Almanac

News - June 25, 2014

Tarlton finishes Race Across America

by Dave Boyce

Menlo Park businessman John Tarlton left Oceanside, California, on June 10 around noon, his bicycle headed in an easterly direction. Eleven days, 21 hours and 17 minutes later, on Sunday, June 22, he arrived in Annapolis, Maryland, having ridden 3,020 miles in completing the 2014 Race Across America.

His was a solo race, meaning he was not part of a racing team, but he did have company. A nine-person crew made the trip as well, in a motor coach and a van, to provide mechanical help, food, spare bicycles, sleeping quarters, and support and guidance on where to turn next and the distance to the next time station.

The race was a time trial in that cyclists raced against the clock rather than each other. The clock kept running while the racers slept. Mr. Tarlton clocked in at 55 time stations in 12 states.

His average speed was 10.59 mph, with a high of 18.66 mph in the flat lands south of the Salton Sea, and lows of less than 5 mph in Arizona and Kansas, according to statistics at the Race Across America website.

The 3,020-mile route confronted the cyclists with 170,000 vertical feet, including a 10,000-foot point in a lengthy trek over the Rocky Mountains. The Appalachian Mountains represented another vertical challenge, but only to about 3,000 feet.

Had his race extended into a 12th day, he would have been categorized as "did not finish," crew chief David Johnson said after arriving back home in California. "It was a grueling ride overall, but the last two days took it all out of us to get him to the line as a rookie finisher. Quite an achievement."

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