Frequently Asked Questions
Click on any question to see the answer:
- What Are the Race Categories for RAAM?
- How Much Support Does RAAM Provide?
- What's a Time Station?
- Do RAAM Racers Really Race Solo?
- How Does Team Racing Work?
- How Much Sleep Do RAAM Racers Get?
- Why Do So Few Women Compete in RAAM?
- Compare RAAM to the Tour de France or Mt Everest
- How Much Do RAAM Racers Eat During the Race?
- How Much Does It Cost to Compete in RAAM?
- Can I Watch RAAM on TV?
- Is RAAM Safe?
- History of RAAM
- RAAM by the Numbers
Categories of the Race Across America include Solo, 2-Person, 4-Person, 8-Person. Within these categories they are further breakdowns for age, gender and different types of bikes such as tandems and recumbents.
RAAM oversees functions at the start and the finish and recruits staff for each Time Station. Each Racer must provide their own support crew and support vehicles. A typical crew is 8-12 people and 2-4 vehicles. It’s the responsibility of the crew to care for the racers by providing food, clothing, medical care, bicycle repair, massage, entertainment and directions. Crewing for RAAM Racers is as much of a challenge as riding is. It offers some immense rewards of seeing the country, building some lifelong friendships and the pride of getting your racer safely across the country.
The RAAM route has 53 Time Stations which are approximately 40 to 90 miles apart. At each Time Station, the racer must call into Race Headquarters and report their location and time. This information is posted to the RAAM Race Coverage website which allows fans and officials to track the race. Time Stations are great places to watch racers come through and cheer them on.
Time Station locations vary from someone's home, to bike shops, to city parks, to the Capital Building in Jefferson City, MO. About half of the Time Stations are staffed. This staff is invaluable in building awareness of the race in the local communities along the course. As racers pass through, the Time Station staff is the cheering section and most importantly there to help racers and crews find services in town. Time stations have offered hotel rooms, gas, showers and food.
If you'd like to help with a Time Station, make sure to Contact Us.
They do indeed. The Race Across America is the World's Toughest Bike Race. Extraordinary cyclists come to test themselves against the world's best in a long distance race. More than that, it's a competition against nature and against themselves. The solo racers are the stars of RAAM. Very few people finish within the allotted time of 12 days to earn the distinction of RAAM Finisher.
Teams consist of 2, 4, or 8 racers. Teams generally race in a relay format with one racer always on the road. Teams may put more than one racer on the road at a time if they feel it will be advantageous. The strategy of who races when, and for how long, is constantly changing. It depends on the strengths of the team members and the terrain. Shifts vary from 20 minutes to several hours. With an 8-Person team, each racer spends about three hours a day on the bicycle.
Sleep management is one of the biggest challenges of RAAM. This applies to everyone including racers, crew, and race staff. The challenge for racers is balancing the need for sleep, which means time off the bike, against continuing to move down the road. This is critical because the clock doesn’t stop, even for sleeping. The solos at the front of the race sleep as little as 90 minutes a day. Just to finish within the 12 day time limit, racers can't afford to sleep more than about 4 hours a day at the most.
Teams have the advantage here and can continue racing 24 hours a day as racers rotate. While one sleeps, another races on down the road.
Some racers do hallucinate and this can make for some entertaining stories. Racers can be entirely awake and lucid and still hallucinate, or they can be so tired that reality shifts. Officials and crew are constantly paying attention to a racer's condition and to safety. Safety is the top priority and officials and crews will stop a racer or crew for a sleep break if they feel a racer is past the safety margin of sleep.
Almost all ultra-endurance events have a low percentage of women, typically less than 20%. This includes running, adventure racing, dog sledding, and yachting. RAAM and ultracycling are no different. It’s not that women aren’t strong enough - in fact women’s bodies are built for endurance and women have proved they are truly capable of very strong performances in all ultra-endurance events, including RAAM. RAAM certainly encourages women to participate.
The Race Across America is almost 50% longer than the Tour de France. Solo racers will finish in about 10 days, which is half the time of the Tour de France, and will have no rest days. RAAM racers are not allowed to draft or ride in packs. Every solo racer will make their way across the country on their own power with no help with teammates.
