Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Ennis, MT

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Joan, the mother of a college friend, now an avid cyclist and one of Lael’s biggest supporters, out on the Bitterroot Trail south of Missoula, MT.  Joan’s daughter Erin joined us for several weeks of riding in Baja this winter and is currently staying with Lael’s family in Anchorage, AK.  The more you travel, the smaller the world gets.  Thanks to Joan Nugent for this photo!  More great photo updates from Nathan Jones on the Trans Am Bike Race blog.

“This is harder for me than the Divide”, she says.  I empathize, but nothing I say will convince her that I understand, and I know I can’t fake it.  Riders in the Trans Am Bike Race and other events have reached a place that few others will understand.  For Lael, on her second Divide ride last summer, the feeling was alienating.  Participating in a group event like a race makes it easier.  Even so, the people they meet along the way won’t understand the rigors of 200+ mile days, for multiple days.  Even though we’ve become accustomed to watching dots move at that pace across the country, we have to remember that these riders are earning every pedal stroke.  Every revolution is work.  

Lael called while pedaling south out of Ennis, MT this morning.  She enjoyed her ride yesterday, reporting aching knees after “crushing” the climb over Chief Joseph Pass.  Temperatures have normalized, and as riders pass into Wyoming and Colorado they can expect cold nights, reaching down to freezing temperatures in the highest part of the route in the mountains of Colorado.  The lead pack will exit Montana today and ride into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.  When I suggested the ride today would be scenic, Lael reminded, “I’m doing my best”.  These are the words she often uses, “I’m doing my best”.  I’ve come to learn that without a clear plan for each day, Lael’s plan for these kind of events is simply to do her best.  Makes sense.  Remember when watching dots move on the screen, these riders are all doing their best.

Follow the Trans Am Bike Race 2016 at

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8 thoughts on “Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Ennis, MT

  1. Rooting for Lael yet again. Thanks Nick for the updates. Great pics. How’d the battery issue come out? Go Lael go!!!

  2. Thanks for the updates. Big fan of Lael. Hope to see her when the riders come through our part of Virginia in two weeks.

    John Michener
    Daleville, VA

  3. I became a Lael fan during the Tour Divide last year. While I remain completely impressed with what she manages to accomplish on her bike, I’m equally impressed with the guy behind the scenes. That’s you Nick. I love the way that you quietly help her to succeed, and I love how you write about her adventures. I find your words to be both eloquent and honoring of her. Because of you I get to feel like I know Lael. And because of your writings, I get to feel like I know you. Thanks for that, and keep doing what you’re doing.

  4. When I’m struggling during an endurance race, my favorite soothing technique is to sing “Baby Blue Sedan” by Modest Mouse to myself:

    “A nice heart and a white suit and a baby blue sedan … and I … am … doing the best that I can.

    … And it’s hard to be a human being. And it’s harder as anything else …”

    I am rooting for Lael and enjoying your updates. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for sharing a view into the participation and what it takes in The Trans Am Bike Race. Best of luck to Lael and all the other riders!
    Nick keep up the great posts.


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