The last week and a half has been testing to say the least. Having my bike and equipment stolen a month before the start of the Trans Am Bike Race was definitely not in the script and it’s certainly been a challenge to stay on course for the event.
If you’d have asked me a week ago if I thought I’d be able to make it to the start line in Astoria I’d have been skeptical — but thanks to some incredible support from my family, friends, and the wider cycling community I’m glad to say that I’m back on track and will (with a touch of luck) board a plane to the US on June 1st!
Before I move on to tell you a bit about the last week, I’d like to say a massive thank you to a couple of people and companies who have been incredible in their support.
First up are Qoroz — the entire company, and Chris Davies in particular, have been amazing this year. When I approached them in October 2013 about the Trans Am they were as enthusiastic about the race as I was and their support since then has been awesome. This week has been no exception — although I won’t be riding one of their bikes during the Trans Am I’m sure that I’ll be back on a Qoroz again soon.
Secondly, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Apidura, a relatively new UK based company producing great quality bikepacking bags. As soon as they heard that my bike had been stolen they got in touch to see how they could help get me back on my bike and promptly send me a full compliment of bags. I’ve been blown away by their generosity and look forward to putting their gear through its paces during the race.
Next up are USE / Exposure who have helped me out with handlebars, seat post, and stem for the new bike. I’ve been a fan of USE for years, using their Revo dynamo light and components on my mountain bike. It means a lot that they’ve come on board and offered to help me get ready for the Trans Am at such short notice.
If one thing’s for sure it’s that I would not be back in the race if it weren’t for my friends and family getting behind me and helping make the dream a reality. My Mum and my girlfriend Elizabeth are always my staunchest supporters and their backing and counsel during the last few weeks has meant more than I can say.
I’d also like to say thank you to all those who have been in touch via this website and social media to offer their support — it really has been a huge morale boost to read your comments.
Back in the race
When I found that my bike and gear had been taken and it became apparent that I wouldn’t get it back, I thought there was no way I could get ready in time for the Trans Am. A lot of my equipment had taken me years to accumulate and get to a point where it performed exactly as I needed it to — to have it taken away weeks before the longest race I’ve ever ridden was very nearly a show-stopper.
On arrival back in the UK I had a couple of key conversations with my family and made the decision to go for it — to do everything in my power to get to the start line. I wasn’t about to be beaten by some thieves!
At the time I felt that to have a realistic shot at the race I would have to get a bike together as quickly as possible in order to put it through its paces before the Trans Am. The last thing I need is to have teething problems with equipment during the opening days of the race. Making this happen has been a non-stop campaign of networking, planning, buying new gear, and rearranging my schedule for the weeks before the race.
Thanks to some late nights and speedy delivery times, I should have a new bike together tomorrow. I’ve gone for a Pivot Vault carbon cyclocross frame and will build it up with similar components to the Qoroz that was stolen. My custom Qoroz was the best bike I’ve ever ridden — I’ve never thrown my leg over anything that was quite as much fun to ride — but I’m excited to see what the Pivot can do. I’m confident that it’s going to be up to the worst America can throw at it and it’ll be fun to ride some dirt on it once the race is over. I’ll post a report once I’ve had a chance to get to know it a bit better.
Build up to the Trans Am
Next up for me is the Bryan Chapman Memorial Classic 600km. It’s still going to be tight to make it to the start line — one setback while building the bike and I’ll miss it — but I’ll do my best to make it. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes; the recent disruption means that I haven’t spent as much time in the saddle as I’d have liked. Still, at the least it will be a good opportunity to get some miles on the new bike and ride with a new group of people.