Chris Ragsdale has challenged, and defeated, just about every test of bicycle endurance possible — from 24-hour challenges to a 1,200-kilometer ride across France.
But that’s nothing compared to what he’s taking on next.
Ragsdale is one of 41 riders competing in the ultimate test of mental and physical strength, the Race Across America (RAAM).
Known as the world’s toughest endurance bicycle race, the event starts today in Oceanside, Calif., and wraps up in about a week in Annapolis, Md. It covers an astounding 3,000 miles.
Ragsdale has had the chance to tackle the RAAM in prior years, but it wasn’t until he finished the Paris-Brest-Paris race in France that he decided he was ready to take on the Ride Across America.
“Prior to that, I had decided I didn’t need or want to do the RAAM,” said Ragsdale, a 1995 graduate of Grand Haven High School now living in Seattle. “But I had the ride of my life in Paris, and that changed my mind about the whole thing. I knew I needed to do this, so here I am.”
The RAAM is unique in that there are no predetermined starting or stopping points each day.
“There is a very specific route you follow — but there are no stages, no planned stops,” Ragsdale said. “They do have time stations along the route that you have to check in at. It’s a race, not a tour, so we’re all going full-out, nonstop to see who can get to the other end of the country first. I’m super excited about it.”
Those who want to follow Ragsdale’s progress can do so via Facebook and Twitter; or by following his website, ragsdaleridesagain.com. The official RAAM website, ridefarther.com, will have up-to-the minute updates, since Ragsdale’s van will be outfitted with a GPS, and each time he checks in at a time station, his status will be updated.
Ragsdale will also do a live update on WGHN (92.1 FM) each day at 9 a.m.
When he reaches Annapolis, Ragsdale’s family will be there waiting — including his wife, Lara; and his boys: Caden, 5, and Chase, 3. His parents, Jody and Chay, will also be there.
“It should be a great welcoming committee out there,” Ragsdale said.
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