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21st Race Across America (RAAM) -

San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ, June 15-June 27, 2003

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Day 7 - June 21

No, No Fabio

Race notes by Scott Johnson, RAAM HQ

Jefferson City, Missouri, 12:45PM RAAM Time. By MO, RAAM is too much for Fabio.

Italy's Fabio Biasiolo has withdrawn from the race 1,760 miles in. After holding on to the 3rd position for most of the past 30 hours, physical ailments got the best of him. The same kidney scare of last year was manifested itself again, resulting in water retention. Doctors have warned Fabio not to play around with this kind of malady.

Fabio Biasiolo is one of the great people of RAAM. Not because of victories, not because only Rob Kish has tackled more races, Fabio's greatness comes through in his open heart. He's poetic. He talks of RAAM in metaphors and lives life just as lyrically.

"The mind is stronger than the body", he assured me at the start.

It's true, but the mind must accept what the body knows is too much danger.

"He's the ultimate spokesman. He balances fair play, with a competitive edge, all the while with a great spirit. They don't get any better than Fabio", noted Race Director Jim Pitre when the call came in about the racer's withdrawal.

This wonderful man is carrying on to Atlantic City. Compared to Fabio, the casino lights are nearly as bright. He'll bring his own beacon to the city of Brotherly Love and feel right at home.


The Race Across America allows people to unload the best and worst of themselves: Neuroses, anger, fear, control, self-doubt, happiness, boredom, exhilaration, pettiness, caring, apathy. And the average person, all of those feelings in any given hour.

Shy people, loud people, smart people, simple people - a microcosm of our society, all jammed into vans, motor homes, on bikes, and in convention hall media workrooms.

The point is, Race Across America, is no different than the best and worst of our society. Its greatness lies in the fact that in all it's moving parts and the inherent craziness, RAAM people do come together and come through when they have to.

There's a blanket of sadness over RAAM this year, though we try to push it off, it refuses to budge. The truth is we can carry on and for the good of the race and in tribute to

Brett Malin we must.

Everyone knows that RAAM is changing forever. The fringe aspect has been replaced. The airy "ride" veneer is gone forever. This is a race. A cycling challenge of more weight and depth than most people can fathom. More involvement from U.S. cities along the race route, a stronger TV network, a bigger media interest, more progressive corporate sponsorships and a wider pull of world-class cyclists all will be added in the next few years. RAAM deserves it.

RAAM's operation has always been fueled by military-like perfection. The discipline we count on to maintain the race is also helping us mourn its biggest loss. A casualty, a fatality that no one was prepared for and will be with us always.

I talk about the people of RAAM because in any great community that's what must be measured. A lot of folks wonder how a non-cyclist, like me, got in here. All I can say is that, especially this year, being here was the best place I could be. I haven't raced a century…but everyone that describes RAAM shouldn't have to. This race is about life, about living, about what matters, about huge risks and limitless gains, unspeakable losses. That's what I know about.

The mouth cannot always express what the heart truly feels…

For every person in RAAM like that…that's why I'm here.

The Sign of Things to Come

Atlantic City, NJ, 5:00PM RAAM Time Screaming red, white and blue banners are pulled taunt. Signs, placards, progress reports…RAAM information of every kind is popping up all around the boardwalk.

Curious tourists and visitors are asking questions, sincerely getting excited about this cycling storm moving toward them. They've had enough rain here, they want some sunshine and excitement, the new week with RAAM promises to bring both.

Many of these visitors are chance-takers. The idea of RAAM intrigues them. $40,000 in prize money, that makes sense to them. They understand jackpots. But there are lots of families too. Parents try to explain to young children.

"Not horses baby, bikes", one Dad says.

Most boardwalk regulars are thinking its some kind of 4th of July event.

What it is, is, almost over.

The leading team is 32 hours away from baths, buffets and transportation by car.

In time for the 11:00PM late evening news tomorrow evening, Team Harreither of Austria should arrive four astride. Peter Dammerer, 34, is nice man. A quiet, unassuming gentleman. We talked 5 days ago during the parade route about how he wouldn't mind the heat of the desert. His experience having competed in Australian Outback events would help him and his teammates: 36-year old Reinhard Horman, 31 year old Thomas Riegler and 41-year old Peter Schwab.

The heat did not turn out to be the biggest factor in them winning the 4-person team division. Anyone familiar with the incredulous circumstances and immeasurably loss of Brett Malin this week knows, that the winner of this event would most certainly have been Team Vail - Go Fast.

It will be interesting for this writer to see the Austrian's team demeanor tomorrow night. They felt and were not afraid to show some competitors' animosity for the well-supported Colorado team. One hopes that the Harreither team and crew will understand what a loss of life means to Race Across America and to the world-wide ultra cycling community as a whole.

Another note about signs, media and newscasts…

Allen Larsen of Washington State, 37, looks like he wants to be on TV too. Current estimates put him on the boardwalk at 11:15PM Monday night…just in time for the local sports segment.