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They're coming! Beware the zombie bikers.

After pedaling almost 3000 miles from Oceanside, California, the first of the Race Across America (RAAM) solo riders is expected to cross the finish line at city dock in Annapolis on Thursday, just eight days after they started.

The current leader, Austrian Christoph Strasser, is on pace to challenge a 25-year-old average speed record of 15.4 mph. Although he has more than 100-mile lead over his closest rival, Marko Baloh, the race is still to close to call.

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Often competing with an hour or less of rest a day, sleep deprivation eventually catches up with most riders in the final days of the race in the form of hallucinations. Five-time winner Jure Robic talked of bears and aliens on the roadside and jumping off his bike to battle demons that turned out to be mailboxes.

Alberto Blanco, currently 3rd in this year's race, is dealing with another common RAAM malady, Shermer's Neck, named for rider Michael Shermer whose neck muscles gave out suddenly 2000 miles into the 1983 race. His head dropped, making it impossible for him to look up. Blanco is keeping his head up, literally, with duct tape and a backpack frame.

The route for this year's race has the riders crossing Garrett and Allegheny counties, then into Pennsylvania. It reenters Maryland on Highway 94 and riders will pass through Manchester, Westminster, Mt Airy, Laurel and Odenton before finishing in Annapolis. Riders will be finishing over the course of several days but estimated checkpoint and finish times can be found on the RAAM site.

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