Frazier Coaching / Frazier Cycling Partners



Coach Ralph Frazier

My Cycling History

The credit for my involvement in cycling goes to my brother-in-law, Skip Pitzer. Skip is married to my older sister Joanne. He is my original mentor.

Skip's interest in athletics started at an early age. While in high school and college in the 60's, Skip was a track and football star. Skip started road cycling in 1970 and he soon became seriously addicted to it. In 1971, he and his buddy, Dave Pfeiffer, rode their 30-something-pound Schwinn Continental "water buffalos" from Springfield, Ohio to my parents' home near Cumberland, Ohio - a distance of over 130 miles! Dave was wiped out, but Skip was ecstatic! Skip had the ultra-distance cycling bug.

Similar to Skip, my participation in athletics began in high school. I ran cross-country, track, and I was a member of the basketball team. Skip had a definite influence on me. By my sophomore year, I concentrated on track. I was captain of my high school track team my junior and senior years.

As a teenager, I routinely visited Joanne and Skip for a week each summer. While visiting in August 1973, I was 17 years old and I was saving money to buy a car. Skip stepped in and changed my direction. He convinced me to buy a bike instead of a car. That is how I got the disease.

Skip helped me select my first bike. I purchased it from the Kettering Pro Bike Shop in Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton.

1973 C Itoh (Bridgestone) 23" steel frameset, orange, Sugino Crank 52/42, SunTour derailleurs, SunTour downtube friction shifters, including a SunTour Freewheel 13-21 5-speed, KKT rat-trap pedals with Christophe toe clips and Binda straps, 27" Sun steel rims with 1 1/8" clincher tires, Dia-Compe center-pull brakes, Sakae Royal Road Champion 40-cm handlebars, Sakae Royal quill stem, Sakae Royal 27.2-seat-post, Seamless BS Saddle - Total price was $199.

After I bought the bike, Skip taught me how to ride, crash, stop, draft, etc. - in that order! Just one week after buying the bike, Skip and I rode from his home in Springfield to my home near Cumberland, Ohio - a total distance of 133 miles. I survived that ride and my obsession has advanced beyond recovery for the past 29 years!

Here are examples of how my passion for cycling grew.

Between 1973 and 1983, I had ridden 132 centuries. Most of these rides were with Skip. Among these rides were our one-day trips across Ohio. In my college days, Skip and I rode 266 miles across Ohio from the state border near Richmond, Indiana, to the Ohio River at Steubenville, Ohio. Later in 1980, we rode the Cardinal Trail Ride (312 miles) in one day. Clearly, I had a passion for long distance cycling.

In addition to my extensive road cycling mileage, I spent countless hours riding my rollers during the winter months. Several times I had ridden more than 100 miles during weekend afternoons while watching college basketball on my TV set.

My passion advanced to where I became focused on the ultra-marathons. On April 15, 1983, I participated in a 24-hour roller race, which was held at the local shopping mall in Zanesville, Ohio. The other participants were Bob Schmelzle, Glen Button, Herb Fitzer. This roller "marathon" race was an exhibition to advertise cycling and the Wheel & Spoke Bike Shop in Zanesville.

Bob Schmelzle was an ultra-marathon cycling celebrity - he originated BAM, Bicycle Across Missouri in the 70's. Glen Button was a local racer who worked at the Wheel & Spoke. Herb Fitzer was a former Michigan State track star who began cycling after his graduation.

The event started promptly at 6 p.m. Bob rode furiously, while the rest of us rode at a controlled pace. I watched Bob's dial spin and he lapped me several times as the first hours passed. By 4 a.m., Bob was 17 miles ahead, but I noticed that he was slowing. By that point, his pace only matched mine.

At 9 a.m. either fatigue, or monotony, or perhaps a combination overcame Glen Button. He abandoned the race and finished in third place with 355 miles. At the same time, Bob was noticeably suffering. He sent one of his supporters to ask my support crew when I was planning to take a break. I had previously informed my crew that I did not plan on stopping. They relayed this information to Bob's support person, who in turn told Bob. Within a half-hour Bob dismounted for a short massage. He was still leading me by 15 miles. After briefly remounting, Bob dismounted again for a longer duration. I trailed by less than eight miles. Bob remounted and rode for less than five minutes, then he dismounted for a two hour nap. By the finish at 6 p.m. Saturday evening, I had recorded 521 miles -- first place! Bob was second with 485 miles.

More marathons.

As the middle of 1986 rolled around, I was totally consumed by the cycling ultra-marathon bug. By that point in my career, I had completed 288 centuries, including 16 double centuries, two triple centuries, and one quad century. So in 1986, I entered two 24-hour road cycling marathons. On June 6, 1986, I rode the "Central Quad Century" and on July 12, 1986, I rode the Bicycle Marathon of Columbus.

