Eight days, one hour and twenty-three minutes for 4,938 km. In just over 179h, so roughly seven and a half days of pure riding time and only 14 hours break, including sleep, Christoph Strasser has mastered and won this year’s Race Across America (RAAM). Teamwork, top form and an excellent preparation allowed the Austrian an outstanding performance. Only last week he won the first Austrian Ultra-Cycling Championship and beat the old course record of the Race Around Austria Challenge by 90 minutes. This time, however, he “only” had to overcome 560km in just under 16 hours. We had the opportunity to talk with Christoph about his performance and to go to the bottom of the question of what really hurts more: cycling or sleep deprivation.
power2max: Christoph, once again congratulations on the top performance at the RAAM, the queen of ultra-cycling. What did you actually do?
Christoph: Many Thanks! Actually, I did not do it alone, I had whole support team. All those who helped are part of this success. However, I can evaluate exactly what I did on the bike because I record and analyse every meter of my training and races. All I need is my bike computer and my power meter. In terms of numbers for the RAAM, this means a normalized power (NP) of 162 and a training load (TSS) of 3173.
power2max: In the first few hours you were riding very fast with an average of over 250 watts. Was this your plan?
Christoph: Yes, I can plan my performance until about half of the race. After that the race in my head gets more and more important. However, during the first days it was very hot and the high temperatures slowed me down so that I could not quite recall what I had planned for myself. In general, the weather affects the course of the race very much. The biggest difference to my course record of 2014 was the strong tailwind I had four years ago.
power2max: What really hurts more at the end of such a race? Cycling or staying awake?
Christoph: Cycling is always possible. However, fatigue and exhaustion are enormous. 200 watts feel like 400 watts and my body is happy when I find my rhythm. In general, the rhythm is crucial for progress during the last days. My heart rate only goes up to 120 beats and I can only ride in the Recovery training zone.
power2max: You won the RAAM , you are the Austrian Ultra-Cycling champion: What else can we expect in 2018?
Christoph: I have just published my first book, in which I write about my experiences at the RAAM from 2009-2018. Additionally, I’m will do a very short time trial at the King of the Lake. In October I will be at the 24h Individual Time Trial World Championship in the US.