So over the last 5 years since taking up cycling, I’ve come a very long way (in many ways). People who knew the 18.5 stone couch potato recognise how far this really is, and the 13 stone shadow of my former self is testament to how much cycling has taken over and enhanced my life.
Throughout the year, I was constantly looking towards the future and what more I could do. I was following some quite inspirational people attempting feats that I was struggling to believe was feasible, yet all I could think was that I want to have a go! The one stand out event for me was the Transcontinental Race, a solo unsupported ultra-endurance bike race from Geraardsbergen to Çanakkale in Turkey.
The race control points were announced just before registration. There is no set route on the Transcontinental race, but a series of controls that each rider must pass through on the way to the finish. Route announcement here
The start of the race has found a home on the Kapelmuur, an iconic Flandrian cobbled climb in the Belgium town of Geraardsbergen.
The first control is on top of an extinct volcano called Puy de Dome, near Clermont Ferrand in the Auvergne region, in Southern Central France.
Control 2 really sets the scene for this years Transcontinental race. A section that starts at the Grosse Scheidegg pass in the Swiss Alps, along to the Grimsel Pass, where it meets the final section, the Furka Pass – made famous by James Bond in the classic car chase in Goldfinger.
Control 3 continues a rather Grimpeur theme, moving into Italy and the Dolomites, with the third stage traversing even more challenging mountains, with the control section ending on the Passo Giau.
Control 4 moves the racers down to the highest road in Montenegro into the Dimitor National Park.
The race finish this year has moved from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul to the relatively calmer Gallipoli region of Turkey, with the finish line at a clock tower in Çanakkale on the Asian side of the Dardanelles, requiring a ferry crossing at the finish.
The application that I submitted in November was quite lengthy; designed to ensure that whoever is applying not only understands what it is they are applying for, but to weed out those who might not be serious about it. All the way through this application process, I genuinely believed that in most likelihood would not get in. Once the application was submitted the wait began.
The wait was hard. The main reason for this was it became difficult to plan for the next year, as training for the TCR would need to shape what I would do, and how I would spend my money. The commitment needed for this event is huge.
So then came Christmas Eve. I was sat watching telly at my sisters casually scrolling through instagram and twitter during some ad break, when I spotted a tweet about being accepted into the TCR. Uh Oh! I immediately checked my email to find that I’ve been accepted.
Oh my god.
Acceptance was the best Christmas present I’ve had in a long time, but the realisation of what was ahead frightened me a bit. This meant several things:
- I know I have a good core fitness, but I need to train. A lot.
- I need to get a bike that will be suitable (n+1/any excuse!)
- This is going to take a lot of planning!
- I need to buy some maps
First thing first, though. I had whiskey to drink, turkey to eat and the Rapha Festive 500 to complete!