I reflected for hours, sitting alone in my office. I yearned for the chance to once again pedal through small-town America—connecting with strangers, anticipating the next surprise. But I also craved something more. I wanted to experience complete solitude in the middle of America, while pushing my physical limits. I put the Southern Tier ride in the rearview mirror and focused my full attention on competing in the 2019 TABR. The race began on June 2.
My inner restlessness and the gnawing sense that something was missing disappeared. That same crisp thinking that was my North Star in 2018 had returned. I did not have much time. I needed to decide. The distance: 4,200 miles, crossing 10 states and five mountain ranges. Hell yeah! My name is written all over this race, I thought.
The TransAmerica Bicycle Trail began in 1973…as nothing more than an ambitious idea for a way to celebrate the nation’s upcoming 200th birthday. By June of 1976, the Trail was ready; the maps and guidebooks were published… Given the name “Bikecentennial,” organizers publicized the event, and thanks to strong word-of-mouth and… prodigious publicity, 4,000 cyclists showed up for the ride.5
In 2014, Nathan Jones, race founder and organizer, adopted the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and created the Trans Am Bike Race (TABR). The original trail covers 4,200 miles, crossing 10 states and five mountain ranges. It is one of the most challenging ultradistance, self-contained races in the world. For many years, I imagined riding my bike in the California desert and through the Imperial Sand Dunes. Cycling over the Rockies was not something I had contemplated taking on so soon after returning home from my first cross-country ride. But now, I was fixated on cresting Hoosier Pass in the Rocky Mountains, cycling on endless Kansas roads, and looking up at that big Montana sky.
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