It took a little over a week for the four riders of the Kalyra Women’s Race Team to cross the country on their bicycles. (See John Zant‘s full story on them here.) Denise Clark, Jill Gass, Sonia Ross, and Lisa Tonello reached the finish line of the Race Across America (RAAM) in Atlantic City shortly after midnight Tuesday. With 40 minutes deducted for a detour that forced them to stop earlier in the race, the official time of their finish was 11:48 p.m. EDT.
That was seven days, six hours, and 34 minutes after they started at the Oceanside Pier. They averaged 17.43 miles per hour while traversing 3,043 miles of road. They were the only women’s team in the four-person relay division; there were 16 four-man teams. Kalyra finished ahead of seven of those teams as well as the only coed team.
All four women rode together the last 15 miles. “We put the hammer down,” Gass said. “The finish line was on the expressway, and then we rode behind a police escort to the Boardwalk for a ceremony. There was a storm coming and we saw lightning. With the lights of the city, it was quite a sight. We waited there for the other Santa Barbara team.”
The next team to finish was the eight-man Team Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. Its riders were Jim Adams, Edwin Allbritton, George Bifano, Fred Clough, Donald Flanigan, Brian Knowles, Lance Mason, and Richard Ward. They reached the end at 12:51 a.m. Wednesday for an elapsed time of seven days, seven hours, and 40 minutes, an average of 17.32 mph.
The Kalyra team had a lead of a mere five minutes in West Virginia a day earlier but increased it to an hour at the finish. Still, it was a close race. If it were a mile in length with the same relative time difference, the margin would have been 1.2 seconds.
“It got competitive out there,” Gass said.
Kalyra had a goal of breaking the RAAM women’s record (six days, 12 hours, 28 minutes), and the team was on pace when it hit the Continental Divide. After that, Gass said, reality set in. “We had head winds in Kansas that slowed us down,” she said. “Even though we got through the Rockies, we had 50,000 more feet of climbs before the end of the race. We never quit riding hard. We gave it everything we had.”
Jure Robic, a 42-year-old Slovenian, was the solo winner of RAAM for the third time. His time was eight days, 19 hours, 33 minutes (14.38 mph). Beaver Creek was the four-man team champion in five days, 18 hours, 22 minutes, an average of 21.99 mph.