Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Breaks, VA

Screen Shot 2016 06 20 at 4 12 40 AM

Folded, eroded by water, and steep.  The roads are anything but straight in eastern Kentucky and western Virginia.

Lael called this morning as she passed into the twelfth and final state on the historic Trans America Trail, the beginning of a series of larger climbs through the deeply folded Appalachian Mountains.  She was breathing hard, riding one handed uphill with the phone to her ear.  The next hundred miles may be the most mountainous of the entire route, although the climbing doesn’t end there.  The Trans Am doesn’t descend out of the mountains and onto the gently sloping coastal plain until three hundred miles from her current location.  She just crossed the Russell Fork River in Kentucky, and soon thereafter passed into Virginia adjacent to the Breaks Interstate Park, one of the only interstate parks in the country.  The region boasts a canyon as deep as 1600ft, one of many natural features I’ve heard billed as “the Grand Canyon of the East”.  As we ride north from Virginia to New York, we may take in the rail trail in the Pine Creek Gorge of northern PA, often called the “Grand Canyon on Pennsylvania”.  I’ve also visited Letchworth State Park in Eastern NY, also called “the Grand Canyon of the East”.  Here are a list of other deep river valleys which stake the same claim

Once out of the mountains, there are about 200 miles to the end.  Lael knows that her strengths include her ability to climb.  At the moment, she is healthy and rested.  She did, however, take a short night of sleep last night, bedding down for about 2.5 hours.  In doing so, she put some miles on both Evan and Steffen.  Evan trails her by 50 miles, and Steffen is now only 28 miles ahead.  With just 500 miles to go, the tension builds. Lael’s energy levels remain high; she maintains an exuberance which first emerged after the extreme heat of Kansas passed.  She is excited to be finishing soon, and was thrilled to learn that I am already in Atlanta, boarding a plane to Virginia.

Follow the Trans Am Bike Race 2016 at

22 thoughts on “Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Breaks, VA

  1. The race is crazy exciting right now! Since your reports give the best inside information, any chance you could up the frequency of your reports until the finish? Much appreciated!

    • There isn’t much more to say. I’ve provided reports once a day since the race started two weeks ago, rising early to interpret tracking data and pen a short story from the little information extracted and the brief phone calls I share with Lael. Then, I race to work and do it all again the next day. Other than a few phone calls with Lael, I don’t have much more information than anyone else. There is some chatter on the Trans Am Bike Race Facebook group if you want some different versions of the race (not the same as the TABR event page), and the TABR Blog has a fresh batch of images every day.

      • Thanks, the other FB is a rich source of information indeed, hadn’t found it yet. By the way, by no means did I want to imply you weren’t doing enough on coverage. On the contrary, I loved your daily reports giving just that little extra insight in kit or preparation, etc. But with the top 3 so close to one another while so close at the end, I’d love to soak up every bit of information. I suppose this is more or less what it must have been like to follow the Tour de France, back in the days before live coverage. Well, 300 more miles, I’m routing for Lael to cross the line first!

  2. Looks like there will be no sleep for any of us stalkers! I’m so proud of Lael! I’m glad that you’ll be there when she sails in!

  3. Great riding—who would have thought following pink and blue dots on a map could be so exciting. (By the way, is Lael having trouble with her spot tracker? It seems like there are a lot of time gaps.)

    • It might be those hills, this happens sometimes in steep valleys and canyons, especially when trees are involved. At one point all three of their trackers we’re missing transmissions, and they were all riding. It might tell us something about the topography.

  4. I’ve got to mention how much I’ve enjoyed reading your reports. No only because the event and your accounts are so interesting, or because I’m interested in updates on Lael’s status. Watching your support, enthusiasm, and relationship is encouraging for life in general. Nicely done!

  5. This is amazing to watch. I rode the Pine Creek Trail in PA last month on my tour and highly recommend it, even if the scenery does not merit the name “Grand Canyon.” Allow time to hike up some of the waterfalls.

  6. Nick these insider race reports are awesome. i check frequently and appreciate your efforts to share the inside thoughts on a heroic effort by Lael. i have a feeling the best is yet to come both for Lael and this race.

  7. I read the blog every day and appreciate all your efforts. I am so impressed by Lael and what she is able to do. I was born in Alaska and love to use her as an example of how the last frontier can make you tough! 🙂 Too bad not many of us are as tough as Lael. No matter how the race ends she has once again proven what a remarkable athlete she is. Hope to meet you guys someday!

  8. So cool to see Lael doing so well! I’ve been reading your blog and find your stories to be such an inspiration. Looking forward to reading more about the race and of your future travels.

  9. Lael came through Daleville VA at 9:30 am today. She had smile on her face and the hammer down. She is an inspiration. Only 327 miles to Yorktown. Thank you Lael.

    Sent from my iPad


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