The comeback story of RAAM 2016 is Dave Haase, who finished second today in a time of 9 days, 23 hours and 28 minute at an average speed of 12.82 mph. When he rolled under the RAAM finish archway here in Annapolis this afternoon, the first thing he said was, “Hey, this bike’s for sale!” It’s understandable that he’d want to distance himself from his bars and saddle after the effort he put in to finish second, coming back up through the field from tenth place after an extended stop back in Colorado.
Haase had been in fourth place as he approached Wolf Creek Pass when it became clear that the lung issue he’d been suffering through since Arizona was possibly serious. “I was really having problems with my breathing,” he said today on the finish stage. “When I’d put out an effort It felt like I couldn’t get oxygen and my thermal temperature would rise and my heart-rate would spike.” His crew took him to a hospital in Pagosa Springs to get checked out and hospital staff determined that while he didn’t have edema-related fluid in his lungs as was feared, he likely had a cold and/or a slight lung infection. He was given oxygen, antibiotics and the plan was to get him rested and if he felt up to it, put him back on course the next morning. “They looked at me in the hospital and one lady was like, ‘what are we doing here? You’re taking oxygen to your hotel room and then you’re going to race?’ It worked out well. That got us able to recover.”
“There’s nothing like ten hours of sleep, some oxygen and some really good pizza,” Haase said of how much better he felt the next morning as he got back on the bike 17 hours after his unplanned stop. “We reestablished our goals from trying to win the race to being top American and then trying to beat everyone else. I slowly started to feel better and better and was picking off all those guys that had passed me. Everything fell together and I told the guys, ‘let’s go chase down some riders.’ So that’s what we did. One after another we’d pick off riders, whoever they were. One of the riders was Seana (Hogan), and then we’d catch the next one, and the next one and we worked our way back. I passed Marko (Baloh) (Slovenia) in Indiana. I could see this huge American flag ahead and I sprinted so I could pass him before I got to the American flag. We’re really good friends so I rode with Marko for a little while and then he passed me again.” Getting past Baloh put him in third and he later inherited second when Mark Pattinson (UK) dropped out of the race.
Race leader and eventual winner Pierre Bischoff (Germany) was far ahead but Haase and crew weren’t content to simply keep their pace, “My crew kept saying, ‘keep working hard, let’s see how much we can narrow the gap.’ And that gap kept going down.” While Bischoff seemingly rode the pace he needed to keep ahead of Haase, Haase was consistently setting the fastest average speed for many of the time stations and was closing on Bischoff, "If we had to race 5,000 miles we’d probably have won,” he joked.