47 year-old NASA aerospace engineer Kevin Walsh will be one of 26 solo competitors in the Race Across America (RAAM), which begins on June 19. Walsh is an aeronautical propulsion engineer at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, and is aiming to complete the 3,000 mile (4800 km) course in 10 days.
"I am competing in the Race Across America because it is the ultimate endurance bicycle race," said Walsh. "RAAM has been one of my life goals since the first one was held in 1982 when it was called the Great American Bike Race. I want to compete before I get too much older. I believe I'm ready.
"I have been averaging over 450 miles of riding per week since February to prepare for the race. I have competed in a number of cycling competitions, including multiple double centuries (200 miles). I won an event during which I rode 410 miles in 24 hours, and cycled 360 miles during a recent weekend in the heat near Las Vegas."
"I believe my chance of completing the race is very good. Training has been excellent and I have an exceptional crew of six who are very motivated to get me to Atlantic City."
Training for this race has Walsh in the best physical condition of his life. He is 6'2" (188cm) tall and weighs 170 pounds (77 kg). He hopes to gain four or five pounds before the RAAM, when he expects to lose a pound each day. Walsh hopes to maintain his energy during the race with a special diet of liquid foods, supplements, fruit and light solid food. His long hours on the bike have also helped him adapt to the sleep deprivation that will occur during the race.
The Race Across America begins in San Diego. The competitors will cross 13 states, climbing and descending 109,880 feet (33,500 m) before reaching Atlantic City, N.J. That means riding up to 22 hours per day, with no designated rest stops and no drafting behind other cyclists or vehicles. The route is shared with normal traffic on secondary roads with an occasional venture onto a freeway.