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Rancho Santa Fe Sports

Bicyclists are getting ready to race across America this month

OCEANSIDE — Race Across America bike teams and solo cyclists depart from Oceanside June 11 and June 15 and begin a 3,000-mile bike race to Annapolis, Md.Racers take off from the Oceanside Pier at noon both days.

On June 11 solo riders take off and have 12 days to complete the race.

On June 15 teams of two, four and eight riders start the race and have nine days to finish.

About 200 riders from 25 different countries start the race. All team riders finish and about half of the solo riders complete the race.

Some cyclists take on the shorter 860-mile Race Across the West course that follows the same route and stops in Durango, Colo.

“Especially for solo racers the sense of accomplishment its huge,” Rick Boethling, race director, said. “It’s a life-changing experience. For teams the goal to finish is a bucket list item. It’s an amazing way to see the country.”

The scenery along the route is beautiful and the length of the ride is demanding.

Teams usually have one team member riding at a time and rotate riders every 30 minutes.

“The relay team never stops,” Boethling said. “In a relay everybody gets breaks.”

Solo riding is more demanding with riders putting in 21 hours a day, getting a few hours sleep, then continuing the race.

The race is on open roads with top team riders averaging 20 mph and top solo riders averaging 15 mph including breaks. Riders’ race times are recorded by live tracking and call-in stations.

“We try to select the route as carefully as we can,” Boethling said. “We choose roads that have low traffic or bike lanes. It’s a pretty safe route going across country.”

The race is held rain or shine.

“We see every weather condition imaginable,” Boethling said. “Storms, rain, floods — the worst condition is bad rains and wind.”

Riders are rerouted during the race to avoid construction, flooding and other road hazards.

“We adjust as we go,” Boethling said.

Riders participate with the help of their support crew.

“The support crew helps them with a place to sleep, massages, directions,” Boethling said. “All they have to do is ride the bicycle.”

Riders’ entry fees cover race operation costs.

Most riders choose to raise funds for a charity as part of their ride. To date $2 million has been raised for 30 different charities.

“It’s a hard race people can tell a story about,” Boethling said. “Cancer, childhood obesity, bicycle awareness — if there’s a charity they’ve raised funds for it.”

This is the 32nd year the race will be held.

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