The Transcontinental Race No6 – (the start)

I have finished the Transcontinental race No6 in 16 days and 6 hours. The ride was the hardest one I have ever done and the longest one in distance by far.

I will write a series of blog posts about this, as there is so much to write about!

Short re-cap of my trip:

  • 16 days 6 hours
  • More than 4100 km and over 46000 meters of climbing according to strava.
  • 2 nights in hotel, 14 nights outdoors.
  • 1 Broken chain, 6 punctures and many failed puncture patches.
  • Lost my wallet (all bank cards) in Austria.
  • Navigational errors in Bosnia

Ride to the start and the Registration!

Originally I was going to get a lift to the start but due to unforeseen circumstances, this had got to be dropped and I have decided that cycling to the start seemed to be the best hassle free option. It didn’t seem to be big of a deal to do a “small” test ride before the real thing! The route was 146 km and I got off the ferry and Dunkirk on Sunday (race day) 3 AM local time. I decided to take it easy and spun my way through the night in the French suburbs. I stopped a couple of times, one stop was to lie down a on bench in my bivvy, as I was getting tired! and I’ve slept for about 30-45 minutes or so. Then made a couple of bakery shop stops for fuel!

Took me 9 hours to cover the 150 km, including all the sleep and bakery shop stops, I got to the town of Geraardsbergen at 11 AM and swiftly started the procedure of registration. Everything took about an hour and shortly afters, I had my new cap, number 134 and the tracker!

Cruised around the town to get myself a nice pizza and found a relatively good place where I could have my bike near me and have a pizza at. The town was buzzing with TCR riders and within the next 10 minutes another rider joined my table, which was Matthew Falconer! (finished 2nd), shortly after I finished my pizza, James Hayden and one of the american riders joined our table to get pizzas too! With so much experience around the table, it was always nice to hear what the top tier guys were chatting about!

After leaving the table, I went down to find a nice grassy area to lie/sleep on as the riders briefing was still about 3 or so hours away. After the briefing, we’ve received our brevet cards, and the lezyne waterproof pouches, which I have used through out the trip and it was a nice addition to the kit I’ve already had! After this, I’ve gotten so more food at the food vans that were present and went to stock up on more liquids at the near by shops. One of the shops were giving out free bananas to TCR riders! (I did grab a few as well!).

START

The start  ceremony was nice, although the flaming torches were missing, we guessed it was due to the fire hazard around the whole of Europe as it was so hot!

Soon after we climbed the Muur the second time, under race conditions, people have taken their own routes, and I was surprised how quickly everyone dispersed, I expected to see more people on the road, only catching up an occasional rider or getting passed by one.

50 km from the start, I had a puncture in my rear tyre. A piece of glass has got stuck in the tyre. After some swearing, I got that fixed in about 15 minutes or so (by changing the inner tube) and was on my way. I had three tubes in total and have thought it may have been too many, but little did I know!

110 km done, 4 am and I was out of water, the night was a lot warmer that I anticipated and  I decided to make a stop to sleep for a bit and then to try and find a shop in the morning to restock on water and to grab a snack! which worked out well! As I cycled the previous night, I had to make stops for sleep / catnaps, as I was a bit deprived even before the event has started.

I have done about 400 km since the start (24 hours or so) and was feeling good with the progress, this meant I have built up quite a bit of a buffer in case I had issues later on in the race.  The next milestone in my head was reaching Strasbourg which was about 500 km or so from the start and then it was about 300 km or so till the first Checkpoint!

More than 24 hours later after the start, I started to feel sleepy again and decided to bivvy at about 2 AM (July 31st) somewhere in the French farmlands and I found a relatively good bivvy spot too!
It was in a farm field, but there was a building, that was probably used as an eating/sleeping place for the field workers. The inside didn’t look so inviting, so I decided to bivvy next to the building.

 

 

 

Brevet Cymru Extended post ride write up

This is my post ride write up for brevet cymru audax and my ride to the start and back!

