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Video Review of Allen Across America
By P. Stone
Date: 3/8/2004
Video Review of Allen Across America
Video Review of Allen Across America

Video Review of Allen Across America.

Written by Vaughn Trevisanut.

Long ago when I was much younger and had the yen for long training rides I would take off on challenges to ride to some distant city or mountain retreat. Most of these rides were made in the Spring season to put in base miles, no hurry just keep the tempo and see how many miles I could accomplish before the sun dipped into the west.

Some were century plus rides to the local mountains or cities with more serious training in mind.

I know we all have peculiar moments of madness on the bike; mine was at some point in the midst of riding across the Pear Blossom Hwy. in 115 degree heat on my way to the local ski resort Wrightwood in August of 1961.

Maybe it was the heat or the thought of the upcoming short brutal climb to the resort; but my mind turned to thinking of riding across the states to the east coast. I don’t know why a guy can be in so deep at some point you look at something worse or more challenging to do? That day I was amusing myself with a ride across the states ocean to ocean. How many miles a day, would I be stronger after? Could I manage 200 miles a day until I saw the Atlantic?

Then there was no Race Across America; the map that taunted me apparently had the same effect on others. In 1982 the great American Bike Race was created the first of 22 annual races across America. I found some consolation I wasn’t the only madman teased by the asphalt ribbon. I will say I was never tempted to do it non stop.

Allen Larson is one of those riders who took the maps taunt seriously in 2002 finishing third. In 2003 Allen came back resolved to win. In his biography he had quite a different reaction as a successful road racer, when he first heard of RAAM, “I remember seeing an article on Race Across America and thinking "no way", "how incredible", but couldn't even imagine that kind of endurance racing.

Allen was successful racing until a car accident changed his life he was off the bike for 9 years due to back injuries. After 9 years the injuries hit a critical level and Allen underwent two year of Chiropractic and massage therapy. When it was suggested by his doctor to do weight training Allen started to improve, “I began a faithful workout daily and found myself getting stronger and stronger overall. My back seemed to hurt less and less as time went by. Eventually there were even a few days that my back didn't hurt at all.”

“It was during this time that I began to ride again. It felt good to get back in the saddle, natural. I began doing short rides of about 25 miles and then found myself doing more and more…“

Allen’s return to racing was spectacular to say the least, winning the ultra races Seattle to Spokane and the Race Across Oregon which qualified his him for his first RAAM in 2002. He finished third with his head strapped to a broom stick with duct tape when the muscles in his neck and shoulder gave out. His response at the end of his race, “Once I crossed the RAAM finish line in 2002, I truly believed my curiosity was tamed and I’d done it. But within 24 hours as I heard the crew talking about next year, I found myself thinking…”if I made some changes and took all I learned from this race, who knows…” then the war wounds would penetrate my brain waves and I’d quickly retreat to my OLN statement “I’ll never do this race again.”

In time Allen came to decide to take the challenge again, “I come to RAAM 2003 desiring to do my best, but very aware that anything can happen. I would love to come in first place and dream of it often. This kind of victory would be so sweet. It would say thank you to all those who believed in me, helped me and prayed for me. It would hopefully inspire others that anyone can overcome and press on towards a goal.”

The video “Allen Across America 2003” is about Allen’s successful bid to fulfill his dream of Victory at RAAM. It is a well produced 90 minutes that follows Allen and his crew from the start in San Diego to victory on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. There is only one rule, “Stay on the bike and ride.”

If you’ve wondered what it takes to do this race, what the rider and his crew go through this is the video for you. It isn’t just about the ride; it’s about the inside workings of a team composed of the rider and the crew of ten and how they support the rider day to day to make it possible for him to continue. This is not a scripted edition this is the real deal of the challenges and problems that Allen and the Crew must solve to win the toughest ultra endurance race in the world.

The video is crafted around three segments with commercials (some entertaining in their own right) of Allen’s Sponsors. The first the departure from San Diego through the coastal mountains, the106 degree deserts of California and Arizona to the mile high plateaus of New Mexico. The Second eclipses the Great Plains and rolling terrain of the great Mississippi and Ohio Valley. The final leg is up the piedmont of the eastern coast to Allen’s victorious arrival on the boardwalk of Atlantic City

Through out the video you are party to the crew meetings to decide how to keep the Allen rolling. You may feel drawn in at this point like you are one of the team, and plead for another half hours rest. You also get a good look at diet of a RAAM competitor, the bikes he uses, the duties of the mechanic and how he has to schedule his maintenance in the middle of a 23 hour rolling caravan. The crews challenge of finding a place to rest and what the team does to keep Allan going when he can’t sleep for the first 45 hrs. It answers how they keep him awake with only an average of 2 hours sleep a day, what they do when Allen wants nothing but junk food and pizza on his next feed. What do you do when your rider stops at a stop sign and falls asleep?

Allen the central figure has a understated sense of humor and wit that only sharpens as the days and miles roll on. His humor defuses the tension and exhaustion of himself and the crew; and will give you a few belly laughs as well. As you would expect it isn’t always smiles and laughs, there are moments of conflict and drama that would fill a good six months of the typical daily soap opera. There are moments of transformation from the deepest gloom to the almost mythical regeneration for the rider and the crew when they discover that victory is within their grasp.

Two thumbs up, worth the price and the lost hours on your couch or to inspire you while you’re riding the rollers in the basement this winter.

Video available at:


The first RAAM

It is more than inspirational to see Allen and his crew overcome many obstacles to win RAAM. Especially noteworthy is Allen's crew's mutual forgiveness of each other's human-ness during the race. Allen's crew is funny and light-hearted, yet serious when it mattered, a model crew. Allen is a picture of determination and perseverance.

Seana Hogan - 6 Time Champion

I said it on the air, and I'm standing by what I said: I've been covering sports for 20-years, I've seen 'em all come and go, and Allen Larsen is the single toughest athlete I've ever seen. What this man does on a bicycle boggles the mind, breaks the heart, and lifts the spirit

Eric Johnson - KOMO ABC Seattle

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