52-year-old Swiss woman leads Race Across America through Bloomington

At 12:21 p.m. on Tuesday, Isa Pulver pedaled her bicycle eastward on Bloomington’s SR 46 bypass, past Fee Lane, heading for 3rd Street.

There she would turn east towards Nashville, Indiana, following SR 46 to Columbus, Indiana. If all goes to plan, she will eventually arrive in Annapolis Maryland.

When she hit Bloomington, the 52-year-old Swiss cyclist enjoyed the overall lead in the Race Across America—the cross-country bicycle race that goes through town every year in mid-June.

On Tuesday around noon, Pulver was around 120 miles ahead of second place rider Lionel Poggio. Another 13 miles back was Leah Goldstein. The race starts in Oceanside, California and ends in Annapolis, covering 3,037.7 miles.

In 2021, Goldstein came through Bloomington in second place overall, but wound up winning the overall race, becoming the first woman to accomplish that feat.

The last couple of years, the RAAM race leader has come through Bloomington in the wee hours of the morning. This year, Pulver’s pace meant that Bloomington cycling fans could see the race leader during the daylight hours.

Despite the big lead, Pulver’s victory is far from wrapped up. There are 700 tough miles left, which include the Appalachian Mountains.

Last year (2022), Nicole Reist, another Swiss woman, came through Bloomington as the overall leader, but wound up in third place overall.

Reist arrived in town with a five-hour overall race lead over the second place rider, but she crashed twice within a couple hundred miles of the finish. After the crash, which broke one of her ribs, she had to be lifted on and off the bike. Reist was quoted in a news report saying, “I have never suffered so much as on these last 320 kilometers.” The overall winner in 2022 was 54-year-old Australian Allan Jefferson.

On Tuesday, Pulver’s path into Bloomington featured a deviation from the official race course, near Bloomfield. East of Bloomfield, the official race course follows SR 43. But Pulver followed SR 45 instead. When she reached Curry Pike, she headed north and got back on track. Reportedly, there may have been some construction that could have forced the alternate routing.

For cycling enthusiasts who want to see these endurance athletes ride through Bloomington over the next few days, the live tracking website for RAAM makes it possible to keep tabs on rider locations

Updated Wednesday, June 21, 2023. From the Facebook page of the RAAM organizers:

Bloomington, Indiana
June 20, 2023
Fans can relax. Yes, Isa Pulver (Switzerland) is off the planned route, but is instead on a detour due to the Beach Creek Bridge being out on Highway 43. RAAM Headquarters studied all options and decided that instead of going up Highway 43, the racers will go to Highway 45. While it is not as scenic as 43, other options were not workable. In the end, the mileage difference will be negligible.
This change has been communicated to all of the racers’ crews.
The good news is that the detour happens AFTER Blue Barn Hill Farm.


Video: June 20, 2023 at 12:21 p.m. RAAM


Photos: June 20, 2023 at 12:21 p.m. RAAM

2 thoughts on “52-year-old Swiss woman leads Race Across America through Bloomington

  1. I told Lionel he missed out on a relatively nice looking stretch of highway because of the detour and he said he didn’t care about scenery.

  2. Ha! Nice touch with the music.

    “This is Italy! And now has begun what I have always thought … to be the supreme joy in life. And I am loving it. Today was so rich that now, in the evening, I must collect myself a little, and so I am writing to you to thank you, dear parents, for having given me all this happiness.”

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