By Kevin Rouse
It’s a gargantuan order to try and truly comprehend the enormity of the task. In fact, it’s one that may only be possible several minutes before rolling across the line, when the thought of riding 3000 miles in just 12 days finally sinks in to full effect—bringing with it crippling amounts of nervousness and self-doubt.
The nervous energy is readily apparent, with some riders laughing uneasily with their support teams while others make fastidious last-minute adjustments—pulling up their socks four or five times before making sure their arm warmers are in exactly the right place. Others still, prefer to wrestle with the gravity of their impending undertaking in silence, eyes closed, in a near-meditative state.
It all takes place on an overcast day in Oceanside, California, juxtaposed awkwardly amidst family outings to the beach, roving hot-dog vendors, and barking dogs. To so many, the idea of riding across the United States is so far removed from reality, the task’s implications simply fail to register, the event serving as just an interesting footnote to their trip down to the beach.
Even to those who ride, it’s still an undertaking that’s hard to grasp. To those who race, even thousand-mile training weeks can only provide so much understanding.
At the time of writing, many racers racers have already ridden over 300 miles, with the race leader, Swiss rider Reto Schoch already passing through Prescott, Arizona and approaching 450 miles covered (and averaging just over 20 miles-per-hour). And, a race of attrition, the 2012 RAAM has already suffered its first DNF.
So, to Geoff Bruner, 2011 official RAAM finisher, we say, “Better luck next year.”
And there’s no doubt there will be a next year.