The Race Across America route crosses 3,000 miles from coast to coast, Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., with 170,000 feet of climbing. Solo racers have 12 days to complete the course. The distance they’ll ride is half again as long as the Tour de France, completed with no rest.
“The clock starts at Oceanside and doesn’t turn off until you reach Annapolis,” says Race Across America President Fred Boethling of Boulder, who raced with a team (there is a nine-day limit for teams to complete the course) in 2005 and as a solo racer in 2006.
“It is a very difficult race, make no mistake about it, and it takes its toll on both the racers and crew,” Boethling says. “The thing to keep in mind is the really fast solo racers at the front of the race are going to make that crossing in a little over eight days. The fast teams in the relay style, they can make that crossing in a little over five days. They don’t stop, they go 24 hours a day around the clock. Solo racers will sleep anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours a night.”
The nightmare has been recorded in the documentary Bicycle Dreams, which screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, and Friday, March 30, at the Dairy Center for the Arts.
Bicycle Dreams “is an up-close look at what RAAM riders go through,” director and producer Stephen Auerbach said in a press release. “They deal with searing desert heat, agonizing mountain climbs and endless stretches of open road. And they do it all while battling extreme exhaustion and sleep deprivation.”
Boethling, who bought the race in 2007, will introduce the film at the Dairy Center screening.
“By the time you’re at the end of the race, you have everyone at the finish line, it’s just an incredible sense of joy and accomplishment,” Boethling says. “We’ve watched a lot of people finish the race and the range of emotions is just amazing.”
For Boethling, pedaling to the finish line, there were dueling responses. “When I was riding the last 250 miles into the finish, I had these two thoughts running through my head,” Boethling says. “One was ‘Oh my gosh, I’m glad this is over,’ but the other was, ‘I could do this faster, I know how to take time off, I could take an hour off here or an hour off there.’”