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4923 kilometers nonstop on the bike – “It really drives you crazy”

4923 kilometers nonstop on the bike – “It really drives you crazy”
4923 kilometers nonstop on the bike – “It really drives you crazy”

Lukas Kaufmann

Before setting off on the greatest adventure of his life, 30-year-old Lukas Kaufmann summed up his goals: “I want to reach the finish line in good health and, if possible, finish in under nine days.” He achieved both impressively. The Kronstorf native also caused a long surprise, as he was in the lead from the first to the third day, up to just before the halfway point, ahead of the Swedish ex-professional cyclist Jimmy Rönn. This was followed by a thriller of seconds, but the Swede was able to pull away decisively as a good timekeeper on the endless expanse of Kansas. The last day was tough again, as team leader Thomas Hölzl reports: “The Appalachian mountain range in the final really took its toll on Lukas, even though he is an excellent climber. But the last nine days are showing. It was just up and down, sometimes up 20 percent steep ramps. That took the last bit of energy out of him.” Kaufmann: “Mentally, it was crazy.” In the last nine days, the Upper Austrian recorded a net sleep time of just 10:15 hours. “The sleep deprivation and the hallucinations were extreme. But I found it just as bad that I hadn’t eaten anything solid for the last nine days, only high-calorie liquid food. The longer you sit on the bike, the worse it gets. The mental strain was really tough. And then you have to drink 15 to 20 liters of liquid every day. It really drives you crazy,” says Kaufmann in Atlantic City. At the finish, Lukas was only five hours behind the winner Ronn. Dominik Meierhofer from Salzburg was about two hours behind Kaufmann at the last time station before the finish.

The six-time RAAM record winner Christoph Strasser knows the race across the USA like no other and is enthusiastic about Lukas’ performance on his first participation: “Great respect and warm congratulations for this second place. Lukas rode an incredibly strong race as a rookie. At the end he reared up against Dominik Meierhofer again. His strength in the mountains – that stood him in good stead over the Appalachians. I didn’t reach the finish line in my first RAAM, so I rate his performance even higher. Above all, he stuck to the sleep strategy like an experienced ultra-cyclist. Congratulations also to the expertise of his team. They are the linchpin in keeping downtimes to a minimum. And they did that better than anyone else, because Lukas had the shortest downtime of all the finishers. I was hooked for nine days – thank you for that.”

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