For nine years, we've promised perfect weather for Calvin's 12-Hour Challenge and this year we were right again. We woke up May 6, 2000 to a carbon copy of last year with clear skies and warm temperatures as 162 competitive riders lined up on 151 bicycles for the start of the Ninth Annual Calvin's 12-Hour Challenge.

In addition to riding a lot of miles, many people drove a lot of miles to get to the race. Participants came from IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, Ml, MO, NH, NY, NC, OH, Ontario, PA, VA and even Austria. The average mileage was 183 and the average age was 42 with the cld3st at 76 and tha youngest at 10. Sixteen class records (including the overall record) were broken. We also had 40 non-competitive riders this year for a grand total of 202, a significant increase over last year. As usual, we had several Race Across America veterans, including Danny Chew, winner of the 1996 and 1999 RAAM.

John kicked off the event with an eloquent and informative speech topped off by some important announcements and best wishes from Calvin. John and Ann continued their tradition of leading the race for the first mile or so, maintaining their masochistic ambition to organize the event and compete in it at the same time. Last year the pack fooled us by following for about three miles, allowing us to completely fry ourselves before we even got to the Emu farm. This year, the pack started blowing by after about a mile and we were swept along in a huge pack that looked like something out of the Tour de France but without Frenchmen hanging over the sides of the road.

The lead pack's heated pace continued as rider after rider dropped off. Over 20 riders reached the first 25-mile checkpoint in less than an hour. After two 50 mile laps, the pack had dwindled to three; Chew, Holt and Marshall. When they lapped us (130 miles for them, 80 for us) their average was 24.8 mph! This summer when they run the Tour de France, check out the pros' average for 130 miles, fully supported and being towed by domestiques.

By 7:30 pm, the riders had covered a total of 20,774 miles, eaten most of our animal cracker cookies and tested the limits of their personal endurance. Danny Chew shattered the 249-mile record with an incredible ride of 263 miles - that's an average speed of 21.9 mph! By the way, unlike everyone else, Danny rode to the race (from Pittsburgh!)

Valerie VanGreithuysen won the Women's overall and tied the record at 213 miles. More women are finally showing up for the event, with a record total of 33 this year.