Team Race Across AMerica:
Transcontinental Racing Goes Mainstream

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in Velo News

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The second annual Team Race Across AMerica (RAAM) showcased eight different four rider relay teams in an epic transcontinental battle. Held August 1 to 7 in the wake of the traditional solo race from Irvine, CA, to Savannah, GA, this 2920 mile race was close and competitive from start to finish. In the end, Team PacifiCare/TREK of San Antonio, TX, took home the winners' accolades. Composed of Cat Two and Three racers Steve Horne, George Thomas, Will Klein, and Michael Olstad, the team covered the distance in six days, five hours, and 31 minutes for an overall average speed of 19.53. The next three teams rolled into Savannah within five and a half hours of the champions, highlighting the competitiveness of this fast-growing event.

1993 RAAM Results

Team PacifiCare/TREK
Texas 6:05:31

Team Make-A-Wish
Washington, DC 6:06:46

Team Norway/Pactel
Norway 6:07:45

Team New Amsterdam Beer
New York 6:11:00

Georgia & South Carolina 6:21:39

California 7:01:26

Team Patterson
Virginia 7:01:54

Introduced last year as an addition to the then ten year old solo RAAM, the Team RAAM is quickly becoming popular among USCF racers and triathletes. Last year's race had four teams, while this year had eight. Enthusiasm and media coverage suggest that the 1994 event may see 15 to 20 teams vying for the trophies. Teams have the option of fielding from one to four riders at any given moment, letting conditions of the riders and the course dictate the optimal strategy. Traditionally, the teams utilize just one rider at a time, letting the other three recuperate and prepare for an all out 30 to 60 minute time trial on the bike. The winners did build an early lead, though, by fielding two man teams early on Day One, setting themselves up for victory some six days later.

The race featured the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, ranging from 122 degree temperatures in the California deserts to 40 degree nights in the Colorado Rockies and brutal Midwestern thunderstorms to boot. Perhaps the most amazed by the conditions were the eventual third place finishers, Team Norway/PACTEL, a team of Cat One Norwegian cyclists. Their usual stoic observations included "It's too hot." and "I don't believe this." Team PacifiCare/TREK found the race pace so intense and the conditions so fierce that time did not allow for more than one shower during the week and sleeping consisted of catnaps only in a moving minivan. Hope was given up on clean or even dry clothes as well. "It was so crazy that I'd do anything to get out on the bike," commented Olstad.

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