An interview with Terry Zmrhal, new race director for the Race Across America (RAAM) – a single stage 3,000 mile race from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean – that attracted 150 competitors in 2006. Terry talks about his passion for volunteerism and his recent move from Seattle to Boulder, CO.
Occupation: race director, Race Across America
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Illinois
Alma Mater: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne
Degree: Computer Science
Residence: Boulder, CO
Bikes: Erickson (1), Surly Cross-Check(2), Rivendell Saluki (3), Co-Motion Speedster (4), Titan Flex (5), Ibis (6) and a Cycles Tournesol (7) (Steve Hampsten’s brand out of Seattle)
How did you become involved in Cascade Bicycle Club?
I’ve been a Cascade member since 1992 when I moved to Seattle. I joined to learn more about the Seattle cycling scene. Cycling brings people together and Cascade offers something for everyone.
I’ve remained a member to support the youth programs, daily rides, and education programs. It’s quite impressive and I enjoy supporting all of the efforts. I’d like to see more programs for those new to the sport.
What are your volunteer activities?
In 1999, I started the Winter Rides Series – an annual series of eight rides in January and February that builds up to 85 miles. The purpose of the series is to explore different areas around Seattle. We ride as far south as Renton, as far east as North Bend, west to Port Townsend, and north as far as Bellingham.
I’ve also coached Team In Training for the Leukemia Society. I’m on the board of directors for Randonneurs USA and the Seattle Int’l Randonneurs (I organized the Cascade 1200 in 2005 and 2006, and coordinated Northwest Crank in 2006 and for 2007). For nine years, I was records chair for the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA). On average, I volunteer 200 – 400 hours per year for cycling.
Why did you move from Seattle to Boulder?
Change of pace, good friends in Boulder, and the possibility for the job as race director for Ride Across America, which I got!
How will you manage the Winter Rides Series?
I’ll come back to lead four of the rides; Peter Beeson and Max Maxon will help with the other rides.
Do you have a favorite ride or gear?
Riding around Mt. Rainier, either on my own or as part of RAMROD. My favorite gear is wool. I recently wrote an article for the UMCA about the benefits of wool; it keeps you warm and dry even when wet.
Boulder vs. Seattle? Your thoughts.
Boulder has lots of good roads with great pavement and shoulders. There are off-road opportunities too. There’s probably more diversity of riding in Washington State, but, here, you don’t have to pack a rain jacket every time you ride.
Tell us about your new role at Race Across America?
I’ve been doing ultra cycling for 15 years. In the 80s, I watched clips of RAAM; in the 90s, I crewed…I know a lot of people in the community. I was the right person, with the right experience at the right time. I accepted the race director position in late November.
I make sure the race happens. I organize a safe route, route support, the start & finish line celebrations, course officiating, rules, the rider forms & guidelines, awards, merchandise, and staffing for up to 55 time stations. It’s a lot of organization and working with many individuals and organizations.
RAAM has a fundraising component too?
It’s a venue for riders to raise money for their own charities. In 2006, riders raised over $1 million. The race is for everyone: single racers and teams up to eight people. There’s a team of 70 year olds that rode in 2004. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself.
How did you start cycling?
In college, I assembled bikes at a bike shop. I became an enthusiast after leading an eight-day fully-loaded bike tour for youth 12 – 16 years old for Camp Edwards – a YMCA camp near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
How has cycling contributed to your life?
The challenge is exciting. It’s fun to be out in the weather, the elements…the sun. But the best thing I’ve gotten out of cycling is the people. Today, I’ve got a network of cycling friends from coast to coast.
The 26th annual Race Across America is scheduled for June 10, 2007. Learn more about RAAM at www.RaceAcrossAmerica.org.
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