Our friend Tom Knoblauch is riding the Trans Am Bike Race this summer, instead of a 1200k or other long randonnée. Billy Edwards caught up with him in central Colorado (Billy Edwards photos):
On Monday and Tuesday of this past week, I found myself at the crossroads of ultra-cycling while spending a weekend with my in-laws in Beaver Creek. With Ride the Divide MTB, Transambike, and RAAM all intersecting out great state of Colorado. I did not really interact with Ride the Divide, but having seen where I was on the map set out to see my friends racing the other two. I won't bore with details of Monday's adventure to see the RAAM teams, but I kept tracking the lead TransamBike racers approaching Breckenridge/Fairplay.
Our own Tom Knoblauch had gotten into Colorado and was following many of the same roads of the High Country and was headed to Kremmling on Monday. Unfortunately, due to his navigation technology aids becoming faulty at about 800 miles he made a 10 mile mistake coming out of Walden. He back tracked and stayed at a flea-bag hotel in Kremmling- the Motel 8. Tom was too lazy and regrets his decision to not go two more blocks and stay at the Holiday Inn. He had a great dinner of Subway. Nonetheless he got up early and headed south early on Tuesday morning. I was on my way back to Boulder and decided I would take a short side track to Breckenridge or at worst Fairplay to surprise Tom on the road. Little did I know that he would be moving at a great speed and I would not find him until 12:30 south of Hartsel. I even had to call up Ryan Franz to help me track his Spot to make sure I had not missed him in Harstel. So here is what I learned when I finally caught up to the ever-steady Tom Knoblauch.
Tom is doing GREAT! He was surprised to see me and even more surprised to know that some of us were tracking him along the route. He looked great, with a dark tan but not seriously burned considering he was at mile 2020 of 4200. Tom was "having an easy day, just putzing along." He was having a little achilles issue with his left leg, which he thought was due to not pedaling evenly and he was working on that as he went. He was hoping his "ass would shut-up" as he had some saddle sores that were annoying, but had gotten better and seemed to be on the mend. His only issue was with the navigation. He had taken pictures of the maps he had used previously for much of the route (apparently Tom had ton many of the western roads on another adventure), but his maps were 12-18 years old. He was looking at pictures on his phone to navigate and that had failed him a couple times (like coming out of Walden). He was hoping to link up with his brother (?) in Newton, Kansas and get it sorted. By the time, I am typing this, Ryan Franz has talked to his brother and they had the Garmin files sorted and hopefully a link up in Kansas was successful and Tom has better navigation. For those who don't know, riding across country is pretty easy until you get to Missouri and then there are lots of turns and getting through cities is not always a straight shot in the midwest and eastern states.
Tom's goal was always to finish up at about 21 days and he currently has a flight out of Newport News (the vicinity of Yorktown, VA- the finish) on 30 June. He told me that he had been riding easy and that once in Kansas, he was "going to really start pushing it." I asked him if there had been any notable events and he had none to report. He said he was pretty happy with his set-up but he could have done without some things that he had already ditched. He was on the same set of tubeless clincher tires that he planned on used the whole trip (27mm). He was finding a pump every three or four days to keep his tired at 80 psi in the front and 90 psi in the back. He was hoping to pick-up a new chain in Pueblo, but he was kicking himself for not planning that properly. He is riding Campy 11 speed, so just finding one of those chains was kicking his ass. (Who rides Campy?- my note.) He was on his Serotta with a very large seat-post mounted bike bag, with one bottle and a large camelback-type bag. He had a sweet new Giro-aero helmet and mounted on his bars were two Garmins, and his phone (keep in mind the Garmins were not working at all that point). I think looking at those two relatively useless pieces of gear was annoying him more than anything. He was employing lights because he was generally "starting several hours before daylight to keep out of the heat of the day" and then riding until he felt done for the day.
Tom was being the same Tom that most of us have known to like and respect. He was as even keeled as we see him on any ride. He was being completely humble about his experience to that point and was surprised to hear he was the first dude over 50 at that point. He really seemed to be enjoying himself and said thanks to those who have been watching; although, he did not expect anyone to really pay attention. I think I had him stopped for about 15 or 20 minutes (Ryan Franz was updating wondering why Tom's icon would not move!), but he said he was happy to stop and chat because again, this was his easy day.I let him know I would update everyone at RMCC.
I did get his phone number and I don't really want to give it out, but if there are some of you who know Tom well and don't have it, contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get it, I think he again would enjoy it, and completely humbled to know you are tracking him. He is not paying attention much to the trackleaders page, so leaving a message there does not seem of much use.
For those still not up to date, here's the tracking link.
- Billy Edwards