Long-distance specialists Brian Welsh and recent bike race crash survivor Stacey Eccles of the Just Sweat No Tears team will be the first British mixed pair to tackle the 27th edition of the 3000-mile Race Across America in June, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.

But their mixed support team is one short. There?s an Irishman, a South African and an Aussie. Anyone want to join them? A Geordie or a Scot, perhaps a Brummie to add to the rich range of dialects? Welsh is a Scouse!

If you are interested, call Welsh on 01904 782709 (work) or 0794 770 9055 (mobile), or email him at justsweat@hotmail.com. But hurry, they leave for the US next week.

Eccles, who is South African born and has dual nationality, has represented GB in the age-related Triathlon World?s. She has previously completed the 1,227-kilometre Paris-Brest-Paris. But her dream of doing the RAAM nearly ended when she crashed in the Mid-Shropshire Wheelers 50-mile time trial near Liverpool in May, when she was hit side on by a car.

The collision occurred at a roundabout. The bike frame took the impact, and she claims her helmet – which broke into three pieces – saved her life.

Welsh has ridden the RAAM before, as part of the winning four-person mixed team in 2004 and again in 2006 when they finished second.

Welsh, Eccles and the crew set off for California next week. First away are the solo riders who start on June 10. Starting from Oceanside, the 3000-mile route from the West across the Rockies to East Coast takes in 54 Time Stations spaced between 40 and 80 miles apart.

The course passes through the Mid-West Tornado country.

The lowest elevation is 170 feet below sea level, the highest, 10,000 feet! They will cross five of the biggest rivers in the US before arriving at Annapolis, Maryland on the Atlantic Ocean.

The British pair are raising funds for the Parents for Children charity, which among other things provides research into the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. In last year?s RAAM, riders raised around $3 million for charity.

The inspiration for the RAAM came from newspaperman George Nellis in 1887 who crossed the USA on an iron-wheeled single-geared bike weighing 45 pounds. He followed railroad routes and took just under 80 days.

Over the years since, the record has been cut back day-by-day. The first RAAM was staged in 1982, when four men raced from Santa Monica in California to the Empire State Building in New York.

Today, riders come from all over the world to take on what many consider to be the ultimate endurance test. This year, the first solo riders are expected to make the crossing in nine days!

EXTERNAL LINKS
Race Across America: www.raceacrossamerica.org.