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Stepclimbed 44,444 feet in 18 Hours on February 10 & 11, 2007:
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Joining us today is Race Across America 8 time
1/19/2004 Daily Peloton Interview : Perry Stone Interviews Danny
finisher and two-time champion, Danny Chew. The
self-proclaimed million-mile man is here to
discuss his ultra cycling pursuits and this
year’s Insight Race Across America.
DP: Mr. Chew, thank you for taking the time to
talk with us today. You have ridden over 545,409
miles on a bicycle and you are still aggressively
pursuing your goal of 1 million miles behind the
saddle. In fact, your yearly mileage is
increasing but your last appearance in RAAM, a
race you have been so dominant in, was in 2001
when you finished second to Andreas
Clavedetscher. When will we see you back in RAAM?
Danny Chew: Let me tell everybody how we first
met at the 1997 RAAM where you and Jeff Estes
pioneered the 2 person Team RAAM by finishing
some 4 hours behind 3rd place solo finisher Rob
Kish. You called yourselves Team Dagger and rode
the whole way across America on mountain bikes.
The 2 person Team race has come a long ways since
then, but still has a long way to go in it's
relatively short life. How fast do you think
Seana Hogan and I could cross America as a team?
DP: Whatever you two could lay down for a time
would be legendary I am sure. For those readers
new to the ‘ultra world’ Seana Hogan has
accomplished more than any women and most men in
the history of RAAM.
Danny Chew: I would definitely like to return to
RAAM as a rider, however 8 consecutive RAAMs left
me so financially drained that it could be a
while before I can afford to do it. I would like
to become the oldest person to win, which is
currently held by Pete Penseyres who set that
scorching 15.4 mph average speed record in 1986
at age 43. This is why you are not considered
OLD in RAAM until you turn 50.
DP: Tell us about your million-mile goal?
Obviously a long-term goal, when do you forecast
your completion? Will you do it? What obstacles
do you worry about?
Danny Chew: The problem with such a long-term
goal like my million miles is that you have a lot
of flexibility unless some disease or horrible
accident (getting run over by a car) makes you
unable to ride again. Allowing for a slow down
from age deterioration, I should ride my
millionth mile in my mid 70’s or by 80 at the
latest. I have kept detailed training diaries
since 1978 in which I write down the names of
people I ride with in red ink the first time, and
blue ink thereafter. I like meeting new people
to ride with and watching them fall in love with
cycling. Living so far North in such a COLD
wintry climate really puts a damper on my mileage
this time of year, but I know I can make up for
it with extra long rides in the summer time.
DP: What do you say to people that say this goal
is too excessive to be considered for the
magnitude of accomplishment it is truly worthy
Danny Chew: If a person is doing something they
truly love, not hurting anybody else, and not
breaking the law, why not let them indulge? The
beauty of a million-mile goal is that it keeps
you riding and reminded that the bike is the
number 1 goal or focus in your life. Maybe the
accomplishment of finally reaching such a
long-term goal is more about your journey getting
there and how it transforms you along the way.
Although my total RAAM mileage [roughly 24,000
miles] is less than 5% of my lifetime total, they
are some of the best, most memorable miles I have
DP: Beautiful. How would you describe the support
you receive for this goal?
Danny Chew: I have received e-mails from people
telling me how much my million-mile goal has
inspired them to ride more, and all they have to
do is tell their spouse how much I ride after
which, they don't appear all that obsessed about
DP: Excellent. I know a lot of people are pulling
for you to reach this amazing goal and count me
as one of them. You are an extremely competitive
person. In 1995 you finished second to Rob Kish
by less than 7 hours, in 1997 you trailed
Wolfgang Fasching by a similar amount of time. In
these races did you ever accept that you were not
going to win and settle in for second? How did
you handle this when you were on the bike?
