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Chris Benchetler getting it good. photo - Peter Morning
Team Clif Bar Blog
Jun 21, 2006
Following Kenny Souza on RAAM--Day 11

West Virginia here he comes!It’s been a good day for Kenny. Despite traveling through some of the most difficult terrain of the race, Kenny’s posting some of the highest average speeds "East of the Rockies."

I spoke with Gretchen at about 6:15 PM EDT. She gave me the inspiring update on Kenny’s progress. Last night Kenny and the crew stopped at the final time station with a mandatory 2-hour stop for Enduro riders. Bryce Walsh, who Kenny has been chasing for days was also stopped. Walsh took a short break then got back on the road, while Kenny elected to take a longer break. Gretchen tells me that the crew has learned that Kenny doesn’t operate well with 2 hours of sleep.

Out on the road today, Kenny saw at one of the time stations that Walsh was just 40 minutes ahead. Realizing he could close the gap, Kenny put the hammer down. He caught Walsh, but it wasn’t over yet. On one of the steep climbs, Walsh "ponied up" by not letting Kenny get away. The two battled for a while but in the end, Walsh could not match Kenny’s wicked pace and dropped back. Kenny now has a solid gap on Walsh and has moved into 4th place. Walsh has ridden strong during the past days and has given Kenny a carrot to chase.

Kenny averaged over 17mph in the hills between Gorvania, WV and La Vale, MD. This is an amazing speed given the terrain and the fatigued body!

I asked Gretchen about what the crew is doing to keep Kenny motivated and on the bike moving forward. Gretchen replied, "We’ve been doing everything possible for the past 10 days to keep Kenny motivated, but today we’re doing nothing." When asked to explain further, Gretchen said that today Kenny’s motivation is coming from within. Kenny smells the finish and has Tinker in his sights.

Dalton, Kenny’s son keeps cheering him on through the P.A. Over and over, throughout the race, the younger Souza has advised his dad, "Keep turnin’ the cranks, keep turnin’ the cranks." As mentioned in an earlier post, Dalton plans to do RAAM when he’s 18. He’ll have to do the Furnace Creek 508 to qualify. Kenny said, "I can’t wait until Dalton’s out in the desert well into the race, seeing the cactus and hallucinating, with me crewing for him and yelling, ‘Keep turnin’ the cranks, Dalton!’"

Tinker still has a good gap on Kenny, probably about 65-70 miles. Kenny has halved the gap during the past two days but he’s running out of pavement. If Kenny continues to manage super-human average speeds, catching Tinker and finishing 3rd as the top Enduro rookie is not out of the question. However, Tinker only has about 200 miles to go at this point, so that scenario would seem unlikely.

Kenny should be done by Thursday afternoon.

For more photos from Day 2 and 3, check out!


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