With January sitting uneasily around us, and with thoughts of better rides ahead (at least less grey with a few more degrees on the bar), what better than to dream of a true behemoth of a ride - a dragon slaying monstrosity so dreadfully fiendish as to put in shadow even the great Tour de France. A race in the purest sense. A continent traversing epic that would have even the toughest European Pro squeaking into his cereal. We are of course talking about The Race Across America.
Recognised as the pinnacle of athletic achievement, RAAM (as it is known) is insanely tough, yet for an event that originally begin as a loose race among 4 friends riding from Santa Monica, LA to the Empire State in NY, it's a testament to the enduring popularity of a classic challenge that the 2013 edition will be the 32nd Race Across America.
RAAM takes place every June and kicks off in Oceanside, California, ending in Annapolis, Maryland. Solo riders (the definition of toughness), 2, 4 and 8-person relay teams both male & female are able to compete.
In short, if you're aged between 13 & 75, someone has already RAAM-ed. The event attracts both sexes (15% of the racers are women), and up until 2013, riders from over 25 different countries, with 40% coming from outside the US.
If you think that cycling 3000 miles in around 7 days, whilst chalking up over 170,000 feet of climbing is something that might not totally crush your body, dreams and future health in one fell swoop, and ideally have a few riding buddies just as unhinged, then RAAM might just be up your continent. However, it's not cheap, and once travel costs, support, equipment, food, lodging & race fees are taken into account, you'll be looking at upwards of $15,000 all in. Ouch.
Here are a few representative videos from previous RAAM rides that should give you a good idea of the sort of happy go lucky, blindly optimistic, "woops my leg just dropped off" attitude you'll need in order to survive, let alone race: