Race Across America
RAAM is among the best-known and longest annual endurance events in the world. All entrants must prove their abilities by competing in any of several qualifying events, completing a course within a specified time period. RAAM is sanctioned by the UMCA.
RAAM has been compared to the Tour de France, yet the races differ to a great extent. Both races' courses have varied over their history. However, in the Race Across America the direction has always been from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States, approximately 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in about a week, making it a transcontinental event. A typical course might be from Oceanside, California, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. In contrast, the Tour de France is about 2,300 miles long, features a different route each year, and is run over the course of about 3 weeks because it is divided into shorter daily stages.
The Great American Bike Race was originally organized by John Marino in 1982. There were four competitors, John Marino, John Howard, Michael Shermer, and Lon Haldeman. The concept caught on and the event grew bigger every year. The name would change and riders from around the world would compete. In 1989 a team division was added in which HPVs and faired bikes were allowed and records were shattered. The original course started in Santa Monica, California and finished at the Empire State Building in New York City. Haldeman won. The race was televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports through 1986.
Finish Winner Home Time Average Speed 1 Lon Haldeman Harvard, IL 9d 20h 02m 12.57 mph 2 John Howard Houston, TX 10d 10h 59m 11.83 mph 3 Michael Shermer Tustin, CA 10d 19h 54m 11.42 mph 4 John Marino Irvine, CA 12d 07h 37m 10.04 mph
In 1989 the race added a four-man team division in which they could choose to ride together or take turns, thus enabling faster speeds with longer rest periods. In 2006 the race format changed with the addition of a Solo Enduro division in which riders rest off the bike for a total of 40 hours at specified points across the country. The 40 hours are deducted from a rider's total time at the end of the race. These changes were made to improve safety and shift the emphasis to long-distance riding speed and away from the capacity to endure sleep deprivation. The Enduro Division no longer exists, though. The Solo Traditional division still measures lowest elapsed time from west coast to east coast. The official winner is the one in the Solo.
The race is held in several divisions. In 2008 those were:
- RAAM: Solo Female
- RAAM: Solo Male
- RAAM: Solo Male (50–59)
- RAAM: Solo Male (60–69)
- RAAM: Solo Male - Recumbent (50–59)
- RAAM: Two-Person Male
- RAAM: Two-Person Male (50–59)
- RAAM: Two-Person Mixed
- RAAM: Four Person Male
- RAAM: Four Person Male (50–59)
- RAAM: Four Person Male (60–69)
- RAAM: Four Person Female
- RAAM: Four Person Female (50–59)
- RAAM: Four Person Mixed
- RAAM: Four Person Mixed (50–59)
- RAAM: Eight Person
- Race Across the West: Solo Male
- Race Across the West: Solo Male (50–59)
- Race Across the West: Solo Female
- Race Across the West: Two-Person Mixed (50–59)
- Race Across the West: Four-Person Male
- 24 Hour: Four-Person Female
- 24 Hour: Eight Person
There have been two fatalities in the race's history. In 2003, team rider Brett Malin was killed when he was hit by an 18-wheel tractor-trailer outside Pie Town, New Mexico. In 2005, solo participant Bob Breedlove was killed in a collision with an oncoming vehicle near Trinidad, Colorado. Details are lacking because he was by himself (his support crew was a few miles behind) and the only witnesses were in the vehicle that collided with him. Outside magazine investigated the crash in its November 2006 issue.
Course structure 
Unlike most multi-day bicycle races such as the Tour de France, RAAM has no stages. There is no specified distance to travel each day. Until recently, there were no designated rest periods for food and sleep (sleep was optional). The clock runs continuously from start to finish as in a Time Trial. The final overall finish time includes rest periods. The winner is the rider who can ride the fastest while also making fewer and shorter stops. The winner usually finishes in eight to nine days, after riding approximately 22 hours per day through the varied terrain of the US. The recent addition of the team division has enabled finish times in the realm of six to seven days. Each racer has a support crew that follows in vehicles to provide food, water, mechanical repairs and medical aid. During the night, a vehicle with flashing lights is required to follow the rider to ensure safety.
Having to ride continuously for days with little to no sleep puts this event in the ultramarathon category. The continuous physical output places considerable strain on the competitors as well as their support crews. As many as 50% of solo participants drop out due to exhaustion or for medical reasons. In addition, the race takes place on open roads, forcing participants to deal with sometimes dangerous traffic conditions. On June 16, 2010, participant Diego Ballesteros Cucurull of Spain was critically injured when he was struck by a car near Wichita, Kansas. A little less than one month later, Ballesteros was home in Spain and undergoing rehabilitation. He is paralyzed from the waist down, but hopes to walk again one day.
Because the course has varied, performances are not comparable. Records are usually recorded in average speed, not total time, to account in part for the different course lengths. The fastest men's speed was by Pete Penseyres in 1986, when he rode 3107 miles (5000 km) at 15.40 mph (24.8 km/h) in 8 days, 9 hours, and 47 minutes. The fastest woman was Seana Hogan in 1995, who averaged 13.23 mph (21.3 km/h) to finish 2912 miles (4686 km) in 9 days, 4 hours, 2 minutes. The fastest eight-person team was established by Team Type 1 in 2009. The squad of riders who all have type 1 diabetes completed 3,021 miles in 5 days, 9 hours and 5 minutes. The shortest elapsed time for a crossing was outside an official RAAM, by Michael Secrest in 1990, in 7 days 23 hours.
