Leah Goldstein of Vernon will hit the road in June for the Race Across AMerica and is looking for support in her journey.

Leah Goldstein of Vernon will hit the road in June for the Race Across AMerica and is looking for support in her journey.

Cyclist up to the challenge

Vernon’s own Leah Goldstein is putting her power to the test in what is widely known as the toughest race in the world.

The Race Across AMerica (RAAM) has been luring the extremely adventurous since 1982 – and now Goldstein has her sights set on the June event.

The champion cyclist will be pedalling 3,000 miles from Pacific to Atlantic, stopping to sleep only when necessary.

The journey will test the utmost limits of her physical endurance, mental resilience and commitment to a cause. 

The BreakAway Health and Fitness personal trainer is no stranger to tough competition and challenge. At the age of six she set her sights on following in the footsteps of her idol Bruce Lee to study martial arts. By 14, she was crowned the National Tae Kwon Do Champion and by 17 she took the title of World Kickboxing Champion.   

Goldstein started cycling in the late eighties, but didn’t start her ultracycling career until 2009. 

She had been considering changing gears from stage racing to ultraendurance racing for a while, and after three crashes (one near fatal) she decided it was time.

Her 10-year professional cycling career took her across the world for many races including the Tour de France. 

For a woman that refuses to become idle, this is just the next, and biggest, challenge of her life.

“I race for the adventure. I believe this is the hardest race in the world – so it’s perfect for me,” laughs Goldstein, who will race against others in the women’s solo category. 

“I’ve overcome many obstacles in my life. I’d like to show people that you can achieve great things – no matter what challenges you face.” 

With vertical climbs that total 100,000 feet, RAAM offers long-distance cyclists the opportunity to challenge themselves to the height of their abilities. Only a few hundred solo cyclists have completed RAAM since its first edition in 1982.  

Goldstein plans to not only finish, but win.  

To do this, she will have to complete the 14-state journey in approximately nine days, and sleep only about two hours per night. This modern-day heroine will brave the desert, plains and mountain weather, aided by a volunteer-crew of bike mechanics, navigators, drivers and first aid specialists. 

“RAAM unites people of all backgrounds, nationalities and cycling histories in an adventure that challenges them to the core of everything they are,” said Fred Boethling, who bought rights to the race in 2006, after becoming the oldest man to successfully race RAAM solo across the country. 

 “It’s man against the elements, the road, and ultimately, him or herself.”

Due to the magnitude of the race, Goldstein is seeking support for her journey.

Crew chief Janessa Neufeld is looking to the corporate world for help.

“Our biggest expenses will be an RV, rental vans, transportation for crew, gasoline and food,” said Neufeld, adding that with corporate logos on all race vehicles, the pay-off could be profitable for sponsors.

Also, Goldstein is currently the subject of a feature-length documentary by Reel Eagle Productions and her autobiography is slated to be released in the fall.

Goldstein’s journey also has a cause. All extra funds raised will be split between the Wildlife Conservation Society and Vernon’s KidSport – both causes close to Goldstein’s heart.

For more information on sponsorship, contact Neufeld at  janessa.neufeld@shaw.ca.

For more information on the local sport, visit www.leahgoldstein.com or follow Goldstein’s progress in this year’s Race Across AMerica, at http://www.raceacrossamerica.org.