Four men from Donegal have completed the toughest cycle race in the world – The Race Across America RAAM – in just seven and a half days!
Milford native, Arthur McMahon, Padraig MacGinty from Downings, Convoy’s Gavin Harris and Gerard Callaghan from Letterkenny finished the gruelling route in the East Coast’s Capital City of Maryland, Annapolis.
The cycle spanned over 3200miles across 12 States, from the East Coast to the West Coast of America. The race started in Oceanside, California on 16th June, and the team and endured extreme weather conditions from intense heat through the desert to lightening and rain storms and a severe tornado in Kansas. Nothing could stop these lads from continuing to cycle non stop day and night with only the finish line in their sights.
For over 36 years the organisers of RAAM have been challenging their ultra cyclists from all over the world to push their mental and physical abilities to the farthest. The four lads climbed over 175,000 feet in total through the Rocky Mountains to the steepest climbs up the Appalachian mountains, but no matter what hill, road or mountain faced them, they embraced it with amazing passion and ability.
The guys are the first team from Donegal to ever take part in this ultra endurance cycle race and were proud to be the only team this year to represent Ireland. The organization and logistical planning and execution was a challenge in itself but the crew team, led by Boyd Robinson from Letterkenny, embraced the challenge and their only concern was to ensure the safety of the cyclists at all times. Keeping the lads cool, fed with the correct amount of calories for their body weight, hydrated and getting adequate amount of sleep and rest between their stints was their main concern.
The crew consisted of a team of 12 men and women and although each person contributed their own skills it was teamwork and getting stuck into whatever was required, got them across America safe and well.
Commenting on the race just days after finishing and getting time to recover, founder of Team Donegal Oil and founder of The Donegal Oil Foundation, Arthur McMahon said; “ I’m generally interested in setting difficult challenges for myself and, when an opportunity came up to put a team together to do Race Across America (RAAM) I was keen.
“To be absolutely honest, I underestimated how physically demanding a challenge it would be, our skills as a team were stretched to the limit but we held together and saw it through.
“As cyclists we became stronger as the event went on but the demands on the body of doing 30 minute interval sessions, eating and sleeping on the move take a heavy toll. If you ever get the chance to be involved in this event, do it! It’s like the worst road trip you can imagine but full of sights and memories you’ll never forget. Our crew were outstanding and that was the difference between success and failure.”
Boyd Robinson, chief crew commented, “Quite simply, it was the most stressful and yet the most enjoyable experience of my life. Getting to the start line of RAAM is always considered a massive achievement on its own and the preparation on the months and days prior to the event entailed a lot of work.
“During the race it was about getting the guys across safely and every state threw up its challenges from storms in Kansas, heat in the California desert, altitude in the Rockies and crazy drivers in Indiana, RAAM had it all.
“On a personal level I would like to thank Arthur for entrusting me as crew chief and RAAM will be a memory I will back on with great fondness in the months and years ahead.”
Padraig MacGinty commented, “ Definitely the most challenging 7 days of my life to date. A terrific adventure filled with incredible memories and experiences, accompanied with a crew that jelled perfectly, to achieve a goal that at times we thought was possibly a dream to far! However with dogged determination through storms of wind and rain, parched by the desert heat and steep mountain ascents, we got there to lift the treasured medal. RAAM 2018 will never be forgotten certainly in the MacGinty household. A medal achieved by the whole family.”
They are overwhelmed with the support and well wishes they have received from home, family and friends from all across The world and these are words of encouragement and support And they want to thank everyone who has donated for their Autism charity so far. Every cent of the money raised Will go towards providing schools, sports clubs and charities with educational aids for children and adults on the Autistic Spectrum.
The Donegal Oil Foundation have set up an online donation page and donations can be made through the following link: