Four competitors who will race in this year’s Race Across America (RAAM) hail from Northeast Ohio. Katie Spotz,
24, formerly of Mentor, is teaming up with a fellow adventurer in a two-person relay. Andre Husain, 45, of Cleveland, Larry Smith, 41, of
Cleveland and I (21, of Strongsville) have team-ed up with Alex Galindo, 26, of Los Angeles, to cover the distance as a four-person relay team.
RAAM, one the most respected and longest-running endurance sports events in the world, is a continuous-stage competition where the clock doesn’t stop until the racer crosses the finish line (unlike, say, the Tour de France, in which each segment of the race is separately timed). It begins at Oceanside, Calif., crosses 12 states and 3,000 miles (while climbing 170,000 feet) and ends at the City Dock in Annapolis, Md.
Soloists, whose race begins June 14, must ride an average of 250 to 350 miles per day to complete the distance in 12 days. Teams will set out June 18 and have nine days to finish.
The first RAAM was in 1982 when four cyclists dared to race from Santa Monica Pier in California to the Empire State Building in New York City. Since then, it has grown into an international affair, with 40 percent of competitors coming from outside the United States. It added the team (relay) division, including two-, four- and eight-person teams, in 1994. In June, the race celebrates its 30th year with its largest field of competitors. Fewer than 200 people have finished the solo race.
Spotz, who became famous in 2009 after becoming the youngest person and first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean in 70 days and 5 hours, will team with Sam Williams of London, who rowed solo across the Atlantic in 2008.
Spotz and Williams are racing to raise money for two organizations, Blue Planet Network and Farm-Africa, which are collaborating on a project that will bring safe drinking water to a community in northern Kenya. They hope to raise $50,000.
Training: Spotz’s training has consisted of riding between 20 and 25 hours per week, with 20 percent as interval training.
For more information about Spotz’s team, visit rideforyourlives.com. To follow Spotz, see rowforwater.com.
My four-person relay team also is racing in partnership with Blue Planet Network to build awareness of the fact that a billion people on the planet have no access to safe drinking water and to raise funds for projects that will provide cost-effective, sustainable solutions for several communities around the globe. We’ve also teamed up with Drink Local. Drink Tap.© to raise funds for Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda, a project to raise the funds and awareness needed to provide fresh-water facilities for St. Charles School in Uganda.
Training: TeamH2Ope’s training includes repetitive, short, hard efforts mixed with long endurance rides. This approach mirrors what we will experience as we take turns riding during the relay. We also incorporate strength training, yoga and weightlifting into our workouts.
Speaking for all the competitors, I have no doubt that RAAM will be the most difficult challenge yet for the cyclists competing. Knowing that our efforts will make a difference in the lives of those in need will give us the motivation we’ll need to keep riding.
For more information about Blue Planet Network, visit www.blueplanetnetwork.org. For Drink Local. Drink Tap.© visit drinklocaldrinktap.org. To follow Team H2Ope, go to www.theteamhope.com.