Argon 18 on the Road to RAAM

Starting on June 14th, Argon 18 will be at the 40th anniversary edition of the Race Across America, supporting the GCN team of Mark Beaumont and Jonathan Shubert. Argon 18 staff will be part of the support crew for the duration of the race, so we’ll be giving you a road-side view all along the way. Ready for a little RAAM trivia? Read on, and stay tuned for more about the route, the riders’ training plan, and of course, all about their bikes.

What is RAAM?

The Race Across America is known as ‘The World’s Toughest Bike Race’. Covering roughly 3000 miles and 170,000 feet of climbing, it’s a non-stop, round-the-clock race west-to-east through 12 states, 88 counties and 350 communities. That’s the equivalent of climbing Everest every day over the average six-day span of the race, or riding a Tour De France that’s 30% longer and completed in half the time.

Cyclists come from all over the world – over 25 countries and five continents have been represented. This year the roster is made up of 34 solo riders, six two-person teams, 17 four-person teams, and nine eight-person teams. 

Who’s on the GCN team?

Argon 18 athlete Mark Beaumont has joined forces with Jonathan Shubert to make up the two-person GCN team. The guys will ride relay-style for the duration of the race. To beat the current record, they will need to finish in less than 6 days, 10 hours and 39mins. That’s an average speed of around 20mph.

What bikes will they ride?

Both Mark and Jon will be riding the new Sum Pro and the E-119 Tri+ Disc. The Sum will be for climbing and the E-119 for pretty much everything else. We’ll bring you more details on their setup on the bikes live from the course!

Wait, they’re riding tri bikes?

RAAM is essentially a cross-country time trial. While the E-119 Tri+ Disc isn’t a UCI -legal TT bike, UCI rules don’t apply to RAAM so the riders are free to use it. They’ll have the advantage of the ultra-aero frame and TT position, which they’ll need if they want to break the record. Also, the E-119 is designed with multiple hydration options and has integrated nutrition storage, important factors in this race.

What kind of emergencies or surprises do riders prepare for?

Everything! The course has its highest point at Wolf Creek Pass, hitting 10,856 feet, and lowest near Salton Sea at -187 feet. Temperatures can go above 50°C, with humidity up to 90%. Those are a lot of variables to prepare for. Then there’s prepping the bikes and pulling together lots of spare parts for every conceivable mechanical. Riders also need to prepare for the physical and mental effects of fatigue, plan their nutrition, and of course, get their training miles in.

RAAM tracking link: (T204)

Hooked on ultra-endurance? Check out Aaron Hunnel’s solo ride across America, the Ride to Stop Suicide, here.

Photos by: Dave Zaple