Danny Chew: I can't stress enough that the first
and foremost goal is to FINISH, (Hear me Patten &
Biasiolo & Solon?) RAAM above anything else! You
owe that much to yourself, your fans, your
sponsors, and crew members. How would it look if
the million-mile man dropped out of RAAM?
Doesn't Lance Armstrong say in his new book
"Every Second Counts", that "Pain is temporary,
but quitting is forever?" A RAAM DNF stays on
the record books forever.
DP: How does a person win RAAM? How does a person
finish RAAM? What is the difference?
Danny Chew: Every RAAM I raced, my goal was to
win, but Kish and I have both lost far more RAAMs
than we have won. Maybe it is true that you
learn more about yourself when you lose than when
you win. Once I realized that I could not win,
my competitive spirit left me and I was riding
instead of racing across America. This is how
Mark Patten caught me in the middle of the
country in the 2001 RAAM, and Alex Aichner
(Meneweger 2000 RAAM Crew) had to really kick my
ass to get me racing again. Not wanting to
finish 4th place again for a third time, I
convinced myself that 3rd place (Tatrai's most
common finish) would be something new and worth
fighting for. When I finally passed Patten's
follow vehicle for the last time just before the
time station in Kosciusko, MS, my crew was far
more excited/elated than I was. I think this is
more the rule than the exception.
When a rider starts thinking why do I want to
settle for an 8th place this year when I came in
4th place on my last RAAM, they are dooming
themselves to a potential DNF. A big thanks goes
out to Martin Lorenz for finishing the 2003 RAAM
behind four rookies after he was
rookie-of-the-year in 2000.
Having to settle for 2nd place or lower after you
have won RAAM is very tough to swallow. I do
think I am able to dig deeper when going for a
win as compared with a lower place. For both of
my wins, I did not take the lead for the final
time until the last 205 miles in 1996 and the
last 170 miles in 1999. I had full nights (3
hours) sleep before each of those final days.
When having to cut sleep late in the race, I have
lost both of my battles - to Kish for 1st in 1995
and for 3rd in 1998.
To win RAAM, one must find what strategy works
best for them. I believe that training for RAAM
and racing RAAM is a highly individualized thing.
What works for rider A may not work for rider B
and what works for rider B may not work for rider
C and so on. It took me 3 years to find out that
starting on the second night, 3 hours of sleep
per night works best for me. Riders should be
willing to experiment in training and RAAM to
find out how to improve their results even if it
isn't for a win, but maybe just an official
finish. I think you also need at least one crew
member who knows you well enough to know when you
need a pat on the back and a good kick in the
Most of the people who win RAAM also have a lot
of top 3 places, so once you get on the podium,
you then have the potential to win. Sometime the
difference between a win or finish and a DNF is
simply ingenuity on the crew to keep their rider
motivated and do whatever it takes, such as with
Allen Larsen's crew faced with the dilemma of
their rider developing horrible Shermer Neck,
(rider can no longer support the weight of his
own head) at mid race. Jim Miller saved the
day/week by creating that now famous neck brace
(Medieval Torture Device) which allowed Allen to
finish both of his RAAMs. Had that problem not
been solved, Larsen probably would have dropped
DP: You have a mathematics degree from the
University of Pittsburgh. Do you spend a lot of
time crunching numbers when you are racing?
Certainly crunching numbers in either the early
stages of RAAM or in your million mile quest
would be quite daunting, in the least, to most
people. Do you find comfort in numbers?
Danny Chew: I love crunching numbers while I am
racing and especially afterwards. Being a math
major, I like numbers and statistics, which is
really what RAAM boils down to. By riding 1 mph
faster than your competitor, you get to sleep
roughly 90 more minutes per day than they do.
