x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Saddle sores scupper UAE expat's cycle odyssey

Scott Ragsdale has swum the English Channel, raced the Marathon des Sables and completed seven Ironmans in seven emirates in seven days to coincide with the 40th UAE National Day.

American Scott Ragsdale out on the highway while cycling across the United States. Scott ended his attempt to ride across the US somewhere  in the state of Kansas. Courtesy Scott Ragsdale
American Scott Ragsdale out on the highway while cycling across the United States. Scott ended his attempt to ride across the US somewhere in the state of Kansas. Courtesy Scott Ragsdale

DUBAI // Scott Ragsdale's American dream of cycling for up to 23 hours a day across the United States has been destroyed by saddle sores.

The American expatriate, 42, has swum the English Channel, raced the Marathon des Sables and completed seven Ironmans in seven emirates in seven days to coincide with the 40th UAE National Day.

But he was forced to pull out of the notorious Race Across America on the fourth day of the challenge, which started on June 10.

"I had to pull out because the saddle soreness got so bad," he said. "It's the hardest thing I've ever tried. Everyone was telling me the seven ironmans was harder, but it wasn't. This was so hard."

The race is a 4,828-kilometre coast-to-coast trek through 12 states. Only 15 per cent of entrants finish and only 203 in the race's 32-year history have done it within the permitted 12 days and four hours.

On the first day, Mr Ragsdale faced a 17 per cent grade mountain climb. The toughest climb in the Tour de France is 8 per cent.

"If I had known this was what the first day would be like, I wouldn't have done it," he said.

He held out for four days on painkillers, cycling in extreme heat for 41 hours straight to gain time before his inner thighs and bottom could take no more. Climbing mountains was his Achilles' heel.

"This new movement played a big part in my getting horrible saddle sores so early in the race," he said.

But he is not ready to admit defeat. He said his first attempt had taught him several lessons and he knows where he went wrong.

He has already started strength training for next year's race and hopes to lose 8 kilograms so he is lighter on the hills. "I need to become more of a cyclist and improve on my technique," he said.

eharnan@thenational.ae