As Louis-Eric Simard rolled into Yorktown, Virginia Sunday, September 9, 2018, it closed the books on the fifth annual TransAm Bike Race, one of America’s premiere ultra-endurance bike race. The event, which started June 2, 2018 saw over 100 riders from around the globe begin in Astoria, Oregon in their individual attempts to ride from Oregon to Virginia. 66 racers completed the journey.
Most riders that complete the event do so in about 30 days. Louis-Eric paused his effort to deal with personal and business matters at home, then returned to complete the race in about 99 days.
The first two riders to complete the race this year did so in times faster than last year’s winner of the event, which set a record at that time. The winner of the 2018 event was Swiss rider Marcel Graber, who rode a velomobile.
Peter Anderson came in second. The 50 year old Californian set a new record for the event on an “un-faired bike” of 16 days, 20 hours, and 41 minutes, nearly 12 hours faster than the previous record. Anderson contracted pneumonia in the 2017 event and had to drop out. This year he enjoyed a great deal more success, as the first rider to finish on an upright bicycle.
The velomobiles were certainly a big story for the event this year, with some protesting that they should not be allowed to compete. However, the rules of the event specially allow any type of human power cycle. Two such vehicles were run in the event, one by race winner Marcel Graber, and the other by US rider, Dave Lewis. You can see Dave’s stop at Newton Bike Shop here.
This year’s race, as was the case in 2017, was marked by the death of a rider, John Egbers, in Kansas, when he was struck by a car. Another rider, TC Cheng, was also hit by a car and seriously injured. Two other riders, Mark Hatfield and Ashley Sharp, were struck by cars while participating in the event, but, were able to walk away.
With two cyclist deaths in as many years, there is a great deal of talk about safety and measures that can be taken to improve the race and safety of the event. To that end, Newton Bike Shop, a perennial favorite stop about halfway through the race has pulled its support for the event until the race organizers address safety concerns. Others have taken the position that it isn’t the race’s responsibility to police riders.
There are many other stories to be told around this year’s event. For example, in the coming weeks we will bring you one of the more important such stories related to the items Louis-Eric carried to the finish to honor John Egbers and TC Cheng. Stay tuned.