Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance events in the world. For more than four decades, RAAM has been challenging ultracyclists from around the globe to push their physical and mental limits to the farthest reaches. Starting in Oceanside, California, this event spans over 3000 miles, climbs 175,000 feet, crosses 12 states, and finishes at City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland.
John Marino is the man who not only invented the Race Across America, he also competed in the first edition in 1982. He’s still a very active and strong cyclist. In fact, a couple of months ago he was in training for this year’s Paris-Brest-Paris when his bicycle was stolen while on a ride near his Irvine, California home.
When RAAM organizers learned of this, they contacted Spiegel Bicycles (the Official Bicycle of the Race Across America), who immediately agreed to send Marino one of their popular San Marino models, with the RAAM-themed red, white & blue star-spangled paint job, of course.
Here is the full story from John himself in a recent email to RAAM:
A Great Outcome to a Bad Bike Day
I had 5 miles remaining on a 65ish mile bike ride when I stopped to make a time-sensitive cell phone call. I was riding on a deserted stretch of an Irvine bike trail. I walked about 10 feet away from my Specialized Roubaix bicycle to make the call when a person appeared out of nowhere and ran away with my bike, pushing it at a fast pace, then hopped on the bike and was in a full sprint within seconds.
I had no time to react. I guess this could be called “getting bike jacked.” Another cyclist was riding up the rear and watched in amazement as this unfolded. The Good Samaritan sprinted away, chasing the thief, but soon returned. “That guy was really fast, I couldn’t catch him,” he said. I thanked the Good Samaritan for trying and mentioned that perhaps it was good that he didn’t catch him. Any encounter with a thief could have a terrible outcome. Despite the good efforts of the Irvine Police Department, the bike is likely gone forever.
I told this story to my high school pal Jerry DeDuonni, who decided to post this incident on the RAAM Ultra Cycling Facebook page. Within a few days Vic Armijo, the RAAM Media Director, contacted me with a generous offer from Vesna Azman of Spiegel Bikes, a RAAM Sponsor. They asked if I wanted a brand new Spiegel San Marino bike frame free of charge.
Of course, I accepted. I have followed the RAAM exploits of Marco Baloh and Dorina Vaccaroni, two of RAAM’s superstars who ride Spiegel Bikes. Soon my frame arrived in the mail. I was blown away by the paint job and the San Marino RAAM color scheme. My good friend George Vargas of Rev Endurance Sports in San Marcos, California compiled all the components and built the bike, which I am now outfitting for long-distance unsupported Brevets.
My current interests are the many long-distance events hosted by Randonneurs USA, which include rides of 100 to 1200-kilometer timed events.
To lessen saddle problems that befall many long-distance cyclists, I was given a new Infinity Seat by the founder and inventor of this revolutionary seat Dr. Vince Marcel, who also is a Chiropractor and expert in the mechanics of the human body as it relates to cycling. Many RAAM riders use this seat. So far, the bike and the seat are amazing. I look forward to many, many more miles down the road.
I sincerely thank Spiegel Bikes and all the others who have turned a negative into a positive.
John Marino, RAAM #1
For more information about RAAM, visit https://www.raamrace.org/