OCEANSIDE — The Race Across America takes off from Oceanside Pier for a 3,000-mile race across the United States.
Solo women riders take off at noon June 14, solo men riders start at noon June 15, and team riders begin the race at 2 p.m. June 18.
This is the seventh year the race has started in Oceanside.
Race Across America President and CEO Fred Boethling said Oceanside fits the bill as a location to start the race because the city has great weather, the spirit of outdoors adventure and is bicycle friendly.
“We’re looking for towns that have the right scale and size, and easy access to the open road,” Boethling said.
The race route from Oceanside to Annapolis, Md., is a scenic tour of the United States. Cyclists start in sunny California and finish on the colonial cobblestone streets of Maryland.
“It gives them the complete span of U.S. geography — mountains, plains, deserts, woodlands,” Boethling said.
About 350 cyclists are expected to compete and bring along 1,200 crewmembers. Crews are essential to keep the cyclists fed and in good health, as well as to help navigate the course and maintain equipment.
The youngest cyclists in the race make up the TDL Believe and Achieve team and range in age from 13 to 18. Jasper Hodgson, 13, is the youngest rider.
The oldest riders in the race are on team Forever Young PAC Masters and range in age from 78 to 80. This year they are trying to break the team speed record for riders older than 70.
To qualify for the demanding race, cyclists must ride at an average speed of 10.5 miles per hour and be able to cover 400 miles in a 24-hour period.
The Race Across America is held 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is up to each cyclist to decide when to stop to rest, eat and sleep.
There is no prize money awarded for the race.
“The biggest award is having done the thing,” Boethling said.
Those who complete the race by the cutoff time of 12 days receive a special jersey. Trophies are given to first-place winners in a dozen different race divisions.
Christoph Strasser of Austria was last year’s solo men’s winner and is a cyclist to watch again this year. Last year he completed the race in nine days.
In addition to the Race Across America, the Race Across the West, which finishes in Durango, Colo., is held simultaneously. The shorter 860-mile race is also a rigorous challenge.
One of the top solo women cyclists in the Race Across the West is American rider Seana Hogan, 50, who has won the race six times.
For more information and race results, visit raceacrossamerica.org.