Sunday, July 29, 2007

2007 Race Across America, RAAM, as it is known.

How to capture RAAM is something like a single person trying to cover the Olympics or a war. What do these diverse events have in common? For starters, they are multi-day events where the action spans a huge expanse of geography, involving many players, each contributing and experiencing something unique, mundane, or life-changing at any single point in time. So, I will do my best to share RAAM with you, but know that whatever I say is but one tiny speck of the whole.

First, RAAM is a transcontinental, single stage bicycle race, this year from Oceanside, CA to Atlantic City, NJ 3,043 miles. There are solo riders, and teams of 2, 4, and 8 persons, who ride traditional/diamond frame uprights, tandems, or recumbents. Within each of these phylos there can be gender and age divisions. Some of the riders race for charities, but it’s only a philanthropy race if the rider or team chooses to fund-raise on the behalf of some cause. The fastest solo riders will cross in as little as eight (8) days; the fastest teams in less than six (6) days. Many riders who start are unable to finish within the allotted 12 days.

RAAMers race RAAM for the love of riding, the distance and the challenge. There is no money to be made, only money to be spent. The average racer will spend a minimum of $10,000, most of which is out-of-own-pocket, just to cover the minimum basics. That’s why only one Tour de France racer has ever participated in RAAM. TDFers ride with the hope of winning prize cash.

For RAMMers it’s rider against rider, rider against terrain, rider against the elements, and ultimately the rider against him/herself. There are a few winners, a few more survivors; the rest go home.

There is no way to simulate a race like this—riding up to 20 hours a day through rain, hail, heat, 40 mile an hour head winds, 10,000 foot climbs, hairpin descents in the middle of the night, riding sleep deprived with a chase vehicle, whose driver is also sleep deprived, 20 feet behind the rider’s rear wheel throwing light on the road ahead.

RAAM Pix at www.bentwanderings.shutterfly.com

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