John Hughes Wins April 1989 RAAM Open West

By John Hawk Marino

"Really good course and I didn't get bored," were the words of John Hughes, age 39, from Portola Valley, CA as he broke the finishing tape in Twentynine Palms, the 508 mile mark of the RAAM Open West. His victory was conclusive as his margin of comfort was 106 minutes over second place finisher Dan Scrivner, age 31, from Menlo Park, CA. Hughes went from 8th place the 83 mile mark to 3rd place at the 155 mile mark, to 1st place at the 255 mile mark. He widened his lead until the finish. The new ROW course proved to be the perfect testing ground to determine who is qualified for RAAM. Strong headwinds, two major mountain climbs, and heat throughout the desert accounted for the high drop out rate. Only 9 of the 25 entrants finished, 6 qualified for RAAM '89. The safety factor of the course was superb. During dark hours, there were no (zero, zip) cars on the road. We had to pay gas stations to stay open. It's a perfect place for an around-the-clock bicycle race. The three non-qualifiers (James Trowbridge, Jonathan Seutter, and Terry Wilson) were they glad they finished because of the old adage, "the harder the task, the more glorious the victory." No one loses by finishing a RAAM Qualifier.

Not to steal an overused quote, but this course is really a RACE OF TRUTH. You can train like crazy, but you're not physically and mentally ready to win or qualify, there's nothing you can do about it once the race starts. The race is too long and too hard to stage any valiant finishing efforts. You'll only be able to ride as fast as your body will allow. Seventh place Official Finisher Jonathan Seutter learned the hard way. With only four months of serious ultra-marathon training, he was doing interval sprints up Townes Pass to catch riders. It might break the monotony, but it does take its toll….just ask Seutter. "Spenco was a piece of cake compared to this," was the comment from third place qualifier Rick Kent, age 32, from Houston, TX. Kent placed 10th in Spenco and holds the USCF track 100 kilometer time trial record. He's a Cat II rider. Fourth qualifier John Cavanaugh, age 42, from Escondido, CA and owner of the second fastest time on the Tucson ROW course, behind Bob Fourney, commented "Tougher than Tucson." Whether or not his aching muscles were talking, no one was disagreeing with him. Fifth place Darrell Bowles, age 29, from Phoenix, AZ thought the hardest part of the race was the climb up Townes Pass (5,000 feet), just prior to one of the greatest descents in his life, down into Death Valley. Sixth place RAAM Qualifier Dave Kees, age 34, from Auburn, CA thought this course was mentally harder than Arizona.

Rider Profiles

John Hughes: Portola Valley, CA; age 39; University Manager at Stanford University; commutes 35 miles each way; hobbies are wine tasting, opera, and weight lifting; accomplishments include the Bay Area Triple, PAC Tour, and two finishes in the Paris-Brest-Paris in '79 and '97, 73 and 64 hours respectively; cycling since 1975; did not sleep in the ROW, first attempt at a qualifier, hardest part was the climb up Townes Pass at 4am with a headwind; bike-Richard Sachs; shoes-Sidi; helmet-Bell V1 Pro; saddle-Avocet Gel Flex; diet-Ultra Energy, a few bananas and two Powerbars. Support crew: Babraba Harvic, Roger Hardy, and Lee Mitchell.

Dan Scrivner: Menlo Park, CA; age 31; engineer with Ford Aerospace in Palo Alto; former track and field athlete, high jump 6'8", 1500m-3:51, 800m-1:53; first attempt at a qualifer; hobbies include surfing, backpacking, and mountain climbing; cycling for 18 years; did not like some of the rough roads, however it may have been attributed to too much air in his tires; took cat naps totalling about one hour, ten minutes, which included the one hour mandatory off-bike time; bike-Trek; shoes-Specialized; saddle-Concor; diet-Ultra Energy with some food; training started four months prior with 300 miles/week, then increasing to 400 miles/week as the race neared; he always held first, second, or third place throughout the entire event. Support crew: Amy Van Rensselaer, Phil Kelloff, Ken Scrivner.

Rick Kent: Houston, TX; age 32; works for Physico Fitness Superstores; USCF National 100km Track Record Holder- 2:46:13; 10th place Spenco 500 1988, triathlete, runner, and race walker; cycling seriously for seven years; slept about 15 minutes; bike-Hujsak Custom; shoes-Maresi; saddle-Concor; helmet-Giro; diet-mostly Ultra Energy, bananas, and Powerbars; training included 700miles/week last year with 600 faster miles/week this year with indoor roller training, no days off. Sponsors: Brite Lite and Physico Fitness Superstores. Support crew: Cathy Kent (mother), Cindi Staiger (RAAM '88 winner), and Hugh Freed. Note: a member of Rick's crew backed out at the last minute, thus he started with only his mother as a crew person until more crew help could be recruited. Fortunately, two of the best people (Hugh Freed and Cindi Staiger) were found by nightfall on day one. Before the 85 mile mark and Time Station #1, Rick got lost and dropped back from the lead pack to 13th place, losing over one hour. It really takes two people to read a route book, drive the vehicle, and tend to a rider's needs. He rode to Time Station #1 with on crew and no food. We gave him five Powerbars and pointed him in the right direction. Soon, his mother found him and Cindi and Hugh joined Mrs. Kent by nightfall.

