Over the last few days some of the world’s most extreme endurance athletes passed through my little part of the world as they compete in the TransAmerica 2014. The 1976 Bikecentenial route across the United States passes through Southern Illinois on some of my favorite riding roads. The current leader, the otherworldly Mike Hall passed through in the middle of the night, as well as 2nd place Jason Lane, and 3rd place Ed Pickup.
I glanced on the map and saw that 4th and 5th place were coming through Sunday afternoon so I rode route 147 backwards to see if I might run into them. As luck would have it I saw Jesse Stauffer then shortly followed by Juliana Buhring. They were both on aerobars moving very fast. I rode a bit farther then turned around. They were stopped at the Tunnel Hill Trail restrooms and I pulled in to congratulate them on the race.
I resisted the urge to take out my camera and start taking pictures. The two riders were all business, but Juliana took a few moments to talk to me about the heat and hills. She mentioned that it was much better riding at night and looked forward to the sun going down.
I didn’t know at the time that she holds the woman’s world record for circumnavigating the globe by bike and they she is a best selling author in the UK. Wow, that’s pretty cool. I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture.
I asked if they were going to cross the Ohio river before dark when the Cave in Rock ferry shuts down. Jesse laughed and said, “We’ll be there in two hours.” I don’t think he realized that Cave in Rock was nearly 60 miles away and it was constant hills to get there. I checked the trackleader map, they got there around 7:30 so it took them a bit over three hours. Wow!
I didn’t even consider riding with them, they were very serious about the race, and I don’t think they would have wanted any company, not to mention the fact that I probably couldn’t have kept up with them.
I was stunned by how little they were carrying on their bikes, though I was stunned when I saw how little Luke carried when he did Tour Divide.
As I write this 24 hours later they are halfway across Kentucky, but first place rider Mike Hall, is halfway across Virgina. Truly awe inspiring riders.