There is a lot to say about a 7000km race. It’s a very long journey but surprisingly the first half went by very quickly. Having learned a lot from my first racing experience on the Tour Divide, I managed to make the necessary adjustments and didn’t have to much trouble riding in the top 5. I was having a ton of fun most of the time. The weather was great and, compared to the tour divide, I found the Trans Am was a rather easy race.
Wyoming was windy, but that’s nothing new, so I was prepared. Colorado was windy as well, which surprised me, since it usually is not. Then came Kansas. After 3500km, I was in third place and ahead of Mike’s record pace. My goal of finishing in 18 days was still within reach. Or so I thought. After 100km or so in Kansas, the wind kicked up. It was a 40km/h southerly wind. As we we’re headed east, most of the time, it was a crosswind. But there were also times where we had to ride straight into it. Evan Deutsch proved to be much stronger than me in such conditions and made a huge gap. The wind kept blowing day and night for three days and I dropped from 3rd place to 5th. Long, straight, flat stretches are not my strong suit and the wind really messed with me. The fun was gone and I was not as mentally strong as the other top riders in such conditions.
Kansas proved to be a swing state, if I may say. I stopped to spend the night at Newton Bike shop and asked James, the owner and mechanic, to rotate my tires and get me back to tubeless (I had an inner tube in my rear wheel due to a flat in Colorado). The next morning, I forgot to get my tube back and left the bike shop. Unfortunately, after a hundred miles, my tire exploded in a downhill. There was no way to fix it without a tube. I hitched a ride to the closest town but couldn’t find a tube. I tried to get a ride to the next town but was unsuccessful. Only the next day was I able to get tubes and a news tire delivered from Independence, KS. When I got back on course, I had lost 24 hours.
Following this infortunate incident, I had a hard time getting my focus back. The podium was out of reach and so was my initial goal of finishing in 18 days. Focus is key in these events. Without it, the second half of the race seemed like it would never end. I was able to ride for 600km straight to bet back in the top 10. But when I realized how hard it would be to get back in the top 5, I was a bit discouraged. I kept lowering my goals and finally finished in 8th place in 20d 5h.
So all in all, I’m very disappointed with my race. Still I’m very happy with what I was able to achieve for the first half. For me, it’s almost like two different races. One that was good, where I was able to perform, with great landscapes and a ton of fun. And a painful, long monotonous race where my only goal was to finish.
Overcoming such a disappointment is hard. I know it will take time. Now I can’t wait for my next race. I want to erase the memory of what I consider a failure by performing to the full extent of my abilities on an another event.