The 2004 Race Across America started today. RAAM is a 2921.7 mile, coast-to-coast ultra marathon cycling race. First run in 1982, 2004 is the 23rd year of the race. For a week+, contending solo cyclists will pedal an average of 350 miles per day, while sleeping as little as 1 hour per night. Burning 8,000 to 10,000 or more calories per day, racers will have to contend with searing heat, frigid cold, gale-force winds, thunderstorms and sleep deprivation. For team riders, RAAM constitutes one of the most challenging competitions in cycling averaging 500+ miles a day. Two, four & eight person teams work to utilize each other’s strengths in completing this cross-country journey in record time.
I'm interested in following this because it very closely represents the kind of challenges I will face when I attempt the trans Canada speed record next summer. To give you a better idea of the magnitude of the kind of effort required to finish Raam, here is Pete Penseyres' 1986 solo RAAM statistics:
|Day||On Bike Time||Mileage||On Bike Ave Speed||Actual Sleep|
Here is a fantastic video about Raam. Take the time to check it out - it's only about 5 minutes and it dramatically portrays the kind of daily challenges a Raam rider and his crew must endure as they slowly make their way across almost 3000 miles of desert heat, mountain climbs, rain, wind... well - just watch the vid:
What makes this Raam race even more interesting and directly applicable to my project, is the HPV team. The teams lead rider is non other than Canadian Sam Whittingham - the current world HPV 200 meter speed record holder (81 mph!). They will be riding a Lightning R-84 recumbent bike with a 'body sock'. That's basically a hard nose cone with a spandex fairing that covers the rider. It's quite a bit less aerodynamic than a full hard shell fairing, but is very versatile for a long distance journey like Raam Some of the advantages of a soft fairing over a hard fairing are:
1. less weight than a hard fairing
2. less effected by a cross wind due to the flexibility of the material
3. Offers more ways to cool the rider
I still think there are ways to combine the benefits of BOTH approaches - the robustness of a body sock with the aerodynamic efficiency of a hard fairing.
The HPV team is trying to beat the all-time Raam team record of 5 days, 1 hour set in 1989 by an HPV team which rode the same R-84 Lightning recumbent bike with the spandex fairing.
Here is more info on the HPV Team
Click here for a progress report
Here is a map showing the daily progress of all Raam solo cyclists and teams
To receive these daily reports by email, click here.
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