As the ongoing spread of the coronavirus continues to shut things down across the planet, some events are finding creative ways to continue to operate in this difficult environment. Take for example the Race Across America (RAAM), an annual cycling event that bills itself as the “toughest bike race in the world.” Considering what has been going on the U.S. and the rest of the world over the past few weeks, you’d think that it too would be on the list of cancellations do to COVID-19. But over the weekend, organizers for the race announced that the 2020 edition will forge ahead in a virtual format.
What makes RAAM such a unique cycling challenge is that it requires riders to travel 3000+ mile (4828 km) across the U.S. from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland. The route crosses through 12 dates and features more than 175,000 feet (53,340 meters) of vertical gain. Those numbers truly do make it longer and tougher than even something like the Tour de France, which even allows riders more days to finish. But thanks to an ongoing lockdown across many of the states that sit along the route, coupled with the continued uncertainty of when the virus will finally begin to run its course, it would seem riding the traditional course isn’t going to be possible this year. Instead, the RAAM organizers are teaming up with Zwift to host a virtual ride that will offer the same scope as the regular event, just with everything done safely from home.
For the 2020 RAAM, Zwift is working with the race organizers to develop a special course, which is still being created at this moment. There will be two options available for riders, a traditional RAAM that covers the aforementioned 3000 miles and a shorter version called RAW (Race Across the West) that is “only” 860 miles (1384 km) in length. Participants in this virtual version will have 12 days to complete their ride. To make things even more interesting, there will be a number of professional riders taking part in the event as well, giving part participants the chance to ride along in a virtual space.
The video above shares some information and provide a preview of what this edition of the RAAM will look like. You can also visit the event’s official website for more information. For those feeling cooped up at home, looking for a big challenge, or just wanting to get in some riding on their trainer, this will be a great opportunity. In fact, for many, this may be the best opportunity ever to take part in the RAAM, as the logistics of joining the real race are always daunting to overcome. Now, you can use Zwift technology to take part and still sleep in your own bed, interact with your family, and enjoy access to food and drinks the entire time.
Good luck to everyone who joins the race and have fun!
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