Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Ellington, MO

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Missouri rollers.  All images courtesy Nathan Jones and Anthony Dryer via the Trans Am Bike Race Blog.

I called Lael last night after a shop ride at Kincaid Park.  Days before summer solstice, with temperatures around 80F in Anchorage, everyone in Alaska is outside having fun.  We get up early, we go to bed late, if at all.  We awake with the sun blasting through our windows at 4AM and do it all again the next day.  I pedaled to the trails for a group ride with friends from The Bicycle Shop.  We made a broad loop of the singletrack trails and even ran into a black bear in the last few minutes.  As I pedaled home, dropping into an aero position on my 785mm wide handlebars, I thought of Lael and called.  I wasn’t following the tracker, I just called to see if she might be awake, and if she might actually have her phone on.  She keeps her phone off to save battery, and turns it on if she needs to make a call.  

She answered in a small, sleepy voice.  She was inside a motel room somewhere in Missouri.  Our conversation was brief, mostly a series of I love yous and how are you feeling. In her sleepy voice, she said that Evan was hurting.  I didn’t inquire further, but I assumed this meant that he was physically tired, perhaps achy or cramping.  From the webcast at the Newton Bike Shop, we learned that Steffen is suffering from some numbness in his hands, and he seemed a bit stiff.  None of this is surprising considering the distances covered in the last twelve days, and both Evan and Steffen are in their 40’s, 42 and 46 years old, respectively.  Lael is nearing 30 and makes a daily habit of cross training by doing the things that she loves— running, yoga, jumping rope, swimming.  In speaking with her the last few days, she hasn’t complained of any stiffness or soreness, and aside from a few trying moments, her energy levels seem high.  We know she is sleeping a lot.  The question is, who will make it to Yorktown first?  

All three of the top riders can do it.  For many miles in the middle of such races, riders typically fall into sustainable patterns to pass the distance.  The drama of the first few days has passed at that time, and it would be too soon to begin racing to the end.  However, the top three riders are around 1200 miles from the finish.  The race to the finish starts now.

From photos on the Trans Am Bike Race Blog, Lael appears to be in good form.  She isn’t an experienced road cyclist, and hasn’t owned a road bike since the early ’80’s Bianchi she rode on our first bike tour in 2008.  She borrowed her mom’s Specialized Ruby a few summers ago for a series of long point-to-point rides in Alaska, as well as for the Fireweed 400 race.  I’ve seen her improve her skills over the course of this race.  She is now riding lower on the bike, standing when it makes sense, staying seated more than ever before, and tucking into the wind on fast descents.  Now that she knows how to ride a road bike, perhaps she can race these roadies to the finish.  The next few days will be exciting to watch.

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Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Fair Grove, MO


Pushing into Missouri, followed by Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia.  Go Lael Go!  All photos by race organizer Nathan Jones, who is driving a media car back and forth across the country to bring us these awesome images.  Buy Nathan a cheap motel and a burger by donating to the Trans Am Bike Race Media Fund.  Check the TABR Blog for photo updates daily.

Lael called from Pittsburg, KS yesterday near the end of the day.  Temperatures were near 100F, the heat index ranked the day at 107F, and a creaky seatpost caused a brief stop in town.  Lael’s bike came with an ultra-plush carbon post, the vibration damping Specialized C-GR post.  It is a great riding seaport, but in an effort to shave some weight off the bike in several places for the race, I ordered an ultralight Woodman carbon post, one of those no frills concepts that ranks as one of the lightest posts available.  It might have been a bad idea, it might have been improperly installed, or it might just be under-engineered for real world use.  Anyway, while in Newton, James noted that the seat had developed a bit of play.  By Pittsburg it was very loose and creaking.  The small town bike shop was quick to replace it with a standard 27.2mm seatpost.  Near the end of the day, as the afternoon heat boiled over into evening, Lael and Evan each decided to sleep for a few hours, and push through the cooler night air.  Lael texted just before 1AM her time to say that she was headed out.  I suspect a few hours of sleep and the cool night air would make for a nice ride.

Temperatures are expected to remain above 90F for the remainder of the race.  Thunderstorms and even tornadoes are not uncommon in this part of the country at this time of year.  Lael called again briefly this morning from Fair Grove, MO and described leaving Pittsburg last night in the dark, with tailwinds fed by local storm clouds.  She was sleepy by morning, but sunrise changed that.  

From her current location near Hartville, MO, Lael has about 1400 miles to the finish at Yorktown, VA.  

