Raisin focusing on new forms of racing
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
American cyclist Saul Raisin, who suffered life-threatening injuries from a crash more than two years ago, is continuing his recovery and quest to raise awareness and money for brain injury research, with the second Raisin Hope weekend on October 4-6. The event offerings have expanded from last year to include a benefit ride, 5km fun run/walk, evening reception, auction and a pro/1/2 criterium in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia.
"Last year we had 1000 riders and raised $40,000," said Raisin. "We added the auction, 5km fun run/walk and a pro/1/2 criterium to do even more."
The proceeds from the events will go to his charity Raisin Hope, which is dedicated to helping people with brain injuries similar to his own. Raisin, who was one of American cycling's most promising young talents, has had a extraordinary recovery since his crash at the 2006 Circuit de la Sarthe racing for the French team Credit Agricole. Swelling of the brain put him into a coma from which some doctors thought he would not recover. However he did awaken, and four months after the crash Raisin was back on his bike, determined to ride again.
While many were skeptical of his ability to come back, his Credit Agricole team stood by him – and in 2007 he competed again, racing the time trial of the US professional championships. Though he finished last it was only nine seconds behind the next rider, and for someone who was never expected to walk again, racing alone was a win.
Though his return to road racing in the peloton was not possible, Raisin is still moving forward with other racing plans. He told Cyclingnews that one of the reasons for having a 5km run/walk is because he is training for the New York City Marathon, which is part of a larger plan to compete in Ironman triathlons.
"Right now I am just riding a lot and running a lot, but I just want to complete the Ironman next year," he said. "I can swim two miles and ride a 100 no problem, but the running is going to be the hardest part for me. When I started it took me 30 minutes to do a mile and now I can do at seven minute mile."
"But there is no reason that I can't do a marathon too!"
Many notable names and companies have donated items for the auction, including a Tour of California yellow jersey signed by Levi Leipheimer. As well, many guests will be on hand for the events, including Garmin-Chipotle's Timmy Duggan, who himself had a head-injury scare at the Tour de Georgia in April and made his return to racing at the US professional time trial championship.
More information about the charity and events, as well as information about brain injury recovery, can be found at: http://raisinhope.ning.com/.