Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Newton, KS

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Lael pens her name on a sign from the original Bikecentennial Route, featuring the classic “76 cyclist logo.  The Trans Am Trail turns 40 this year.  Join us at the Montana Bicycle Celebration in Missoula, MT from July 14-17 to celebrate bicycle travel and the 40th anniversary of the Adventure Cycling Association.  The Bikecentennial started it all.  This is the third edition of the Trans Am Bike Race.  Photos courtesy Newton Bike Shop webcam.

The top five racers in the Trans Am Bike Race 2016 are all across the halfway point on the route in Eads, CO, and in the next few hours, Sarah and Kai will both arrive at Newton Bike Shop, the self-proclaimed midway point which is actually 2500 miles from Astoria, OR (about 1750 from Yorktown, VA).   Stefan, Lael, and Evan are all through Newton and on their way out of Kansas and into Missouri.  All eastward riders in Kansas seem to be blessed with light tailwinds.  The top three riders will pass into Missouri today, where the terrain will change. Sarah and Kai will likely stop at Newton Bike Shop for a few hours, receiving a full dose of their special service.  

James and his staff at Newton Bike Shop serviced three riders yesterday.  Stefan arrived in the early evening and after a short nap and bike service he was back on the road, at which point Lael and Evan were about 15 miles from Newton.  Upon hearing this, Steffen quickly repacked his bike and rolled out of town.  Steffen is riding a Specialized CruX E5 X1, an aluminum cross bike with hydraulic brakes and 1×11 gearing.  He is from Lesbos, Greece.  

Lael and Evan arrived at the same time around 8PM, “riding side by side down 6th Street”, according to James.  Both riders were quickly ushered into the shop, introduced to the webcam, and sent to the showers.  Lael declined laundry service when asked, although she came out of the shower dressed like a high school basketball player post-game, wearing longs shorts and flip flops, so I assume her grey Hanes t-shirt and technicolor Nike running shorts went to the laundry.  At this point, those shorts have taken a ride down the Baja Divide, and across most of the country from Alaska.  The t-shirt is fresh from a Fred Meyer in Oregon, but is Lael’s new preferred race top.  She wore the same model grey Hanes on her first Tour Divide ride last year and loved it.  I’ve saved that shirt for memory, now threadbare and full of holes.  I also saved the cotton “Alaska Grown” t-shirt she wore on her second Divide ride, a gift from her grandmother.

As planned, James installed a new chain and cassette on Lael’s bike, along with two new Hutchinson Sector 28 tires.  These tires are rated for road tubeless use, meaning that they feature a tight fitting bead and a nearly airtight casing, a system which is completely sealed with the use of a liquid latex-based sealant.  Most road tubeless tires are very difficult to mount by hand, and most would be impossible to remove from the rim on the roadside after a 200 miles day.  This tire is different, and can be installed and removed by hand.  Further, at 28mm wide, it represents a new range of endurance tires now available, including the 26mm Specialized Turbo and the 28mm Schwalbe Pro One, two other tires that I ordered and considered using for this event.  There are also a growing range of tubeless road and “all road” tires ranging from 28mm to 40mm to suit the new breed of adventure road bikes and gravel bikes with larger tire clearances, tubeless ready wheels, and disc brakes  Lael purchased the chain and cassette through Newton Bike Shop, which she communicated several weeks before the race.  She shipped two Hutchinson Sector 28 tires and a bottle of Stan’s Race Sealant to Newton from Oregon before the race.  Lael is riding a Specialized Ruby Pro Disc UDi2 with CLX 64 wheels with an SP Dynamo hub from Intelligent Design Cycles and lighting from K-Lite in Australia.

Both Lael and Evan are using Shimano Di2 electronic shifting systems, and both riders report less range than expected.  Thus, Lael is sure to charge the battery whenever convenient, which partly explains the frequency with which she has taken motels along the route.  Lodging is frequent and convenient along the Trans-Am, which allows racers to recover better, travel lighter, and ride faster.  As always, the procedure takes a little extra time.  But for Lael, for this race, it works.  In the last week, I’ve watched her become an experienced road cyclist, riding at higher average speeds and maintaining a more consistent pace. Lael is carrying an extra seat-tube battery, fully charged, along with a spare tube, patch kit, derailleur hanger, and a few other small repair items..

