Racing across America on a singlespeed

spurgeon_onthebike1.jpg

John Spurgeon
(Photo: John Spurgeon)

Imagine racing a bike for over 3,000 miles and up 100,000 feet of climbing in just under 12 days.

Sounds grueling right? Now imagine doing that on a singlespeed.

Hillsboro resident John Spurgeon is competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) with one goal and one gear. He left Oceanside, California on June 10 and is now somewhere near Greenville Illinois.

He has ridden over 2,000 miles and he and his crew hope to finish in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the next few days.

Spurgeon is no stranger to challenges. Last year he became the first person to ever complete the 538 mile Race Across Oregon on a fixed gear (that event has 40,000 feet of climbing).

For RAAM, Spurgeon spared his knees and opted for a freewheel, but his feat is nonetheless impressive.

spurgeon_onbikenight.jpg

Spurgeon on his Ira Ryan singlespeed.
(Photo: John Spurgeon)

Along with his steely legs and determination, Spurgeon brought along two bikes made by Portland-based builders. His orange-painted Ira Ryan is outfitted with aerodynamic bars and 40-15 gearing for flying along the flats. When the road turns vertical, he switches over to a silvery Vanilla with a 39-tooth chain ring coupled with a 16-tooth cog.

spurgeon_vanilla.jpg

Spurgeon’s Vanilla.
(Photo: John Spurgeon)

So far, he’s in 17th place and is averaging about 300 miles each and every day.

The most recent entry to Spurgeon’s blog was posted last night. It seems like Spurgeon is facing the demons of this physical challenge. With his average speed dwindling, and the dreaded time cut-off ticking closer, his crew must decide whether to push the limits, or pull back.

Whatever happens, Spurgeon’s journey has been an inspiration to thousands of people and I hope he makes it to Atlantic City to celebrate this amazing accomplishment. Keep going John! You can do it!


Follow Spurgeon’s progress and daily stats on the RAAM website.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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John
John
16 years ago

I believe you mean that Spurgeon is the first person to complete Race Across Oregon on a fixed gear, not that he is just the first person to complete RAO (my roommate Ken won the 2005 edition).

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

yeah, thanks for catching that mistake John. I\’ve edited the post.

Qwendolyn
Qwendolyn
16 years ago

Wow.

That guy is tough as nails.

Bearhat
Bearhat
16 years ago

legs of steel!

TomasCoSauce
16 years ago

He…he is my hero! *weeping*

ira ryan
16 years ago

is it the bike or the man?

Phil Hanson (a.k.a. Pedalphile)

Well, gee, why have one multispeed bike when you can have a separate bike for every gear ratio you desire? Lance Armstrong, eat your heart out! Still, kudos to John Spurgeon; he\’s got a bike-load of ambition and enough moxie to satisfy it.

Robert (John's friend and Portland crew)
Robert (John's friend and Portland crew)
16 years ago

Hi,

John just made it past the dreaded time station 40 cutoff early this morning. His overall average speed is up. What is amazing is that not only is he making the cutoff times along the way, but is being competative with the other multi-gear riders. Out of 24 riders starting he has been between 15-19th the entire race. He is now only 2h 41m from 13th place which is nothing in RAAM time since part of the strategey is how much time is spent resting compared to your competitors. John\’s goal was only to finish the race in the overall allowed time, the being competative with other riders has been a bonus and is keeping it fun for him. One of John\’s strategies was to go as fast as he could for 50 minutes and then rest 5-10 minutes all the way across Kansas and Missouri. He would then take a short nightime rest for about 90 minutes. When it has been extremely hot during the day, he switches the long rest to mid-day and rides all night when temps are down. It is almost inconceivable how physically and mentally challenging this race is.

Kristen
Kristen
16 years ago

Man!

John gets massive huge kudos for even entering this race. RAAM is the ultimate bike race, and anyone who competes in it should get lots of respect from everyone… and anyone who finishes within the time limit should be worshipped!

Go John, Go!!!!!!!

Lapis
Lapis
16 years ago

That\’s awesome! This gives me some extra hope for this coming September: riding to Vancouver (Canada) on a single. If he can race, I can ride.

Wow! Keep us updated!

will
will
16 years ago

scotty whitlake did it fixed from Portland to NYC didn\’t have a brake until the rockies. Too bad the bike was stolen his first day in the big apple.

Robert (John\'s friend and Portland crew)
Robert (John\'s friend and Portland crew)
16 years ago

Hi all,

John is less than 100 miles from Atlantic City NJ. He has ridden all night and yeserday with almost no time off the bike. He needs to maintain about 12.5 mph to make the 5:00 pm cutoff time to be considered an official finisher. He is a winner regardless of official status, but it would be nice to make the cut after enduring so much for so long in the saddle. Check out the RAAM website for updates today. Yeah John, keep that single gear spinning!

Robert

Robert (John\\\'s friend and Portland crew)
Robert (John\\\'s friend and Portland crew)
16 years ago

Hi,

Update: John just turned in a 14.8 mph split to time station number 55. He has 65 miles to go and is roaring into position to finish about 3:00pm EST which is 2 hrs before the cutoff time. Unbelievable since he has been riding the last 24 hrs with no rest. This in an amazing feat he is displaying, history is being made here from our own local Portland rider, how incredible is that!

Robert

nate
nate
16 years ago

Robert,

Thanks for these updates. Please continue to post as you get information beyond what is posted on the raam website.

This is great stuff.

Nate

Cecil
Cecil
16 years ago

This just in – John finished RAAM with a time of 12 days, 2:11. Hooray, John!

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

Let\’s give him some much-deserved props, on the story I just posted!