Photo by Keith McCoy.
Avid cyclist Brian Toone has spent months training for his first Race Across America.
For many people, taking a road trip across the country means four wheels, several weeks and plenty of pit stops.
Local resident Brian Toone just needs two wheels and around eight days to make the trek.
“Adventure, racing, freedom — riding a bike has always been these things for me,” Toone said.
On June 16, Toone will participate in Race Across America, recognized as the world’s toughest endurance bicycle race. The race is 3,000 miles from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland. It is open to solo racers as well as teams and has attracted competitors from 35 countries. 2015 is the race’s 34th year, making it one of America’s longest continuously running cycling events.
Toone is hoping it will take him around eight days to complete, averaging around 21 hours of cycling a day. He will have a several-person crew accompanying him, and it will be his first time to do the race. When it’s over, he plans to spend several weeks with his wife, Kristine, and two children, Analise and Josiah, exploring the area.
Growing up, Toone recalls his parents giving him a book with pictures of Race Across America. It sparked an interest.
“I remember thinking ‘Someday I’ll do that,’” Toone said.
He later began riding mountain bikes at Oak Mountain and entered his first race in 1993 in Sylacauga. From then on, he participated in multiple bike races and road races across the country.
His training would eventually lead to triathlon training for Ironman Florida in November 2016. Toone is currently a computer science professor at Samford University, a position he considers his dream job.
Today, he enjoys exploring the Southeast through long endurance bike rides. Places he’s traveled include Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. He views cycling as a beautiful way to view the world.
“I try to optimize my training time by riding everywhere – from work to family events to wherever we would normally be driving. I spend a lot of time on the bike - currently averaging 35 - plus hours per week,” he said.
His training has not come without setbacks. In 2006, he was struck by a car head-on and managed to escape with only a bruised chin. In 2014, he was struck by a car again and woke up in the hospital with little memory of the accident.
“Drinking through a straw and breathing only through my nose for the next seven weeks was difficult, especially on five-to six-hour rides,” Toone said. “But it helped prepare me for 24-hour mountain bike nationals in New Mexico, which I raced just eight weeks after the accident and finished seventh.”
It is that attitude that will carry him through to Race Across America. Anyone interested in sponsoring Toone can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his adventures at toone2015.com or toonecycling.com.