Check out this short video of Lael and Evan stopped at a gas station in Missouri this morning, send by a TABR fan in the area.

Steffen remains in the lead, Lael and Evan are holding 80-90 miles back, Kai is steady around 100-110 miles behind them, and Sarah is now further back after a longer layover in Newton.  Massimiliano Fancoli and Ken Bathurst follow in 6th and 7th overall, and Massimilaiano just overtook Ken, who was stopped in Newton.  Janie Hayes, from Salida, CO is the third female rider, currently 8th overall.  Three women in the top ten!

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To support the media tracking provided by race organizer Nathan Jones, donate to his Trans Am Bike Race Media Fund.  All images courtesy Nathan Jones.




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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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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

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

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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Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: middle of Kansas


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Live, from Newton, KS.  James and Heather Barringer curate the Newton Bike Shop experience, complete with bike service, bodywork, burgers, and beer.  Follow Trans Am racers live from Newton via a live webcam. And when there aren’t any racers in the building, expect James to provide non-stop entertainment from the #oasisinthegrassdesert. Photo grab from The Newton Bike Shop webcam.

Lael called yesterday from Eads, CO.  She stopped in town for a brief resupply and was planning to push into the night.  Tornado warnings in the area were cause for concern, although it was the mass of dark clouds to the east which was truly concerning.  Even so, Lael said she would continue into Kansas “if I don’t get caught in a storm”.  Riding over two hundred miles a day in a race across the country, dodging thunderclouds and tornadoes, makes Trans Am racers protagonists in their own Western tale.  I’ve always loved riding into, out of, and away from high energy systems.  And in a race that sometimes seems like a long slow burn, with only a few exciting moments, I now realize that every day has it’s fireworks.  For Lael: Sunday was a cut tire and a 11,542 ft pass, Monday was the threat of tornadoes, today should be the great welcoming at The Newton Bike Shop, also know as the #oasisinthegrassdesert.  

Once across the border into Kansas it appears that the threat of thunder was traded for a light tailwind, with recorded pedaling speeds over 20mph into the night.  Lael and Evan both finished their day in Scott City, KS.  Lael is planning to reach Newton Bike Shop in Newton, KS by the end of the day for planned service and some rest.  Newton Bike Shop is a unique stop on the Trans Am Route, a haven for cycletourists and Trans Am racers, a shining example of middle-American philosophy in the middle of America— Heather and James Barringer aim to provide equal opportunity service to their community, as well as to the community of riders passing through their small town in Kansas.  Trans Am riders are treated to late night bike service, restorative bodywork, a place to sleep, and perhaps even a bite to eat.  The Barringers are a colorful couple, well known in Trans Am circles, and I look forward to watching all the Trans Am racers through Kansas this year.  Connect with Newton Bike shop on Instagram as @newtonbikeshop, Facebook, and via their live webcam this week.  Even before any racers have arrived, James is already in front of the camera waving around bottles of whiskey and reading fan mail from riders all over the country.  If you want to get involved, donate to the “Build the Oasis in the Grass Desert” fund on to help Newton Bike Shop grow their resources to better serve your favorite racers and all cycletourists into the future.

Lael called briefly this morning from somewhere in Kansas.  She sounded great, not even a hint of tiredness in her voice, and was excited about the final miles to the Atlantic.  She already knew that her SPOT batteries had died (Matthew tends to text racers when batteries are low), and she plans to replace them in Newton.  Steffen remains steady out front, 90-100 miles ahead of Lael and Evan, Kai and Sarah are around 100 miles behind.  The top five riders are all within about 200 miles of each other.  Their respective stopped times in Newton may shake things up a bit.

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In other racing news: The archived pink LW ITT bubble is also fun to watch on the Tour Divide Trackleaders page, although the data reflects Lael’s  “call ins” last year, as she lost her Spot in northern Montana  Later, near Lima, she got stuck in the mud for a period of about 12 hours.  Mike Hall is setting the course on fire, riding well ahead of record pace.  Josh Kato should be in second, although his tracker has been inactive for some time.  Chris Plesko is putting out a really strong effort, vying for 2nd or 3rd place right now, on a singlespeed.  Follow the Tour Divide 2016 on

And for real, give those guys at Newton Bike Shop some money, they’re doing great things out there.  I donated $50 this morning in Lael’s name.  Consider doing the same to help them achieve their mission to help others.

Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Breckenridge, CO

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Lael and Evan ride through Breckenridge joined by a Trans Am cycletourist, and our friend Kyle who is behind the camera.  All images courtesy of Kyle Sheehan. 

