Ultra-endurance athlete Mathew Arnold ultra-nerds out for Race Across America
Denver-based cyclist and University of Colorado grad student Mathew Arnold may be the only competitor working on his thesis in the middle of the 30th annual transcontinental Race Across America (RAAM) bicycle race from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland, next week: Arnold and his SIMPLE Mobile Team partner David Preston are going all out in their attempt to break the current course record of six days, eleven hours in the race's two-person relay division, but Arnold says he can't help but nerd out on the opportunity to collect new data for his research in exercise physiology and the limits of human endurance while he's at it. We caught up with him a few days before the race's June 18 start date to ask him about human evolution, the limits of human endurance, and being his own guinea pig.
Photo courtesy SIMPLE Mobile RAAM Team David Preston, left, and Mathew Arnold, right, prepare for the Race Across America
Mathew Arnold: Trying to get the rest of my life in order before I travel across the country! This year I'm doing kind of a crazy thing: I'm taking a class that is a semester-long course that will be covered in four weeks, and I'm missing a week of this class -- roughly 20-25 percent of the material covered by this class -- to go racing across the country. So I'm trying to prepare to be successful in RAAM and also be successful in this class, which, it turns out, is taking some work.
WW: How did you get involved in doing this race?
MA: I fell into it after I met my race partner Dave Preston last year on the Tour Divide, which is a 2,745 mile mountain bike race from Banff, Canada down to the border of Mexico, crossing the Continental Divide 30 times with something like 200,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of the race. The friends you make under those kinds of conditions are hard to say no to! He really wanted to do RAAM and had a sponsorship all set up, and asked if I wanted to join him. I said yes without thinking it over, and it still seems like a good decision... Ask me again in two weeks to see if I still feel that way!