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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | SOMIS

Athlete to Put Mettle to Pedal for 3,000 Miles

July 16, 1998|JENNIFER HAMM

Charlie Liskey is no stranger to extreme sporting events: the Somis veterinarian ran a 146-mile foot race through Death Valley a few summers ago.

Liskey is now poised to begin the most grueling race of his life next week in the Race Across America--a 3,000-mile bicycle race from Irvine to Savannah, Ga.

"I feel very psyched. I feel very fit--ready to race," Liskey said.

He should be. The 42-year-old has been training for what is considered by many to be the world's most difficult sporting event for more than four years, spending winters in the weight room and summers on the bike.

Plenty of meditation is another key component of training, Liskey said.

"The race really is a mental race," he said. "When you get out there in the middle of the night and you haven't had any sleep for four or five days, if you haven't had the mental training, it's very easy to quit."

In the minutes and hours of discouragement, Liskey said he will try to concentrate on staying in the moment.

"You have to try to make it to the next town, the next hill," he said. "This too shall pass."

Liskey said the nine-person support team that will accompany the racers will bring the needed encouragement throughout the eight- to 10-day trip. The support team, which rides in a van, includes bike mechanics, a massage therapist and a paramedic.

About 25 men, one woman and a number of teams will compete for $50,000 in prize money in the 17th annual Race Across America. Liskey is the only competitor from Ventura County.

Liskey said he is in the race for the adventure.

"And this is a great adventure," he said. "I like pushing the envelope in terms of what my body can do, and this definitely takes you right to the edge."

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