Trans Am Bike Race Update 2016: Catawba, VA


Lael left Anchorage on May 1 with a lightweight touring load including a pair of running shoes, a jump rope, and all 12 maps for the Trans America Trail which she studied on the ferry down from Haines.  I will meet Lael at the finish line tomorrow with her seatpack, jumprope, sleeping bag and pad, and a fresh pair of clothes.  We’ll take a few days to rest before riding to northern NY.  Here, Lael calls from western VA while riding past a Dollar General, the “rural Wal-Mart” as I like to call it.  Check out more photos from Nathan Jones and Anthony Dreyer on the Trans Am Bike Race Blog.  

“Did you see me riding good?  I just drank a Mountain Dew!  It’s everywhere around here, and in Kentucky.  Mountain Dew is everywhere there, and there are lots of those above ground swimming pools and broken cars.  Kentucky is pretty ghetto but I like it.” 

Lael called this morning while working hard up the hills of western Virginia.  Her proximity to the end of the race lifted her spirits, and the Mountain Dew sent her through the roof.  She was whooping and hollering on the phone.  Notice how many photos Nathan and Anthony have posted of Lael on the Trans Am Bike Race Blog where she is pumping her fist, usually at road signs?  She does that a lot in real life too.  Usually, when we’re trying to get some miles done, she pretends to be wielding a six-shooter and fires off a few rounds at signs indicating places and distances, once these micro-goals have been achieved.  320 miles to Yorktown?  Bang, bang!  

Lael seems to have settled down for a 3.5 hour rest last night, preparing for the 400+ mile push to the finish line.  If she can stay on the bike tonight, she is likely to arrive in Yorktown before noon on Wednesday.

Steffen holds strong to his lead out front, currently fifty miles ahead of Lael with 265 miles to the finish.  This distance will be hard for any rider to challenge unless Steffen is forced to stop.  Steffen appears to have slept for as little as 45 minutes last night, although he did sleep about 6 hours in Hazard, KY the night before.  In the nights before Hazard he also dabbled in short cat naps as Evan and Lael pressed from behind.  All of this is contrary to the regular long periods of sleep he took through much of the race.  However, he did ride through the first night of the race, only to stop before the end of the second day for a nine hour rest.  If he can keep his eyes open tonight he will be the first rider to Yorktown.

Evan Deutsch stopped for only 2.5 hours last night in Wytheville, gaining an hour on Lael in the process.  He is also coming off a 7 hour rest the night before in Hazard.  It will be interesting to see if all three riders will be able to continue through this final night.  

I received a message from Gerry this morning, a TABR fan who was on the route in the mountains of western VA.  He writes, “I just met Lael in Catawba at about 8:00 am. She was smiling, looked strong, and was pleased to have a tailwind. She said that she was trying hard to do well. She blasted off, missed her turn, and then got back on course. She is moving!”  

As of 10:44 AM EST, Steffen is 260mi to the finish, Lael is 310mi, and Evan is 344mi.  We can expect the first rider to arrive around sunrise on Wednesday.  Showdown at the corner of Bacon and Main Street in Yorktown, VA.  

Check out this brief video captured by Nathan Jones of Lael riding alongside a cycletourist this morning.

Follow the Trans Am Bike Race 2016 at





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17 thoughts on “Trans Am Bike Race Update 2016: Catawba, VA

  1. Gosh, these posts make me happy. Trying so hard to get something done at work today but can’t stop watching the dots.

    Question: Has Lael been wearing bike shorts on this trip or is her seat just made of steel at this point?

    • She is wearing Nike running shorts, women’s size XL, which she also wore all through Baja this winter. No underwear, Specialized Ruby Expert saddle. In the past few years she preferred a cheap Cannondale take-off saddle, but when she tried the saddle that came on the Ruby, she liked it. I was also impressed when I test rode it.

  2. The Mtn Dew comments were funny. It has a lot of caffeine in it. I didn’t realize it was so rare in AK. I look forward to watching the end of the race for the next day. Post pics when you can. Go, Lael, Go! I am so happy she loves the Apps.

  3. It’s nice to see that kind of enthusiasm so far into the race. Here’s hoping for a well-ridden race to the finish!

  4. Oh yes, land of the Mt. Dew, grits, country ham, and fried everything! Welcome to the Common Wealth!!! I’m over the moon excited for you all to roll into my backyard & I’m hoping to be there when the greatness goes down! I’m a newbie dot-watcher, so I don’t know what the protocol is- can I grab a pic or an autograph? Wish i had time to make a fun sign to cheer them all on. Also, if Lael wasn’t faster than FedEx I could have ordered an Alaskan Grown shirt for her to sign! Next time around!!!

  5. Here are a few statistics for the two leaders.
    Steffen has averaged 235 miles per day, Lael 233 miles per day.
    Route average speed for Steffen 9.8 mph, for Lael 9.7 mph.
    Average speed on the bike: Steffen 13.4 mph, Lael 11.8 mph.
    Time off the bike: Steffen 4 days 12hrs 39 minutes, Lael 3 days 1hr 13 minutes.
    Steffen has enjoyed a full day and a half more off the bike! Just not lately as Lael has pushed him. My friend Eric say s Lael is “relentless!” I bet Steffen would agree. 🙂
    What they are doing is unfathomable to me.

  6. So stoked for all of the riders out there…they are really crushing it!!!

    Super excited to see how tonight shapes up for the race to the Ocean.

    Let the wind be at their backs and the Mountain Dew in their veins!

    Go Lael GO!!!

  7. Thank you, Nick, for keeping everyone updated and helping us feel like we are all there rooting Lael on! It’s been very exciting to follow and with LIVE tracking no less… Lael’s an inspiration animal-girl!!!

  8. Hello Nicholas, I’ve been following your bike adventures for 3 or 4 years now. What I admire most is your no nosense approach to cycling and adventure. Never could have guessed that Lael would become a star endurance athlete. Many thanks for the daily posts on the Trans Am, I will miss th thrill of the race. And congrats to Lael. Greetings from Belgium.

  9. It is so fun to watch Lael’s progress, and having cycled the route just a year ago, recalling some of the big hills and landmarks to see. I think we had daily thunderstorms all the way from Charlottesburg to the Kansas border. It seems she’s doing well with the heat, traffic, and climbs. And knowing Lael, the downhills must be a blast. It’s so exciting to watch the final couple of hundred miles. Go Lael!

  10. I love the fact she rides in a simple cotton T-shirt. To me, it really embodies of the “Spirit” of the race. A “No frills” simple shirt. I’m so impressed by her that tonight for my ride, I choose a similar grey shirt from the closet. If she can do it, then so can I. I’ am very impressed by her strength and her will to be a champion..

    Go Lael Go!

  11. for the last few days I was just waiting for your posts … but now I can’t refrain, I go update trackleaders every single hour of the day !! she’s doing amazingly good right now, taking miles after miles over Steffen Streich !!! GO LAEEEL from Paris !!! I’m so impressed, I have so much respect !! … please when you’ll meet her again, tell her how much we all enjoy living a little bit of her dreams, even from the other side of the Atlantic !

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