Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Race teaches cyclist several lessons

Loveland man eager, though, to try endeavor again

click here to e-mail Ryan
Four days after abandoning the race of his life, cyclist Bob Rich sat in his Loveland home Monday, adding to the laundry list of lessons learned on his trip.

Three weeks ago the Enquirer detailed Rich's preparations for the 2,906-mile Race Across America, when he saw the trek as a journey of self-discovery. But instead, Rich said he mostly discovered what not to do. Hence the list.

"I learned a lot as a rookie. I learned any mistake you make is huge," Rich said. "A small mistake can end the race very quickly. But I would definitely like to do it again."

Rich was in trouble early and often in the race, eventually causing him to call it quits five days into the race, just outside Dalhart, Texas.

He had suffered from saddle sores on the first day. Miscommunication with his support van left him without water in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California, where the temperature climbed from 108 to 112 degrees. Rich said he then waited too long to rehydrate himself intravenously, costing him some energy. He also strained his knee.

"We had a lot of problems," Rich's crew chief, Michael Lau said. "He had some bad luck."

Rich had to make up for lost time to reach the race's minimum time standards. But right around the New Mexico-Texas border, the really bad luck hit.

Rich found himself peddling into 30-50 mph headwinds, which at some portions of the course made him walk his bike.

"It was just unsafe," he said. "I hated to stop, especially when my legs felt pretty good, but I made the right decision. That wind would have lasted for a couple of hours and slowed me to the point where I couldn't have been competitive."

Three other riders had dropped out before Rich, placing him 16th among the 19 solo racers in the competition. The leaders, who made it through the section before the severe winds, finished the race in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday night.


E-mail rernst@enquirer.com

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