“She’s an absolutely delightful person, definitely enriching my RAAM experiences.” — John Marino
Elaine is someone you would want on your team. She is enthusiastic, dedicated to the sport of cycling and committed to helping others while pursuing her passions of cycling and traveling. She describes herself as “a geographer motivated by curiosity, a sense of adventure and the desire to continue to grow as a person. Bicycling, especially ultramarathon cycling, has been an amazing vehicle for the exploration of landscapes both internal and external.”
She is as unusual as her resume. Few people attempt RAAM a year after starting the sport. Elaine describes her experience, “When I took up bicycling in the spring of 1983 something clicked. I loved the freedom, the speed, the people, and the challenges. Entering RAAM 1984 a year later, my aspirations were modest: I was there for the adventure, I just wanted to finish, and I thought this would be a one-time thing. Somewhere out on the road I began to wonder how I might turn myself into a serious competitor. This initiated a two-year campaign to completely overhaul my systems. As I integrated new training and nutritional regimes I noticed subtle yet significant changes in the way I was thinking.”
Two years later, Elaine won the Race Across America and set a women’s transcontinental record, Huntington Beach, CA to Atlantic City, NJ, 3,107 miles by bicycle in 10 days, 2 hours.
“While winning brought deep satisfaction, I am most proud of my ability to transform myself and work well with others.” Mariolle says. “As I take on other challenges, this skill has made the greatest difference.”
“While winning brought deep satisfaction, I am most proud of my ability to transform myself and work well with others.”
RAAM champion Elaine Mariolle
John Marino, the founder of RAAM, speaks about Elaine’s dedication and ability to transform herself: “Elaine’s contributions to ultra marathon cycling began in May 1984 when she qualified for RAAM in the longest, and perhaps hardest qualifier ever, the 792.7 mile John Marino Open in Hemet, CA. Her mental determination and dedication to training carried her through three consecutive RAAMs in ’84, ’85, and ’86. Her RAAM ’86 victory was a culmination of years of hard work and launched her into a lifetime of notoriety in the sport.”
- Mariolle’s palmares
- 1984 Seattle to San Diego record 1350 miles 4d 22h
- 1984 RAAM 3rd Place Women’s Division 13d 23h
- 1985 RAAM 3rd Place Women’s Division 10d 23h
- 1986 RAAM 1st Place Women’s Division 10d 2h Women’s Record
- 1991 Paris-Brest-Paris Second Woman
When Elaine stopped racing she continued to participate in the race. Marino: “Some of my fondest memories of directing RAAM were watching Elaine jump from motor home to motor home interviewing crews and riders, with her stories published in the cycling press. Mike Shermer and I spent hours driving the lead official’s vehicle, often giving Elaine a lift to the next story up ahead. It gave us an opportunity to get to know her. She’s an absolutely delightful person, definitely enriching my RAAM experiences.”
Ten years after she raced RAAM, Elaine was the crew chief for the Motorola Team W4, four women who set the age 50+ record in 1996. Sharon Koontz, who raced on the team, recalls the experience:
“None of the riders or crew had a clue what we were getting into with Team RAAM. And like many crews and teams, we had an assortment of different personalities and agendas.
“Everyone on our team remembers Elaine as a very special person. She was focused on keeping the team together to finish RAAM. It takes a special person to connect with multiple personalities, enjoy each moment of the journey, and to endure leading one of the greatest athletic challenges all for the love of cycling.
“She gave us positive feedback 24-hours a day. She slept less than anyone else did. Elaine was such a positive force in our efforts to get to the finish line. We are all better for that accomplishment.”
“Her mental determination and dedication to training carried her through three consecutive RAAMs in ’84, ’85, and ’86.”
Her dedication to helping others enjoy the sport is evident in many ways. Pete Penseyres recalls: “One anecdote that emphasizes her zest for life occurred at our first El Tour de Tucson. Elaine had been the driving force to convince us to drive from Fallbrook to attend this incredible event. Joanne got sick with the flu during our drive to Tucson. We had taken our tandem, so I needed another tandem partner. Elaine graciously agreed to go and came to our hotel room so we could change the stoker saddle and adjust the seat height. Just after she left our room I remembered that we hadn’t agreed on a meeting time in the morning so I opened the door in time to see Elaine skipping happily across the lawn like a carefree seven-year old!”
Elaine does not like to discuss her own cycling triumphs; however, these cycling accomplishments include: Paris-Brest-Paris 1991 (second Woman); Seattle to San Diego (former record); John Paul Mitchell HPV San Francisco to LA contest; numerous top finishes in Davis Double Century, Markleeville Death Ride and the Terrible Two.
“I have always been a tourist at heart.”
About her varied cycling accomplishments, Elaine explains, “I have always been a tourist at heart and have had many adventures including: Iditabike; Great Australian Bicycle Challenge (clear across outback); Pedal For Power on-road coordinator (L.A. to Boston and Portland, ME to Orlando, FL); PAC Tour Route 66, Moscow to Leningrad (cultural exchange tour); and leader on tour from Capetown to Johannesburg, South Africa.”
“Everyone on our team remembers Elaine as a very special person.”
Elaine also gives back. She has crewed for three of her crewmembers at the Furnace Creek 508: Vance Vaughan, Scott Terriberry and Henry Kingman.
Elaine’s inspiration with the pen includes co-authoring “The Woman Cyclist” (with Michael Shermer), writing cycling columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and the California Bicyclist and contributing to numerous cycling publications.
Elaine, 48, currently lives in Tucson, AZ. She works full-time directing arts, education and recreational programs for at-risk youth in Nogales, AZ. Last summer they launched a bicycling program, taking donated bikes that had been left on a nearby Indian reservation, teaching the kids to overhaul the bikes and then hit the road. Elaine states, “The goal is to expose the kids to new horizons so they many discover a wider range of possibilities for themselves.”
“The goal is to expose the kids to new horizons so they many discover a wider range of possibilities for themselves.”
In her little spare time she is completing a dissertation on Route 66 as a cultural icon (inspired by years on the road). She assists with El Tour de Tucson every year since first invited 20 years ago.
Elaine Mariolle has tremendous zest for life!
“Everyone on our team remembers Elaine as a very special person.”
Penseyres gives us a glimpse into her future plans: “Earlier this year Elaine met with Lon and Susan during their Winter Training Camps and gave us a glimpse of her future when Lon talked about the school he and other PAC Tour riders helped finance and build in Peru. She was so moved by the thought of being able to help others that she is already planning her first volunteer adventure to Peru.”
One can only imagine what adventures the next road may bring.
Elaine was inducted into the hall-of-fame in 2006.