"Race Across America is one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance events in the world," according to https://www.raceacrossamerica.org. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles, but the greater sporting community as well.
"The race leader will literally be coming through Batesville in less than two hours," Gary Lunsford, Batesville, reported by email at 3:40 p.m. Monday, June 17. Racers will be continuing to pedal through town for the next week.
"People should be out cheering these guys on!" Lunsford believes. Competitors start in California and are riding nonstop to Annapolis, Maryland.
The race course comes through Batesville on State Road 46 from Greensburg. It turns at State Road 229 and goes through Oldenburg, and onto St. Mary’s Road to Brookville. See the website for the full course and map. To learn where competitors are in real time, go to www.raceacrossamerica.org/live-tracking.html.
Lunsford is concerned for the cyclists' safety because "the majority of the public has no clue as to the rules of the road" for vehicle drivers interacting with cyclists.
A new state law requires 3 feet clearance to safely pass a bicycle, according to him. The cyclist, who participates in mainly off-road long distance races, says, "Bikes are to be treated just like a car. Period," according to an Indiana revised code.
Bicycle Indiana (https://www.bicycleindiana.org) spells out the motorist's responsibilities:
• Pass with care. Slow down and give bicycles at least 3 feet of clearance when passing. If there isn’t room, be patient and wait until it’s safe to pass.
• Don’t honk. A car horn can startle a cyclist, causing a wreck.
• Treat bicycles like other vehicles. Never cut them off. Yield to them when turning. Always assume bicyclists are traveling straight unless they signal otherwise.
• Keep it clean. Glass and other trash create hazards for bicyclists.
• Be aware. Watch out for cyclists, treat them with respect and give them the room they need to be safe.
Lunsford says, "I ride daily and every single day, I have near misses with irritated drivers and, more often, inattentive drivers." He has one bit of advice for local drivers: "Put the cellphones down and pay attention."
How Race Across America has grown
In 1982, four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination, according to the website. Relay teams were introduced in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. Team sizes are two, four and eight persons. Relay team racing made the event accessible to any fit cyclist.
"RAAM is about 30 percent longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time, with no rest days," the site states.
Race Across America is not limited to professional cyclists. It is open to professional and amateur athletes alike. While solo racers must qualify to compete, anyone may organize a team and race.
Racers must cycle 3,000 miles, across 12 states, and climb over 170,000 vertical feet. Team racers have a maximum of nine days, but most finish in about seven and a half with the fastest in just over five. Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, most finishing in 11 days with the fastest finishing in under eight.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.