June 15th, 2024

Retired health care workers depart on monumental cycling race


By Lethbridge Herald on June 13, 2023.

Denise Bakker PHOTO From left, Don Erickson, Leah Goldstein,Sean Williams and Roy Pollmuller are part of Team Leah that will be treking across the USA together in the Race Across America.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Local retired health care workers Roy Pollmuller and Don Erickson began a monumental cycling race yesterday.

Both men agreed to the opportunity to be a part of the support team for cyclist Leah Goldstein in the Race Across America (RAAM), which she is a former champion of.

RAAM is a 5,000 kilometre non-stop cycle journey from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Maryland that started June 13 and  is expected to last 10 days.

Cyclists will be taken through the three deserts, the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and the Appalachians.

Both were asked to join the team by friend Sean Williams, who also is a friend of Goldstein’s.

“Leah’s Goldstein is the cyclist who’s defending champion from 2021,” said Pollmuller.

“He’s (Williams) a good friend and she’s asked him to be involved. You need 10 people on your crew to pull this thing off. But he’s always been working and unable to participate. This year he’s between jobs and he knew they needed a few others. So he asked his two friends, myself and Don, to join him and because Leah’s from Vernon, B.C. and he’s from Vernon. So that’s how we got connected.”

Both with be a part of just Goldstein’s solo ride as the support staff team.

“There’s a few categories but on the solo riders, which Leah is participating in, they leave at intervals and they don’t race together,” said Pollmuller.

“They race themselves against the clock across the country. Riders on teams do a hand off and go across the country as a team one rider at a time, but the solo riders are basically riding unsupported across the country. We provide them medical support (and) navigation, but we can’t push them or drive them or do anything like that. We’re just basically there to feed them, take care of their medical needs, take care of their bicycles, swap their bicycles, fix their bicycles, and watch nutrition and try to get them some rest when you can.”

Pollmuller was intrigued by the opportunity just with the camaraderie.

“I guess it was a good chance for some camaraderie and meeting some new people,” he said.

“But also you know we all have cycling backgrounds and we knew that this was a phenomenal feat that this lady was trying to pull off. So it was kind of an honour to be asked to be on a team for somebody of that exceptional ability to have won the race before. It’s a big deal (and) big commitment.”

Erickson says it’s a chance to see someone that’s so dedicated to this goal.

“I had you know limited information, but we did a practice run and she’s the real deal,” said Erickson.

“She did like almost 40 hours non-stop without taking a break and sleeping , 40 hours of riding, that’s crazy. In my dreams I couldn’t do that. So I just realized the dedication that someone has to this goal to do this requires a really good team and I’ve got some of the qualifications. So it means a lot to help her, like I’d like to see her accomplish her goal.”

His experience of working  shift work at the hospital  in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit is how he is preparing himself.

“So in an ICU you have to be on,” said Erickson.

“You have to be on for like the whole 12 hours. So it kind of translates into this job as well, is like you have to be on for that whole 12 hour shift. Then there’s a night shift that comes on and they have to be on too. There’s no sleeping.”

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