The big advantage this provides is that you feel
much better riding faster, and you have targets
in front of you to catch which crushes them
mentally as you go by. A pass (or lost place)
while you're sleeping is not nearly so
I know that Terry Lansdell likes to think in time
instead of miles, but he wants to finish RAAM in
a certain number of days, he is still going to
have to ride x amount of miles per day. In
either the 2000 or 2001 RAAM, I remember riding
past the 2nd time station in Fossil, OR, and
shouting out to John Hughes that I had ridden
over 5% of the entire distance of the race. I
also would read off my odometer miles every 12
hours the entire race and calculate my 12 and 24
hour splits. The way I look at it, both time and
miles go by on RAAM, so why not embrace both of
these variables, which can seem to stand still
during your worst sections of RAAM. Part of why
I like doing RAAM so much is you get like a whole
month's experience out of just 8-10 days so that
for each RAAM you complete, you get about 3 extra
weeks of life. Kish has done 18 RAAMs so he has
gotten a full extra year of life already!
I have recently created a complete solo RAAM
rider index with all 263 people who have ever
started RAAM. Listed are their place(s),
time(s), average speed(s), and their miles ridden
before they DNF’d. It makes it very easy to see
a certain rider's RAAM history and compare
riders. I have also compiled a bunch of stats
using my indexes. Both of these will be put on
my website as soon as I figure out how to convert
the files to HTML documents.
DP: On your web site www.dannychew.com in
reference to your PB 100 mile ride of 4.07 hours
it says, “Is there anybody else out there man
enough to attempt beating Chew's 100 mile
record?” Are you familiar with English cyclist
Danny Chew: I rode that 4:07 hour century after
breaking my own Hell Week mileage record in 2000
at age 37. I feel that I had the most power and
strength for short distance road racing back in
1987 at age 25 when I probably could have ridden
well under 4 hours for 100 miles given today’s
lightweight aerodynamic equipment. I believe
that Andy Wilkinson holds the 24 hour unpaced
time trial record outside on open roads of
something like 525 miles. The year (2000) I
rode 508 miles in Iowa, it was pretty windy and
the wind howled all night long so I might have
been close to that distance with calm conditions.
I have tried to find more information on what
year Andy set that record and what exact course
he used, but had no luck. If anybody knows
anything about it, please contact me at:
DP: What should people look for in this year’s
Insight Race Across America?
Danny Chew: My role in the 2004 RAAM will be
about the same as I did in 2003 - going along as
a writer, reporter, and interviewer.
Kish still has a chance to win, but only if all
the other top riders have serious setbacks. Being
such a competitive person, Larsen needs other
riders pushing him if he is to break my 14.7 mph
speed I accomplished in 1999. If Fasching
returns, I think Larsen will rise to the occasion
and make Fasching really have to work hard for a
win. A situation Fasching has never been in
before since both of his wins were by such huge
margins. If Robic returns, I think he will come
with a much better prepared crew, which will make
him a serious contender for victory.
Fasching does however tend to have trouble in
desert heat which is why I was able to beat him
in 1999 but not in 2000 with the cool Portland,
OR, start. Also, how HUNGRY a rider is to win
plays a big factor in a race, which becomes more
of a mental than physical competition. Having
not won yet, Robic may be hungrier than former
winners Larsen and Fasching.
I have come to a conclusion that the weather
(especially favorable tailwinds) has more to do
with whether Penseyres' all time 15.4 mph average
speed record can be broken than the course.
Also, can the potential record breaker get by on
only 1.5 hours of sleep per night like master
Pete did. I was fast enough to maybe have a go
at the record, but had to give up too much sleep
time (3 hours a night) in order to be that fast
on my bike both years I won. I badly wanted to
beat Pete's record, but 14.7 mph (good enough for
the 5th fastest solo crossing) was as close as I
Fasching, Robic, and Clavadetscher have proven
that they can do with even less sleep that
Penseyres, but that loss of sleep slowed their on
the bike speed down considerably. I was AMAZED
how Pete was able to stay so fast on so little
sleep!!! He had everything down to a precise
science, and his record may stand for the rest of
In the women's race, I hope there is a finisher
as there has not been one since Cassie Lowe in
2001. I am excited about the extra media
attention former women's PRO road racer Giana
Roberge will bring to RAAM in 2004. It will be
interesting to see how she does against that
woman, Luzia Evangelista from Brazil.
