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RAAM 08, DAY 1
SOLO WOMEN AND SOLO MEN AGE 60+

The 27th Annual Race Across America is underway! That is, it’s underway for three riders. The solo women and one solo age 60+ man started today at noon. To keep things manageable through the town of Oceanside, the race rolls out with a neutral start from the Oceanside pier and follows narrow bike paths out of town until it officially gets underway some 12 miles out.

I thought that riding out with the three athletes would provide an interesting perspective. And indeed it did. Our small peleton, made up of a the racing trio, plus RAAM executives Fred and Rick Boethling and a dozen or so fans seemed just slightly different than the many other groups of riders out for a sunny Saturday morning ride.

The two women in this year’s field, SoCal local Janet Christiansen and Canadian (by way of Holland) Caroline van de Bulk rode together through most of the “parade” portion of the start, casually chatting most of the way. When asked if the two had met before, Christiansen shrugged, “No, just yesterday. We’ve just been talking about the route and about RAAM. And I’ve been trying to sneak some of her RAAM secrets out of her,” she said with a laugh. Christiansen’s respect for her rival was revealed by this comment, “She’s really quite incredible. She’s a mountain climber you know. She’s done major peaks in South America and Central America. But despite this near awe of Van de Bulk’s athleticism, Christiansen doesn’t seem intimidated, “For me this first RAAM is about riding at my pace and getting to the finish. If I can do a sub 11 day, I’ll be thrilled!”

Richard Rupp, the lone starter today in the 60+ category, also spent those early miles chatting with an admirer of like age who rode along with him for fun. And another 60= cyclist on a recumbent joined the pack to see him off. There is one other rider in the age 60+ category, David Jones. But Jones opted to start tomorrow with the rest of the solo men.

PHOTOS
[FredAndRich]
FRED AND RICH LEAD RAAM!
RAAM executives Fred Boethling and Rick Boethling took a leisurely Saturday morning ride at the front of the pack on the first 12 mile neutral portion.

[JanetChristiansen]
“IF I CAN DO A SUB 11-DAY…”
Janet Christiansen started her first RAAM today.

[RUPP]
SENDING HIM OFF
Any age 60+ rider who attempts RAAM is an inspiration. Richard Rupp (center) inspired these two other 60+ riders enough that they joined him for the first 12 miles.
 
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