The Race Across America (RAAM) is a bicycle race which starts in Oceanside, CA, and ends in Annapolis, MD -- a total distance of 3,000 miles. The race route crosses 12 states and passes through more than 350 communities. Once the clock starts for the departing rider (or team), it does not stop until riders reach the finish line. Held each year in June, RAAM will begin its 33rd edition in 2014.
Racers ride day and night -- through deserts, mountains, plains and valleys -- and through all kinds of weather on a route fixed by race organizers. Riders must check-in at timestations located approximately 50 miles apart. Solo riders are allowed a maximum of 12 days to complete the race. In 2013, the winner of the solo event crossed the finish line in just under 8 days. To stay within the cutoff time, solo riders bicycle 250 to 350 miles a day, balancing the need for speed with the need for sleep. Because the clock keeps running, every minute of their time must be spent wisely.
Participation in RAAM is not limited to professional cyclists. While solo riders must qualify to compete, anyone may organize a team and enter the race. Besides solo entries, race divisions include 2-, 4- and 8-person relay teams. The workload may be split up any way the teammates choose. On an 8-person team, each racer will ride roughly three hours per day. Solo is just that - one person travels the entire distance. Whether competing in a team or solo entry, each rider is followed by a support crew. The support crew handles all of the logistics – food, fluids, navigation, clothing changes, medical needs, bike repairs, etc. - so that racers can focus on racing.
There is no other bicycle race in the world like RAAM. Unlike the three great European Grand Tours of bicycle racing (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro de Italia), RAAM is not a stage race (the clock keeps running day after day.) RAAM is about 30% longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the 3,000 mile course in roughly half the time allowed for the Tour.
Racers come from all over the world and all walks of life. Approximately 40% of the racers are from outside the US and from at least 15 different countries. While the field includes some professional bicyclists, the majority of racers are not professional riders but have an extraordinary passion for bicycling. Racers range in age from 13 to 75. About 15% of the racers are women.
Competing in RAAM requires significant personal commitment from the rider as well as his/her crew members. Racers choose to enter the event for various reasons -- raising money for a charitable cause, setting a record, seeing the country, spending time with friends, adding their name to the finishers list, etc. But, overwhelmingly most people race RAAM simply to have fun and challenge themselves. Whatever the reason, RAAM is an incredible journey across a beautiful country! Not a single racer will walk away unmoved by the achievement.
To learn more about the Race Across America, visit the event website at www.raceacrossamerica.org.
Several movies about RAAM and its competitors have been made. These three may be of interest: