Last year PSM physiotherapist Michael Harrop embarked on a lofty challenge. He joined a pair of cyclists participating in the Race Across America. Harrop’s expertise helped to keep the pair on track and unharmed during this huge feat. 2017’s Race Across America (RAAM) was one of the toughest yet as a heat wave spreading across Arizona led to temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius in the desert. Are you thinking about taking on the challenge? Here’s some advice from Harrop.
Considered the toughest cycle event in the world, the teams aim to complete the 3100 mile continuous race from California to Maryland, crossing 12 states, with 170,000 feet of climbing in less than 9 days.
I had the pleasure of supporting a British Pair for some of the most sleep deprived days of my life. This pair of army helicopter pilots had already rowed across the Atlantic two years before as part of the TWAC (Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge), so were mentally well prepared for the grueling nature of endurance racing.
Here are my top tips for making it through the event intact:
Professional bike set up is key. To optimise body position and spread load for performance and injury prevention.
Allows slight change of riding position to help decrease the chance of overuse injuries. Also gives an insurance policy if the primary bike develops problems.
Spending hours in the saddle pre-race is essential. Get used to how your bike feels, the set up and get your body accustomed to the task. This helps you build your conditioning and overall tolerance.
Plan before hand is essential. Refilling every 30 – 60 minutes or more in the heat is critical. High quality powders such as those made by Torq help recovery and to keep up calorie and electrolyte intake. Batch cooking food also works and can be kept fresh in ice filled cool boxes for several days.
Cool / dry cyclist as much as possible. Remove all wet or sweaty gear regularly. Multiple changes of clothing are essential as good hygiene helps both rider and team members in close proximity.
If you get tight stretch your lower back / hip flexors / quads and Hamstrings. With fast change overs, finding time can be hard. Try lying in the back of the vehicle and stick your foot on the ceiling to stretch your hamstrings whilst moving to the next destination.
Strength and endurance of your core, glutes and lower back will keep you turning those pedals in the later stages.
The race pushed all our physicals limits, with both crew and cyclists falling asleep whilst on the road. Mistakes will happen and schedules may not run to plan. Be prepared to adapt and even add an unplanned pit stop for a few hours to refresh the entire team.
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