John Cavanaugh: Escondido, CA; age 42, the oldest finisher in the race; past accomplishments include 2nd place RAAM Open West Tucson, AZ, September '86, 2nd fastest finishing time on the Tucson course, 18 minutes behind the course record; high school physics teacher; commutes to and from work; cycling seriously for five years; bike-Fuso; shoes-Maresi; saddle-Avocet Gel; diet-Ultra Energy, Powerbars, Exceed Super Concentrate, rice cakes, chicken soup, oranges; did not sleep. Support crew: Ray and Bobbi Patterson, Bill Griffith, and Jim Pea.

Darrell Bowles: Phoenix, AZ; age 29; electronic technician; commutes 10 to 40 miles daily; hobbies include reading fiction; accomplishments include 10th place RAAM Open West Tucson, AZ, October '88; cycling seriously 2.5 years; bike-Nishiki Int'l; shoes-Performance Touring cleated; saddle-Avocet Gel; helmet-Protec Mirage; diet-Ultra Energy; training-peaked at 650 miles/week, started at 300 miles/week, 6,000 miles in 16 weeks, 10% indoor training. Support crew: Ronald Rich, Tom Krasnowski, Gale Dominy, Paul Jape.

David Kees: Auburn, CA; age 34; hobbies include bass fishingl riding since '72, training seriously for ROW for past two years; accomplishments include 5th place RAAM Open West Tucson, AZ, October '88; bike-John Cutter; shoes-Duegi; saddle-Concor; helmet-Giro; diet-Exceed, turkey sandwich, PB&J, melons, grapes. Sponsors: Auburn Bike and Hike Shop, Schwinn Neo Life. Support crew: Dave Zamin, Tim Findley, Suzy Kees.

James Trowbridge: El Segundo, CA; age 40; hobbies include aerobics, triathlons, and weights; accomplishments include completing Ironman Triathlon in '84; slept one hour after Furnace Creek; bike-Kestrel; shoes-Diadora; saddle-Brooks; diet-Ultra Energy whole way. Sponsor: Andiamo. Support crew: Jean Turner and Tricia Raychevich.

Jonathan Seutter: Topanga, CA; age 31; occupation-chimney sweep; hobbies include outdoor roller speed skating, holder of many skating distance records, including 12 hour, 100km, 150km, 50mi, 100mi, Redondo Beach to San Diego, only American to hold roller skating speed records; cycling seriously only four months; quote, "I'll be back; my biggest mistake was going out too fast. My support crew and their motivation was the only reason I did not quit." Bike-Gitane; shoes-Lake Sport; saddle-Avocet Gel; diet-Ultra Energy, Powerbars, All-1 Vitamins; training included 400 miles/week, peaked at 560 miles/week with 50 miles of roller skating. Sponsor: Roller Blades, Kool ‘n Fit, Ultra Energy, Spenco, All-1 Vitamins, Powerbar, Ernie's Pro Bikes, Bolle, Giro, Pace, Kryptonics, Touring Gear, Kye Sharp Custom Wheels, Bike Sport. Support crew: Kathie Swanson, Steve Goldmaker, Jason Youmazzo, Kye Sharp, Cynthia Cole.

Terry Wilson: Indianapolis, IN; age 40; accomplishments include UMCA National Points Challenge Winner 1988, 11th place RAAM Open East Johnstown, Ny September '88, 13th place RAAM Open West Tucson, AZ April '88, 24th place RAAM Open Midwest Capron, IL July '87, only person to complete all four regional qualifiers; hobbies include eating and computers; occupation- supervisor, train operations for Conrail; bike-Keith Anderson Custom; shoes-Sidi/Look compat.; saddle-Avocet Gel; helmet-Avenir; diet-used Ultra Energy for the first time with no problems, also ate four rice cakes; comments: "This route tested your ability to stick with something and not quit." Sponsor: my kid's college fund; Support crew: Wife Jan Wilson and Barry Rosenfeld. Note: Terry and crew drove non-stop from Indianapolis to Valencia, raced 508 miles, then drove home non-stop in order to get to work on time.

RAAM Open West Results

Start: Ranch House Inn, Valencia, CA, 11:00am

Finish: Luckie Park, Twentynine Palms, CA

Distance: 508 miles

Reason: Race Across America 1989 Qualifier. Must finish within 15% of winner's time. Fourth RAAM '89 Qualifier.

Number of Entrants: 25 men, 0 women

Number of RAAM '89 qualifiers: 6 (24%)

Number of total Official Finishers: 9 (36%)

Comments: Two mandatory gasoline breaks of 20 minutes each and a 20 minute break for driving riders over a 4 mile stretch of dirt road were required. This accounted for one hour of off bike time, which was subtracted from all finishing times.

1) John Hughes, Portola Valley, CA, 39, 30:54, 16.44 avg

2) Dan Scrivner, Menlo Park, CA 31, 32:40, 15.55 avg

3) Rick Kent, Houston, TX, 32, 33:08, 15.33 avg

4) John Cavanaugh, Escondido, CA, 42, 33:36, 15.12 avg

5) Darrell Bowles, Phoenix, AZ, 29, 33:51, 15.01 avg

6) David Kees, Auburn, CA, 34, 34:52, 14.57 avg

(Above riders qualified for RAAM ‘89)

7) Jonathan Seutter, Topanga, CA, 31, 41:31, 12.24 avg (tie)

7) James Trowbridge, El Segundo, CA, 40, 41:31, 12.24 avg (tie)

8) Terry Wilson, Indianapolis, IN, 40, 45:59, 11.05 avg