While Ralph “Dizzy” Diseviscourt (Luxembourg) may not have won RAAM 2016, as some had predicted he might, he did show that he has admirable speed and eventually finished 4th after overcoming some tough days in Colorado.
Diseviscourt’s completed RAAM in 10 days, 18 hours and 19 minutes at an average speed of 11.88 mph to become the first racer from the tiny country of Luxembourg to do so.
There was pressure on the RAAM rookie to do well in RAAM—just as Severin Zotter and Reto Schoh had before their rookie-RAAM-wins; Diseviscourt had won the previous year’s Tortour (Swiss, 600-mile ultra-cycling race). “But Tortour is completely different,” he observed at the finish in Annapolis. “It is only one fifth the distance and you can’t compare. Here you need other qualities than in the races I’ve done before. I have won Domolitica (Italian ultra-cycling race) and a couple of other races in Europe that are much shorter than this one. This is just so long!”
Here in the states Dizzy was among the RAAM front-runners from day one; he briefly led the race in Arizona and was second as late as Mexican Hat, Utah. “We did quite a quick start and then we had some health problems,” he said. He suffered from the heat, the altitude of the Rockies and perhaps most significantly, saddle-sores. To deal with the saddle sores, near Wolf Creek Pass, he switched to a thick, cushy, gel saddle with a cut-out. And then despite not feeling well he toughed it out through the high altitudes of the Rockies, posting the fastest speed from Cortez to Durango (15.87 mph), the second fastest on the Wolf Creek Pass stage from Pagosa Springs to South Fork (13.58) and the second fastest from South Fork to Alamosa (18.15 mph). But those efforts that won him the “King of the Mountains” trophy were perhaps a bit too much as his speed dropped dramatically in the mountainous stretch through LaVeta and over Cuchara Pass, “I had to slow down a bit, and we had to rest for half a day in Trinidad. So from that point on the race was completely different,” he revealed.
“When we had to stop for half a day we dropped back to, I think, 17th place,” he explained. “During the next couple of days we caught quite a few riders and now we are here in 4th position. So I’m really happy with my performance.” Indeed, that extended rest rejuvenated Dizzy who then set the fastest average speed from Kim, Colorado to Ulysses, Kansas (20.31 mph) and also to fastest to Montezuma, Kansas (18.81 mph), and to Pratt, Kansas (20.28 mph) to earn him the “King of the Prairies” trophy. And being among other riders helped his motivation, “Sure, from a mental point of view it feels better if you can see people and catch up to them.” Despite the speed he showed there, his earlier struggles and long break put the win out of reach, “The goal was just to make our way here to Annapolis and the result was not any more the focus,” he said. “We just wanted to arrive here in a safe manner and a fast manner, like we did.”
“I feel good,” he said at the finish. “During the time I was on my bike the average speed was something like 31 kph (19.26 mph), which I think is quite good. I had a lot of time off the bike to rest and give my body time to recover.” Indeed, when Ralph “Dizzy” Diseviscourt finished he looked fresher and less fatigued than many of RAAM’s previous 4th place finishers. Hmmm, last year Adam Bickett took an extended break in the Rockies and eventually finished fourth and of course this year Dave Haase took an extended break and finished second. Many at the finish joked that maybe these guys have stumbled onto something. Hmmm…maybe it’s not a joke?