Day 1:

Set off comfortably on Friday at 9 AM towards Chepstown in Wales. After 50k I met up with a colleague of mine, with whom I pre-arranged to meet up for a small ride of the section I was doing, after 18k or so, we departed and I was on my own again for the rest of the day. At around 1PM or so I stopped at pub for a burger and beer! (I was taking it easy as I had plenty of time!) Whilst I waited for the food, I adjusted my tri-bars and I kept doing so through out the day to get the most comfortable position. I will still need to buy bigger risers for the profile design aero bars I am using.

Crossed the bridge into Wales at 9-PM, continued on to outskirts of Chepstow, where the ride was starting on Saturday morning. I managed to grab a Dominoes pizza and a bottle of coke and cookies, had a meal and had a browse for parks around on google maps to find a bivvy bag spot. It was my intention to bivvy rather than to book hotel 🙂 Fell asleep shortly after midnight and got up at 4:30AM or so, packed up and headed towards the community hall down the road!

 

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Day 2:

At the hall, picked up my brevet card, had cross buns with jam and several coffees, before setting off. I stayed at the front with fast guys and girls for the first 30 km, averaging 30km/h, as this wasn’t really my pace, I dropped bag before another small group caught up with me and I stayed with them for the next 40k where at 70k mark I got a puncture going downhill. Surprisingly, not that many riders passed whilst I got the puncture sorted out, the next control point was only 10k away. I can’t remember where I stopped for food, but I am sure it was a petrol station, usual sandwich/wrap/coke/ice cream combo.

The next control point was a west end cafe (150k), there a few riders and A LOT of motorcycle bikers, so I only got my card stamped and carried on. I set off toward Tregaron (200k), a free control at the hotel, grabbed orange juice ice and water, went to supermarket for a sandwich and a yogurt drink. Ate the sandwich, finished my pint of juice and water and set off again for the next half of the ride. In retrospect, I didn’t have to into the hotel, I could have just gotten a receipt, but I followed another rider as we thought there would be a stamp! but the girl did sign the cards 🙂

300k – back at west end cafe, where I grabbed beans on toast, stupidly I forgot ask for grated cheese on top! Having eaten that, coffee, can of coke in my jersey pocket, put on my leg warmers, changed my socks and off I went for the last 100k. We were supposed to reach a control point – community hall at 341 – no sign of the hall at all, myself and another guy decided to push on for the last leg, for some we rode together, he was stronger at the climbs, so we departed and then caught up with each other. At about 20k from the finish, the guy had a puncture and I caught up with him, stopped and held my phone as a light for him to fix his puncture, as he didn’t have a head torch (neither did !).

Reached the control point at 1:20 AM, a few faces around, most stuffed their cards through the letter box and set off home, as they were locals or had caravans nearby! Myself and another person, sat by the door waited for the organiser to come back and to open the village hall up! Another kind rider came up to check on us and kindly invited us back to his van for warmth! He kindly offered gin and tonic, which we kindly accepted! at about 3AM, organizer arrived back and opened the hall, went in for a kip and got up 6AM.

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Day 3:

Set off at 6:30 AM for the leg home, cycled on for 20k or maybe more and found a petrol station for food and then carried on repeating the ritual of petrol stations until I reached Hungerford  which was roughly 1PM and maybe about 100k in. Had some proper food at a cafe there, I had been there before several times on other Audax rides. Shortly after, I stopped for sleep, around two hours or so and carried on, stopping at a small shop, where I met two other riders, who were amazed where I cycled from! Then another petrol stop station and I was at home roughly at 8PM or so.

There were a few mistakes:

  1. Not taking the head torch I was given by my cousin for long rides! (I forgot).
  2. Not taking baby wipes.
  3. Not taking gel hand sanitizer which I specifically bought for longer rides.
  4. Forgot to buy tri-bar food bags, which would have been handy.
  5. Second pair of bib shorts were loose and did not fit well (doh).

 

Nonetheless, good test ride before transcontinental in less than three months now!

new bike

Rather than keeping my new sequoia, I ordered in a brand new carbon bike!

I’ve gotten myself a Cube Attain GTC SLT Disc Road Bike 2018 – hydraulic disc brakes, carbon frame, weights 8.4 kg.

Should do the job for transcontinental just fine I think! Can’t wait to get my hands on it and start doing some mileage!

 

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