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Kinesiology’s Paul Carpenter ready to tackle 3,000-mile Race Across America challenge

May 29, 2012

Three thousand miles.

If you drove that far in one shot it could be done in about 48 hours, but you’d need an oil change. Making the same trip on a bike is a different story.

Race Across America (RAAM) brings a whole new meaning to the term “road trip.” Rated as one of the world’s toughest sporting events, RAAM is a grueling test of physical and psychological endurance that has cyclists race non-stop coast to coast.

Paul Carpenter, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) department will be taking on this challenge as a solo rider. With his crew by his side, Carpenter will try to complete the 3,000 miles in 12 days or quicker to achieve the coveted official finisher status.

The race starts Wednesday, June 13, and the cyclists must finish by Monday, June 25.

From Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., the crews will battle hills, heat, cold, wind, rain, hunger, cramped space and exhaustion. Stopping is allowed in RAAM, but being off the bike for more than two to four hours per day will seriously hurt a cyclist’s chances of being competitive in the race and completing within the given time frame.

Not only will Carpenter and his crew be competing, but they will also be conducting research.

Combining experiences off campus with the academic world makes a great opportunity for NIU students. Ryan Friel, a kinesiology major, will be part of the crew and will help to collect data for research being coordinated by Amanda Salacinski, a KNPE faculty member.

Friel explained that his job will be to make sure Carpenter stays hydrated and consumes between 250 to 300 calories per hour based on how hard he works. Data also will be collected on heart rate, power and blood glucose. The data will help provide researchers with a better understanding of how the body responds to exercise in an extremely demanding event.

While Friel is excited for the experience in its entirety, he shared that he has not traveled out west much and is excited to see a lot in a short amount of time. “This is an event that is well known to cyclists, but not to the general public, so I am excited to jump in and experience and learn as much as I can,” Friel said.

Traveling with Carpenter in vehicles carrying supplies will be the complete crew, including:  Joe Mann (crew chief), Connie Mann, Melissa Hyams (Carpenter’s wife), Sam Carpenter (Carpenter’s son), Roger Kalisiak (NIU alumnus), Friel, Jacob Garvin, Kristin Jordan, Bill Ford and Jay Yost. The crew is essential for success in RAAM by providing support, motivation, knowledge, navigation, mechanical expertise, medical assistance and their driving skills among other things.

To learn more about Team Carpenter or RAAM, contact Carpenter at (815) 753-8284 or vist or Team Carpenter – RAAM2012 on Facebook.

by Sarah Fraser