A first-time Race Across America cyclist set the third best average speed ever in winning the event on Thursday in 8 days, 6 hours and 29 minutes.
Swiss cyclist Reto Schoch scorched the 2,987-mile route from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland, at an average speed of 15.05 mph, a speed that includes the infrequent rest breaks.
The anticipated last-day battle for victory never materialized, as defending champion Christoph Strasser of Austria faded back after crossing the Appalachians.
Scoch becomes only the third rookie to win the event; others are Jonathan Boyer (US) in 1985 and Daniel Wyss (Switzerland) in 2006.
3rd ultracycling race
Officials at RAAM were especially amazed as Scoch’s performance because this was only his third ultracycling event, and the first to exceed 620 miles (1000km).
Although Scoch and Strasser were separated by more than an hour going into the final day, Strasser had received a 1-hour 15-minute time credit in Colorado when a Sheriff’s deputy ordered him and his crew off the course to seek shelter from a tornado. Add another 30 minutes for the time difference at the start, and Scoch had to arrive 1:45 ahead of Strasser to win the race.
Scoch flew through Cumberland, Hancock, and Mt. Airy on the final day, assuring his victory.
Other US cyclists
The top solo US cyclist in the field is Kurt Searvogel of Arkansas, who goes by the nickname Tarzan. He last pulled into Oxford, Ohio. Other Americans still on the course are Janet Christianson, Len Forkas (50-59 category) and David Elsberry (60-69).
Several teams already have finished as well.
Team Beau & Babe (2-person mixed, 60-69) finished in 8 days, 3 hours, 43 minutes at 15.29 mph; Team ViaSat (8-person) finished in 5 days, 5 hours, 5 minutes (23.88 mph), slightly ahead of Team 4Mil in 5 days, 8 hours, 49 minutes (23.19 mph).
You can check the standings at the RAAM leaderboard.
Top 3 averages:
1. Pete Penseyres, 1986 – 15.4
2. Daniel Wyss, 2009 – 15.28
3. Reto Scoch, 2012 – 15.05
See Reto Scoch’s website (in German)