TAKING A RIDE with the San Jose Bike Party is a test in courage and sobriety for some. Pitfalls lie at every turn—a sloshed cyclist, the inconspicuous nail cloaked in the shadow of night, the littered can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. But for all the dangers present in the monthly bike orgy, none of these come close to the hazards seen in the annual Race Across America (RAAM).

The little-known 3,000-mile chase from San Diego to Washington, D.C., is a battle in mental and physical fortitude that only a couple hundred cyclists have completed in the race’s 30-year existence. Riders weather wilting heat that reaches 125 degrees in the desert as well as mountain chills that go below freezing, all while cranking out an average of 240 miles each day if they intend to finish.

If that weren’t enough, anyone who plans on winning the race needs to cover about 350 miles a day while only getting one hour of shuteye each night. Amy Snyder is the author of Hell on Two Wheels, a book that details the 2009 race, and on Monday, at the REI store in Saratoga (400 El Paseo de Saratoga), she will be discussing her tome as well as just how nuts people have to be to enter the contest, let alone finish it.

A retired management consultant who has completed three triathlons, Snyder set out to examine what she calls “the most brutal organized sporting event you’ve never heard of.” The book event starts at 7pm, and registration is free at the REI website. Best of all, if attendees feel inspired enough (a.k.a. insane), there is still time to register for next summer’s race.

I Just Kept Running

Fitness freaks wanting to push their bodies instead of torture them should look to races Saturday in Morgan Hill and Palo Alto. The Fifth Annual Morgan Hill Get Fit race, which takes place at the Centennial Recreation Center, starts at 8am (registration at 7am) and features a 5K as well as a Family Fun Run. Meanwhile, the Kara’s Walk With Me! Festival takes place from 9am to 2pm at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto. The event is designed to help people find support for dealing with grief.

And We’re Back!

The San Jose Sharks teased fans with a smashing start in the season opener, beating the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3, but then the men in teal were given a full week off. For this, we would like to deliver the NHL schedule-makers a crosscheck to the Adam’s apple. The club gets back to business Friday with a game in Anaheim before returning home to take on the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and Anaheim again on Monday.

While goalies Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymki are out with injuries, fans will have a chance to assess the skills of Thomas Greiss between the pipes. The Sharks got off to an extraordinarily slow start last season, so strong performances from Greiss will be crucial to avoiding a similar stretch in this new campaign.