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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Keep Pedalling

The Great Cycle Challenge is coming to a close. So far I have hauled my ass 900km on my bicycle for the month of June. Only another 100km to go. Tomorrow, June 25th I'll squeeze in another 50km and Sunday I'll try and get another 100km to surpass my goal of 1000km. I've raised almost $1300 for sick kids. Not bad for a guy who really has no friends and generally doesn't like people.

What's next then? Well, I really love riding my bike, love riding it long distances. Something peaceful, and zen like about spending long hours in the saddle. Also there is a raw, isolation of sorts. I mean it's just you and a machine working in harmony to propel you along the road. It's very basic, and I like basic.

I'm not gonna lie, the Trans America Bike Race is lurking in the depths of my mind. If you don't know what that is, then let me educate you...... or you could just watch "Inspired to Ride" on Netflix. The Trans America Bike Route was established in 1976 to celebrate the United States bicentennial. It was a route for cyclists to traverse the continent. Typically riders would start in Astoria, Oregon and head eastward to Yorktown, Virginia, 4400 miles and 10 states later. The route was put together by the Adventure Cycling Association, which is celebrating it's 40th anniversary.

In 2014 Nathan Jones decided to have a race following the Trans America Bike Route, hence the Trans America Bike Race was born. There is no race fee, no prize money, and no support what so ever. Basically show up at the starting line and go. Forty racers showed up for the inaugural event, along with a film crew.

Mike Dion who also filmed his attempt at another self supportive race, the mountain bike race, Race the Divide, was on hand with a film crew to record the big event. The movie "Inspired to Ride" has been inspiring trans continental racers ever since, including myself.

These types of races are very grassroots affairs, and really will only cater to certain individuals. I mean really, how many people would consider riding their bike, let alone race it across the country. The rules are pretty simple, start in Astoria, and finish in Yorktown. The clock always runs. So the first one to the finish wins. If you can ride fast, consistent on little sleep, you will rock it. No drafting, no outside help that is not available to any of the other racers. i.e., mom can't help you, but a local bike shop can.

Mike Hall of the UK

Lael Wilcox of Alaska

Mike Hall won the first race, and still holds the record. 17 days 16hrs. He was riding over 260 miles or 418km a day!!! I find that hard to wrap my head around. This years winner was Lael Wilcox from Alaska in 18 days, the first woman to win the race. Not only did she beat everyone, but she also rode her bike from Alaska to the start line in Oregon.

A race like this scares the shit out of me. It's not a single day affair like an Ironman or an ultra marathon, it's riding a bike fourteen to sixteen hours a day for three or four weeks. There's no rain day or day off. It's ride Sally ride. The distance itself is difficult to imagine, close to 7000 km of pedalling, over the Rocky mountains, across the plains, and relentless ups and downs of the Appalachians. Oh ya, let's not forget the weather, 30-40C, down to just above freezing and snow. I'm thinking it would be THE toughest thing I have even contemplated.

Now, this is not in my immediate future, but it is on the radar. Right now I have get in one hundred kilometres before Sunday. After that, a two hundred kilometre day, and then maybe by late summer, a 400km day. Just to see if I can do it.

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