During the month of December, Buddy will highlight, the Twelve Days of Fearlessness. Whether it is getting up the nerve to lace up your old ice skates with your five-year-old or conquering a halfpipe like your teenage days, fearlessness is not just situational for all- for some, it is a way of life.
That’s the question Richmond cyclist Brantley Tyndall is asking himself as he prepares for one of the most grueling bike races in the country.
The Trans AM is a 4,200 mile, multi-week bike race from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, VA on bike route 76. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, the race is also unsupported, meaning there is no-one trailing him in a van, there is no basecamp, and he can’t accept help along the way. Brantley will be on his own the entire time— replenishing his food, finding places to sleep, and performing any maintenance on his trusty Endpoint bike.
When asked how someone would get into this, Brantley chuckled and told us that he started cycling as a means of transportation while attending Virginia Commonwealth University. He only began to improve his speed because he was always arriving late for things.
As he became more involved with the Richmond biking community, he noted that although there were several cyclist friends who could outrun him in a short distance, he had the ability to keep going further and further while maintaining power, which is what endurance racing is all about.
2011 was when Brantley decided to take his cycling to the next level by competing in sanctioned races of all different types. As he gained experience, he also gained accolades including two big wins in 2018 alone at the CAT 4 Wintergreen trials and the Virginia state time trials that took place in Smithfield. Although these races take incredible athleticism and training, their distances are nothing compared to the Trans AM.
“To consider competing in the Trans AM, you need to be able to ride a minimum of 200 miles per day, and more recently riders are actually doing 250 miles per day during the race.” says Brantley. You can’t just go out and put that kind of mileage down. Without proper training you can find yourself in a world of hurt. According to Brantley, “Until you’ve spent 20 hours sitting on a bike, you’re not going to know what to do.”
So to prepare for his upcoming race, Brantley has engaged in a strenuous regimen that some, this writer included, consider crazy. For example, “I did a 19-mile route 21 times in a row for 380 miles in 24 hours, totally unsupported. I had to stop at my truck to eat food, warm up, and change clothes.” But according to Brantley, it isn’t just about riding long distances; “Beyond riding, I work on my core a great deal. Everything has to be strengthened to endure 16 hour days of riding for over 17 days.”
And that’s just the physical aspect of the race. To be able to cross the country by yourself with zero help, you have to be prepared mentally as well. Brantley says he’s gone over the route in meticulous detail, spending at least 1 hour on each of the 10 states he’ll travel through. “A navigation error can cost you as much as a day and your race is over.” He says knowing where the stores are and their hours of operation to refuel his food supply is key for states like Wyoming and Montana, because there aren’t a lot of stores on the route.
And some of the training he’s doing isn’t even about the ride; “I have to be good at packing my stuff up, so I need to train for that as well. Over the winter I am practicing packing and unpacking, setting up my sleeping gear and sleeping on my living room floor.”
Brantley has the experience, a great coach in Dave Luscan, and another 6 months of intense training in front of him (6 days per week, minimum 1 hour per day). Taking on the Trans AM is a truly fearless endeavor, and he left us with this final thought on becoming a better cyclist.
The best guitar players play with better musicians to learn from. Athletes are the same.
Buddy will be following his progress in June, so stay tuned for updates on this amazing adventure.