(Above: the logo for the Santa Barbara Green Power team.)

Riding through tough Arizona terrain and 92-degree dry heat today, George Bifano and his eight-man team of Santa Barbara residents pushed onward toward Annapolis, Maryland as part of Race Across America (RAAM), a 3,000-mile bike race that challenges riders to push their endurance to the limit through the harsh landscape that sprawls across America.

RAAM was inspired by newspaperman George Nellis who, in 1887, rode a single speed, 45 pound, iron-wheeled bicycle across the United States. He finished his ride in just less than 80 days. In 1982, after various people accomplished the same feat as Nellis, a head-to-head race was created which evolved into Race Across America.

Santa Barbara’s team, Santa Barbara Green Power, consists of team captain and radiologist Don Flanagan, 70, who returns for his third year; Ed Allbritton, 67; Bryan Knowles, 61; Bryan’s son Stephen Knowles, 31; Paolo Ciani, 45; Mark Luke, 50; Shaw Talley, 30, the stepson of Don Flanagan; and Bifano, the father of Independent staffer Julie Bifano. All of these athletes have competed in various endurance sport activities ranging from triathlons to previous RAAM events.

The race began on June 12 in Oceanside, California, where over 250 men and women broken into teams of one to eight riders began the haul across 14 states with no rest days scheduled, as in the Tour de France. Furthermore, RAAM is 50 percent longer than the Tour de France. They aim to arrive in Annapolis by June 19. The riders are accompanied by crews managing the teams’ riding and sleep schedules. Riding times vary from three hours to 30 minutes depending upon road and terrain conditions.

Riders are supporting various philanthropic motivations in hopes to raise money and awareness for those causes. Santa Barbara Green Power hopes to bring community consciousness to cycling as a viable renewable energy option and a great means of transportation. The riders have also raised over $13,000 for CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Meditation), which specializes in treating children who suffer from abuse and neglect.

Check out Santa Barbara Green Power’s website to follow their progress and to make a donation for their case.


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