Andrew Willis now just 200 miles from finish of Race Across the West

Andrew Willis downs a slice of pizza during a quick break early this morning during the Race Across the West. Photo courtesy Andrew Willis/Joni Tooke/Sam Frost
Andrew Willis downs a slice of pizza during a quick break early this morning during the Race Across the West. Photo courtesy Andrew Willis/Joni Tooke/Sam Frost

 

After pedaling through the night last night, Austin cyclist Andrew Willis is now about 200 miles from the finish line of the grueling Race Across the West.

Willis started the California-to-Colorado race at about 12:30 on Tuesday. About 500 miles into the 900-plus-mile adventure, he stopped because of severe foot pain caused by gout. After taking a 9-hour break Wednesday night, he returned to the race and has been riding strong ever since, according to crew chief Joni Tooke.

“That long sleep break rejuvenated him,” Tooke said. “Once he got back on the bike and had some tailwinds and downhill cruising, he’s been fine. He’s being himself.”

At 11:10 a.m. this morning, he’d just passed Tuba City, Arizona, and was headed toward Kayenta.

Andrew Willis is now about 200 miles from the finish of the Race Across the West. Andrew Willis/Joni Tooke/Sam Frost
Andrew Willis is now about 200 miles from the finish of the Race Across the West. Andrew Willis/Joni Tooke/Sam Frost

 

“He’s looking good,” Tooke said. “You can tell the boy can smell the barn. He’s focused and he’s taking us in.”

Crews are treating his foot and saddle sores with topical medication. Since returning to the race, Willis has paused only for pizza and ice cream, and to update his social media account.

Early this morning he posted this update: “Wanted to quit so bad last night. So glad I didn’t. We modified my shoe for the gout pain. We changed my saddle position to help my sitting area. Took me 10 hours, with some stops, to go 137 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing to Flagstaff where pizza and medicine for my foot were waiting for me. From extreme heat and barren deserts to mountains and pine trees. Turned out to be a great day, and now I know I can ride through gout!”

Author: Pam LeBlanc

Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and travel for the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked for the Statesman since 1998 and written her weekly fitness column, Fit City, since 2004.

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