HITTING THE ROAD: Leon Harris, Michael Shadforth, Scott Gilberston, John Eastham, Alan Bradley and Adam Carmichael prepare for the Race Across America.
HITTING THE ROAD: Leon Harris, Michael Shadforth, Scott Gilberston, John Eastham, Alan Bradley and Adam Carmichael prepare for the Race Across America. Iain Curry

Race across the US to test minds and bodies

AFTER logging up to 500km each week during training, a group of eight mates will today embark on the cycling adventure of a lifetime.

Two teams of four will embark on the Race Across America - a 4800km journey from west to east across the United States.

After leaving San Diego, riders face a prevailing headwind for much of the trek, with the route first tackling the Rockies, then the wide open spaces of corn fields and deserts.

The steepest of the climbs come when the riders hit the Appalachians in the east of America.

Riders include John Eastham, Ray and Michael Shadforth, Michael Callow and Leon Harris of the Sunshine Coast, along with Alan Bradley, Scott Gilbertson (Sydney) and Adam Carmichael (Townsville).

They will compete under the Cricks Eastham Foundation banner, with two teams called Shiv and Venge - led by coaches Jason Crowther of Atlas Multisports and Cyclezone Mooloolaba owner John Carey.

The race will be the start of a monumental journey which will test mind, body and logistical nous.

Once the gun goes it's effectively a non-stop time trial race. While solo competitors started last week, in the teams division there must always be one rider on the road for the group to progress.

Initial planning has the team split into pairs - two riders then take the reins for five hours, swapping every 20 minutes, for about 6.5 days.

Some of the climbs will be raced aggressively, where all four riders will rotate in 800 metre efforts.

John Eastham said the teams expected to average about 800km every 24 hours, so each rider would tick over about 200km daily.

Using RVs to transport the crew, they'll grab sleep where possible during "off shifts".

Last month the riders came together and undertook a weekend camp which included one ride that featured a 150km loop including Obi Obi… "the steepest climb any of us have ever done".

"We have been averaging around 400km, some weeks are 500, some are 300," Mr Eastham said.

"During training we've been mixing it up. Doing the Buderim9 every three weeks and one day per week we are in the Hub105 cycling studio.

"We are ready to just get it started now.

"It's just nerve-racking thinking about the bits that you can't train for, like waking up for a 3am shift on day five with minimal sleep up to then, and then having to instantly hit time trail intensity and effort for that shift, again and again."

That is where the teams will be truly tested.

Mr Eastham said it was the section of the race they feared most, riding at 3500 metres at about day five or six.

The lack of sleep will also challenge the competitors, who are raising money for the Crick Eastham Foundation.

All money raised will be channelled into Montrose Access and Outrun Cancer.

Riders and support crew are paying their own way to the US, with corporate sponsors providing material and logistical support.

Vital statistics

  • What: Race Across America.
  • When: Saturday, June 20.
  • Start: Oceanside, California.
  • Finish: Annapolis, Maryland.
  • Route: 4830km, 55,000 metres of elevation. Crosses 12 states, passing through 88 counties and 350 communities.
  • Team Shiv: John Eastham, Scott Gilbertson, Alan Bradley, Adam Carmichael.
  • Team Venge: Michael Callow, Leon Harris, Raymond Shadforth, Michael Shadforth.

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