For 2003, RAAM follows its first radically different course of the third millennium. After a three year hiatus, the race’s starting line returns to southern California. Leaving from the harbor-front starting line in San Diego, the racers will cycle some 2,960 miles, climb 83,000 feet and cross fourteen states—as well as all four of the continental United States’ time zones—before arriving at the east coast and finishing on the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk. Along the way they will be challenged with everything the country can offer...
Race Information
Start Date: Sunday, June 15th at 7:00 am (PDT)
Starting Line: San Diego, California
Finish Line: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Total Distance: 2,960 miles

Route Directions (PDF 1.1meg)
Timestation Map
Elevation Map

RAAM 2003 Route List

  1. The parade zone leaves downtown San Diego and heads north along the Pacific Coast Highway into the Mission Valley. Soon after passing Qualcomm Stadium, the racers turn up a short grade and start the official race. A series of continuous gradual climbs along I-8 frontage roads take the riders to the 4000 foot Tecate Summit and the first of 55 time stations at Pine Valley. The terrain gets much drier as the course dips south to within a stone’s throw of the Mexican border before plummeting into the heat haze of the Yuha desert. North of El Centro the race dips to its lowest elevation (100 feet below sea level). If the Santa Ana winds kick up, crossing the Imperial Sand Dunes will take the racers full attention, as drifting sands could bury much of the road. Finally, at Blythe the racers cross the Colorado River and leave California behind.
  2. Arizona offers no relief for the racers. East of Quartzite the course bends north of I-10, and gradually climbs across barren country. The stretch between Wenden and Gladden will be more mentally tough on the racers than almost any other part of the course: for over twenty miles the road is perfectly straight and nothing changes, not even the string of telephone poles along the left side of the road. Surviving this, the racers are rewarded with some spectacular climbs. RAAM revisits the legendary Yarnell Grade as well as the subsequent climbs into Prescott. New this year is an even more spectacular climb over Mingus Mountain: the views from the precarious descent into Jerome won’t be soon forgotten. The mountainous eastern half of Arizona includes a memorable ascent of the red rock Mogollon rim outside Payson.
  3. Wide open vistas return with New Mexico. The course crosses the Continental Divide at Pie Town—then paradoxically climbs to its highest point at 8200 feet above sea level eight miles later. Crossing the Plains of Agustin, the road bisects the Very Large Array radio-telescope field. This is another long perfectly straight section: for over an hour the racers will be tantalized by the always-visible road bend at the far side of the valley. The course then trends slightly northward, crosses one last summit at Mountainair and noticeably flattens out as it joins Route 66 into Tucumcari.
  4. In the history of RAAM, there has not been a shorter crossing of Texas. The course clips the northwest corner of the panhandle, traversing the state in less than 100 miles—and passing even fewer oil wells. Oklahoma is dismissed even quicker. But not until passing through Guymon, the single most visited city in RAAM history.
  5. Kansas is true plains country, gently tilting from 3000 feet in the west to 1000 feet in the east. The route passes just south of the wild west town of Dodge City and the Santa Fe trail. Towns, along with their water towers, regularly interrupt the continuity of sunflower-lined roads. Halfway across the state, the route leaves US 54, to skirt around the busy Wichita traffic. It is here, soon after crossing the Arkansas River, where the halfway point is reached. With any luck at all, the winds will behave and speed the riders along.
  6. At Fort Scott, the race enters Missouri. Immediately, rolling hills and distinctive "lettered" state highways will clue the riders that they aren’t in Kansas any more. Midway across the state, the route crosses two widely separated arms of the massive Lake of the Ozarks and between which the racers will be challenged to negotiate the throngs of vacationers. A short while later, the course passes the magnificent rotunda of the state capital at Jefferson City and crosses the Missouri River. For the next 70 miles or so, the road never strays far from the river and is fairly flat. That is, except for two sections of short extremely steep twisty climbs through the neighboring bluffs. Finally a bit north of St. Louis, racers will cycle over the mighty Mississippi on a magnificent golden yellow suspension bridge into Alton, Illinois.
  7. RAAM slices through the farming country of southern Illinois and central Indiana, following US 40 for most of the way. The historic National Road spurs off at several spots—including once to pass through an old covered bridge within sight of the race route. Along the tree shaded boulevards of Terre Haute, Indiana the race enters the Eastern Time Zone: although the past three RAAMs have completely avoided it, nearly a third of year’s race is in it. The race then retraces the RAIN (Ride Across Indiana) route, skirting south of Indianapolis and on to Richmond.
  8. Considering that Ohio, home of the Buckeyes, is the seventh most populous state, racers may be surprised at how rural this section of the race is. The course gently rolls north of Dayton (reaching its northernmost point outside Urbana) before trending southeast just west of Columbus. It gets steeply hilly through the hardwood forests of the Hocking Hills region, before the more moderate grades around Ohio University’s sprawling campus and athletic fields in Athens.
  9. RAAM crosses the Ohio River and enters West Virginia on US highway 50 and starts a series of climbs through the Appalachian Mountains. As the road narrows, it climbs over the Eastern Divide at 3000 feet above sea level, then climbs again to the ominously named Mt. Storm before dropping into Maryland. Some of the most intense grades of the entire race are found on scenic US route 40 in the forty miles between Cumberland and Hancock. The fourth of these climbs scales Sideling Hill, climbing 1000 feet in about two miles.
  10. Fortunately, once the route enters Pennsylvania the major climbs will be behind the racers. Unfortunately, the interminable short rollers will continue to take their toll on tired legs. After passing through Gettysburg and by several Civil War battle sites, RAAM crosses the Susquehanna River and enters Pennsylvania Dutch "horse and buggy" country. Southwest of Philadelphia, the course comes within two miles of adding Delaware as the fifteenth state to its collection, but instead heads east across the Commodore Barry Bridge over the Delaware River into New Jersey.
  11. The last one hundred miles of the race is mercifully flat. Tall pine trees line most of the route across New Jersey. The increasing traffic presages the approach of the finish line. After one last time station, the route joins the Atlantic City Expressway and crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. Finally, the casino-dominated skyline of Atlantic City emerges in the distance. Entering the city, the racers cross familiar "Monopoly" streets—Atlantic, Pacific—and terminates on the Boardwalk, a few feet short of the Atlantic Ocean.

source: www.raceacrossamerica.com, Rick Anderson

 

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