RAAM bicycle race: faster and faster

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When cyclist Lon Haldeman finished the first Race Across America back in 1982, he arrived at the Empire State Building 9 days, 20 hours, and 2 minutes after he left Santa Monica.

He had ridden an average 12.57 mph. I thought it was an awesome feat in the ultimate bicycle ride. I was studying up for cycling cross-country at the time, and I was planning in terms of months, not days.

As in all events, those records fall by the wayside. In 1986 Pete Penseyres set the as-yet unbroken record of 15.4 mph average speed. Cyclist Rob Kish holds the shortest time for the crossing at 8 days, 3 hours, 11 minutes, set in 1992.

Relay teams were added in 1989. Team Action Sports set a record in 2004 by riding their bicycles cross-country in 5 days, 8 hours, 17 minutes, averaging 23.05 mph.

So, riding on a fast team, a cyclist can ride cross-country in the equivalent of a work week, almost half the time it took Haldeman in '82.

Now RAAM is adding a category for us mere mortals that wraps up the event in a day. The 24-hour RAAM Corporate Team Challenge routes riders from San Diego, through the Imperial Valley, into Arizona, ending at Flagstaff — 491 miles. A team can have up to six cyclists, and the corporation needs to fork over $1,000 ($1,100 after March 15).

This year's RAAM — for all categories — starts June 19 in San Diego and finishes 3,046 miles away in Atlantic City. Participants — including Corporate Challenge teams — are already signing up.

I guess this isn't something you decide to do on the spur of the moment, even for the 24-hour race. I'll just sit here an watch in awe again this year.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2005/02/23/raam-bicycle-race-faster-and-faster/

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