Monday, June 13, 2011

"The Race"

(The Bike Nazi generally steers away from the "competition" side of bicycling, mostly because there seem to be plenty of sources for such info. And because I'm generally not very interested. But now and then, something catches my interest, and I share in the hopes that my audience may also be interested.)

The Boise-flavored "Half Ironman" took place over the weekend; it attracted around 1500 participants. It consists of a 1.2-mile swim (at Lucky Peak Reservoir - still mighty cold in June!), a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Pretty impressive. 1200 or so of the starters finished. (My granddaughter and I were bicycling on the Greenbelt toward the end of the competition, and some of those poor runners looked beat! But they were still going.)

But that's not "the race."

Early next month, the celebrated Tour de France gets underway. Despite the fact that professional cycling has taken a big PR hit recently, with the allegations and accusations about illegal drug use, the Tour remains popular and famous. Of course, the "tour" races consist of both individual effort and teamwork, and cover several thousand miles in bite-size chunks, for the better part of a month.

But that's not "the race," either.

This week, "the race" starts... for the 30th time. I refer to the Race Across America, arguably the most grueling test of athletic endurance you'll find anywhere.

What's it all about? From the website, "RAAM is a race! But unlike the three great Europeon Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro de Italia), RAAM is not a stage race. RAAM is one continual stage, similar to a time trial. Once the clock starts it does not stop until the finish line. RAAM is about 30% longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time allowed for the Tour."

So - you get on your bike at the Pacific Ocean, and take a little ride to the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, you cover 3000 miles and climb 170,000 vertical feet. Typically the winner crosses the finish line in 8-9 days, thus averaging 300+ miles per day.

Suddenly the Half Ironman - which perhaps 1% of the population could even finish - seems pretty wimpy by comparison.

(I don't follow the RAAM, but I've thoroughly enjoyed a couple DVDs my daughter gave me - documentaries about the race. And I'm happy to give a nod to those awesome competitors. I hope they occasionally ride their bikes to the office, too!!)


Mark said...

That is an awsome race. I can't imagine, 300 miles a day? That takes some serious fitness. For all those mountain bikers out there, there is the Tour Divide Race that can be found here;

They "only" need to do 100 miles a day on dirt. The local paper had an article on a Boise guy doing it last week.

Anonymous said...

Boise Public Library has a dvd documentary on the Tour Divide Race, called "Ride the Divide." I believe it chronicles the 2008 event. The riders are inspirational in their determination to finish.