Question: I’m the captain of Team Road Rash, a group of four (three men and me) who are signed up for the Race Across America. We aren’t competitive or fast, and in fact are just hoping to finish! Can you help with some training advice since you’ve ridden the event? — Jennifer S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I’m glad to hearyou’re doing Team RAAM. The 1996 race was the top cycling experience of my life — and that’s saying quite a bit because I’ve been riding for well over 40 years. It was incredibly hard, but also rewarding to watch the camaraderie and team spirit develop.
I’m sure you know how important a good crew is to this challenge. Without top support and solid logistics, the whole thing will fall apart no matter how fit each rider is. For our team in ’96, the experience of director Lon Haldeman and crew chief Joanne Penseyres was invaluable.
The key to team RAAM isn’t endurance in the traditional sense. You don’t need to ride all day for days on end. Instead, the key is what I call “TT stamina.” This is the ability to ride hard for 30 minutes or so, recover in the van, and then repeat this time trial-like effort nearly 80 times all the way across the U.S. So our training didn’t focus on long rides. Rather, we worked on building time-trial speed and the ability to do repeats.
For more advice, check my eBooks and eArticles in the RBR eBookstore. They tell how to build an appropriate winter and early spring base. While it isn’t specifically about Team RAAM, many of the suggested training programs are similar to what we did.
One of the best ways to find out about RAAM is to attend Lon Haldeman’s PAC Tour Training Camps in Arizona each March. I often coach at these camps, as do other RAAM veterans and cycling experts.
The camps are fun, and they emphasize techniques for distance riding and team events. And if you hang with Lon for a week, you won’t have any unanswered questions about RAAM. He’s a two-time winner!