Adrenaline seeking skiers and snowboarders, embrace the summer months. There are plenty of ways to quench your thirst for action sports, even without snow. For Arlene Cook, of Schweitzer Mountain Resort Ski Patrol, the remedy is participating in one of the most respected and longest running endurance sports events in the world- Race Across America (RAAM). The current race started last week in Oceanside, California and finishes all the way in Annapolis, Maryland from June 21st through 25th,, giving team racers a maximum of nine days to finish, and solo racers twelve. The race is in full swing!
Racers cover a total of 3,000 miles and 170,000 feet of climbing terrain. They cross 12 states, pass though 88 counties and 350 communities. They can either compete in the solo competition, or tackle it relay-style, in teams of two, four or eight people. Cook belongs to a four person, all women’s (riders) team called Team Laughing Dog. In a team this size, each person will have to ride roughly six hours a day.
Unlike European Grand Tours, RAAM is not a stage race. The clock starts at the starting line and does not stop until the finish line. It is about 30% longer than the Tour de France, and racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time! Additionally, the race is open to professionals and amateurs alike, ranging from 13 to 75 years old, and representing at least fifteen countries around the world each year.
Each team/solo racer has a support crew that handles all of the logistics- food, fluids, navigation, clothing changes, medical needs, bike repairs, etc. Team Laughing Dog is made up of twelve completely voluntary members, most of whom are residents of the ski-town, Sandpoint, Idaho. Summer is no obstacle for these snow lovers.
So, why race? A better question is, why not! Bikers enjoy seeing the country, spending time with friends, setting records, and overall, enjoying a good time and a fun challenge. Another huge component is charity. Racers annually raise a collective of over two million dollars for a wide range of charitable causes. Team Laughing Dog supports autism awareness by raising funds for Autism Society of America. Past racer charities have included Children of Fallen Patriots, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network, World Vision, American Heart Association, etc. RAAM is not only a good time, but a platform for so many causes. Start prepping for next year!
Photo Credit to Team Laughing Dog