Since the 24-hour roller race three years earlier, Bob Schmelzle had become my frequent ultra-marathon cycling partner. He introduced me to the world of the ultra-distance competition. One of Bob's favorite events was the Central Quad Century (Litchfield, Illinois). He arranged for me to join as a member of his four-man ultra-marathon team. The team included Bob, two of his Saint Louis-native ultra cycling buddies, a four-man support crew, and me. A Saint Louis bike shop provided the support crew and van. Our goal was to have all four team members log at least 400 miles.

Central Quad Century (CQC) - June 6, 1986

The Central Quad Century route consisted of a 161-mile day-loop and a 20-mile night-loop. The day-loop had a 15-hour time limit, that is, all riders had to return to the check-in station at the start-finish line by 9 p.m. After completing the day-loop, the cyclists would start riding the night-loop. As each night-loop was completed, the cyclist would report to the check-in station where the official mileage was recorded. The cyclist would repeat the night-loop until the 24-hour mark or the retirement from the event.

A few minutes before 6 a.m., our team gathered with about 500 other cyclists to receive final instructions from the officials. Following final instructions from the event officials, the starting pistol sounded. The first few miles were very fast. The elite cyclists tried to shake the pretenders. Our team managed to stay near the front. The lead pack was pulling us along between 25 and 30 mph. Our crew drove ahead to the first feed-zone (35 miles). The crews were not allowed to provide support until after the first feed-zone. Everything was fine; I was comfortable within the pack. That all changed at the first feed zone!

There was one crewman for each of our cyclists. As we slowed through the feed-zone, our corresponding crewman handed a feed bag to us, which we grabbed as we passed. The situation is sort of chaotic - cyclists and support crewman mixed, reaching and grabbing. As I reached for my feed bag, the cyclist in front of me abruptly applied his brakes. The next thing I knew, I was skidding on the rough pavement. The pack flew on! Within a few seconds, my crew was at my side. I had a good deal of road rash, but the most serious injury was a deep cut in the knuckle of my right-hand middle finger. The flesh was laid open exposing the bone! One crewman dumped peroxide on my wound and wrapped the finger in gauze. The bandage wouldn't hold, so I put on my cycling glove to hold the dressing and flesh in place. By the time I remounted my bike, the pack was long gone! As I rolled forward, my support crew informed me that I was on my own, they had to catch the pack to help my teammates!

Furiously, I pedaled my bike. My anger gave me a boost. I passed several victims of the lead pack's speed. By the second feed-zone, 75 miles, I intercepted my support crew. They had just finished their duties at the zone and they were preparing to follow the pack. They told me that I had closed within 30 seconds. But I was hammered! I resigned to the fact that I would not be able to catch the big group. Consequently, I rode alone for another eleven hours; occasionally passing riders whom had been dropped by the lead pack.

As my first teammate completed the day-loop, our crew changed their duties. While two of our crewmen patrolled the night-loop in the van, the other two stationed themselves near the check-in station. I was the last teammate to complete the day-loop. A few minutes before 2 p.m., I finished the day-loop and received food and drink from our crew.

Somewhere on my eighth night-loop and having covered over 300 miles, I caught and dropped Bob and teammate #2. Around 2 a.m., I caught teammate #3. We rode together for about an hour, then he stopped to rest at the check-in station. I was completed my twelfth 20-mile night loop just before 5 a.m. My mileage total was 401 in 22 hours 47 minutes - I still have the certificate! With only a little more that an hour remaining and while I was at the check-in station, one of our crewmen informed me that my three teammates had stopped for a food break and they had decided to wait for me to arrive. Bob and teammate #2 had 381 miles and teammate #3 had 391. They were tired. I appeared to be relatively strong. There remained enough time for everyone to get 400 miles as long as I would pull my three teammates another 20-mile loop! I was delighted to serve my team!

As dawn brightened the skies, I pulled the team around the final lap. We reached the check-in station with three minutes to spare. Consequently, Bob and teammate #2 tallied 401 miles, teammate #3 logged 410 miles, and I managed 421, which was good enough for fourth place overall. Our team was the only one that every member logged 400 miles or more.

By the way, Jim Amelung won the event with an incredible 498 miles.


Bicycle Marathon of Columbus (BMOC) - July 12, 1986

The Bicycle Marathon of Columbus was held five weeks after the Central Quad Century. Again, Bob and I entered the event. My intent was to break the Ohio 24-hour record of 360 miles held by Rick Gunther from Toledo, Ohio.  As a side note, Rick held the 24-hour World Roller Record, 838.70 miles, May 14, 1983, and the World Tandem Roller Record with Kevin Hayes, 655.63 miles, March 31, 1984.

Rick Gunther training on rollers

The Bicycle Marathon of Columbus, BMOC, course consisted of a 161-mile day loop with two night-loop options: a 20-mile and a 7.5-mile loop. The check-in points were located at the 80-mile mark and the start-finish line.


