RAAM 1997

Day  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10


Photo gallery

Day 1

11 PM race time-going over Sheephole Pass - 181.82 miles into the race. Has been a long, hot day, some dehydration but in the cooler night air, riding strong. GO PETER! Awesome view as the sun sets over the mountains.

PS-11:20 PM scared the lights off burban (surburban van). Thought we left Chuck on top of Sheephole--he's crashed in the mothership (motorhome),

Start.From lt to rt: Seana Hogan, Beat Gfeller, Peter Pop, Danny Chew, Rob Kish, Muffy Ritz, Ed Kross,Italians, Team Dagger, Cathy Simco

Rider's perspective:

Waiting at the start I reflect how on earth I talked myself into doing RAAM again. Instead of taking my own advice, after finishing 1996 RAAM, to take a family vacation I started to train for RAAM again. Several of my 1996 crew showed interest in crewing for me. After investing all that money in a support van, bikes, clothes, etc. it seemed a shame not to do RAAM at least one more time. This time I am pretty relaxed with my heartrate monitor showing 70, I am amazed to hear Beat Gfeller's HR monitor beeping 121. Little did I know that Beat and I would be trading places all the way from Texas through Tennessee. During the first 50 miles most riders are close together despite the admonishments from the race officials. The traffic lights cause the riders to bundle up. One Italian rider is way ahead, but he is likely to burn up soon. Finally near the turnoff to Yucca Valley the field has spread. Meeting a headwind and starting the gradual climb to Yucca Valley , I experience the first in a series of meltdowns. Ice cubes and more ice cubes rubbed everywhere and lots more fluid get the Penguin going again. Who says Penguins wither in the desert, not this one! Unfortunately Michael Wilson riding very steadily has passed me. Overtaking him we chat briefly, encouraging each other, but I vow never to see him again. My 56/11 gear works well for me up to Sheephole mountain where I have to change to a larger rear cassette. During the climb of Sheephole I am in survival mode, enjoying the pleasure of redigesting the food consumed earlier. What a thrill! This reminds me of The Tour of North Texas, must be that Rose is crewing for me ( ever heard of a guy named Pavlov? Just kidding Rose, you were great! ). Close to Amboy the Penguin has to be revived again, but onwards Christian Soldiers, Savannah is waiting for us! The wonderful music of Parcival ( Wagner ) makes me enjoy the climb to Cima. This is a welcome change from last year's "rock" tapes, the crew disagrees: they consider listening to my tapes ride in purgatory. Do they know there are at least 9 more days to listen and enjoy? Wolfgang Fashing catches up : he experienced similar problems through the desert. I encourage him to go ahead , but he decides to shadow me instead, which he does, until I break a spoke in my front wheel while closing in on Muffy Ritz near Jean. After this I lose sight of Muffy, somehow I get the impression she is going to take a sleep break and I decide to do likewise, big mistake. I was only 5 minutes behind Muffy and moving much faster. I tried to sleep but could not because the nausea and regurgitation, after approx.1 hr of this hell I did something I haven't done ever before: I made myself throw up , filling the entire bowl with1 -2 gallons of fluids and electrolytes. This made all the difference, after resting for another 30 min. I got up and back on the bike , concentrating on the big three : Pedaling, Eating and Drinking (PED,PED, etc. ) as well as trying to keep it all down.

Day 2


Hills, mountains, highway traveling, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona. Heading into Page, AZ for a sleep break. The heat of the day has taken it's toll once again but Peter has been riding strong, The crew is doing great. Peter is getting sprayed down every few minutes to cool down. 617.64 so far.

Riders perspective :

Rolling out at 9:45 am RAAM time, I am enjoying my favorite part of RAAM : the high desert. Repeat after me : " I Love RAAM, I Love RAAM, I Love............etc". Pedal ,drink ,hand me another Hammergel will you, hey make that two Hammergels"." Yes Rose, I am drinking, but my stomach has to be able to empty it self". If my stomach gets too distended, it won't be able to contract and empty. This second day I concentrate on recovery, rehydration and getting myself ready for the Rockies. Pedialyte is the product of the day. We go through the Virgin River Gorge, I should come back here one day, by car mind you! During the night I really tire, but I want to push myself to get at least to Page. Finally, after what seems to be an eternity we reach Page and after a wicked short climb I roll towards the motor home, fagged out, but happy that I reached my goal for the night at 7:20 am.


