The race breathes as riders pedal faster and slower, as they sleep, as they resupply, and as they maintain their bikes and bodies. Here, three male competitors are overtaken by two female competitors. Bottom photo courtesy of Good Bike Co. in Prineville, OR.
The top group of riders began riding very early on Sunday, the second day of the Trans Am Bike Race, by finishing the 5000ft climb over McKenzie Pass Most riders in the front field started the day with relatively little sleep. One rider, Steffen Streich did not sleep at all on the first night and continued riding strong through the second day. However, by the second evening, a few hours before dark, his tracker stopped in Prairie City and it did not push out of town until until about 7 hours later, just past 2AM. By that time, two other male riders, Lee Farncourt and Evan Deutsch had convened in town, all closing their eyes for some time. Sarah Hammond passed all three male riders in Prairie City and climbed out of town, pressing into the late hours of the night and taking only one hour of sleep Sunday night. Lael, whose relationship to the other lead racers has ebbed and flowed through the changing terrain, and in relation to sleep and resupply patterns, was as little as 10 miles from Sarah in Prairie City last night. Lael also rode straight through Prairie City, passing those same three male riders, and climbed out of town to sleep for the night. She set an alarm for 3 hours later.
As the night’s events played out Sarah remained in a distant lead this morning, although Steffen’s exit from Prairie City around 2AM put him within range of the leader at sunrise. Evan and Lee left Prairie City this morning and were joined by Lael en route to Baker City, all three riders within ten miles of each other. These five riders appear to have a growing lead over the remaining field. Both Steffen and Sarah have sacrificed sleep in the first two nights, while Lael, Evan, and Lee have committed to more conservative 2-4 hours sleep patterns in the first two nights. All five riders have strong experience, and have proven the capacity to ride fast and long, with few stops. Evan Deutsch finished 3rd in the Trans Am Bike Race in 2015; Lee Farncourt has competed in several ultra-distance cycling events, including the World Cycle Race (although officially disqualified) and claims to hold 4 officially recognized Guinness records in cycling, and is aiming for more recorded accomplishments in the future; Steffen Streich won the TransAfrika Race in South Africa in 2015, a self-supported road race similar to the Trans-Am; and Sarah Hammond is the first women to have “everested” a mountain, accumulating the total vertical ascent of Mount Everest by climbing Australia’s Mount Buffalo 8 times in 18 hours, and is sponsored by 2015 Trans Am race winner Jesse Carlsson and his Curve Cycling brand back in Australia. The front of this year’s Trans Am field is stacked with talent and experience.
Lael called briefly leaving Baker City and was hoping to get her legs moving a little quicker today, describing a lack of lightness on the pedals, likely the result of general fatigue and light dehydration. She said she was a little disappointed, but reported no further physical ailments and her voice sounded as clear as ever. Yesterday was as hot as the first day of the race, climbing well past 90F in a drier climate now that the race has crossed east of the Cascades. Lael reported jumping into water twice during the heat of the day, fully clothed and still wearing her red shoes. She rested well last night and looks forward to the day, which is much cooler than yesterday.