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First-ever ‘Trans Am Bike Race’ will shove off from Oregon

Posted by on December 9th, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Six months from now a bicycle race of truly epic proportions will begin on the Oregon Coast. On June 7th riders will begin the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race from Astoria to Yorktown, Virginia. That’s a whopping 4,233 miles of racing that will be missing one important thing: support. That’s right, competitors in the Trans Am Bike Race will not be allowed any outside assistance.

Each racer (80 people have signed up so far) will be tracked via satellite and their progress can be followed online by “virtual spectators.”

Nathan Jones, a Portland-based volunteer organizing the Oregon portion of the event, said the Trans Am is part of a larger trend in self-supported “bikepacking” — a lighter (and often faster) version of traditional touring where you carry all the gear you need. “It seems 2014 is going to be a pretty big year for self supported bikepacking in Oregon. The Trans Am along with the Oregon Outback are going to bring a lot of exposure to the previously smaller world of bikepacking.”

Here’s more from a Trans Am statement:

Unsupported and underground adventure bike races have been steadily growing in popularity over the last decade in the US and around the world and thanks to satellite tracking technologies and the web have developed a widespread and loyal following. Typically the events have been low key and wilderness based with small numbers of autonomous adventurers getting together informally and pitting themselves against each other, nature and the elements with minimal equipment. The most prominent of these events is the Tour Divide which has no formal administration but which has grown to attract a field of over 130 participants. Like the Trans Am, there is no entry fee, and no prizes. Racers assume sole responsibility for their own trip, logistics and personal safety.

For the Trans Am, competitors will follow the same route first mapped by the Adventure Cycling Association back in 1976.

If this is your cup of tea, there’s plenty of room to sign up.

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Comments
  • 9watts December 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    What a hoot!

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  • dan December 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Yikes, sounds like the RAAM, only catering to an even more masochistic crowd. Given that RAAM participants travel on little to no sleep and suffer nerve damage that sometimes requires surgery, I’m not sure that upping the ante to forbid support is really in anyone’s best interest.

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    • 9watts December 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      I don’t think the rules prevent anyone from stopping at the corner grocery and grabbing a burrito en route. :-)
      The lack of outside support is my favorite part. Maybe this will encourage teams?

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      • mkpaa December 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        Teams are forbidden too. Riding in a group / drafting is not allowed.

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    • JV December 10, 2013 at 10:11 am

      I am not familiar with this format, but is there a set road course to follow, or is it just point-to-point over whatever route the participant chooses? This sounds like the Cannonball Run of cycling. And is a huge accomplishment for any finisher.

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      • Nathan Jones December 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm

        Check out transambikerace.com for details.

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  • CaptainKarma December 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I’ll watch with morbid fascination. Someone will die from sleep deprivation induced hallucinations.

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  • Kristen December 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    It reminds me of the Continental Divide race that happens every year. Same sort of “no outside support” rules, same virtual spectating, same system of keeping track and checking in.

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    • Nathan Jones December 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      You are indeed correct that the format is based on Tour Divide! :)

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  • nuovorecord December 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    In-freakin’-sane! Ergo, I like it! :-)

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  • Alliwant December 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Sounds a lot like a brevet, but with a competitive twist. Brevets are explicitly not competitive. The distance and self-reliance emphasis means that the riders will have to sleep a little more and go a little slower. I imagine that just completing this epic is gratification enough for most entrants.

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  • Nick Sande December 10, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Sorry to be nit-picky, but the use of the term “bikepacking” here is incorrect. Bikepacking is an off-road version of on-road bike touring. The cool Trans-Am route featured here is paved.

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    • Jane December 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Your impression of what bikepacking is is incorrect. Try again.

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    • Nathan Jones December 10, 2013 at 11:40 am

      I get what you are saying, but the real essence of bikepacking is framebags and camping. Terrain doesn’t matter.

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  • bubba hedrick December 10, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I’m using racks and panniers. I guess that rules me out of bikepacking in your terms..Panniers rule!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Nathan Jones December 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      It’s still camping and racing, close enough! :)

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  • GreeceMonkey December 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    as a 3x RAAM crew member, i’m sorry to see my services won’t be needed here.

    LOL, JK… but seriously, watch the boredom demons out there participants!

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  • Willie December 11, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Yes, this could be a torture fest for those that want it to be like RAAM solo, or it could be a swift tour or anything in between. It has no time limit like RAAM has, so it’s totally up to each rider to decide how fast and far to go each day.

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  • Foz-man! December 11, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I’m planning on riding this route about the same time (at least to Denver, if not farther). I’ll be touring, so not supported. But I’m not going to be racing anyone, and I’ll be getting plenty of sleep. ;-)

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  • Jimm Pratt December 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Not convinced it’s the *first* unsupported event, as many of the participants of ROAM rode unsupported, crossing the country on their own (carrying camping gear, supplies, etc.) from Oregon to Washington D.C in 28 days. (http://www.velomobiles.co.uk/tag/roam/)

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