McEnany set to race across America
Bob McEnaney is hopping on his bike on Tuesday, and other than a few short breaks, that’s exactly where he plans to stay for the next 10 to 12 days.
McEnaney is competing in The Race Across America, where he will attempt to ride over 3,000 miles from Oceanside, Calif. to Baltimore Md., and he must do so in 12 days or less.
“I’m excited … I’m anxious for it, and I’m scared to death of the event,” he said.
It’s a monumental task that McEnaney has been planning to do for roughly two years, but didn’t commit to until about December.
McEnaney said it took so long to commit, because the event requires so much preparation. But after qualifying for the race two years ago after completing a 400-mile race around the Twin Cities area in under 30 hours, he had to do it this year or he would be forced to re-qualify.
“I knew deep in my own heart, if I don’t do it this year then I’m not going to do it,” McEnaney said.
So he went to work. Aside from his on-the-bike training, he had to assemble his nine-person crew, including a crew chief, a chef, and people in charge of driving behind him and constantly providing supplies as McEnaney stays on his bike.
That’s what McEnaney said one of the crew’s biggest duties will be -- keeping him on the bike. He’s heard from others who’ve competed in the challenge that staying on the bike might be one of the most difficult tasks. As he hopes to ride roughly 275 miles a day, and four minutes off the bike equals about a mile that he could have ridden, he wants to stay on his bike as much as possible. He only plans on sleeping an average of three hours every day.
“You’re tired, you’re sore, you’re crabby and you need a break because you’ve been in that position for so long,” McEnaney said. “So the rider is always looking for an excuse to get off the bike. … they need to keep me on the bike and I need to keep going.”
McEnaney’s planning to finish the race in 11 days, one day ahead of the deadline. It’s a plan that’s designed to give him some leeway, because with the possible encounter of a crash or storms, there’s no way of predicting what’s going to happen along the way.
“You never know what tomorrow is going to bring,” he said. “The big thing is you know with that amount of time stuff is going to come up that you don’t think of, you can’t prepare for, it’s all going to be just about dealing with stuff that comes up.”
McEnany said he has three main goals for taking on this challenge. The first is to test his limits on the bike, something he knows The Ride Across America will do to the fullest extent. McEnany said the race, which spans across 12 states, is universally considered the toughest endurance event in the world. McEnany said it’s said fewer solo riders have completed The Race Across America than have summitted Mount Everest.
“Hopefully I’ve done something that not many people have or will ever do, so it’s pretty cool,” he said. “We’ve got this feeling inside of us like, ‘what can I do?’ We all want to test ourselves. We all want to challenge ourselves.”
But while the difficulty of the event is intriguing, it’s also frightening. McEnany’s goal is simply to finish the race, but that’s easier said than done. He is one of about 50 solo riders to take on the task this year, and generally only approximately 50 percent of riders successfully complete it.
“That’s scary,” he said. “Because with all that I’ve done and put forth, I’ve got as good a chance to not finish as I do to finish.”
McEnany’s second goal is to inspire others. He hopes his journey encourages others to push themselves to their limits in whatever path they may choose.
His final goal is to raise money for the Minnesota Military Family Foundation. The MMFF is a community-supported fund created in 2004, according to its website.
“Contributions are made by people who understand that there are many sacrifices that military families make and want to help soften the extraordinary financial hardships that may occur when a family member is deployed by providing a financial safety net,” the website said.
While McEnany said he has relatives in the military, his choice to raise money for MMFF wasn’t based on personal ties.
“It’s really just about my feeling that the military service men and women are the real heroes, there’s just no question about it. They’re putting their lives on hold, they’re families on hold, they’re putting themselves in harms way, they’re putting themselves at risk,” He said. “I have all the respect in the world for the service men and women who are doing the job, but also for their families who are on age 24 hours a day. So I think we all really should be doing as much as we possibly can for our military. This is my way of thanking them.”
To contribute to McEnany’s fundraising efforts, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-race-across-america-for-the-minnesota-military-family-foundation
To track McEnany’s progress throughout the race, and find more information, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ride.For.A.Reason.Charities