The Trans American Bike Race (TABR) launched on Saturday morning, June 4th. From Oregon to Virginia, the Trans Am is the hardest unsupported road race in the US. At 4400 miles, it’s twice as long as the Tour de France.
Day 12 Trans Am Race Report:
Like a thief in the night, Steffen Streich bolted from Newton, KS, 10 miles in advance of Deutsch. At about 10pm CST Evan rolled in to Newton. Together with Lael! News of their separation was greatly exaggerated. I blame the tabloids. As we would find again and again over the course of the day, Spot batteries were dying across the peloton causing much anxiety among dotwatchers – Janie Hayes is out there somewhere. Evan was anxious and Lael was extremely sunburned; both were just happy to forget the race for a few minutes.
Deutsch and Wilcox would stick to their plan and get a few hours sleep before heading out from Newton Bike Shop pampered and preened. Their plan is to lean on Streich and pull the trigger once they get to Kentucky. For the better part of the day, Streich would hold them at about 75 miles. As I mentioned yesterday, Deutsch was going to have to do something to shake up Streich in order to take over the lead. In the past 24 hours, Streich has only been able to hold his lead HOWEVER he’s only had approximately 3.5 hours of sleep – half of what he’s used to. He may be able to hold this for a day or two but this is how he’s going to break. Starve him of sleep, cook him in the heat and let exhaustion do the rest. They chased after Streich at 4am.
Hot and wet are two things that the middle of nowhere does quite well and Kansas was in fine form today broiling the riders at an indexed heat of 108 degrees through the morning until heavy rain and lightning entered the picture in the late afternoon. Beaten down by the weather and mileage, Sarah Hammond limped in to Newton midday, preceded by Kai Edel and westbound Jason Marshall. There’s a chance that a long stay and some midwest TLC can revive her, but Hammond has been sliding consistently down the leader board for the past few days, now almost 300 miles off the lead. She may rally and hold a top 5 position, however Ken Bathurst has been storming up the boards and currently sits just 100 miles off her, taking back 50 miles from her in the past 24hrs.
Jason Marshall rode in to the Newton shop partially bandaged, with a fully fendered (steel?) touring bike with downtube shifters, gargantuan 42mm tires, a small dry bag sandwiched between the rear fender and the seat tube. large handlebar rack. Very Retro. I inquired online about his hit’n’run and what he’d done preventively, Jason revealed that not only was there a reflector on his rear fender, but he also had a rear light and was wearing and safety high-vis vest at the time. Other than not being on the road, there really isn’t anything else he could have done to guard himself. Not a comforting thought, but sobering.
It looks like our leaders may have missed the worst of tonight’s weather, but that’s still not saying much. Alerts of all kinds firing off across the weather spectrum. As of posting this, Hammond and Marshall are still bedded down at NBS; Laeven may be hiding from the rain for an hour but certainly taking this time to sleep; and Streich storms onward. Ever onward.
Riders across the peloton are complaining of battery failure with their Di2 shifters. It was something Laeven called forward about to Newton for a fix. Rider Markku Lappaia has MacGuyvered a 9 volt battery, some spare wire and electrical tape to try to survive the day. Bad year for Shimano or is it just that “ultra” isn’t ready for electric drivetrains yet?
GOOD NEWS: Thoudam Opendro Singh has taken himself off the scratched list and is back in the race. After some time off; he simply had a change of heart. Jodi Ashley is also up and running again.
THE FANCOURT PRESS: At the end of the day, Lee Fancourt had ordered a derailleur hanger from Colnago and was going to live off the land communing with the animals until Road Angel JD Schwartz could arrive and “angel” that up for him. We wish Lee the best with his new lifestyle choice and hope to see him back on the race in the days to come.
ETHICAL QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you get to ride along with someone and get to not qualify as a “team”? It’s fairly well understood that Wilcox and Deutsch aren’t drafting off each other. That’s not the concern. Some in the dotwatcher community have mentioned that there are a lot of social and support advantages to teamwork or co-racing: splitting costs, splitting chores, morale, safety and the ability to stretch resources further because of shared redundancies (navigation etc.) Nobody seems to think that these activities are occasionally unwelcome as fraternity is an unwritten part of the race. However a day-after-day strategy that has been conceived and executed doesn’t feel sympathetic with the spirit of the “race”. There is likely no easy solution to this question but revisiting the definition of “autonomous” going forward would probably be welcomed by all. Thoughts?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ll sleep after I finish.” – Steffen Streich as he was being chased out of the Newton Bike Shop by the coming Deutsch storm. It’s the right attitude; but a whole new ball of competition.
AUDUBON JERSEY Leader Board: Laura Scott had all but sewn up the Audubon Jersey competition when Jason Marshall got clipped the other day. Marshall’s re-entry to the race has found the two equal today on points. This one could go down to the finish. Scott has a great eye for landscape and is quick with the filters; Marshall prefers a broader sense of irony and a more complicated composition. Buchs is a new entry to the competition.
Jason Marshall – 6 points
Laura Scott – 6 points
Joseph Boquiren – 1 point
Wayne Kurtz – 2 point
Ilaria Corli – 1 point
Andi Buchs – 1 point