Race Across America (RAAM) got underway yesterday in San Diego, California, where the first participants hit the road on this epic cycling challenge. The race, which is in its 30th year, will now proceed across the U.S., eventually ending in Annapolis, Maryland some 3000 miles (4828km) later.
The competition actually features a staggered start with the solo women, and men over the age of 60, setting out yesterday. Today they'll be joined by the solo men with all of the teams beginning on Saturday. It is estimated that the first riders will begin crossing the finish line around the 21st of June, which means they'll have ridden the entire distance in about eight days. Most of the cyclists will arrive between June 21-25.
RAAM is unique in its approach and scope. This isn't a stage race and riders are free to use any strategy they want to complete the course. They will have to follow a preset route and pass through several checkpoints along the way, but they can ride for as many hours in the day as they feel comfortable.
The course is definitely a challenging one. It features more than 170,000 feet of climbing and passes through 12 states on its way across the country. The cyclists begin at the Oceanside Pier in California and end at the City Dock in Maryland, in between they'll ride through 350 town and cities.
One of the riders in the race is 70-year old Michael Patterson who is part of a four-man team that will begin the ride on Saturday. Patterson its on the board of the Trust for Public Lands and he and his teammates are riding to raise funds for that organization. The TPL will use those funds to help create "parks with a purpose," setting aside lands for public use across the United States.
Good luck to all the riders and enjoy the ride.