This is a rider’s eye view of the Warhorse cockpit. Between the aerobars is one of three water bottles mounted on the bike. Strapped to the left aerobar is the backup headlight. On the right aerobar is an old analog cyclocomputer which tracks my daily mileage. Between the armpads is the gps, a Garmin Oregon 600. Also on the right aerobar sandwiched between the gps and the water bottle cage is the control button for the main headlight, a dynamo powered B&M Luxos U. This headlamp can also recharge electronic devices via USB. Underneath the left armrest a Revelate feedbag where I keep the day’s munchies. The rear-view mirror is essential for knowing the length of the vehicles that are passing me.
These are my sleeping accommodations for the TransAmerica Bike Race. It consists of a Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy, a Klymit Inertia sleeping pad, and a Mountain Hardwear Ratio sleeping bag. The whole kit is rated at around 20 deg. F, takes about 5 minutes to set up and about 30 minutes (with a little cursing) stuffing it back in to the saddle bag. The whole setup weighs around 3 ½ lbs and takes up 1/3 less space in the saddle bag than my similarly rated synthetic sleeping bag alone. It is a bit heavier than some setups sewn out of space age materials but the items are readily available in stores. Having field-tested the setup during training I’ve come to realize that sleep quality during the race will be poor to nonexistent.
This is my weapon of choice for the Trans Am Bike Race. It is a 2004 Bianchi Giro. Possessing an aluminum/carbon frame and racing geometry, the bike may not be the first pick for many hardcore bikepackers. The bicycle however fits me well, it climbs fast and most of all I am intimately acquainted with the machine’s peccadilloes both as a rider and its mechanic. The Revelate Viscacha and Jerrycan are both mounted on the steed. Over the next few weeks I will gradually add payload to the bike, adjusting my body to the way it handles.
A local tifosi painted this bit of encouragement on one of the steeper climbs in my 100-mile weeknight training rides. As I get ready for the TransAmerica Bike Race I’ve begun to notice subtle yet unmistakeable changes to my physiology. My metabolism is redlined. I now need to eat constantly otherwise I bonk hard even when off the bike. My wife tells me I radiate heat, being in my general vicinity feels like standing next to a blast furnace.
Why am I putting myself through this crushing load of pain and suffering? That’s a difficult question for me to answer.
I can say that being a part of this event while still in its infancy allows for more leeway in experimentation and creativity. I can say that I look forward to all the amazing scenery that I will witness during the ride. I can also say with the utmost conviction that this activity is far easier on my marriage than my previous hobby of climbing the Cascade volcanoes solo. In winter.
This is the bicycle ridden by Mike Hall, winner of the 2014 Trans America bike race and represents the new standard in endurance bike-packing. Everything the rider needs is contained in frame packs that attach directly to the bicycle. This setup not only obviates the need for front and rear racks (which can break) but also creates far less aerodynamic drag than panniers. The frame packs have been designed to sit inline with the bike frame or within the slipstream of the rider. Mike Hall’s packs are made by Apidura, a European manufacturer. I have chosen to have my custom frame packs built by Revelate Designs and Porcelain Rocket.
This is a model of the Soviet An-20 Maxim Gorky, the largest aerodyne to fly in the Interwar Years. It’s part of the pre-production work for Chapter 3 of WingWars. Clicking on the image sends you to the step-by-step build of this monster.
These canisters of powdered drink
mix represent roughly a week’s worth of calories needed to participate in the
TransAmerica Bike Race. A single-stage 4,233 mile long race from Astoria,
Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia, the Trans Am Bike Race as it is sometimes called is easily the
longest and most grueling road
race in the Western Hemisphere.
My wild guess is that I will burn
approximately 15,000-20,000 calories a day during the race. This can come up to
a grand total of over 400,000 calories for the event. Drinking some of those
calories helps mitigate that onslaught of food. Taking nourishment in liquid
form also allows for more time riding and removes the real possibility of
gastric distress caused by eating heavy meals of varying quality along the race
route. I would
like to thank Hammer Nutrition for sponsoring me for this race. Clicking on the image gets you to Hammer online store. The discount will tally as you place items in your shopping cart.
The Warhorse on the workstand in the process of getting stripped down, cleaned, and new componentry installed. For 11 years the mount ran perfectly on Campagnolo’s Ergopower 9 groupset. Unfortunately the craftsmen in Vicenza have made their products both too expensive and inaccessible for the average rider. If Campy spare parts and wheelsets are hard to come by in a bike-crazy town like Portland, Oregon then the situation will be much worse in smaller towns along the race route. Pragmatism wins out over loyalty as I make the switch to Shimano Ultegra 10-speed.
This illustration for the Trans America Bike Race was commissioned by Nathan Jones, the race organizer. He wanted to show both the Astoria and the Yorktown columns in one image while capturing the grandeur, the immense scale, and sheer magnitude of the race. The image serves as the banner on the race’s Facebook page. You can see more examples of my work here and here. The image is now for sale both as prints and as t-shirts. You can find these items at my store.