An exhausted Jure Robic, a Slovenian soldier, riding a bicycle across America, arrived in Boise City, on Thursday night. He has been riding since Sunday, June 8, when he left Oceanside Calif., on his way to Annapolis, Maryland, on the Race Across America.
This race isn’t for the faint of heart, Robic has won four of the last five RAAMs, and took first last year with a time of eight days, 19 hours, over the estimated 2,753.68 mile course. According to MapQuest, it would take a driver at best time 40 hours and 56 minutes to travel the same route in an automobile.
An on-line trip to Robic’s website, jurerobic.net will educate any interested individual through a diary and video clips what it takes to just complete this race, much less win it. The RAAM website is raamrace.org.
A visit to the CIA’s World Fact Book on line yields a lot of information on Slovenia.
The small nation, (about twice the size of New Hampshire), has an area of about 48,845 square miles, and is bordered by Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Austria.
Once part of Czechoslovakia, and in the sphere of the Soviet Union, Slovenia, won it’s independence in January of 1993 as a Democratic Republic. It is a member in the European Union and NATO.
The nation has about 7,000 professional soldiers and they are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and served in Bosnia.
It is a nation of about 5.5 million souls, and with a birthrate of 10.64 and a deathrate of 9.5 per 1,000 it’s population seems to be stable. It is predominantly Catholic.
It is a very literate nation with 99.6 of the population over the age of 15 being able to read and write.
The citizens can vote at age 18.
It’s economy is based on coal, lignite, copper, iron ore and manganese.
Robic is accompanied by his Colonel, Peter Likar, and Spokesmen Daniel Zimmerman, and Ariel Howard, and an 11-member support team traveling in a mini-van and motor home. They include bike mechanics, a cook, Jana Primcic, the only female, drivers and a doctor, who checks Robic at each quick stop, taking vital signs and often inserting fluids in a vein.
Col. Likar explains that though Robic is an enlisted soldier, his job, is to ride a bicycle. It’s a job he trains for year-round, eight to nine hours a day. When weather permits he rides in Slovenia, when the weather turns foul he rides a stationary bike in his home,
“He rides eight, nine hours a day in his home, no television, or music, no book…he just rides,” Zimmerman explained.
When Robic arrived in Boise City on Thursday night he was planning for a quick meal, (usually pasta, some chocolate and water or sports drink), and about an hour’s rest. He’d had only three hours sleep since leaving California and didn’t want to relinquish much of his ten-hour lead.
Taking a short time to speak to the press it is easy to see where Robic’s power is based. He is built compactly, perhaps five feet, eight inches, and 150 pounds, but his thighs under the biking shorts resemble carved tree trunks.
As he brings his bike to a stop, four individuals steady the weary rider and his 16 and one-half pound bike.
He is quickly helped to the steps of the motor home where between panting breaths he swallows water before eating a quick meal, (he must take in about 19,000 calories a day, at about 900 per hour), and lying down to rest.
He has enjoyed a tailwind since leaving Taos, earlier that morning, maintaining speeds of 30 to 35 mph. But now the winds are against him and was glad to know that a wildfire west of Guymon would be south of his route on Highway 56 through Kansas. But, the tailwind was now a cross wind, and the crew let him sleep an additional 30 minutes, waiting for the wind to die.
At 43, Robic is a seven-year veteran and has ridden five years in the RAAM and other races.
Zimmerman said that as the race goes on, Robic’s enemies will return, pain in the soles of his feet , and as the hours without real sleep add up, hallucinations.
By Monday, June 16, Robic is, according to his website, in Athens, Ohio, and now 17 hours ahead of his nearest competitor, Robic, seems on track for yet another RAAM victory..