MN man will bike 20 hours a day across the U.S.
WOODBURY — Bob McEnaney would be jailed if he did this to anyone else.
If he forced someone to ride a bike 20 hours a day for 12 days, he’d be guilty of assault. If he inflicted so much stress that a person couldn’t eat, he’d be arrested.
And if he forced a 55-year-old man to pedal from California to Maryland, he’d be behind bars.
But he is doing it to himself. Starting Tuesday, he will be riding in RAAM — the Race Across America, billed as the world’s toughest endurance event.
“Honestly, I am scared to death about the whole race,” McEnaney, who lives in Woodbury, said between training sessions. “No matter what you do beforehand, you don’t experience what you do there.”
One question has hovered around him since he announced his plans.
“Everyone wants a challenge. This is the one I chose,” he said.
“Hopefully I will inspire others. If you set your mind to a crazy-hard goal and surround yourself with the right things, you can do it.”
McEnaney will be raising money for the Minnesota Military Family Foundation, to benefit veterans and their families. “These people are heroes who have put themselves in harm’s way,” he said.
His training has been, naturally, quite grueling.
Training through a Minnesota winter is difficult, so he traveled to California twice this spring for training sessions. He completed a three-day 650-mile test ride.
“My peak was 55 hours on a bike,” McEnaney said. That means he rode continuously for more than two days.
On the Race Across America, McEnaney will be accompanied by an eight-person support crew, riding in two cars and an RV. The crew includes a bike mechanic, massage therapist, cook and social-media worker, chiropractor and EMT. Also with the team will be a bike rider from England, who is hoping to complete the race next year.
Managing them all is a crew chief.
“The No. 1 goal of the crew is to keep me on the bike. Too many times I will be sore and tired and crabby,” McEnaney said. “But every four minutes you are off the bike is one mile that you didn’t do.”
Unlike other races, RAAM doesn’t stop the race clock to allow for breaks. McEnaney plans to sleep in the RV for only three hours a day.
During the race, McEnaney will drink more than 7 gallons of water and eat about 10,000 calories a day.
Sometimes, he will be able to eat “normal food,” such as turkey sandwiches. But when the body is under extreme stress, the stomach rebels. The crew will have a worksheet to record everything he eats and drinks.
“I will take as much solid food as I can,” McEnaney said.
His race starts with about 50 other solo riders. The race also will be completed by eight-person teams who work in relays and finish in about five days. There are also four-person teams.
The riders leave in staggered shifts, so they finish within two days of each other.
McEnaney’s trek will be 30 percent longer than the Tour de France, and he will compete it in just over half the time. It will take him across a desert and over the 10,000-foot Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado.
It will require him to pass through sun-baked Kansas and — most likely — thunderstorms. Then the steep Appalachian Mountains.
Is there one part that he is particularly worried about?
“I am nervous about all of them,” he said.
“It’s just hard to comprehend how hard it is.”
To follow Bob McEnaney’s progress starting Tuesday, visit Facebook.com/Ride.For.A.Reason.Charities.