Congratulations to Phil Fox for setting a new 7-day record in the HWMR categories of 18-49, upright bike, non-drafting.
This was done during the first 7-days of 2022 RAAM event
This record attempt began at 1:03pm PT in Oceanside, California as part of the 2022 Race Across America.
Starting out from under the historic Oceanside Pier, I rode down the San Luis Rey River Trail to get out of town. Solo racers set out at one minute intervals and rode unsupported until we got to Old Castle Road (23 miles). From there we began climbing a slow gradual grade up the Coastal Range to 4000 feet before a ripping descent down the Glass Elevator into Borrego Springs as the midday heat dissipated. Some early foot discomfort appeared overnight as we headed through Brawley and Blythe, CA.
The following day, temperatures reached 115° as we climbed the Yarnell Grade following Parker, AZ. This would be the hottest portion of the event. We took our first sleep break in Prescott, AZ.
1 days, 5 hours, 33 minutes — 452 miles
Starting after a brief two hour stop, we were already under cover of darkness and in a long 11 mile climb up Mingus Mountain. Upon cresting the mountain, a fast pitch black descent into Jerome was our reward. Following the Camp Verde time station, another extended climb took us back up to 7500 ft. Due to the unfortunate Flagstaff forest fire – RAAM officials routed us through Winslow, AZ. The reroute would require a 55 mile shuttle which provided some long overdue sleep. These miles are not reflected in the accumulated record mileage. In the end the new route amounted to a net decrease of five miles of the overall racecourse.
The new route would take us through a long, sparsely populated stretch of the high desert in the Hopi Reservation. As the heat rose to 105 degrees – limited resources were found before having to climb across Second Mesa. Another fast descent led to my first experience with a speed wobble where my bike hit a resonant frequency at 40+ mph and began to shimmy violently. We continued to Tuba City, AZ and shuttled off the route to our hotel for another short sleep break and to get out of the heat. With a late start the night prior, this would be the among the shortest days I would have during the totality of the larger race.
2 days, 46 minutes — 669 miles (cumulative)
We took nearly 5 hours before we were back on the road. The rest allowed us to begin hunting down the RAAM and RAW fields in the cooler night air. As we moved into Utah, we missed out on Mexican Hat and Monument Valley as we were still hours away from dawn. We exchanged crews in Cortez, CO and rushed back out on the road as we were closing in on the end of the Race Across the West and our scheduled stop in Durango. After a slow gradual climb and headwind, we arrived at the Durango time station at ~72 hours. Right on our planned pace.
3 days, 2 minutes — 920 miles (cumulative)
The highway out of Durango was stressful and required constant communication with the follow vehicle to navigate repeated high speed merges with traffic. It was at this point when rain began to fall. By the time we descended into Pietra, CO — visibility was proving extremely difficult with glare coming from oncoming headlights and reflections on the wet road. Temperatures were now falling to the low 50’s. This would be the most difficult point of the race as the entire crew had to converge to get our rain / winter gear settled. Saddle discomfort would become an issue following the wet conditions.
Following an impromptu sleep break on the side of the road, we climbed Wolf Creek Pass — the highest point of the event (10,850 feet). The rain picked back up and temperatures dropped to the low 40’s. As we descended, dawn began to break. Later this day — we would complete La Veta Pass and then Cucharas Pass where rain would return. Following some shorter mileage days; we made it to Trinidad, CO overcoming three mountain passes, cold weather and extended rainweather.
4 days, 3 hours, 16 minutes — 1193 miles (cumulative)
Once out of Trinidad – the topography flattened out as we transitioned from the Rockies to the Great Plains. The winds also picked up with a consistent 15-20mph SSW crosswind all night and day. No landmarks or humanity to really speak of for the remainder of Eastern Colorado.
Moving into Kansas the next morning would bring more of the same plus the return of 100 degree heat. By late afternoon, a dust storm picked up ahead of a heavy storm system that would cross our path ahead of us. We dodged the rain and the temperatures temporarily dropped 30 degrees. The humidity that followed had the team opt for a hotel in Dodge City several miles off route as no other options were ahead.
5 days, 1 hour, 38 minutes — 1462 miles (cumulative)
Following an unexpected Father’s Day feast (thank you Leanne!) and a three hours sleep, we were back on the route before nightfall. Throughout Kansas – the route just follows the E-W corridors US-160/US-54 which began to pick up heavier traffic as we inched closer to Wichita. More debris on the roadway would lead to several flat tires. We were also bridging Simon Potter, a friend we haven’t seen since the start of the race. In the early morning hours, we pass him and take control of fourth place overall.
As temperatures rose in the afternoon, some hallucinations convinced the crew to opt for a pitstop in Yates Center to dodge continuing in the heat.
6 days, 34 minutes — 1713 miles (cumulative)
We were off the bike for 4 hours, 16 minutes as we dealt with some medical issues but the race must go on. Back on the bike, temperatures were still in the high 80’s but dropping. The night shift was largely uneventful but traffic would pick up considerably as we left Kansas for the rolling hills of Missouri. Crossing the Lake of the Ozarks meant few route options beyond US-54 which brought four lanes of fast traffic and continuous on/off ramps for the team to navigate. Once again, temperatures rose to hit triple digits leading to heavy exhaustion.
6 days, 22 hours, 57 minutes — 1939.15 miles (cumulative)
Ultimately, we would complete the 2022 Edition of the Race Across America in 11 days, 5 hours, 33 minutes in 5th place and win ‘Rookie of the Year’. While other racers completed more miles at this point than I did, this represents a personal best that I can measure against for future HWMR attempts.