Day 3

We finished up Day 2 with a 325 miles per day average. Gone from Page to Kayenta. Cool, windy day with some rain coming out of the higher elevation at 6687. Had a 2 hour sleep and food break. We are now deep in Indian Territory and riding strong. Behind us is Kross & Davies. Anthony herded sheep on a downhill. Roads are terrible. "Who chose these anyway?" Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods. Awesome. On the road again. Raining again toward Aneth. It never rains in the desert. Heading toward Cortez and familiar ground from RAAM 96, Kross is close behind and haven't seen Davies all day. Day 3 is now complete. Checked into Time Station 16 at Gateway Park in Durango. Total so far is 905.68. The night was cold and long. Peter is getting very tired and having to sleep. The crew is holding it's own but they are going to need some more sleep in order to keep up the pace. NoDoze here we come! What do you mean $2.75 to take a shower in the Washateria. RAAM crews filling the laundry through the day.

Rider's perspective:

Rolling out at 9:35 RAAM time. " I Love RAAM, I Love RAAM, I Love my Crew, I love these #!*?! damn potholes, Savannah here we come!" Ray, the educated historian gives a dissertation on the particulars of the " Mexican Hat". Everything falls in place, I am seeing this rock in a different light , an Epiphany ! Let's go back and really check it out. We are racing, let's get Beat for breakfast instead! I imagine Mexican Hat rock crumbling behind me ,like in the Griswold's National Lampoon's American /European Vacation. During this day we are trading positions with Tom Davies and Ed Kross. Ed appears pretty strong on the hills but is slower on the flats, which I do not quite understand because he looks very "aero" in his aerobars. Apparently he is having problems and eventually will DNF. Tom Davies gets hit by his crew vehicle and has to DNF, another great rider bites the dust. Rob Morlock, who has been riding very strong, has been admitted to the hospital and later DNFed. The Italian melted down earlier and had to withdrawn. By default we are now in 8th place. At time station 14 we are 6 hrs behind Fashing, 4 hrs behind Muffy. Apparently I take 2 sleep breaks : one in Aneth for 2 hrs, rolling out at 2:28 am and one at time station 15 for 21/2 hrs rolling out at 8:25 am. According to Reed I was struggling to get to Cortez.


Day 4

Many things going on. Some van problems but we are trying to get things worked out and keep Peter going. He has been eating and onto solid foods in addition to his liquid nutrition. Cyclist sure eat funny things on RAAM. How many Dairy Queens are there across the US? Strawberry Shakes, Jack in the Box fajites, french fries, pea soup."Would someone please stop in Pagosa Springs at the fruitstand. I just saw Texas Cantaloupe." The climb over Wolf Creek was awesome. Peter climbs well. The descent was very cold and raining most of the way down. We are on our way to LaVeta now. Finished up the day climbing Cucharas Pass. Elevation 9941. Deer came out to cheer him on but were no match for the mighty Penguin. Watch out for the bobcat crossing the road. This is the last of the Colorado climbs. Total mileage to date: 1187.01.

Rider's perspective:

Rolling out at 8:25 am. #$!& I need another "powernap" in the van for ten minutes. This is very distressing to me I feel very sleep deprived, this is 1996 RAAM all over again. I would suddenly slow down and unless I would get off the bike immediately and into the van I would basically fall asleep on the bike. At this time I get the feeling that the crew feels I am blowing off the race. On the contrary I am desperately trying to figure out what would get me to Savannah faster and even in retrospect these short naps, giving me 5 minutes of REM sleep, probably saved me from crashing or worse. By this time I am looking forward to climbing Wolf Creek Pass, I am still hoping to be able to climb Cuchara in daylight. It becomes obvious that is not to be. In the mean time the crew decided to fly my daughter Melissa back via Durango and Denver to LA. She became very anxious for my safety and could not reach my wife. Unfortunately I was left in the dark about this, the crew presuming that this would slow me down. I was very disappointed not to have Melissa in the van while climbing Wolf Creek Pass, the highlight, at least for me, in RAAM. Finally being told the truth somewhere towards La Veta, I was so angry as well as concerned about the welfare of Melissa that I had the mind to stop and abandon the race. Feeling unable to really trust anyone, I finally was able to talk to my wife and be assured she was safely back home. The climb of La Veta Pass was uneventful, though longer than I remembered. The descent however was gruesome with very cold fog and rain, soaking me and chilling me to the bone. We pass the mountain bike team and then trade places. I am freezing and have a hard time avoiding the slippery parts of the road. Because of the cold and rain I take my sleep break at La Veta at 3:20 am.

