LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Jake Holscher, a 2002 Chadron State College graduate, will always remember his 2014 summer vacation. That’s because Holscher completed the Ride Across America (RAAM) bike race in late June. In its 33-year history, only 288 riders have completed the course.
Holscher finished 11th in his age division and was the third ranked American overall to finish the race from California to Maryland. He finished 3,022-mile race in 11 days, 11 hours and six minutes.
His team was named GS14 to honor Garrett Schlichtemeier, a deceased friend of the Holscher family, and the year of the race.
“The race was everything I imagined and more. It showed me what the human mind and body were really capable of when tested with passion. I don't know what the racing future holds for team GS14 but what I do know is that for 11 days we were truly living and I yearn for that,” Holscher said.
Holscher rode to promote awareness of organ and tissue donation. Both Schlichtemeier, who died in 2010, and Holscher’s mother, Louise, who died in 2002, were organ donors.
“Jake Holscher and his family’s commitment to organ donation inspires us in our efforts to help save lives. We are thankful for his dedication to promoting this life-saving cause,” said Lisa Carmichael, president of Donate Life Nebraska.
Holscher said his crew of five, the smallest in the race, never doubted they would make it across the finish line.
“They selflessly helped me out in any way possible. They were tenacious and refused to fail. Although it was our rookie year with a rookie crew, we had an understanding of RAAM and what it was going to take to get through it,” he said.
Over the course of the trip, Holscher’s basic $1,000 carbon-frame 2012 road bike earned the nickname “Frankenbike.” His team modified the handlebars because his hands started going numb.
Holscher’s team cultivated a friendship with a German team that helped with basic bike tuneups along the way. He admitted he is not mechanically inclined and said it was touching that such a fierce field of competitors also shared a deep comraderie.
In West Virginia when a bike part broke, a team mechanic from Croatia used parts from Holscher’s spare bike to make repairs that enabled him to complete the last 300 miles.
Holscher expressed his gratitude for financial and moral support from friends and family who encouraged him throughout the race.
Not only did Chadron State College support GS14 financially but the team was provided lodging with CSC alumni in Utah and California during the drive from Holscher’s home in Colorado prior to the race.
“Seeing the GS14’s team support vehicle wrapped with Chadron State made me feel like I was part of the Chadron family again,” he said.
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