Locals win Race Across America
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. ” Riding 3,051.7 miles from San Diego to Atlantic City in one of the most grueling cycling races in the country didn’t stop the smiles of Team Beaver Creek-Vail, the first team across the finish line Monday after riding for 5 days, 18 hours and 15 minutes to win the 2005 Race Across America.
Mike Janelle, Toph Leonard, Jimi Mortenson, and Brian Smith crossed the finish line in Atlantic City around 9:26 a.m. Colorado time on Monday.
The team, comprised of four routine 24-hour mountain bike racers, moved across country with locomotive rhythm despite oppressive humidity bearing down on them through much of the race.
“Transition is a very important part of the race, Leonard said. “You need to stay away from high speeds to be able to maintain a consistent speed. The whole idea is to get a rider out on the road, preferably on a hill, and build up speed from there.”
Early on in the race, Mortenson suffered an injured knee while crossing through Arizona. Despite his claim to being the “weak link,” Mortenson has the most experience of anyone on the team with three RAAM entries. Both returning RAAM racers, Mortenson and Janelle’s past RAAM experiences proved invaluable in sustaining a winning pace.
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From the start, this year’s Vail team rode a record-setting pace until nearly Indiana, when perhaps insufferable temperatures slowed the team. Unlike last year, this year’s RAAM featured an additional 7,000 feet of climbing plus 100 extra miles over last year’s race.
Considering hampering factors like daily temperatures in the 90s, 110,000 feet of climbing and the added mileage, Beaver Creek-Vail maintained an average pace of roughly 22 mph.