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MARTIN JAKOB: His First and last RAAM?
By Vic Armijo
6/18/08, Rouzerville, Maryland 23:51EST

Yesterday evening at the Smithsburg, West Virginia Time Station I found Swiss rider Martin Jakob eating a “Little Debbie’s” snack cake, while some other Hostess treats lay nearby. “He needs a goody! A sweet something,” crewmember Thomas Luethi said, Jakob laughed, holding up his guilty pleasure.

At the time he was in fifth place, where he remains tonight after jockeying back and forth in the past 24 hours. I commented that 5th is quite respectable for anyone, especially in a first RAAM. Luethi translated and he and Jakob both laughed, “He says it is his last also!”

Jakob, who qualified for RAAM in the 720 kilometer event, “Swiss Radmarathon.” “It was a big dream to do this race once,” Luethi member translated. “He saw when a Swiss rider Andreas Clavadetscher won this race and that was a big motivation.” Among Jakob’s sponsors is the supermarket chain for which he is a manager. “It is one of the big warehouse chains in Switzerland,” his crew member explained, “Like Wal-Mart?” I asked and Jakob and all crew members present laughed, “No, no, no. Not that big!” Jakob said, (he apparently understands a bit of English) shaking his head and using his thumb and fore-finger to indicate “much smaller.”

Luethi related that Jakob’s hardest day was in Kansas, “It seemed like it would never end. And he says he looks ahead, sees a town, but it never seems to get closer.” But last night he was going well and enjoying the ride. “He made good time coming to this time station, He is feeling good. He got too tired on Monday and Tuesday. But now that is over and speed to this time station went really well. He made the sleep time the same all days—two hours. But he cooled his legs with ice and he started to roll. He likes road such as this where he can use a big gear.”

Smithburg marks the beginning of the rolling hills that characterize the Appalachians. Many RAAM riders them harder than the Rockies—the climbs are smaller, but many are steeper and they’re stacked up, one after the other. “He likes this kind of climbs,” he crew member related. “He’s looking forward to them.” This evening (Wednesday) I found Jakob again in LaVale, Maryland, RAAM’s Eastern boundary of the Appalachians. I asked if he still likes this kind of climbs,” “For me, 90 kilos (198 pounds), hard,” he said. Since he had just answered in English I asked if the hills were what he expected, but he answered, “I am sorry, I don’t speak English. I do 5 RAAMs, I learn English.” So maybe, just maybe, once the pain of the past ten days has faded, we may see Martin Jakob riding RAAM again.

“HE NEEDS A GOODY” Martin Jakob enjoys a little bit of sugary American fare.

OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS: Jakob’s arrival in LaVale, Maryland means that all of the hardest climbs in RAAM are behind him.
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