Sir Steve Redgrave once famously told the world that people had permission to shoot him if they ever saw him getting back in a boat, only to return to win a fifth Olympic gold in Sydney, and now he has set himself another tough challenge, this time on two wheels as he takes part in The Race Against America (RAAM).
The former rower has put together a team of eight ex-oarsman, including himself, to take part in the 3,000 mile race with the aim of raising £100,000 for Sport Relief and the Steve Redgrave fund.
Billed as The World’s Toughest Bike Race, RAAM will take the team, called the Redgrave Crew, from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland, and they’re aiming to cross the country in eight days, which means averaging a tough 400 miles a day in the saddle.
During the race, which starts on Saturday June 12th, they will pass through 14 states, climb the Rocky Mountains, ride through Monument Valley and face extremes of heat and cold. As if that weren’t hard enough, only one member of the team – besides Sir Steve, the participants are Jonathan Spencer-Jones, Nick Spencer-Jones, Malcolm Cooper, Ian Neville, John Mottram, Francis Paxton and Peter McConnell, most of whom come from Henley-on-Thames or Marlow – describes himself as a cyclist.
Having said that, most rowers do get on their bikes as part of their training regime – while it may not be obvious to the layman, leg strength is a vital part of the sport. James Cracknell – like Sir Steve, a member of the coxless four that won gold at Sydney – has undertaken several bicycle-based challenges, including attempting the Land’s End to John O’Groats tandem record last year with Rebecca Romero, who in 2008 won cycling gold in the Individual Pursuit in Beijing to add to the rowing silver she had picked up in Athens four years earlier.
The average age of the members of the Redgrave Crew is 48, but they believe that their background in competitive sport will help them not only complete the task but also hit their fundraising target.
Sir Steve said “I was looking for a challenge that would give me an excuse to raise a substantial sum for the charity, but would also give allow me to do some hard training and get some real fitness back.”
He added: “The RAAM is an unbelievable race and I’m really lucky to be doing it with a bunch of mates who I know I can rely on. We are aiming to raise £100,000 for Sport Relief and The Steve Redgrave Fund, but also to have a really good time and to push ourselves to the limit.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.