DP: Danny, once again I want to thank you for
your generosity in sharing your time and thoughts
today. I know you have given us all more to think
about. You are a true champion and possibly the
most genuine ultra cyclist of our time. Harley
Davidson coined the phrase “Born to Ride”, Danny
Chew lives it.
As seen in the 8/15/2000 edition of the Erie Times News Miles to go before he sleeps By JIM CAMP Staff writer
Danny Chew wants to be a millionaire.
No, he won't be getting cozy with Regis Philbin or sweating through multiple-choice questions in front of a nationwide TV audience.
Chew has his sights set on hitting 1 million miles on his bicycle.The 37-year old from Pittsburgh is nearly halfway to his staggering goal.
"I have 487,000 miles already,'' he said Tuesday before embarking on a practice ride. "I'll do at least 100 miles today and might go 150,'' the well-conditioned athlete said before heading off toward Ohio.
Chew was in Erie this week visiting cyclist Kevin Sapper, who has two 24-hour races to his credit this year. While those daylong events are unique accomplishments, for Chew they must seem like, well, a ride in the park. A bike rider since 10, he started keeping precise records of his mileage at age 15.
"I have training journals from 1978 on,'' he said. His total entering this calendar year was 471,818 miles ... and counting.
He owns numerous distance records and twice has won the heralded Race Across America. Chew has been prominent in the 3,000-mile transcontinental competition for the past seven years. He placed first in 1996 and 1999, was second this year, in '95 and '97 and finished fourth in 1994.
"My best time was eight days, seven hours, 14 minutes,'' he said. "The course was much hillier this year, and it took me nine days and eight hours.''
The Race Across America starts in California and continues 24 hours a day until the first cyclist reaches the finish in Savannah, Ga.
Chew requires a crew of eight to 12 people who tend to Race Across America details while he works the pedals. He said he requires just three hours of sleep a day during the cross-country trek. The Race Across America often is called "the world's toughest race.'' And with good reason: More than half the entrants fail to finish.
Chew has achieved several record-shattering mileage marks. He holds the 10-mile record of 23:30 on a half-mile track, and also finished 50 miles in 2:02.25 and 100 miles in 4:07:04 on half-mile circuits.
The full-time racer learned early on he was better suited for distance rather than speed events.
"I was never fast enough or good enough for the Tour de France,'' he said. "My style is more for distance.''
His next competition is a 24-hour race in Iowa later this month.
Chew heads for his home in Pittsburgh today. Naturally he will cover the route on his bicycle.
"It's around 150 miles, but I may take a course that's around 200,'' Chew said. "My biggest problem is with cars and trucks, but I have good skills to avoid traffic.''
His trip today will add more mileage for this year as he rolls closer to a half-million miles.
And what about that far-away goal of 1 million?
"I should hit it in my 70s or 80s,'' Chew confidently said. That is more than three decades away, but long-range targets are nothing new for the accomplished cyclist.Cyclist bikes from Pittsburgh, wins race Monday, June 21, 1999 By Steve Ungrey The Grand Rapids Press For Pittsburgh native Daniel Chew, traveling to the National 24-Hour Bike Challenge by plane or car was not an option. After all, Chew thought, why not have a pre-ride workout by pedaling all the way here from Pennsylvania? Chew traveled the 550-mile distance from Pittsburgh to Kent City High School on his bike. Once the event started, his pace didn't quit.He racked up 473 miles to take the men's overall top prize at the 16th annual event, which was held in Kent City for the first time this year after construction conflicts knocked the challenge from Douglas Walker Park in Byron Center. Chew, who missed the record in the men's 35-39 age group by 20 miles, didn't think twice about bicycling to Kent City. Chew planned on returning to Pittsburgh the same way he got here, with his two legs and a pair of wheels. "When I got here, I stayed with some friends before taking part in the event," Chew said. "It felt good to do well my first time out, I'm taking very seriously my goal of bicycling a million miles in my lifetime. Unrealistic as it may seem to most people, for Chew it is a lifetime ambition. The winner of the Race Across America event in 1996, Chew has also competed in ultra-marathon bike races across the country. In his lifetime, Chew has racked up 461,000 miles on the bike odometer. Now that's a lot of mileage. "Daniel is a completely different person running this challenge than most people are used to seeing," said event co-chairperson Diane Obermeyer. "Most people who take part in this are part-time bicyclists or those who are in this event for fun."
