The 17th Annual Ride Across Indiana will pass through Brazil Saturday. The RAIN is a bike race sponsored by the Bloomington Bicycle Club and Supported by the Indiana National Road Association. Participants log 158 miles in this timed, mass start event which starts on The Illinois state line and ends at the Ohio state line.
Most of the length of the race runs on U.S. 40. This old four-laned road contains traffic lights and gentle rolling hills, creating obstacles for the riders as well as ever-changing scenery. Individuals are encouraged to set their best time or simply finish the race in the allotted time of 14 hours. In last years race, 739 riders participated in the steady-paced and physically challenging race with a recorded 524 finishing. 2002 Clay County residents who participated were Arthur Jensen Jr., Patrick Martin and Mark Trousdale. This year's participants include James Grey, Robert Lemont, Audrey Harbison and Aaron Crawn.
U.S. 40, also known as the Old National Road was America's first national highway. Built in the early 19th century, the road extends over Cumberland, Md. to Vandalia, Ill. It became the gateway to the west for the pioneers, aided in strategic mobilty for the military, and became the most prestigious east-west road for settlement,commerce and economic progress for more than a century.
The National Road was in progress of being built long before Indiana became a state in 1816. It is said thatthe idea of a national road came from George Washington in the 1750s. Because of his military background and his dream for America gave him the idea to encourage a national road that woud lead to the western interior. In 1803,the Louisiana Purchase was concluded by President Thomas Jefferson which created the need for a national road. Indiana's portion was finished in 1834. In response to numerous requests from cyclists and motorists for improved roads and marked routes, Congress organized the U.S. Route System which became US Route 40 with two paved lanes in 1926. Changes allowed people to fully appreciate the countryside without the everyday bustle of a busy city. Clubs and associations issued route maps and set up signs, establishing The National Trails Road which spanned from coast to coast and included the National Road.
This was the beginning of several improvements for the road. The '30's kicked-off two decades of construction as two-lane U.S. 40 was constructed into a four-lane divided highway. In 1976, the National Road was named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and 20 years later the State of Indiana dubbed the road a State Scenic Byway. In 1996 representatives from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois formed the National Road Alliance in order to encourage federal nomination as an All American Road.