‘The holy grail of ultracycling’


She almost seems to be saying that the Tour de France is for a pampered, inferior breed of athletes. But I reckon she knows what she’s talking about.

Leah Goldstein

“With the Tour de France, you stop at the end of the day — you rest, you get a massage, eat a meal, sleep and then start fresh the next day,” Leah Goldstein says in a New York Times story published today. “But with RAAM, you don’t. You’re sleep deprived and disoriented.”
The Times story was a report on this year’s RAAM, the Race Across America. The newspaper called the event “the holy grail of ultracycling, a discipline that attracts athletes eager to test the bounds of human endurance.”
This year’s RAAM, which began June 14 with the start of solo women and men 60 and over, followed by solo men the next day, covered 2,989.5 miles from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md.
To officially complete the race, riders have to finish the course within 12 days, covering a minimum of 250 miles a day. The deadline to complete this year’s race was 5 p.m. Monday. Sleep is optional on the ride.
Goldstein, 42, completed the race in just over 11 days, the best time of the two women who finished this year. She’s a personal trainer from Vernon, British Columbia, and a former professional cyclist, a champion kick boxer and member of the Israeli military’s commando-training unit. She has also competed in a women’s version of the Tour de France, La Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale, or simply Le Tour Féminin.
This year’s overall winner of the Race Across America was 28-year-old Christoph Strasser, who completed the ride in 8 days, 8 hours and 6 minutes, more than 200 miles and 16 hours ahead of his closest competitor, for an average of nearly 400 miles a day. He worked as a bike messenger in his native Austria to help raise the $50,000 to finance his RAAM appearance.

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2 Comments

Filed under Americana, Cycling across America

2 responses to “‘The holy grail of ultracycling’

  1. I’ve also heard it described as a competitive test of peoples’ digestive systems since the nutrition has to hit a fine balance in order for the carbs not to run out while riding.

  2. John Vandevelde

    And my friends thought we were a little crazy to do the Southern Tier in 9 weeks, or to do it at all for that matter! I cannot imagine what it would take to do the RAAM, in fortitude and in craziness.

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