Outside the Pour House, a coffee shop in downtown Florence, Colorado, a bikepacker’s bike leaned against the railing. A large, peanut-shaped pack jutted out from underneath the saddle, likely carrying his clothes. Clip-on aero bars, two front lights, a GPS device, and camping gear balanced out of the front of the Trek bike. Along with two water bottles inside the frame, there was an additional bag which probably included cables, batteries, and other essential items.
Chris and I stared at the bike and the accouterments, curious about the person riding the bike. “They’re probably inside,” I said to Chris. I walked up to the counter and ordered a latte as Chris found the cyclist. I didn’t wait for the barista to hand me the drink before I made my way to the conversation.
Adam was traveling across the country on his bike, 4,199.2 miles. At first, I thought he was riding solo, for an adventure. Then I brought up Inspired to Ride and how it inspired me to do the Trans Am Race. Adam nodded, “Yeah, that’s what I’m doing.”
“No way!” I said.
Adam started telling us stories about his travels so far between bites of bagel and cream cheese and coffee. He talked to us like he hadn’t spoken to a friend in at least a few days, stopping only to take a breath. He told us he just crossed over a pass and he got to the point that he started crying from exhaustion. Chris offered to give him money to help him along the trip. Adam wouldn’t take it. We asked if he had a GoFundMe. Adam said he didn’t. He asked if we had Instagram so we added each other. I found Adam’s blog and Adam’s GoFundMe.
We let Adam get back to enjoying his breakfast, but as soon as we got into the car, we couldn’t stop talking about how impressive it is to undertake a challenge like this. To ride 100 miles every day, day after day, all by yourself takes grit. It requires physical endurance and mental stamina. It takes willpower and relentless pursuit of a goal, no matter what you suffer.
I read through Adam’s blog. He’s biked hundreds of thousands of feet, mountains, hill, headwinds, flat tires, mechanicals, dehydration, food shortage, sprinklers, thunderstorms, and long, hot days. Over and over again. He’s slept in hostels, hotels, behind churches, and inside dugouts. As I write this, Adam’s in Missouri, 1,398.9 miles away from the finish. He’s biked 2,792.4 miles so far. The competitors started on June 3, 2019, which means Adams’s been riding his bike for 27 days.
The winner, Abdullah Zeinab, finished the race in 16 days, 9 hours, and 56 minutes. That means he averaged 262 miles per day. Per fucking day. It’s unfathomable to imagine riding that much for that long. Dude must have only slept a few hours a night to be able to do that. By the way, this is all self-supported. The rules for the Trans Am Bike Race are simple. Rule #1: No complaining about the rules.
Imagine the amount of training it’d take in order to be able to compete at that level? We think racing a crit for 60 minutes is hard. Race across the country and average 262 miles per day. Think about what goes on through their heads being on the bike that long? I know how much my mind wanders on a two-hour bike ride, let alone an 18-hour-long bike ride. Then think about how insignificant things are that we complain about daily.
“It’s too hot out.” “Too cold.” “I’m hungry.” “I’m fat.” “Look at this zit.” To drop everything you’re doing in life and race your bikes thousands of miles. Sure, it’s not solving the world’s problems, but a single person can’t do that. What a single person can do is power themselves across the United States.
We get used to living so little that we sometimes forget how to live big. Challenge yourself any way you feel will.