Cyclist wins Texas endurance race after passing out

Cyclist wins Texas endurance race after passing out

Posted Sunday, Sep. 25, 2011

By Matthew Reagan

GLEN ROSE — Gary Gottlieb wouldn’t be denied.

The defending Tejas 500 winner had endured more than 24 hours on his bike and had fewer than 150 of 500 miles to finish the race he won a year ago at the Texas Time Trials, a series of endurance bike races ranging from six hours to 500 miles.

Just when it appeared Gottlieb was in good position to wrap up another victory on the 26.5-mile loop course at Glen Rose Park, a tanker truck without its gas tank secured spilled diesel fuel all over the road ahead of him late Friday night.

Gottlieb slipped and slid across the asphalt and couldn’t find traction, forcing his bike and body to the pavement.

The process was repeated several times before Gottlieb finally succumbed to the gas fumes and passed out.

“The police and the paramedics came and the next thing I knew, I woke up in an ambulance with an oxygen mask on and my wife next to me,” said Gottlieb, of Fort Worth.

He was taken to the hospital, as paramedics determined Gottlieb had an abnormally low blood pressure.

The medical staff at Glen Rose Medical Center wanted to admit Gottlieb, but the 47-year-old wasn’t about to lose the chance to repeat his win from a year ago in a race he began at 6 p.m. on Thursday. So he signed a medical release to get back to the course.

“I was trying to pull myself together. I had a hematoma in my thigh and calf and my wife bandaged me up,” he said. “Someone came up and told me that I better get on my bike if I want to win this thing.”

And win he did.

The ordeal cost Gottlieb three hours, but he was still able to finish first, clocking in at 32 hours, 12 minutes, and finishing more than three hours ahead of his closest competitor.

Just a warm-up

The 26.5-mile sprint at the Texas Time Trials must have felt like a warmup to a warmup for 61-year-old Dex Tooke.

The Del Rio resident was less than three months removed from completing the Race Across America, a 3,000-mile trek from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., but was ready to ride again and get back to the race he described as his “grassroots” in endurance cycling.

“I wasn’t out there to set any records,” said Tooke, who was the sixth person ever over the age of 60 to finish RAAM. “This is where I started and I really like this event.”

Tooke is a veteran of endurance events but his trip to the Texas Time Trials, one he has repeated every year since, was his introduction to randonneuring, or endurance cycling racing.

In addition to Saturday’s sprint, Tooke also volunteered to crew for Dongil You of South Korea, who was attempting to qualify for RAAM for the first time.

“He flew all the way over from Korea and all he had was his bicycle and his suitcase,” Tooke said.

Tooke and others provided a rest setup, nutrition and hydration and course advice and logistics for You.

Record-setter

Sharon Stevens didn’t just break the Tejas 500 women’s solo female record with her performance on Saturday — she annihilated it.

Stevens broke Lashley Lynn’s 2009 record of 42 hours, 7 minutes by more than five hours, finishing 503 miles in 36 hours, 5 minutes.

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