This time, my support crew on crew was the greatest on Earth! It consisted of my sisters, Joanne and Becky, my stepsister Carol Jean Collins, my coach, Frank Booth, and my doctor/brother-in-law, Steve Connelly! They followed me the entire day in my car. They made switches after the day-loop and tow different times at the check-in station during the night-loops. Needless to say, I was never abandoned!


The BMOC began promptly at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Among the entrants were formidable competitors including Thomas Altemus, the 1986 National 24-hour Challenge Champion, his teammate, Paul Below, both from Rockford, Illinois.  Of course, the defending BMOC champion, Rick Gunther (Toledo, Ohio) was entered in the race.  I knew my work was cut out for me, Thomas Altemus won the 1986 National 24-hour Challenge with 445 miles and Paul Below was 7th with 379 miles.  As I mentioned, Rick Gunter had the BMOC record with 360 miles.


Just after the 80-mile check-in, Thomas Altemus, Paul Below, Bob, and I broke away from the lead pack. Our foursome built a five-minute lead over the next 20 miles. Our lead increased to more than 20 minutes by the time we began the night loops.


During the third time around the 20-mile night loop, the Illinois boys made an attack. I had just finished a long and hard pull and I was stuck behind Bob, who couldn't react.  I jumped as hard as I could, but the Illinois' support van had swerved around Bob and now it was blocking me. I was able to get around the van, but I was about 200 yards off the back - Bob was done. he couldn't pursue. I chased the attackers for about seven miles holding 27 mph! My support crew followed - they feared that I would be dropped. But I was getting closer to my rivals. Finally the Illinois boys sat up. When I caught up they said that they wanted to drop Bob, but they didn't expect that they would be able to drop me. They sure put in a big effort! From that point forward, I noticed that the Illinois boys were taking Tums passed to them by their support crew.

Sometime after dark and beyond 300 miles, Altemus' upset stomach got the better of him. Near the check-in, he stopped and vomited through his nose! So Thomas was finished, but his teammate, Paul, continued to ride with me to the end.

By the end, I had ridden the 161-mile day loop, the 20-mile night loop thirteen times, and the 7.5-mile night loop twice - 441 miles in total, which was the Ohio 24-hour record at the time. I shared the First Place Trophy with Paul Below, the teammate of Thomas Altemus, the 1986 National 24-hour Challenge.


Bike Sebring 12-hour Race - February 19, 2005


The 2005 Bike Sebring Race was held on Saturday, February 19, 2005.  This race is actually two races: the 12-hour race and the RAAM 24-hour race.  Our team entered the 12-hour race.  The 12-hour race began at 6:30AM with 3 laps around the race track, then a "long loop" of 89 miles, followed by "short loops" of 11.5 miles, which would be repeated until 12 hours expired.  If time permitted, the racers could get credit for one-half "short loop" (5.75 miles) as long as they could reach the point before the end of the 12-hour period.  Time chips were used to track our progress and position.  The sensors were stationed at the end of a short loop next to the support area.   In the middle of the support area, cones were situated in the roadway to mark the turnaround to begin the next loop.


Cathy Frazier, Janelle Alberts, Gloria Sill, Kat Tindol, Roger and Mary Clark operated our support.  Janelle kept our lap times and she tracked our competition.  Our support was fantastic... the best among all others at the race!


For this race, our team had several prioritized objectives.  Our Number 1 objective was to win the race.  Our Number 2 objective was to set the Sebring 12-hour record.  Other objectives were: set as many age group records as possible, set the Women's 12-hour record, and place as many team members as possible.


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Sep 1976
Across Ohio in one day 266 mi
Aug 1980
Cardinal Trail (Ohio longest bike route) in one day 312 mi
Jul 1995
Record for Midwest double century: 9 hr. 20 min., 1st place 200 mi
Jun 1986
Central Double Century -- Litchfield Ill., 4th place 421 mi
Jul 1986
Ohio 24-hour Record - Columbus Bicycle Marathon, 1st place 441 mi
Jun 2000
Lilburn to Baxley, GA - Orlando Ride, Day 1 200 mi
Feb 2005
Bike Sebring 12-hour Race - Sebring, FL, 1st place 255 mi
Date Route Days Miles
May 1976
Ohio Tour after my Sophomore Year in College
T = 403
May 1977
Ohio Tour after my Junior Year in College
T = 742
Jun 1980
Southeastern Ohio to Washington, DC
T = 344
Sep 1992
Suwanee, GA to Dayton, OH, including Smokey Mtns.
T = 583
Jun 1994 Suwanee, GA to Fancy Gap, VA on the Blue Ridge Parkway
T = 376
Aug 1997
Kettering, OH to Suwanee, GA through the Cumberland Mtns.
T = 519
Jun 2000
Lilburn, GA to Orlando, FL
T = 478
Jul 2001
Blue Ridge Parkway: Fancy Gap, VA to Suwanee, GA
98, 93, 108, 98 total = 397