Day 5

Colorado, New Mexico, Texas. Thunder, lightening, flooding, wind, dust. We have had it all. Down NM 325 with a tailwind, inspired by the times of the other riders, lightening flashing, hail pounding, and the wind blowing 40 MPH. Cars pulled over not able to see from the sheets of rain and time for a power nap. On the road again for a couple of miles and once again the storm blowing strong. Unable to ride, unable to see anything as the 18 wheelers are rolling to a stop. Slowly the squall line is passing off to the east and we are now riding to Des Moines with a strong headwind. Across the border into my home state of Texas once again the rain is coming down in sheets. Peter is still riding, adding rain gear and layers of clothing as the air chills down. 70 degrees in July in the Panhandle with a cold rain and once again some hail. Another E-Surge down, more hammerjells consumed than most riders take in a year. Chocolate coffeebeans, cheeseburgers, french-fries, Dairy Queen here we come-onward toward Amarillo. Rider is fading. Crew following closely protecting our rider in the night air with the trucks rolling by. Jumping jacks, monkeys on the road, leaping frogs all over the place. Stimulation and more stimulation encouraging him onward. A brief one hour sleepbreak in Amarillo and we are off again to tackle the Palo Duro Canyon.We are in 6th place now. Kross and Davies are still behind. Cows mooing, horses stampeding. frogs jumping, dodging Texas size grasshoppers. How many calories was that bug anyway? 50? OK, put it in the food log! Peter, meet Bessie, Bessie this is Peter, Hi Harold, meet Peter Pop from Malibu, CA. First Penguin cow meeting sighting this year. Go Peter Go!

Rider's perspective:

Rolling out at 6:30am ready to attack Cuchara Pass. This attack however gets bogged down by squalls , which make me waste time by requiring several changes of clothes. As well as by at least one flat tire. Btw. this RAAM seems to be jinxed by flat tires, sew-up's and clinchers alike. I end up making the long descent from Cuchara in full raingear with the sun bright and shining to the benefit of Dave Nelson the RAAM photographer. His presence and interest dictate that we are still in the race. The long rollers in Eastern Colorado prove again to be just as boring as last year. The excitement of the day is entering the dreaded panhandle of Texas. Several squalls and severe headwinds are meeting us on the way. "Having fun yet, Peter? Remember this is not wind, just a gentle breeze". "Sure, Rose, it feels like tailwind to me". A few squalls with very strong wind gusts allow me a few powernaps in the van. My main concern is that the leaders were not the beneficiaries of the same storm system. During the night, on the way to Amarillo, nature plays havoc on the Penguin in earnest: pouring rain with wind gusts, lightning and 18 wheelers kicking up gigantic sprays to impede its progress. Fortunately during this misery Cindy and Michael Roark and Cindy Staiger pass by, shouting encouragement's. Thank God, I am not the only one out there. There is some (welcome) thought, that the leaders are caught up in severe flooding in Amarillo, which really lifts my spirit and I start to pedal stronger. (The leaders apparently missed most of this downpour). Toads everywhere! Mr. Hornyman is trying to keep count of all the toads I squash .I truly try to avoid these jumping critters but they play kamikaze with my spokes. Apparently Team Mountainbike's deathtoll was 47. Sleepbreak in Amarillo South at 7:50.