Evan also had his bike serviced at Newton Bike Shop, receiving new Continental tires, and settled down for a few minutes of massage.  Both riders ate, slept for a few hours, and were back on the bikes around 2:45AM.  

Thanks to James and Heather Barringer and all the staff at Newton Bike Shop for taking care of Lael and the Trans Am racers, and all the cyclists that pass through Newton.  You are certainly curating an #oasisinthegrassdesert.  Donate a few bucks to the Newton Bike Shop to support their expansion project which will provide more space and facilities to serve traveling cyclists.  They are currently partway through the campaign to raise $7000.  We helped them raise their first thousand dollars yesterday, let’s push them toward their goal.  If you haven’t checked out the webcam to see how they support this race, tune in to the James Barringer show in Newton, KS on UStream.  Sarah and Kai will be there later this morning.

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Follow the Trans Am Bike Race 2016 on Trackleaders.com.

On the Tour Divide, Mike Hall continues his total dominance out front.  Chris Plesko holds second place, on a singlespeed!  Josh Kato and Seb Dunne have both withdrawn from the race, both suggest they may return in the future.  Follow the Tour Divide 2016 on Trackleaders.com.

The Race Across America (RAAM) started yesterday, a 3000mi supported cross country race, complete with medics and required vehicular support.  Juliana Buhring is riding (Team JuJu), and is the current women’s record holder on the Trans Am Route, from 2014.  Sarah Cooper, an Iowan, is out front racing for the lead in the solo division.  Several teams of riders, where riders rotate the task of riding from a support vehicle, ill make it across the country in 5-6 days.  It is a good summer for women ultra-endurance road racing.  Follow RAAM on Trackleaders.com.

The documentary film “Inspired to Ride”, about the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race in 2014, is now on Netflix and is also available as a digital download from the website.  In his third film, director Mike Dion captures Mike Hall and Juliana Buhring in their record setting rides across the country

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10 thoughts on “Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Newton, KS

  1. What fun it was to watch Lael and Evan get ready for the day and take off. Less fun to sleep through my alarm this morning and get a late start at work–but 100 percent worth it. Go, Lael, go!

  2. I have been reading all your blog posts – they are fantastic!! Thanks for your superb writing and keeping us up on all the details of Trans AM. And especially Lael’s outstanding progress, as well as the bike she is racing on and all the details of her gear, i.,e., lights, dynohub, charger right down to her shirt she got from Fred Meyer. It really gives us fans out here in cyberspace a front row perspective. Go Lael!!!

  3. It was exciting watching Lael and Evan roll in to the shop. We kept wondering when he was finally going to start working on the bikes, but once he did, he made quick work of it. Honestly, though, I didn’t like that he went through her frame bags on camera, that was a little too personal. He is certainly an eccentric character. I missed seeing them leave, but it was good to see them in good spirits despite the fatigue. I saw a kid at the NCAA Track and Field Championships last weekend with an Alaska Grown tshirt and thought of Lael. She is rocking the bball look! I am excited to see her cross the big river to the east soon. I have a cousin in Damascus, VA that might go out to cheer her through the east end of town. He loves to bike on the VA Creeper trail and the route goes along side it for a bit on the way through. Godspeed to them all…I wish there was a live feed at the end in Yorktown

    • I missed most of the webcast, although I did see her arrive at the shop. James is an awesomely eccentric dude, good thing we’ve got him on our side! I missed the framebag reveal, but I doubt there was much in there aside from a sweaty bivy and some potato chip crumbs.

  4. Dear Nicholas, as a child that’s waiting for Christmas presents I’m begging for your new stories of Lael and the # transambikerace!! I love you guys!

  5. Hey Nick!

    Another great write up. So exciting to watch Lael and Evan’s Newton stopover unfold live before our eyes… An engaging mix of cycling porn and trash reality TV, all hosted by the legendary Velo-tweaker, James.

    Keep crushing the updates as Lael continues to crush the TransAm!

  6. Thanks for noting Inspired to Ride is on Netflix. Watched it last night. Gives a good idea of what all the racers are going through. Go Lael Go!

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