Lael called from Breckenridge, Colorado.  She reported a sliced tire earlier in the day, just before Hot Sulphur Springs, CO, which she repaired by removing the tubeless valve and reinstalling the tire with a tube and a tire boot of some sort.  The whole procedure, from archived tracking data, took relatively little time.  Lael stopped in Breckenridge to replace the tire at a bike shop.  The shop offered to mount a new road tubeless tire, but for fear that the process would take more time than is worth it she selected to get out of town as soon as possible on a new tire and a tube.  Too many road tubeless tires are impossible to mount and remove by hand.  Lael has planned service at Newton Bike Shop in Newton, KS, a well-known stop for both racers and cycletourists on the Trans-Am Route.  Check them out on Instagram as @newtonbikeshop for a good time.

Lael, Evan, and Sarah all left Walden, CO yesterday morning at the same time, around 3:30AM.  Sarah rode today at less than her previous pace, although she managed a longer day than yesterday.  Still no reports about Sarah’s exact condition, although Lael said she “didn’t look good” when they rode past each other yesterday.

Our friend Kyle Sheehan joined Lael, Evan, and the unnamed cycletourist up Hoosier Pass south of Breckenridge.  We met Kyle back in 2010 after our first Baja trip, when I took a job for a few months at Velo Orange in Maryland.  We’ve since run into him in a few places around the country, and he is currently living near the Trans Am Route in Colorado.  He reports, “I honestly have no idea how Lael is doing that many miles every day.  I’m in awe.  Attached is what I took, unfortunately not much  because I was getting pretty worked keeping up with those two.  The one of us rolling out of Breckenridge also pictures this dude on a tour who had veritable suitcases on his rear rack, really liked to talk about weed while riding 2x on a sketchy road, and who totally destroyed the pass.  He summited way before us.  The picture of the first switchback you can make out Lael going around the turn and Evan a little ahead.  It was steeper than it looks, and only got steeper.”  He adds, “She seems to be doing great, super positive and pumped on the ride!”  Thanks Kyle!

Also, check out this short video of Lael riding into Breckenridge, CO yesterday, shared by Eric Morton on FB.  Thanks Eric!

Lael and Evan dropped out of the mountains last night around midnight, reaching Cañon City at the end of the day after their 3:30AM start in Walden, CO, traveling a total distance of about 246 miles.  Daytime temperatures in eastern Colorado and Kansas are expected to increase during the week, with highs over 100F.  Thunderstorms are predicted for late afternoon and evening on Monday.

Steffen holds a 100 mile lead out front, Lael and Evan continue together, Sarah is another 40 miles back, and Kai’s tracker is stopped in Hartsel, but Is suspect he is well beyond by now as that’s very near where he camped last night.

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Thanks Kyle for the update and images!

Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Kremmling, CO


Trans Am Bike Race leaders will descend out of the mountains today, headed for the flatlands of eastern Colorado and Kansas.  Steffen, Evan, Lael, and Sarah make up the top group, while Steffen clings to a 90 mile lead.  All images by Nathan Jones and the Trans Am Bike Race blog.

Lael called yesterday just after I posted an update from our conversation the night before in Lander, WY.  I don’t remember where she was at the time, the wind was overwhelming the microphone on her flip phone.  She sounded great, fully energy, her voice was healthy.  I asked how she liked riding with Evan, since she’s never much liked riding with anyone.  She said it helped that the two of them were riding a similar pace, and when riding within range of each other they are loosely racing each other, more like a constant reminder to keep the pace moving.  It reminds me of the tactics employed by riders in the professional peloton to chase down the leaders, except this race is over 4200 miles on one stage.  

Steffen is riding very strong out front, getting plenty of rest and pushing a fast pace during the day.  

Sarah made a very short day yesterday, riding less than a hundred miles from Saratoga, WY to Walden, CO.  She stopped in Walden around 2:30PM for about 12 hours, and seems to have spent much of that time at a local motel.  Lael rode from Jeffrey City, WY and arrived in Walden, CO in the evening just after dark and stopped for a nearly six hour rest, so both female riders should be well rested.  However, it seems likely that Sarah may have slowed during the day and stopped early for more than just a few extra hours of sleep.  During such extreme endurance challenges, many strange ailments may arise to challenge a rider.  At the time of writing, I do not have any clear information about her condition, although she is riding strong this morning, which is a good sign.  I hope she is able to continue the race in her own style.  I know how hard it was for Lael to race the Tour Divide last summer while suffocating through Canada and Montana.

