Robic, Jure - RAAM - The Race across America
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Explorers of the Infinite – Maria Coffey
The participants of the Race Across America RAAM, …... at 3,042 miles from the west coast to the east coast of the USA, it is the longest and arguably the toughest annual endurance cycling event in the world. It has no designated rest periods; the clock keeps running from start to finish. To win the race, a cyclist must be prepared to ride for 22 hours a day, over mountain passes and through deserts, in blistering heat and chilling rain storms. Every moment not spent pedalling reduces the chance of success, so, while riding, the participants drink, eat, urinate, change their clothing, and apply sunscreen to their skin and Band-aids to their blisters.
Some of them have suffered Shermer syndrome, named after a veteran RAAM participant, a condition in which the neck muscles can no longer support the head. Rumour has it that a few of those afflicted in the past chose to carry on riding with duct tape or a bungee cord holding their heads upright.
The lack of sleep, the constant effort, and the stress of competition take their toll in other ways. The Slovenian Rider Jure Robic is a three time winner of RAAM. His record time for completing the course is 8 days, 19 hours, and 33 minutes, during which period he claimed to have slept a total of eight hours.
He has a pattern of steadily unravelling during the race. By the second day he starts talking at an abnormally fast rate. By day three he becomes volatile, sometimes getting off his bike and storming back to his support vehicle in such a rage that his crew lock the doors. By day four he loses his short term memory and has attacks of weeping.
Finally, the hallucinations kick in; he sees wolves, bears, Martians and bandits chasing him with guns. He's been known to leap off his bike to fight with mail boxes that were threatening him