WARSAW — John White and Lance Perry, Warsaw, have competed in some difficult bicycle races, but none have been quite like what they are embarking on this weekend.
The cyclists will join six other cyclists from the Midwest area for Race Across America, an arduous trek across the country that will take them through 12 states, three mountain ranges, into Death Valley and over miles of endlessly flat terrain, all with a handful of goals in mind: Fun, fitness and a good cause.
Known as the Midwestern Blazing Saddles, the eight riders will take turns pedaling as they race against 40 other teams, starting in Oceanside, Calif., and pedaling nonstop to Baltimore, Md. With eight riders and an additional 10 crew members, their team is one of the largest in the race.
Other team members include Keith Berend, MD, New Albany, Ohio, Mike Berend, MD, Indianapolis, Rendel “Chip” Smith, Upper Arlington, Ohio, Dan “Wes” Wesley, New Albany, Ohio, Kurt Kramer, Indianapolis and Rocco Maiolo, Columbus, Ohio.
Having eight riders will allow the team to compete in shifts. There will be one rider on a bike at all times. A van will follow the cyclist, especially at night for safety. MWBS also has a second van and an RV, so at any given time the cyclists who are not riding can catch up on sleep or move on ahead and check into a hotel room while waiting for the others to catch up.
Perry began cycling about four years ago as a way to stay fit and active, while White is a longtime enthusiast. Both attribute their interest in long-distance races to mutual friend and teammate Keith Berend.
Two years ago, White, Perry and two other riders participated in Race Across the West, a shorter version of RAAM that starts in Oceanside but ends in the Rockies of Colorado, following roughly the first 8,000 miles of RAAM. The team came in third place for four-person teams and fourth overall. It was that ride that inspired them to take on the full RAAM.
Though it is not required, many RAAM teams choose a charity to support through their riding. MWBS has chosen Operation Walk, a nonprofit organization that sends orthopedic doctors into poverty-stricken areas of the world to perform free hip and knee replacements. The team’s motto is, “We ride so others can walk.”
In preparation for the ride, White has been training roughly 15 hours per week. Perry’s training differs from White’s in that he is also preparing for an Iron Man competition in July.
Perry and White leave for California Thursday, June 16 and the race begins at noon Pacific Time Saturday, June 18. The one-person teams will have already started, they said, and Race Across the West riders will have also taken off Tuesday, June 14.
To find out more about the race and about live tracking, click here. White also noted the Tractalis app can be downloaded free on mobile devices. MWBS will be team number 803.