Day 6

A new day and we are continuing on to the Canyon. Water everywhere. The fields are flooded looking like lakes. Peter remarks he does not remember them from TNT. They were NEVER there before. Rain in Amarillo in the summer? Down into the Canyon and he climbs out in his 21. What a man! I don't remember this climb being this hard from TNT. How could he, he is riding it in reverse. The mind of a cyclist in Day 6 of RAAM. The excitement of the race is strong. The crew is cheering Peter on. Sleep is a premium. One hour 10 minutes for this writer in the last 29 hours. Oklahoma here we come. Patching up the motor home A rock flew through the window and shattered the glass in the overhead compartment. Duct tape and Plexiglas. The RAAM OUCH! "Duct tape, it's a RAAM thing" as we go down the road to Savannah. This is going to be an expensive trip.

Yesterday, cows, frogs, grasshoppers and bugs. Today, cows, frogs, grasshoppers, bugs and SNAKES. Isn't Texas wonderful. Oh yeah, THE WIND. No Peter, this is not wind. It's just a friendly breeze. Dancing on the highway going into Oklahoma, funny wigs, red tights, silly noses, sparklers, on into the night. Adrenaline rush until finally a short rest. Up again Jaime, Marie and Rose-into the support van you go. Across the Wichita Mountain Refugee Range, buffalo crossing in the path of the riders, support van rounding up the animals allowing the rider to go through. Watch out, Cindy has a supersoaker, Jaime retaliates-WAR IS ON between the officials and the crew.

Rider's perspective:

Rolling out at 9:20. We have been trying to keep track of the number of feet climbed with an Avocet 50, unfortunately it malfunctions after last nights downpour. Just another RAAM thing, I guess. Time for the backup. The Panhandle is boring as ever, I swear that some of those cows have not moved since the 1996 TNT. I am looking very much forward to Palo Duro Canyon. I think I will be just fine with my 39/23. Big mistake! After nearly ruining my knees I switch over to the Spectrum with a triple/12-25 and really enjoy the final climb out of the Canyon. On top I meet the largest grasshoppers I have ever seen .They are everywhere, they scratch my face, fly against my severely chapped lips, hit my crotch etc. "Hey,this is fun. I love RAAM, I love it, I love it............." Reed Finfrock offers me another Hammergel, just before taking it I notice it is really Grasshopper Sushi. " No thank you ,got enough protein in my shakes and ice-cream bars". All good things come to an end and finally we come to my second favorite state Oklahoma. The crew is cheering me on in various costumes and drag, helping to keep me awake. At 11:00pm I have to sleep for 10 min. At 12:05 am I have another short sleep break in the motor home. I get really sleepy approaching Wichita Mountain Refuge, but really wake up seeing and avoiding all the Buffalo. Absolutely superb scenery (in retrospect ). My crew is fantastic, inventing ways to keep me awake. At first I did not have a clue when they were talking about Buffalo. What really helps is the two way communication Chuck Schroyer provided. Chuck seems to be able to repair and rig anything, on short notice, a real asset to the Penguin Crew.

Day 7

Hills, Hills and more hills. Roller after roller in Oklahoma. Pick up the speed. More E-Surge, Hammergel and popsicles. Passed Beat while he was sleeping and have now swapped positions once again. The war rages on with the official (Cindi). Major attack at the Love's in Tecumseh. Peter is riding into the night trying to gain some time in the cool night air. He has checked into Time Station #34 20 minutes behind Beat. Roadkill stew tonight, possums, rabbits, snakes, turtle-what a fine meal this will make.

Not an eventful day. On our way to Ft. Smith, AR and will finally be out of Oklahoma. We are now on the RAAM 95 and 96 route into Tennessee and familiar territory for Peter from RAAM 96. Hopefully the winds and weather will be favorable and we can boogie on and pick up some miles. The RAAM headquarters has not been giving out good information but hopefully we have now gotten that straightened out. The stats do not seem to be correct and we are not getting the splits for all the riders. Anyone doing this kind of event knows the rider is always wanting the information in order to gauge his progress. Stigler, OK was a stopping point for Peter for a couple hours rest and a shower. The crew was able to finally get their 3rd shower of the trip and Rose and Ray got the 8 loads of laundry done. We can now walk through the motor home without tripping on bags of laundry. The support van got sanitized and restocked for the day's ride. Off to catch up with the Penguin as mothership goes cruising down the highway.