Mt. Everest and the Race Across America are entirely different. Austrian adventurer Wolfgang Fasching has won solo RAAM three times and climbed Mt. Everest. In his opinion, - Everest is more dangerous, but RAAM is much harder.
Nutrition and fluid intake is critical during the race. It’s at least as important as any piece of equipment or any training. If your body doesn’t have the right fuel or enough fuel, you’re not going anywhere. It’s a tough balance to get the right nutrients, in the right amounts, at the right time, while staying on the bike and riding hard.
Racers need to constantly eat and drink. With racers drinking 20-24 ounces an hour, they will easily drink more than 3 gallons of fluid each day. Racers also need to consume 300-400 calories every hour for the duration of the race. That’s more than 8000 calories each day - a typical diet is about 2000 calories a day.
Besides the entry fee, every racer and team has to provide their own support crew and support vehicles. Depending on the number of crew, the number of vehicles, and how deluxe your race is, the costs starts at $20,000. With a Team of racers this costs gets split multiple ways. By contrast, typically it costs over $50,000 to climb Mt. Everest and a year of college can cost over $30,000. For some, this is certainly a lot of expense - and you will never regret spending any of it. The rewards of this race far outweigh any dollar value. As they say in the Visa commercials - Finishing RAAM - Priceless.
Over the history of the race, it has been aired on ABC Wide World of Sports, ESPN, OLN, NBC, BBC, and many other stations around the world.During the race, you can follow the race at our website. We have daily video updates, photos, and ongoing stories about the racers, and of course statistics of where everyone is. If you want to see video of previous years, DVDs are available of past races at the RAAM Store.
Yes, it’s very safe. Safety is paramount for RAAM. All racers are required to follow all rules of the road over the entire course - stopping at stop signs and stop lights, staying to the right, etc. RAAM has a lengthy set of rules most of which are aimed at the safety of everyone - racers, crew, and all road users. These rules are built over years of experience. We also have two dozen officials on the course monitoring the racers to ensure Racers are being safe.
The concept of a bicycle race across America can be traced back to newspaperman George Nellis, who in 1887 crossed the USA on a 45-pound iron high-wheel bicycle with no gears and with pedals attached directly to the front wheel. Following the railroad routes across the country, he made the crossing in just under 80 days.
Every ten years or so, the record would be reduced by a few days, but it was not until the 1970s, when John Marino got serious about finding how quickly a bicycle could be ridden across the US. That marked when the modern movement of trans-national cycling competition began. Other riders began challenging the marks made by Marino. In 1982 a group of these riders decided they were ready for a head-to-head race across the US. In its first year, the Race Across America (RAAM) was called the Great American Bike Race. Four riders lined up on the pier in Santa Monica and raced to New York. The winner was Lon Haldeman. Since then the race has been run every year, always west to east.
- Total distance is more than 3000 Miles.
- Collectively, the Solo and Team finishers will travel a combined distance equivalent to circling the Earth at the equator seven times.
- In the 27 year history of the race, Solo finishers have ridden more than one million miles - that’s two round trips to the moon.
- Lowest elevation is 170 feet below sea level. Highest elevation is more than 10,000 feet high above sea level. This elevation range exceeds two vertical miles.
- Each Solo and Team will climb more than 100,000 feet. This is roughly the distance from the ground to the edge of space, more than three times the altitude flown by commercial jetliners and almost four times the altitude of Mt. Everest.
- Less than 200 solo and tandem racers have officially finished solo RAAM earning the title of RAAM Finisher, compared with over 2000 individuals who have summated Mt. Everest and 200 racers every year compete in the Tour de France.
- Racers have come from 5 continents - North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. More than 25 countries have been represented in the Race Across America.
- RAAM crosses the five longest rivers that are entirely in the US: the Mississippi, Missouri, Rio Grande, Arkansas and the Ohio.
- The RAAM staff during the race is more than 50 people. More than 200 people staff Time Stations. Racers are supported by more than 800 people. More than 200 vehicles are part of the RAAM caravan across the country.
- In the last four years, RAAM racers have raised more than $4,000,000 for charities.