They don’t like to run and they hate to swim, at least that was the majority sentiment of racers before the start of the 100th anniversary of Race Across America.
Juneau’s Dr. Janice Sheufelt, 46, is currently heading into her third day of this prestigious RAAM cycling competition with teammate Joel Sothern, 55, from Thousand Oaks, Calf.
“She’s doing great,” husband Jim Sheufelt said. “They are the second two-person team on the road. We are currently in between Flagstaff and Tuba. It was 110-degrees going through the desert in Southern California but the team worked through the heat.”
Calling themselves the Flying J’s, the duo is competing in the mixed 2-person team category. Their race began on Saturday in Oceanside, Calf. and finishes at Annapolis, MD., roughly 3,000 miles away. The two riders have been each pulling for an hour on rotation.
As of late Sunday, Sheufelt had left Flagstaff and was approaching Tuba City, AZ. The team has completed over 535.8 miles and have roughly 2,400 remaining. The Flying J’s support team consists of James Sheufelt, Peter Apathy, John Barrett, Terry Ward, Mike Jacob, Steve Gerbig, Brenda Peterson, Megan Sheufelt, Sam Bertsch and Matt Turner. Sealaska Heritage Institute and Cycle Alaska sponsor the Flying J’s.
Teams with names such as Blood Sweat and Gears (Bikes For Kids Foundation), Allied Forces (Racing for injured veterans), Power Pedals and Ponytails (Camp Twin Lakes for children with disabilities) and Walter Reed Bethesda Team (an eight-man combat injured cycling team who have all been treated for injuries suffered in Iraq or Afghanistan), are among the many who are cycling for causes as well as competition.
Throw into the mix over 37 top solo riders, who began on June 11, and the length of the race takes on even more excitement.
Austria’s Christoph Strasser is a race favorite as is USA’s Cassie Schumacher, representing Pedal For Heroes, and USA’s Maria Parker (3000 Miles To A Cure). Italy’s Mario Fraternali and Canada’s Jason “The Hammer” Lane and Sergey Zimin from the Russian Federation are also bent on top times.
Racers comments have included:
“It is all about eating and racing. And there is a party at the end” - Allied Forces.
“And you don’t have to run... just bike, bike, and bike” - Blood Sweat And Gears.
“We met at a double ultra ride, so we knew something wasn’t right about us” - Power Pedal and Ponytails.
Seana Hogan, Sheufelt’s nemesis in the Furnace Creek 508, is currently leading solo women age 50-59 and is in Kansas with roughly 1600 miles remaining after cycling for over five days.
Cassie Schumacher leads women under 50 heading into Walsh, CO and has covered 1,200 miles with roughly 1,788 remaining.
Austria’s Christoph Strasser leads men under 50, covering 2074 miles with 915 remaining as he moves through Illinois.
Austria’s Franz Wintersberger is leading men age 50-59, covering 1,471 miles into Kansas with 1,517 remaining.
USA’s Patrick Seely leads men age 60-69, covering 1,373 miles over five days and arriving in Kansas with 1,600 remaining.
RAAM began in 1982 when four individuals raced from Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Pier to New York City’s Empire State Building. Teams were added in 1992 and have become the most popular component of the race. Riders come from around the world to compete now and the event averages 25 different countrymen/women per year.
The length of the race is 3,000 miles, with 170,000 feet of climbing, across 12 states. Teams will average 350-500 miles per day and solo riders 250-350. Teams are composed of 2, 4 or 8 members.
The RAAM is not a stage race like the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana or Giro de Italia; rather it requires one continual pedal, once the clock starts it doesn’t stop until the finish line. The race is 30-percent longer than the Tour de France and will be covered in the time (maximum time allowed is nine days).