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.

 

 

 

Sleeping bag review [ Highlander Trekker Superlite

I have bought this sleeping bag specifically for the transcontinental race due to the weight and pack size. I have a few other sleeping bags which I have used for bike packing trips, but they are all much bigger in size and did not tick the box of being small!

 

  •    Some stats of the sleeping bag:
  • Season Rating 1-2 season
  • Open Size 220 x 80/50cm
  • Packed Size 18 x 12cm
  • Weight (grams) 480
  • Comfort Temperature (°C) 14
  • Extreme Temperature (°C) -2

I had an opportunity to use the bag once already for a night when I cycled over to Wales for the Brevet Cymru Audax. I used the bag as well as bivvy bag on a bench in a park not too far from the start! During the night, the temperature probably did drop to around 4-6 degrees. I did not get too cold, but I would have felt if the temperature dropped any further, probably on the lower limits of my sleeping setup. Unfortunately, at that time I did not have my skeleton sleeping pad, the night would have been even more comfier!

 

You probably are able to get to the advertised compression size, but I believe it would strain the straps a lot if you compressed as much as possible everytime, so I tend not to overdo it, as it would probably break over time and when storing, I undo the straps at all.