Rider's perspective:

Roller's and yet more roller's. Fortunately there is Beat Gfeller with whom I am trading places throughout the day. When I get near him he speeds up. He seems to be hurting though with back problems. I overtake him some miles before Stigler, but he can not let me go and he passes me while I am slowing down for my sleep break in Stigler at Don's Motel at 2:59am.In order to get quality rest, we decide to use hotels from now on.

Day 8

Another day, very defeated trying to calculate arrival times in Savannah. Feet hurting but what can be expected after this much time on the bike. Things could be far worse than sore feet. As usual there is always something else that happens and one's problems are overshadowed by another one. We have been tripping along into Arkansas-the mosquito capital of the world. This so far has had the most cities we have gone through since California. We are following the previous RAAM 95 and 96 route now. Green grass everywhere. Plenty of rain has fallen here. We are trying to convince Peter that he will make to Savannah in time. He is discouraged that he has not been able to complete the course to what he had previously intended.

We have been pulling very long shifts in Penguin. Doesn't take long for it to get trashed with this many people occupying it and powdered surge and MLO floating in the air. Hopefully Peter can get his mind set and continue. Reed has gotten Peter hooked on Mad Al Yankovic and we have listened to Eat It on his food tape for hours. The Flamingo turned from pink to green as he downed 4 salt tablets thinking they were NODOZE. It is no wonder he can't sleep. It is night and Peter has stepped up his pace considerably


Rider's perspective:

We are leaving Stigler after an approx.3.5 hour sleep break at 6:20am. I feel pretty good and have my mind set on catching Beat. Does this guy ever sleep? My recollection of this part of RAAM is rather sketchy. Chasing Beat keeps me busy. I develop a healthy respect for his stamina. Despite his back problems and my crews confidence that this time we put him away for good, he keeps coming back, awesome! Penguins motley crew is finally totally fed up with the "rock" tapes ( btw we were never able to find all of them ) and Reed gets me started on the food album of Weird AL Yankovic. Rocking to the tunes of " I am addicted to spuds" and "I love rocky road (ice cream)", we gobble up the miles to Savannah. Fort Smith, AR, presents us with the worst smog and traffic. The roadkill is getting more varied. Besides the flattened Armadillo, one encounters possum in various colors, dogs, cats, cattle and the occasional deer. One does not have to go hungry in this state, just get up early enough to get the kill fresh from the road. Armadillo's must breed at a prodigious rate to keep up with the nightly slaughter. In my braindead musings I wonder how these Armadillo's get so flat and with their scales rather nicely preserved. I am now developing the "feeling" that something is holding me back. During the rest of RAAM I have the feeling that I am pulling a little cart. No matter how hard I try, I never seem to be able to go much faster than 18 miles /hr. At 2:44am I try to sleep for 30min. but because of the abundance of giant bloodsucking mosquito's I am unable to do so. Poor crew is even more miserable. Where the h... is the bugspray? Totally miserable I decide I am just wasting time and get back on the bike. I welcome any climb, any opportunity to get out of the saddle , helping me to stay awake. Were it not for my apparent inability to take efficient sleep breaks I might actually enjoy racing RAAM. In Memphis we again pass Beat, I take a quick nap in the van while crossing the Mississippi River. Somehow I slow down again and Beat passes me. I get really "pissed off" at my inability to stay awake and decide to get on my Spectrum to chase down Beat. I do this for awhile and then the rollers flatten out and I go back to the Ti-Guy Softride and into the aero bars. We have to get to a hotel and fast, the closest is Jackson a "mere" 23 miles away (groan!). The Penguin is now digging so deep that he is scratching bottom and decides to get back on the Spectrum again. We literally sprint the next 20 or so miles, pretty much delirious the whole way, having ice cubes on my head and neck helping me to stay awake. We catch up to Beat and then make a left turn into the hotel in the late afternoon.