Lael, Evan, and Sarah all left Walden, CO within five minutes of each other, and they continue to ride within 5 miles of each other this morning.  Steffen is about 90 miles ahead of the newly formed chase pack.  His lead over Lael and Evan has diminished slightly since yesterday, although they still must climb to the highest point on the route today, over 11,542 ft Hoosier Pass.  Thereafter, the route dives eastward out of the Rocky Mountains and onto the plains of Kansas and into the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.

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Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Lander, WY

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Evan and Lael cruising the Trans Am together.  Riders are prohibited from drafting, so riding together isn’t exactly a strategy to shave time, but it gives you something to do when pedaling over 200 miles a day. Photos by Nathan Jones from the Trans Am Bike Race blog.

Lael called yesterday from Lander, WY.  She was in good spirits, although she mentioned that she felt woozy.  She had just consumed a bottle of chocolate milk, which relieves me to know that she is still taking the magic elixir of animal fat, protein, and high fructose corn syrup that is so widely common across this country.  She joked a few more times, “I feel woozy”, and for lack of anything else to report she repeated the phrase over and over— “I feel wooo-zy”— each time adjusting her inflection in the way that she and her sister always do when together.  They’ve done this for as long as I’ve known them, locating the nearest funny word in the conversation and repeating it until the whole thing explodes in giggles.

Lael and Evan have been riding together for several days, since the top of Lolo Pass.  This is a curious move considering Lael doesn’t like riding with anyone, and sometimes won’t even ride near me, choosing to trail behind instead to ensure her own mental space.  

Steffen and Sarah remain strong out front, Lael and Evan are trailing by about 100 miles, Kai rounds out the top five and the rest of the pack is over 100 miles behind him. 

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Below: Lael rides in the white helmet and grey t-shirt, Evan has a blue helmet and yellow jersey, and Sarah has a white helmet and purple jersey.

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Head over to the Trans Am Bike Race blog for daily photo updates from race organizer Nathan Jones.

Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Togwotee Pass, WY

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Photo courtesy of Michael J. DeVitt via Facebook.  

Lael called this morning while climbing Togwotee Pass.  She battled a headwind early in the day on Thursday, heading south toward West Yellowstone, that slowed her pace to well under 10mph.  Evan came up from behind and suggested that that the two of them push a faster pace, just to get it done.  This helped, and eventually the winds died or the road turned.   The two rode near each other all day and agreed to ride together for some of the dark hours of the night toward a lodge or a hotel along the road on the pass.  Nighttime temperatures are cold in these mountains, and conditions will remain that way along the race route until riders drop out of the Rockies and onto the Great Plains, where hot and humid temperatures can be expected both day and night.

Lael rode 240 miles yesterday with some headwinds and substantial climbing, passing through Yellowstone NP.

Steffen and Sarah continue their dominance out front, Evan and Lael are steady and strong, and Kai follows close behind.

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The Tour Divide also started this morning in Banff, AB, CA with nearly 180 riders registered for tracking.  The field includes veterans Mike Hall, Seb Dunne, Josh Kato, and Joe Fox, among many other strong competitors.  The women’s field has narrowed this year, with only 12 female competitors, chasing each other and Lael’s route record.  Jackie Bernardi and Jan Bennett appear to be the women to watch.  The men’s race, and possibly the men’s record, is expected to be a very strong contest.  Follow the Tour Divide at

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.

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Trans Am Bike Race 2016 Update: Lolo, MT

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Lael riding along the Salmon River in Idaho.  Photo courtesy of Trans Am Bike Race organizer Nathan Jones.  Keep up with his images and reports on the Trans Am Bike Race Blog.  More race chatter in the Trans Am Bike Race Facebook group.

Lael called while leaving Lolo, MT this morning.  She described the ride over Lolo Pass as “long and slow”, not surprising after several days of heat and 200+ mile days, although cloudy skies minimized exposure during most of Tuesday.  The actual road grade to the top of Lolo Pass is mild, until it steepens at the top, and ascends just 4000ft in 100 miles.  Lael reports being unable to ride fast, although she can still stand and climb in a way that satisfies her.  Standing while riding is Lael’s hallmark, and while both unconventional and inefficient, that’s the way she likes to ride.  She hopes to regain some spark and some speed in the coming days and weeks.  

