When you work at UCO, a weekend bike ride isn’t just a weekend bike ride. UCO Sales Manager Ken Bathurst recently completed the Race Across Oregon, a grueling 36-hour, 540-mile bike race. He was one of only six solo competitors to cross the finish line. Here Ken explains what went through his mind, and when he thought he’d had enough, all in his humble way.
UCO: Why did this race attract you?
KB: As a teen I became fascinated with the 3,000-mile bike race across the USA called Race Across America (RAAM). It was and still is considered the world’s toughest endurance bicycle race and it captivated me. Completing a qualifying race is required to enter RAAM and with several throughout the year to choose from, RAO (Race Across Oregon) particularly intrigued me. With 40,000 feet of elevation and unrelenting climbs through the remote Oregon landscape, the Race Across Oregon is said to be one of the most difficult RAAM qualifiers. I love a challenge!
UCO: How many people registered?
KB: There were 13 solo men that started and 6 teams.
UCO: How many people finished?
KB: 6 solo men and 4 teams came across the finish line. Unfortunately, the weather was unrelentingly hot on race day, reaching triple digit temperatures. This made an already difficult race even more challenging for the most seasoned cyclists.
UCO: Was there any point that you thought you wouldn’t finish?
KB: I have to admit the concern crossed my mind a few times! Taking precaution not to overheat in the 100+ degree heat was a near constant process. Balancing fluids properly and trying avoid cramping up with the intense climbs or wreck from a gust of wind or pot-hole was also a consistent “theme” throughout the race. Even the occasional descent was complicated with wind and gravel! I definitely did everything I could to avoid “bonking” at any point. Fortunately, I only encountered one minor bike issue early in the race and pulled off the road to grab a short 4 hour nap around midnight. Finally, and thankfully, I was able to complete the course in 36 hours of riding.
UCO: How did your family support you?
KB: Due the length and difficulty of the race conditions a support crew of at least 2 people is required. Luckily, my wife and mom volunteered and they were essential through the entire race. I wouldn’t have been able to cover that distance or finish without them! I’m grateful to my crew who spent 40 hours in the car and were still smiling at the finish line! Also to my sister who took care of my 6 year old and brought him to the finish line to wave his congrats flag!
UCO: What bike did you ride?
KB: I had two bikes for the race that I used, however I used a Focus triathlon bike with aerobars for a majority of the race. I used this bike to commute 60 miles round trip to and from work to train for this race.
UCO: Anything else to add?
KB: I finished the race with not only a sense of relief and joy, but also gratitude for the people involved that make it all happen and the supporters. I love to be inspired by people and to inspire others. One of my favorite quotes I have taped to my monitor at work says: “Dream as you’ll live forever. Live as you’ll die tomorrow.”– James Dean