thought piece:

Winners of RAAM in recent years are from these countries:  Austria, Switzerland, and Slovenia.  The last finisher from a different country?  2003 (Allen Larsen, US).  The fifth country to produce a winner (once) is Lichtenstein.  Why?


  1. My suspicion is that takes a confluence of unusual factors to produce a RAAM champion. First, you have to be willing to ride your bike in a very serious way for years on end. In Eastern Europe, the folks who do that are often blue-collar kids; in the U.S., it's well-heeled executives with careers. Second, you need some galvanizing tragedy to push you forward like a maniac through realms of pain where no reasonable person would go. Jure Robic, the legend of RAAM, was a Slovenian military officer with a hard-scrabble background and a father who told him he'd never amount to anything. Many of the best Ironman guys have similar tragedies in their background. You need to combine guys with tough backgrounds, who learn to triumph by relying on nothing more than their doggedness, and you need to put them on bicycles as their means of proving themselves to the world through pain tolerance. That sounds to me like Eastern Europeans.

    1. That's probably right. Sometimes the same explanation is given for the cycles of ultra distance ridiculousness in the US, which frequently seems to follow economic depressions (1930s, 1970s-80s, 2000s). But on that theory, where are the Serbs, Croats, Ukrainians . . .