Just before the top of the pass last night, Lael’s Di2 battery lost power.  The battery transmits signals from both shifters and powers both derailleurs, and is meant to be charged from a USB port.  The average user might go months without charging, the average ultra racer might go a week or more and several Trans Am racers and one Tour Divide racer report only a single re-charge for the duration of the event.  The battery was fully charged in Astoria, which makes this the shortest amount of time I’ve ever heard for a full Di2 battery cycle.  Aside from her standing technique, Lael also shifts a lot.  She’s neither the fastest nor the most graceful cyclist, but she can ride for a long time.  There is a small chance that her battery is otherwise faulty and not holding a full charge, but I wouldn’t immediately suspect that.  She is carrying a spare battery, fully charged.  To remove it from the inside of the seatpost we installed a piece of string to the battery, which is installed with two rubberized gaskets making a snug fit into the inside diameter of the post.  While stopped last night on the pass, Evan Deutsch rode up from behind.  Lael was thinking about replacing the battery with the spare, but he suggested continuing with the single gear ratio over the pass and checking the lodge on the other side.  They both stayed at the Lolo Hot Springs RV Park last night in a rented cabin, and Lael charged the battery.  It seems to be working just fine this morning.  While she had planned a little more sleep last night, the incident inadvertently gave her the opportunity to rest well.  She likely washed her face— a shower is unlikely— and feels better from the brief time inside.  This isn’t her desired MO, but I can see the silver lining.    

We’d planned to charge the Di2 battery from the dynamo, but Lael told me the B&M USB-Werk charger has not been working since sometime on the first day.  I’ve had one of these devices fail in the past, except in this case I suspect the issue is with the K-Lite system.  Her lights are performing flawlessly, and they have since we received them last fall before her Arizona Trail ITT, but I’ve had three separate devices connected to this system and they’ve all failed to provide power, and I now suspect some part of the system has damaged these devices.  The first USB-Werk I wired was in Arizona last fall, which was a well used unit that was previously working.  I assumed it had failed, Lael used batteries in her GPS on the AZT, and I thought nothing of it.  This spring, I ordered a new USB-Werk and installed it, and was never able to receive USB power from it.  I tested it directly to my own dynamo hub and couldn’t produce any power, so in this case I assumed a faulty unit.  I ordered a third unit immediately, and once I received it I wired it directly to my hub to verify that it worked, which it did.  I shipped the new unit to Lael in Portland and she had it installed at River City Bicycles.  She claimed it worked (in passing, in a brief conversation while still in Portland), although from her most recent report the USB-Werk has not worked since the first day, so I’m not sure if it worked at all.  

What this means is that she will have to recharge the Di2 system at some point along the way.  Charging time from a wall outlet is claimed to be 1.5 hours, so the duration of the charge is not a problem, but it will require her to tether herself to an outlet for some time.  Presumably, she will do this at night while sleeping, either by finding an outdoor wall outlet (in a park or pavilion), or in a motel.  She has already planned service at the Newton Bike Shop in Newton, Kansas, so she will certainly charge it there.  Perhaps the battery will last longer this time, perhaps by accident it did not receive a full charge in Astoria, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.  Wondering about electronics is not the reason she is out there and she is happily pedaling forward, taking it as it comes.

At the time of writing, I received another brief phone call from Lael— the kind where you didn’t say I love you and I miss you enough times in the previous call so you have to call back a few minute later.  She was riding into Hamilton, her energy restored, totally enthused about the ride ahead of her, planning to tackle another 200 miles today, and reporting that she felt like she got her energy back!  She was so excited, it lifted my spirits to know that she was having fun again.  If it isn’t fun, why do it?  

Steffen and Sarah are riding strong out front; Lee has dropped back, likely due to dehydration and exhaustion; Kai Edel put in a big day yesterday and has caught Lael and Evan.  Several hours ago, Sarah Hammond was the first to ride into Wisdom, MT and continued off route towards Wise River, failing to turn south at the western edge of town.  It is not yet clear if this is intentional, or a mistake.  She is almost 3 hours from Wisdom.  Should she return to the route, she would be required to rejoin the route in Wisdom, and the rules would allow her to seek or accept motorized transit to the point at which she left the track.  She has just stopped in Wise River, so hopefully she discovers her mistake.  Wise River is a minor resupply on the Great Divide route, although the two routes are meant to meet further south near Polaris, MT.  Stefan has continued along the prescribed track, turning south on Hwy 278 toward Bannock and Dillon.

Edit: Sarah Hammond is traveling toward Wisdom at 18mph, indicating that she is riding back to the track.     

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