Day 9

Days seem to roll into each other now. It is hard to tell how long we have been on the road. Too many Dairy Queens and Taco Bells across the country. We have decided that Peter can no longer have milk products. They are putting him to sleep. We have been riding in Arkansas and Tennessee today. Beat pulled into the time station just before the Mississippi River before Peter. As Peter pulled in we quickly loaded his bike in the van and took off across the river. Beat followed and beat Peter out of town. He is wearing himself down by sprinting and passing Peter throughout the day. We have a close bead on him and have been closing the gap. The hills of Tennessee are beautiful. Every part of this country has its' own unique flavor. Small town, USA. Dogs, cattle, sheep, people. Every kind and race waving and smiling as we pass. Very few were rude and we continued to block traffic with the pace vehicle and RV motoring down the road hopscotching the rider. Today should be a good day. The sun is shining with no rain in sight. The leader, Wolfgang is working his way to Savannah with little competition now. Muffy is falling behind Seana more and more each hour. The course is very hard with a lot of climbing in it. The best climber will win the race. I don't think Seana has a chance of winning the overall but will win the women's division. We are now running two 3 man crews and pulling 12 hour shifts. It is working well but everyone is starting to get very tired.

Peter went down for a 3 hour sleep break He was really having a difficult time keeping awake. Sleep depravation has really set in. The crew was able to get showered and cleaned up before Peter took off into the night. Fog throughout Tennessee made the night riding very eerie. Dogs coming from all directions but the night crew consisting of Marie, Jamie and Rose pulled out their trusty guns and soaked them varmints down. Roadkill stew again tonight. Possum, rabbit, bats and a skunk thrown in for good measure. We are well into Tennessee now and are now closing in further on Beat. We have passed the Japanese and Peter and Beat on racing up the mountain with Beat winning by seconds. Peter is faster on this bike again on the descent and has once again pulled away. He is getting closer and closer to Muffy and the race is on to the finish. Excitement roared today. He is still getting sleepy but the trusty brew concocted by Rose has him riding strong and counting off the miles to Savannah.

Rider's perspective:

Leaving Jackson before dark, we are on the road again. My feet start to hurt and also start to go numb. This really started pushing into the headwind and rain in Texas and Oklahoma. I just dream about putting my feet in ice and having them massaged, but realize that solves nothing and would just be a waste of time: onward to Savannah! We stop only for calls of nature and Shamoisbutt'r ( at one time a crewmember was wondering who was going to volunteer to apply the Chamoisbutt'r, I could put her concerns to rest: the Penguin does it himself ). One of these days I should start urinating from the bike, everyone else apparently does( according to the female competition this is the male's one major advantage ). Maybe in the next Furnace Creek. Riding the steep Tennessee rollers is quite eerie during the night and in the heavy fog. We pass Kaname, who is riding well despite the "Shermerneck" which requires a neckbrace.

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Looking at him I also start to experience a mild form of neck cramps. Bill Peshka saves the night by adjusting my helmet so I can relax my neck. I decide not to look at Kaname, again to avoid talking myself into a neckproblem. Passing Beat again we are now in 6th place. Beat and I arrive at the base of the climb to Monteagle about the same time and we both stop to switch to our climbing bikes. I now know Beat will do whatever he can to drop me on this climb. I push it hard enough so that he will be pretty much spent when he reaches the top. When I crest, Beat is off  the bike and is being iced by his crew, I never see him again during the rest of the race. All through RAAM we have been rolling through numerous small " All American" towns, complete with town square, bandstand , church and townhall. Anthony, aka. Mr. Hornyman has a great time announcing my participation in RAAM through the PA system, trying to solicit the occasional cheer. Apart from some gasps here and there, there was a complete lack of interest. One wonders what these people do get excited about, I guess the yearly parade and hogfestival. I am determined to get beyond Chattanooga and all its traffic and we climb to Fort Ogglethorpe for a sleep break at 2:45pm. Unfortunately there are a lot of kids in that part of the hotel keeping me somewhat awake.

