Darden was supported by her friend, crew chief and High Meadows teacher/alum, Anne Lovatt, plus an additional 10 crew members. Darden and her team traveled 3,000 miles from Oceanside, Calif. to Annapolis, Md.
The course was challenging, with the lowest elevation being 170 feet below sea level and the highest being more than 10,000 feet above. They accomplished this feat in eight days, two hours and 35 minutes, beating the previous record by a half a day.
Half the field was international and, for perspective, it’s 50 percent longer than the Tour de France—and there are no additional rest days.
It is deemed The World’s Toughest Bicycle Race.
In order to realize this ambitious goal, the cyclists experienced a grueling schedule with one of them cycling at all times. During the day shift, they rode in 10-minute intervals, resting and consuming fluids and nutrients for 10 minutes, then it was back on the cycle within the 10 minutes. Team members were required to cross wheels since there was no baton to pass.
At night, the two-woman team split four three-hour shifts. This meant approximately three hours of sleep for the cyclists.
“Our students and their families knew we were doing this and were very encouraging. They sent letters, texts [and] words of encouragement to Kacie. Hopefully by making them aware of the team’s perseverance and accomplishment, they’ll believe their boundaries are endless,” Lovatt said.
“This race isn’t about muscles; it’s about your mind. When we strip away luxuries, comforts and sleep, we’re looking at our core. It pushes the human experience of what a body can do and explodes boundaries, restrictions, and self-doubt. That’s what I want our students to learn from this experience,” Darden said.