Sheufelt sets new biking time in Race Across America

Juneau’s Dr. Janice Sheufelt, 46, finished the 3,000-mile Race Across America (RAAM) Powered By Trane bicycling event on Saturday with teammate Joel Southern (55, Thousand Oaks, Calf) in a time of six days, 22 hours and 29 minutes while riding in the 50-59 age category (age averages determine division) as the Flying J’s.


“I had to learn to manage the heat,” Sheufelt said of race difficulties. “And to force myself to eat and drink enough calories.”

The time is the fastest two-person mixed team finish and was just two hours off the winning two-person men’s time of 6:14:26 by the Biking Vikings (Hans Anton Nygaard / Karsten Hoffmann) in the 18-49 age group.

Solo riders began the race on June 11 in Oceanside, California. The finish was at Annapolis, Maryland.

Sheufelt and Southern and their 11-member support team, began on June 15 and the duo alternated pulls (pedal turns) roughly every hour.

“I was sure glad to be finished,” Sheufelt said. “This is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done.”

A story and photos will run in tomorrow’s Juneau Empire. Congratulations to team Flying J’s.

The length of the race was 3,000 miles, with 170,000 feet of climbing, across 12 states. Teams average 350-500 miles per day and solo riders 250-350. Teams were 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).

According to the RAAM website, the concept of a bicycle race across America can be traced back to newspaperman George Nellis, who in 1887 crossed the USA on a 45-pound iron high-wheel bicycle with no gears and with pedals attached directly to the front wheel. Following the railroad routes across the country, he made the crossing in just less than 80 days.

Every ten years or so, the record would be reduced by a few days, but it was not until the 1970s, when John Marino got serious about finding how quickly a bicycle could be ridden across the US. That marked when the modern movement of trans-national cycling competition began. Other riders began challenging the marks made by Marino. In 1982 a group of these riders decided they were ready for a head-to-head race across the US. In its first year, the Race Across America (RAAM) was called the Great American Bike Race. Four riders lined up on the pier in Santa Monica and raced to New York. The winner was Lon Haldeman. Since then the race has been run every year, always west to east.


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