In 2013 Christoph Strasser achieved an incredible record: he was the first person to complete the Race Across America in less than 8 days. We celebrated this amazing achievement with the Type S Specialized Christoph Strasser edition and analyzed his race here and here.
The year after the record
In June, when RAAM was about to start, everybody was wondering if he could better his own record. The great rivals of the last years – Reto Schoch and Dani Wyss – weren’t at the start line this year, making Christoph the overwhelming favorite. Would he be able to push the limits of human performance once again and to endure sleep deprivation and extreme exhaustion?
Fine tuning for success
In the run up to RAAM went back to the drawing board and reviewed every aspect to find performance gains: Christoph skipped exhausting preparatory races and visited the Specialized wind tunnel to optimize his material choices.
The result is an almost unbelievable record: with a time of 7 days, 15 hours and 56 minutes Christoph pushed the bar to a level that was previously thought impossible. With the help of his power2max Type S Specialized power meters on his Shiv TT bike and on the Roubaix climbing bike we get an amazing look into the makings of this record.
In comparison to last year we have almost complete data this year: Christoph and his team recorded 169 hours riding time, covering 4854 kilometers (3015 miles). That’s almost 800 kilometers more than during the 2013 race, when some data was lost due to computer failures.
Marginal improvements in all areas
What were the differences between 2013 and 2014? Compared to 2013 we have almost 20 hours additional data, during which Christoph covered approximately 800km (496 miles). Compared to 2013 Christoph’s average speed rose by 1.3kph (0.8mph). Especially at the beginning he was extremely fast and built up a lead on his 2013 performance.
Christoph also rode more evenly than in 2013: he reduced his time without pedaling from 10% in 2013 to 9% in 2014 and varied his power less (12% variability in 2014 versus 15% in 2013. His average power only rose a little, by 2.5 watts – but here we need to be careful: as some of the 2013 data is missing the difference is likely to be higher in reality.
The organisation and logistics of Christoph’s team were also outstanding. During the 7 days and 15 hours his time not moving was limited to 15 hours – exactly 2 hours per day. This is of course only possible with a perfectly functioning team and reminds us of the importance of the support crew in RAAM.
Lastly the average temperatures in 2013 and 2014 show us that nature did its part to support the record. With an average of 21° C in 2014 temperatures were markedly more reasonable than in 2013, which certainly helped Christoph in his quest.
Spotlight: left-right balance
Christoph’s RAAM record also gives us a great look at how athletes pedal: his power2max Type S power meters determine the proportion of power generated by the left and right leg, by comparing the power contributions of each power phase.
Looking at his data over the duration of the ride we see that initially Christoph pedals relatively evenly. As he tires and his power drops his Balance shifts further and further left – i.e. his right leg is doing less work. The difference between the beginning (50% left) and the end (54% left) is about 4%. This striking result shows us that we all pedal asymmetrically and that power balance changes. It also shows us the difference between measuring power on one side only and measuring all the power a rider produces: with a one-sided measurement the measurement error would have been 8% by the end (54% x 2 minus 100%).
Chapeau Monsieur Strasser!
Christoph Strasser’s 2014 RAAM is a masterpiece of ultra cycling. Never before has a rider executed such a perfect race. It’s doubly impressive that Christoph managed to keep pushing despite his massive lead which (almost) assured him of the win. Christoph’s professional approach and perfect preparation made the difference. Huge wattage gains are clearly no longer possible – marginal gains is the name of the game in RAAM these days.
We say BRAVO and are proud to support such an amazing athlete.
|Riding time (hours)||149.3||168.9|
|Recorded distance (km)||4086.6||4854.1|
|Average speed (kph)||27.4||28.7|
|Calories used (2013 extrapolated)||102366||108971|
|Calories per day||14291|
|Time coasting (hours)||15.1||15.3|
|% time coasting||10.1%||9.1%|
|Highest climb in Colorado, to 3133m, after 3 days||1h26||1h05|
|Average power during the climb||173w||229w|
|Total altitude gain (m)||30670||35606|
|Time not moving|
|Time not moving||15.0|
|Time not moving per day||2.0|
|Left-right balance 2014|