RAAM 2019

This page is under development, but will include information about my planning for the Race Across America, the work that I am doing, the work that needs to be done and the physical and psychological problems I am facing in preparing for that ride.

What is the Race Across America?   RAAM:  http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/

For 2018, my decision is coming up soon, where I must decide whether to invest in riding the Race Across the West in June.   I am clearly not ready for RAAM in 2018.

Race Across the West:  http://www.raceacrossthewest.org/

Preparation:

  • Race Date: Starts on Tuesday June 12, 2018; 12pm EDT (but race starts in PDT)
  • Must finish by Saturday June 16, 2017 @ 11am (92 hours or 3 days, 20 hours)
  • Total Distance: 930 miles (1498 km) including 56,518 ft (17,226 m) of climbing

Here is a picture of the RAW profile:

2018 RAW Profile

What is needed:

  1. A strong rider.     My fitness is currently sub-par, and that includes my mental fitness, which is a big part of these events.   The good news is that I have experience in this area including the following significant rides:
  • 1985 – Rode from Sackville, NB to Ottawa (~1300km in total) in 8 days, fully loaded, daylight hours only, including camping out, snow, rain, wind and a stop in Montreal to visit a friend.  These things slow you down!
  • 2003 – Paris-Brest-Paris, (~1,200 km and 10,000 metres of climbing) in 70 hours.  I was riding without support, sick as a dog and still got it done.  I was allowed drafting though, and that resulted in a better time than riding solo.
  • 2007 – PAC Tour Elite (5,000 km from San Diego, CA to Annapolis, MD in 17 days, daylight only and drafting allowed.  This was a RAAM qualifier)
  • 2016 – Ohio RAAM challenge, (648 km, 4600 m of climbing, 30 hours total)  This is a RAAM qualifier

As well, I have ridden a wide variety of other rides between 300km (a 12 hour ride) and 1000km (a 2.5 day ride) so my brain and body know what to do to accomplish my goals.

But what else is needed?

2. I need to improve my fitness again, including my speed and efficiency on and off the bike.   This means that I need to go faster when I am on the bike and stay on the bike longer (fewer rest breaks).   This is critical to completing the ride within the cutoffs.

3. I need a great crew.   Crew has three big tasks (and a bonus skill):

  • Keep me safe.  This is particularly critical after the first 6 hours.   The first six hours are easy, but after that, a rider’s mental acuity drifts rapidly and sometimes dangerously.   Decision making requires ‘adult supervision’ and the crew chief is generally responsible for this role.
  • Keep me healthy.  That includes, food, water, any other medical needs (skin abrasions, drugs, cramping, sweating, over-heating, warming, it could be anything).   As well, there is the mental health issue.  Positive people who understand me are critical.
  • Keep me on the bike.   The biggest one here is mental.  It really is about keeping me on the bike when I am tired, or have a sore, or just want a break.   The second aspect is mechanical.   A mechanic who can change a tire, or a chain.   Who can find the squeek in a frame.
  • People who can drive!!  One of the most important aspects of RAAM are ‘follow’ rules.   A car must remain behind the rider at all times after dusk and the last thing anyone wants is to run over their rider.   The rider also appreciates not being run over.   Good, attentive drivers are a must, particularly when staying awake for 18-20 hours at a time.

So over the next three weeks I need to decide whether I will ride RAW in 2018, and if so, put together a crew.

What I will be working on:

  • Speed – I need to get faster.  At the end, typical racers average about 12 mph (about 19.3kph total speed), which is about 15 mph or about 24kph on the bike.  (The winners are now averaging 16-18 mph for the whole distance, which is unbelievable strength and speed).  Given the amount of climbing however and the fact that riders slow down through the ride, starting speeds are likely to be closer to 30+ kph for the first 12-24 hours.   That requires massive strength and stamina.   I am over 50, so the speeds will be lower on average, but all of the world’s best riders are now turning 50!
  • Diet – Over time, my worst issues surround eating on the bike (and sleeping), and so I continue to improve my diet.  This is an area where I have substantial experience and history, but I continue to try to improve my tricks.  (The body doesn’t work the same after 30 or 40 hours on the bike so it is almost entirely experiential).
  • Sleep – Another issue is the amount of sleep that I need.  It is growing as I age, and my attention is beginning to waver when riding for long periods.  A critical area for me has been emotional stress and I have learned to reduce external stressors well before a ride.
  • Breathing – The body contains millions of small engines.  They take in food and oxygen and generate energy.  More muscles is like a bigger engine, better food is like better fuel, better breathing is like a turbo charger to those engines.   My breathing is shallow and weak and I will be working on improving that aspect along with the others.
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