Pitt Alumn Halfway to Million Mile Mark By Brad Swink for The Pitt News on 2/24/1998 When most young Pittsburghers were trying their best to imitate Willie Stargell's famous home run swing, 10-year-old Daniel Chew was riding 200 miles aboard a battered, Sears Free Spirit 10-speed. When in his 20s, Chew scoffed at the latest fad haircuts, and began to cut his own hair. The Pitt graduate, with a degree in mathematics, calculated that the money saved on haircuts during a lifetime would one day add up to the price of a car. And while many 35-year-olds are well into their careers, Chew said he may not realize his career goal for at least another 40 years. Such is the self-described "freaky" life of one of the world's greatest ultramarathon cyclists, who is 429,000 miles into his journey of bicycling one million miles. On the million mile journey, Chew matter-of-factly stated, "I hope to hit it by the time I'm 70 or 80." It all started in 1972 in Lima, Ohio, when his family took part in the Midwest Double Century, a 200-mile bike tour. The Chews, all of whom are Pitt graduates, were well represented on the streets of Lima, with father, Hal; mother, Sarah; daughter, Carol; and sons Tom and Dan, each at the starting line. While the Chews didn't expect their youngest child Dan to finish the grueling event, they supported his unbridled energy. "I wasn't sure that I could finish the whole 200 miles, but not only did I finish, I also beat the cut-off time [24 hours] by 30 minutes," said Chew in his characteristically loud voice. Chew's early success with ultradistance cycling struck a chord that has not dimmed after a quarter century of riding. While there have been times when Chew said he was weary of his "marriage to the bike," he was quick to admit, "I'm not quite ready for a divorce." Chew's enthusiasm for the bike, in fact, has intensified the last few years as the result of his Race Across AMerica exploits. The Race Across AMerica or RAAM, according to Chew, is the longest, non-stop bicycle road race in the world, and he just happens to be one of the best at taming the unpredictable beast of an event. The 3,000-mile transcontinental race, once described by Outside Magazine as "The toughest race in the world," leaves California each July, and ends in Savannah, Ga. In 1994, in his first attempt, Chew finished the race in fourth place, with a time of nine days, 29 minutes. The exemplary first-time ride earned the Alderdice High School graduate RAAM rookie-of-the-year honors as well as the respect from of everyone involved with the event. Since Chew's initial fourth place performance, he has finished no less than second and won the event in 1996 with a time of eight days, seven hours, 14 minutes. He pulled into Savannah more than two hours before runner-up and main rival Rob Kish. Since Chew's initial showing, former race director Michael Shermer continually picked the Squirrel Hill resident as the one to beat. Shermer, himself a former RAAM contestant, also said that Chew has the experience and qualities necessary to break the transcontinental record of seven days, 23 hours, and 14 minutes. If all things follow a carefully scripted plan, Chew also believes that he is capable of breaking the record. "To win RAAM and break the record is very difficult. Few riders are both mentally and physically capable of such a feat," explained Chew. Chew estimates, however, that if the record is to be broken, this is the year to do it. According to Chew, "This year's course is a faster and flatter southern route. The highest point is 7,000 feet compared to 10,000 feet last year. Because there is less climbing, the record could be within reach."! n
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