Advice for Crew

by Fred Boethling

Fred was the UMCA Record’s Chair and holds cross-state bicycle records for Minnesota W-E, Wisconsin W-E, Wyoming N-S, New Mexico W-E, Florida W-E, Colorado N-S, Colorado S-N, Colorado N-S-N and two-man team record for Utah S-N.

Challenging a UMCA record is an outstanding way to train with a crew for a Race Across America (RAAM) qualifier or RAAM itself. A successful record attempt can be a rewarding personal victory as well.

Almost all ultra-cyclists dream one time or another of qualifying for or racing in RAAM. A RAAM qualifying campaign requires a substantial commitment of time and money. Certainly, qualifying requires intensive conditioning and training, but a competitor must also have a well-organized, competent and compatible crew. Then careful consideration must be given to the various aspects of planning and managing food, fluids, sleep, equipment, navigation and logistics for both rider and crew.

The crew’s sole purpose is to enable the rider to put forth the maximum possible effort under circumstances that aren’t always ideal. Invariably, problems arise – mechanical, medical, weather. A good crew can spell the difference between success and disappointment. A RAAM qualifier or RAAM is not the place to test the crew’s expertise and compatibility. A record attempt provides an opportunity to organize and train a crew on a schedule that meets your needs.

The UMCA keeps records of several types: cross country, cross state or cross province, 12- and 24-hour, 100- and 200-mile (in both road and track) and point-to-point, as well as off-road. Additionally, there are categories based on age (senior, master, grand master and great grand master), bike type (road, tandem, mountain and recumbent) and rider configuration (solo, tandem – male, female or mixed, 2- and 4-person team – male, female or mixed).

Cross-state or cross-province records are an optimal choice for RAAM qualifier and RAAM training. These records are recognized in four directions: north-to-south, south-to-north, west-to-east and east-to-west. The possibilities are numerous. These records can be reviewed at state records.

Any UMCA member is eligible to challenge an established record or attempt to set a new record. If a cross-state or -province record exists, then you must use the existing end points, but are free to ride any route you choose between those end points. If you’re attempting a new record, you may choose both the end points and route. The end points for established records are available from the UMCA Records Chairperson. The end points for new records must be approved by the UMCA Records Chairperson. The rider must have a support crew and vehicle. No unsupported efforts will be recognized by the UMCA.

Record attempt rules are available at record rules.

There are four important elements to the records process:

  1. selecting a record to attempt (direction, end points and route);
  2. organizing your attempt (crew, equipment and logistics);
  3. obtaining a UMCA official;
  4. and following the documentation process.

It’s a good idea to check with the UMCA Records Chairperson before beginning the formal documentation process.

Documenting your attempt begins with the Record Application, which includes the Checklist, Application, fee and Address Sheet (for rider and crew). These must be received by the Records Chairperson at least 21 days before the attempt. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time. In addition, one day prior to the ride, you must submit to the Records Chairperson the Pre-Event Agreements, including Liability Waivers (signed by the rider and crew) and the Official Certification (signed by the official). Following the ride, a Record Attempt Report, including a Summary, Official’s Report and Log Sheets must be submitted. This must be received by the Records Chairperson no later than 14 days following the ride.

These requirements may seem burdensome – they’re really not. Most importantly, they insure record attempts are fair and equitable and the results are verifiable. Moreover, the process roughly parallels that of RAAM, again great RAAM preparation. The complete process is described at records process. All of the forms can be downloaded by clicking on Records Forms and Rules Packet at the Rules for Setting UMCA Records web page. Due to the nature of records and record attempts, the UMCA reserves the right to append or modify the rules at any time.

Record-setters are honored with a UMCA plaque of achievement and recognition in UltraCycling magazine.

Whether you’re training for a RAAM qualifier, you’ve already qualified for RAAM, you simply want to feel what its like to ride with a crew, or you’re seeking a satisfying personal victory, consider challenging or establishing a UMCA record.