Crossing the United States by Bike
Crossing the country by bicycle is not an easy feat, especially when attempting to do so under the pressure of a restrictive time limit. Many groups have cycled across the United States on a leisurely tour (this experienced a boom around 1976 and the country's Bicentennial celebration with the TransAmerica Trail). Others, like Joe Breeze and Otis Guy, attempted to either set or beat the world record for the trip with both single bikes and tandem bikes.
The United States Cycling Federation requires that any coast-to-coast record attempt must occur between San Francisco and New York City or Santa Monica and New York City. Although one may start out on either coast, many riders have found that starting in California has the advantage of certain wind patterns when crossing certain parts of the country.
In August of 1978, John Marino set the record for crossing with a single bike. His time was 13 days, 1 hour and 40 minutes. Although this was for a single rider, this was the time Breeze and Guy were attempting to beat their second time around. Marino later went on to found the Race Across America, originally known as The Great American Bicycle Race in its first iteration in 1982.
In 1979, two tandem teams worked together to set a new world record for crossing the continental United States by tandem bicycle. The new record was 10 days and 21 hours, an average of 270 miles per day. On one bicycle rode Bruce Hall and Brooks McKinney, and on the other bicycle rode Peter Penseyres and Robert Templin. Their support crew consisted of a mechanic, a photographer, two cooks, and two drivers for their two motorhomes. The four cyclists trained for half a year prior to making the record-setting journey, sometimes reaching nearly 800 miles in one week.
Hall later said that it was "mentally and physically . . . the hardest thing I've ever done in my life." His belief was that the "mental aspect was very important. You can have all the power in the world and the greatest legs in the world, but if you don't have the incentive and drive, you won't make it." (Quoted in American Wheelmen L.A.W. Bulletin, Vol. 15 No. 8, August 1979, page 2)