obesity

A desperate bid waged by Michael Secrest to battle obesity in America

One man has taken it upon himself to fight America’s obesity problem. Michael Secrest is a guy with a mission. Although he is probably best known as ‘the guy on the bike’, Michael is actually one of the toughest, most enduring cyclists on the planet.

He began his cycling career in 1982 at the age of 29 having seen the The Great American Bike race on television and since then what he’s achieved in the cycling world is quite remarkable including being the only athlete in history to have set World Records across three consecutive decades. At the age of 54, he also became the oldest athlete to set a World Record.

The Great American Bike Race is also known as Race Across America or, simply, RAAM. This is an ultra-marathon cycle race across the States which was started in 1982. It is one of the the best-known and longest annual endurance events in the world.

Although RAAM has been compared to the Tour de France it is really quite different. It is about 3,000 miles long (4,800 kms) and it is always from West Coast to East Coast although the starting and finish lines do differ. The Tour de France, in contrast, is always about 2,300 miles long and has a different route every year. RAAM’s course is expected to be completed in just over a week – the winner is the person who can ride the fastest while also making fewer and shorter stops and usually finishes in eight to nine days, which breaks down to about an average of 22 hours in the saddle every day – although the recent addition of the team division has enabled finish times in the region of six to seven days. The Tour de France is a 3-week event because it is divided into daily stages. RAAM has no stages.

It’s an all-or-nothing event and the clock runs continuously from start to finish.

It’s for this reason that it’s termed an ultra-marathon. The strain that is put on both the rider and the support team is extreme. About 50% of the entrants drop out along the way.

Michael Secrest was the winner of this extreme race in 1987 with a time of 9 days 11 h 35 min. The total distance that year was 3,127 m (5,032km) and Michael’s average speed was 13.7mph (22km).

His challenge today to his American compatriots is that they ride a bike at least once a week which in itself will hopefully inspire them to become more physically active and he, in turn, will attempt The Impossible Ride. Coast to coast in 48hrs.

The idea for this race occurred to him a few days after breaking the 24-hour motor paced world record – 1,256 miles – the equivalent of one-half the distance from California to Florida. If he could do that in 24 hours what couldn’t he achieve in 48?

Here’s the news coverage and the message that goes with the above video:

He really isn’t asking much of the Nation is he? America’s part of the challenge should be a cynch. But his? Wow…

He is also asking people to “sign the pledge” so please go through to his website at The Guy On The Bike to see the details or follow his link at the end of the video.

And if there are some doubting Thomas’ out there who are glad to use ANY excuse not to get their leg over a bike, the danger aspect being one of them, you might be glad to hear that state governments have cyclists’ interests at heart – some more than others, but there’s a movement in the right direction all the same…

Three states have passed laws this year that limit how close motorists can get to bicyclists when they pass. Mississippi and Maryland have become the 15th and 16th states to pass the ‘three feet’ law – drivers of vehicles must allow 3 feet between themselves and a cyclist. Rhode Island, in the meantime, has passed ‘Franks Law’ which demands that a safe distance is left between a vehicle and a cyclist.

Bills in the remaining states have so far been either rejected, pigeon-holed in committees, or been watered down. However they  will hopefully see the light and change them in the near future…

Come on guys… in the interests of a svelte America how’s about it?!

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