Day 10

Already into Day 10 and Peter has completed all but the last 375 miles so far. The rolling hills and mountains of Tennessee have the knees aching. Peter is getting closer to the finish with each pedal stroke. Down for a quick powernap and up again. Eating, chewing and swallowing is all the rider knows at this time. Time stations are getting closer together and more people are passing with the teams. The first riders should get there sometime today. Peter has ridden well today and we will take another break in Georgia. Showers once again for the crew before we move on. Reed was sick today and Rose covered his shift. Sixteen hours in the van. Time for a break before the last push forward to Savannah. The A Team is out now and we are cruising down the road to pull some surprises on Peter. Last night Horny Man appeared out of the fog trying to spray Peter off the bike. His quick reactions saved a shower. More dog attacks, cattle, horses, cornfields and small towns on the way. Some trick turns into Georgia but we are now here ready for the last pull home. Our position is good. We saw Steve Born today which means Muffy is close by. Excitement is raising everyone's spirits and we are off to the finish line again. Peter is now hooked on ZZ Top tapes and Weird Al. His house will never be the same. Gone for good are the classicals and he will be singing rock songs in his sleep. What will Linda think of him now. Oreo cookies and fajitas in his dreams. The final push is on. Our crews have split into 12 hr shifts. Reed has picked up a bug and stays in the motor home so as not to infect Peter. Rose has volunteered and goes back into the van for the final trip to Savannah. The trio( Chuck, Jim and Ray ) have been keeping the Burban hopping down the road to check on the progress of the other riders. Kaname is now history, We have passed him for the final time, his neck in a brace and supported with straps from the back of his helmet. He does not look good but we encourage him, knowing he will make it in. We will make it. Just keep Peter awake and on the bike. Beautiful scenery. Our final Milky Way overhead. Bowinkle has appeared to save the day with his trusty guns, sparklers in the night lighting up the road. We have gone 340 miles since the last sleep break with so few to go and a very sleepy rider. We know Muffy is just an hour ahead. Our scoutvan has marked the road with the time she has passed this point yet we know her crew is doing the same. Muffy will do her best not to let a man beat a skirt. where is the motor home? Short break on the side of the road and back on the bike. Rain again. Stop and get the gear on only to have it stop one more time. This writer has now been in the pacevan for over 16 hrs and needs some relief. Fatigue has finally set in. Reed jumps in to feed and offer some new voices to the speaker. Peter is tired hearing from us. Put on Wagner. We call in the time and Peter is on his way to Pooler. He makes this 20 miles in a remarkable time. Reed and crew have done an outstanding job revitalizing his spirits. Waiting for Cindi at Pooler we decide to push on before Peter gets too cold. A rain storm had been through prior to our getting to Pooler and there is water everywhere. Here is Cindi and she takes over and we are off to the finish line to watch Peter come in. Cobble stone steps and down to the arch. Hold the ribbon here he comes. A beautiful finish, a happy rider and a tired crew. We made it. Congratulations , Peter. We are proud of you. We did some things we are not proud of but we got you there. We are satisfied we did what we had to do in order to get you there. We learned a lot, we made a good team. By the last day you finally believed we girls could get a bike and wheel down without the help of a guy. NODOZE anyone? By the way that mint flavored stuff you thought was Benadryl for your mouth was really mint flavored NODOZE and your bottle was not rancid. Hey, Rose, pull out the store brand. Will he suspect? Nope, he took it OK. How well can you crush a tablet and get it into his surge every 4 hours? Sorry Peter. But somehow you did suspect the next morning what we did. FYI, I had checked with Linda as to what they had to do last year and she said NODOZE toward the end. We only used it the last day.

Rider's perspective:

