Welcome to RAAM 2010
Race Across America is considered to be one of the hardest endurance events in the cycling calendar, technically there are more kilometres, more metres of ascent and less time to complete them in than even the great and historic Tour de France. Our team name, "Convicts of the Road", would at first glance appear a strange one but actually it is a small mark of respect to those who have suffered before and a reminder about the suffering that continues around the world.
As you may know the first Tour de France race (known as a Grande Boucle) was born out of a circulation war between two French cycling magazines and took place between July 1st and 19th 1903. The huge distance of 2,428 kilometres immediately generated public interest in the event but also led to criticism that the sponsors were exploiting working class athletes for their own gain. Analogies were drawn between the dehumanising, overly regulated life of the tour cyclist and that of the modern factory worker. Indeed exactly 100 years ago when the Pyrenees were used for the first time, Octave Lapize, upon reaching the summit of the Aubisque screamed at the routes architect "Murderers! You are a bunch of murderers! I've had enough …..".
Then in the 1924 Tour the defending champion, Henri Pelissier, protested at the distance of the race and when a race official checked him to see how many jerseys he was wearing, he quit the race. Albert Londres, a journalist of the period, had just come back from French Guyana, where he had exposed the horrors of the conditions in the French penal colony, he now decided to take up the riders cause and he reported the effects that the race had on the cyclists, the illnesses, the weight loss and the drugs they used to put up with the pain. He went on to describe the race as a "tour of suffering" and the cyclists as the "forçat de la route" (which translated means the convict, or chain gang labourers, of the road). Pelissier then wrote to the Communist Party paper L'Humanité saying that he accepted the "excessive fatigue, suffering, pain" of his profession but he and his fellow racers wanted to be "treated as men, not dogs" and in those inglorious days the organisers reacted with disdain by increasing the number of kilometres to 5,745 kilometres (3,590 miles) dividing the mileage into 17 different stages over 18 days.
Our team hopes to complete the 3,010 miles in this years RAAM in just 7 days, our hope is that it will generate interest not only in what we are doing but why we are doing it - To support those that are still suffering and those that are still being exposed to horrific conditions. We very much hope that you will be able to support us. Thank you.