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  • Mon June 08 2009
  • Posted Jun 7, 2009
MUSCATINE, Iowa Joe Mann faced a dilemma: Deciding what to do on a bicycle after pedaling 431 miles in 24 hours and riding 770 miles in 69 hours and 11 minutes. On June 17, Mann, a 45-year-old information analyst at Raymond Corp. in Muscatine, will answer that question. He will compete in the second annual Race Across the West, which makes up the first third of the Race Across America. The 1,044-mile race in the West goes through California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and ends in Taos, N.M. Racers stop to sleep only when necessary. Mann has named his team for the race Mann Powered. The team includes his wife, Connie Mann, who is the crew chief; along with their sons, Christopher, 19; Caleb, 17; and Eric Furnas of Muscatine, a family friend. Each has crewed for Mann in previous ultra-distance races. And for Connie Mann, being in the crew requires more than just handing water bottles to her husband. She has also baked more than 100 pies and sold them as a fundraiser to help raise money for the team. “My wife has been a great crew chief,” Joe Mann said. “She has made all of the logistical arrangements and kept me on task. When I succeed at this race, it will be in large part because of her support.” Mann has always enjoyed cycling, riding in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, for the first time in 1981 after he graduated from Muscatine High School. He has since done the ride 20 times and has been a member of the Melon City Bike Club for 20 years. Steve Lee of Muscatine, a close friend and fellow bike club member, encouraged Mann to try a 24-hour ultra- distance event in 2000. At that point, the farthest Mann had ridden in a day was 167 miles. He had ridden 100 miles in a day many times, so he figured he could ride 300 miles in 24 hours by taking his time and not stopping. He achieved his goal and set his sights even higher in 2001: 400 miles in 24 hours. Mann managed to ride 387 miles before running out of time. In 2003, he qualified for the Paris Brest Paris, a 770- mile ride in France. He completed it in 69:55. In September 2008, he qualified for Race Across the West by riding 431 miles in 24 hours at The Ultra Midwest 24 in Port Byron, Ill. Recently, Mann’s training included riding in the Balltown Classic on May 30 in DeWitt, Iowa. He rode with Bill Ford and Mike Doyle, both of Muscatine. “On the worst climb, we sped up the hill at a whopping 5.5 mph,” Mann said. “Back on the flat, the three of us worked well together. Nothing hard. Just steady and efficient.” The Muscatine team rode to the Balltown finish with Paul Carpenter of DeKalb, Ill. He was the only finisher of last year’s Race Across the West, according to Mann. They finished the 201-mile race in 10 hours and 48 minutes with a total riding time 9:55. “In ultra-distance events, they only keep time to the minutes, not seconds,” Mann said. “So there is no sprinting to the finish unless you can get a one-minute gap. After 201 miles, nobody was sprinting.” And Mann will be tested even more in Race Across the West, said Fred Boethling of Boulder, Colo., the oldest solo rider to complete the Race Across America. This level of cycling is “an adventure that challenges them to the core of everything they are,” he said. “It’s man against the elements, the road, and ultimately, himself or herself.”

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