Team of Toronto cyclists biking across U.S. to raise money for veterans
Cyclists will travel from the west coast to the east, passing three major mountain ranges
A team of eight Toronto cyclists are competing in a race coast-to-coast across the U.S. to raise money for True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity for veterans, military and their families.
"The adrenaline is certainly going...there's a lot of anxious, nervous and excited energy built around the team just to get on the bikes and see what we can do," said Chris Slawson, who checked in with CBC Toronto from Borrego Springs, California.
Team True Patriot Love, made up of amateur cyclists from Toronto, is biking non-stop from Oceanside, California, all the way to finish line in Annapolis, Maryland as part of Race Across America (RAAM).
"We are a bunch of friends that have always done athletic challenges together," says team member Reid McGregor. "We're happy to represent Canada down at the U.S."
The team is split into two groups of four with each group taking turns to spend roughly 10 hours on the road. The group that isn't cycling rests in an RV equipped with beds, food and water.
RAAM is a 4,800-kilometre race that spans the continent. Cyclists travel from the west coast to the east, passing three major mountain ranges and crossing four of America's longest rivers during the race.
The fastest time the race has ever been completed by Canadians is 6 days 2 hours and 21 minutes, a record Team True Patriot Love is hoping to beat.
"We're going to keep our heads down and keep pedalling," said McGregor. "Everyone has to be on the same page."
Over the past year and a half, the team members have been prepping together and alone not just by cycling but also by weight training and endurance training.
"There's no one specific way to train," said Slawson. "It's just making yourself an all-rounded cyclist so you can be prepared for anything the race throws at you."
The team members say their biggest challenge will likely be any unexpected weather and fatigue.
"What I think we couldn't really train for is how we are going to deal when we're fatigued over a number of days," says Slawson. "We are going to be working with minimal sleeping and rest when we can...as the sleep deprivation increases, that's certainly going to be challenging for us."
The team has already raised more than $110,000 for the True Patriot Love Foundation in support of veterans, military personnel and their families.
The cyclists are joined by 16 crew members, mostly from the GTA themselves, who are tagging along in a minivan and two RVs to support them along the way.