Update: The TCR is now over. Sadly over sooner than planned and it didn’t quite end to plan. Catch up with what happened over on my sponsor Le Cols blog.
The Transcontinental Race is simply my only goal this year. It’s refreshing having one goal, you can sink all of your eggs into one basket, risk it all and focus completely on turning up to the start line in perfect form. Or equally lose it all!
The Transcontinental Race 2015 (TCR15) is a ~2600 mile, un-supported, 1 stage bike race from Flanders Belgium to Istanbul Turkey, first one there wins. 2015 marks the 3rd edition, both previous editions have been won by Belgian Kristof Allegaert, who incidentally I learned has pulled out this year. A shame, for him to not be there and missing the opportunity to race against him, but detracting nothing from the 2015 winner.
The race starts in Geraardsbergen, Belgium, where racers will race up the Muur de Geraardsbergen (famous for it’s featuring in the Tour of Flanders). From here, racers will head straight to Mont Ventoux, for the first of 4 checkpoints. Having completed the barren beast, it’s over to Italy, via Sestriere and the Strada dell’Assietta, a 25mile gravel paved path over andaltitude of 7000′ . Having negotiated the Colle de Finestre descent, it’s over to war torn Vukovar in Eastern Croatia. Having hopefully made it this far, now to cut back across Bosnia to Kotor in Montenegro and climb Mont Lovcen, where views are breathtaking, the 4th and final checkpoint. From here it’s straight sailing through eastern Europe’s mountains and motorways to Turkey and the finish line in Istanbul.
The race will be streamed live, via GPS units attached to each person. People at home, or on the go, will be able to track the race live on a google maps screen as it develops. As the tracking website goes live I will get this out.
Un-supported racing means no outside assistance. That’s NO outside assistance that’s not from a publicly available source. Got a flat, fix it. Bike brakes, find a bike shop. Lost, get un lost. No help. Just you, your bike and ~2600 miles to cover.
Adventure racing, as it’s termed is a long way from the road racing I’ve been a part of for the previous few years with Catford CC Equipe/BANKS. At the end of 2014 I made the decision to depart from the road racing scene at the top level, because I was getting my head kicked in. In fairness I suffered with some big setbacks in the 2 years previous, having only been racing 2 years I did come a long way, from riding my fixed gear bike around London. I had a horrific crash in April 2013, breaking most of the right side of my face, really setting me back. Then in 2014 after a solid winter of training I got a really bad virus that laid me low for the month of May. So to come back from both of those to the level I did, I’m pleased.
After both the 2013 and 2014 bike racing seasons I went away touring. Now my version of touring is a bit tougher than some, I’d simply smash myself all day long and then wild camp up at night, just trying to see as much as possible and putting myself to the test. It was these trips where I realised I needed to take my cycling back to basics and re-find my love. I cycle to explore but my competitive side loves to race.
For 2015 I decided I would race Transcontinental, combining my reasons for getting on a bike. For the previous few years I’d watched this race in awe and longed to have a go. So in order to do it properly, I hooked myself up with a good paying job at GYMBOX over winter. I worked my arse off and saved really hard from October-March. April 1st I was a free man and back to training full time. I had enough money (just) to see my through to the end of the race, having also bought a load of bike gear. If you’re going to do something, do it properly and I’m training full time for 4 months. Enough time, to get into some killer shape.
So with one goal, my focus and motivation are total. Since August last year I’ve thought of nothing else. I will have lived and breathed this race for a year, trust me, Isabelle will attest to that! I will give everything in me to win. I’ve got a race plan and I’m going to empty myself in pursuit. I have a figure for what I think is an achievable time frame for getting to Istanbul. I won’t put it on record yet, but we’ll see. Anything can happen and that’s the beautiful part of this adventure.
The start, finish and 4 checkpoints of TCR15, shown on the map below. Races plan and choose their own route between the checkpoints. Some will take the fastest route, some the flattest, some the shortest and some will just take the scenic.
Mur de Geraardsbergen – The climb of the Tour de Flanders past.
Mont Ventoux – The iconic barren climb in the South of France
Strada dell’Assietta – 40k of gravel road, reached by climbing out of Sestriere (where the pros go for altitude training!)
Vukovar – A historic Croatian city
Mount Lovćen – A stunning climb in Montenegro’s national park
Istanbul – Finish!