Harper hits start line tomorrow

Craig Harper prepares for the RAAM. Photo: Supplied.

The countdown is nearly ended. Around 8am tomorrow [NZ time] Craig Harper will set off on the race of his life.

He begins his bid to conquer the iconic Race Across America [RAAM] at Oceanside, California and will ride for 3000 miles, through 12 US states, finishing at Annapolis, Maryland.

The Marlborough builder sounded relaxed and quietly confident on the phone line from his US base near the start line.

“We have got the full [nine-person] crew here now so we are just getting our gear together, assigning jobs and making sure we are good to go for Tuesday [US time].”

There has been no last-minute hiccups or changes of plan from the race organisers, leaving the Solo Kiwi team confident that everything is on track at this stage.

“That’s part of the reason I have such an experienced crew with me, if anything does crop up, now or during the race, I have full confidence we can deal with anything that comes our way.

“Everyone is here now and raring to go … it’s starting to get really exciting,” said Craig.

“Lots of people say that a lot of the hardest work is actually just getting to the start line so it will be pretty cool to roll up there on Tuesday and start pedaling, absolutely.”

Craig met a few of the other competitors while training in the desert soon after his arrival in California, all staying at the same motel.

“Quite a few go out there to train and get used to the heat, plus get the legs ticking over after the travel. I had brief chats to them, and saw a few others out riding.”

He was happy with his efforts in the extreme heat, suggesting the work he did in the heat chambers back in NZ “made a huge difference”.

“I felt really comfortable and enjoyed my time in the heat.

“We are on the coast now, with temperatures around 20 degrees … so in comparison with what we have been in and what we are going to, it actually feels quite cold, so I’m pretty keen to get back into the heat. I really enjoy it.”

The former international rower feels fit and healthy heading into the biggest physical challenge of his sporting life, knowing that huge challenges lie ahead, notably handling sleep deprivation.

“I’ve had a lot on my mind but I’m sleeping pretty well at the moment. It’s pretty hard to try and bank sleep up … it is what it is.”

Craig’s progress across the mountains and plains of America can be followed on his website or on his Facebook page.

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