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Records and Awards

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 decided to find out how quickly a bicycle could be ridden across the U.S.A. that the modern movement of trans-national cycling competition began. Other riders started challenging the marks made by Marino, and by 1982 a group of these riders decided they were ready for a head-to-head race. 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 City. The winner was Lon Haldeman. Since then the race has been run every year, always west to east. The race now begins in Oceanside, California and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland. With its mid-June start dates, RAAM starts close to the summer solstice to provide competitors the maximum daylight hours.