Traditionally RAAM is a solo competitor event – a non-stop individual time trial. In 1989 for the first time, teams were allowed to enter in a new HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) category. Race organizers called it the Human Powered Vehicle Race Across America. HPV RAAM was slated as a platform for technology advancement in cycling aerodynamics and human powered propulsion, but it also paved the way for team competition thereafter. Favored to win, Team Gold Rush led most of the way but did not finish. First, second and third places went to Team Lightning, Team Cronos and Team Strawberry respectively. Team Lightning set the overall fastest RAAM time of 5 days, 1 hour, 8 minutes, and average speed of 24.1 mph, records which still stand over 2 decades later. In later years team members could ride together to take advantage of drafting, so times improved, but in the 1989 race there could only be one rider on the bike at a time.
The all-time record holder is the late Jure Robič of Slovenia who won the race five times. He was killed in September 2010 in a collision with a car while training for the Crocodile Trophy, the endurance mountain bike race held annually in Australia. He was the RAAM title-holder at the time of his death.
List of overall winners 
This is an all-time list of winners of Race Across America in Men's Solo category.
Year Winner Nationality Route Miles Km Time Mph Km/h 1982 Lon Haldeman United States Santa Monica Pier, CA to Empire State Building, NY 2,968 4,777 9 days 20 h 02 min 12.6 20.3 1983 Lon Haldeman United States Santa Monica Pier, CA to Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 3,170 5,100 10 days 16 h 29 min 12.4 20.0 1984 Pete Penseyres United States Huntington Beach, CA to Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 3,047 4,904 9 days 13 h 13 min 13.3 21.4 1985 Jonathan Boyer United States Huntington Beach, CA to Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 3,120 5,020 9 days 02 h 06 min 14.3 23.0 1986 Pete Penseyres United States Huntington Beach, CA to Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 3,107 5,000 8 days 09 h 47 min 15.4 24.8 1987 Michael Secrest United States San Francisco, CA to Washington Monument, DC 3,127 5,032 9 days 11 h 35 min 13.7 22.0 1988 Franz Spilauer Austria San Francisco, CA to Washington Monument, DC 3,073 4,946 9 days 07 h 09 min 13.8 22.2 1989 Paul Solon United States Fairgrounds, Irvine, CA to Battery Park, NY City, NY 2,911 4,685 8 days 08 h 45 min 14.5 23.3 1990 Bob Fourney United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,930 4,720 8 days 11 h 26 min 14.4 23.2 1991 Bob Fourney United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,930 4,720 8 days 16 h 44 min 14.0 22.5 1992 Rob Kish United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,911 4,685 8 days 03 h 11 min 14.9 24.0 1993 Gerry Tatrai Australia Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,910 4,680 8 days 20 h 19 min 13.7 22.0 1994 Rob Kish United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,901 4,669 8 days 14 h 25 min 14.1 22.7 1995 Rob Kish United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,912 4,686 8 days 19 h 59 min 13.7 22.0 1996 Daniel Chew United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,905 4,675 8 days 07 h 14 min 14.6 23.5 1997 Wolfgang Fasching Austria Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 3,025 4,868 9 days 04 h 50 min 13.7 22.0 1998 Gerry Tatrai Australia Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,906 4,677 8 days 11 h 22 min 14.3 23.0 1999 Danny Chew United States Holiday Inn, Irvine, CA to Rousakis Plaza, Savannah, GA 2,938 4,728 8 days 7 h 34 min 14.7 23.7 2000 Wolfgang Fasching Austria Portland, Oregon to Pensacola Beach, Florida 2,975.1 4,788.0 8 days 10 h 19 min 14.7 23.7 2001 Andrea Clavadetscher Liechtenstein Portland, Oregon to Pensacola Beach, Florida 2,983.2 4,801.0 9 days 00 h 17 min 13.8 22.2 2002 Wolfgang Fasching Austria Portland, Oregon to Pensacola Beach, Florida 2,991.9 4,815.0 9 days 03 h 38 min 13.6 21.9 2003 Allen Larsen United States San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ 2,921.7 4,702.0 8 days 23 h 36 min 13.6 21.9 2004 Jure Robič Slovenia San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ 2,958.5 4,761.2 8 days 09 h 51 min 14.7 23.7 2005 Jure Robič Slovenia San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ 3,051.7 4,911.2 9 days 8 h 48 min 13.6 21.9 2006 Daniel Wyss Switzerland Oceanside, CA to Atlantic City, NJ 3,042.8 4,896.9 9 days 11 h 50 min 13.4 21.6 2007 Jure Robič Slovenia Oceanside, CA to Atlantic City, NJ 3,042.8 4,896.9 8 days 19 h 33 min 14.4 23.2 2008 Jure Robič Slovenia Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD 3,014.4 4,851.2 8 days 23 h 33 min 14.0 22.5 2009 Daniel Wyss Switzerland Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD 3,021.3 4,862.3 8 days 5 h 45 min 15.28 24.59 2010 Jure Robič Slovenia Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD 3,005.1 4,836.2 9 days 1 h 1 min 13.85 22.29 2011 Christoph Strasser Austria Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD 2,989.5 4,811.1 8 days 8 h 6 min 14.94 24.04 2012 Reto Schoch Switzerland Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD 2,989.5 4,811.1 8 days 6 h 29 min 15.05 24.22
- "Race Across America". UMCA Official Website. Ultra Marathon Cycling Association. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- History of RAAM http://www.ultracycling.com/events/raam.html#history
- Outside Magazine, November 2006
- "Racing Across America bicyclist critically injured when struck by car", Wichita Eagle and Kansas.com, June 16, 2010.
- "Spanish cyclist wants to walk on return to Wichita", Wichita Eagle and Kansas.com, July 10, 2010.
- "Fundraiser benefits injured Spanish cyclist", Wichita Eagle and Kansas.com, October 15, 2010.
- "RAAM Records". RAAM Official Website. RAAM. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- HPV's Across America: RAAM Tests More Than Technology http://www.adventurecorps.com/when/raam/1989raam1.html