I intended just to sleep, however this break took much longer than intended to include a shower and some discussion about my diet during the rest of RAAM. My crew wants to decide what to feed me , I disagree: because of my mouth sores and severely chapped lips there are only a few things I can eat, such as yogurt ,cereal and soft fruits. I am just too tired to argue and hate to waste more time. As a result I eat some fruit and get back on the bike. I should have provided definite instructions what kind of food in addition to the E-Surge and Hammergels the crew should feed me. I was pretty content to breakfast with multiple yogurts and fruit. The crew however feels that milk products may be the cause of my episodes of sleepiness. Several members have pretty strong opinions what one should eat in general and during RAAM in particular. I try to convey that some of this is very personal and even though some of my diet might not be scientifically correct, it may give me the necessary psychological boost and incentive to keep on keeping on. Out of respect for my crew, which is already at a disadvantage to crew for someone nobody has really worked with before and wanting to get back on the bike, we finally roll out at 7:30am, ready for the final push to Savannah. I desperately want to get to Savannah at least in time for the ceremony . Musing that somehow I should be able to ride 400miles in 24 hr, I try to bring my speed up to 20miles/hr. I am pushing myself very hard to keep up the pace. The fact that we are gaining on Muffy Ritz, makes it more exciting. Unfortunately the much desired tailwind never kicks in. Instead it is just hot and the riding gets very monotonous. Nevertheless we push on . We are still, but very slowly, gaining on Muffy. The GPS/ Chicago Map Co. route planning saves us from making the wrong turn, Muffy, in front of us, makes. So far Chuck has been very happy with this system, which has been running fairly well considering all the activity in the pacevan and the presence of all the other electrical gadgets. About 80 miles from Savannah , disaster strikes; MELTDOWN!!!!!Complete meltdown! I am not sleepy, from one moment to the next I can hardly push the pedals. Even though on paper my calorie count is OK I am worried that I need more Hammergel. Slowly I take in more calories, Hammergel is just wonderful! I am struggling and to top it off, it starts to rain. Same story repeats itself, we are wasting time donning and removing raingear. Then another flat! Finally I am halfway delirious with the desire to get to Savannah and to get this thing over with. No more breaks, let's go! With Reed, on the PA, spurring me on and Weird AL with Rocky Road blasting away, I start "sprinting " to Pooler and finally get there at 12:40am. The crew gives me a great welcome and after much hugging we wait for Cindi Staiger, who is supposed to lead us into Savannah. After waiting at least 20 min. we decide to go on and finally we meet up with Cindi ( I did not realize that this waiting is not subtracted from your time, too bad ). After avoiding numerous pools of water, tram tracks, cobblestones, etc. we finish at last at 1:43am ( 10d 13h 26m.). 6th place overall. Jaime finally gets her long awaited chance to soak me in the bud with her Supersoaker watergun. Pictures with the crew and Michael Shermer and then finally to the hotel. Thank God it's over and I got to Savannah in one piece!

FINISH! Best moment in RAAM 1997

First of all , I want to thank my crew for their hard work and excellent support. Special thanks go to Ed Fleming who on the spur of the moment stepped up to the plate to be team Penguin's crewchief and who did a splendid job. Ed plans to race RAAM in 1998 and I am sure if he puts in the same effort as he did during this RAAM he will finish quite well.

Elated crew and very tired rider at finish in Savannah

Chuck Schroyer deserves a special thanks for all the technical support as well as for providing all the communication equipment. Because my bike mechanic could not make it at the last moment Chuck had to take care of my bikes as well, which he did very well. Thanks, Chuck! Jaime, Marie, Mr. Anthony Hornyman and Reed were very resourceful to help me to keep on going. Without their support I may still be cycling to Pooler,GA. I now know the true meaning of the word "mooning". Thanks, Jim and Ray for riding shotgun in the suburban. Thanks Bill, for being the super navigator and Mr. Cool. Last but not least, thank you, Rose for putting up with me and doing everything you could to make it possible for me to finish RAAM. I hope you will have the opportunity to have as good a crew as I had, when you successfully complete your RAAM.

Peter shaking hands with Michael Shermer in Savannah


Thanks to my sponsors:

E-Caps, E-Surge and Hammergel formed the mainstay of my diet. I was able to take in approx. 15000 cal per 24hr.

Paceline Products, Chamoisbutt'r again made my day. Combined with staying out of the saddle on all climbs, I hardly got sore.Great stuff!

Cliff bars, for some variation and more "solid" calories.

Chicago Map Co., their equipment worked very well and kept me on course. Using their directions proved more reliable than the official route book.

Draftmaster, for supplying a great bicycle rack.

Cinelli, for providing the best aero bars, handle bar padding and titanium stems. Thanks to their equipment I was able to stay in the aero bars virtually the entire race, saving me from trashing my hands.

Thanks to the RAAM organizers and staff for putting up this very difficult but at the same time exciting race.

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