TCR No.5 Prologue Part 3 – Route Planning

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”

Mike Tyson’s famous quote seems oddly appropriate for this third and final part of my pre-TCR blog series. Ironically, despite covering the aspect which has taken by far the most time of all my preparations it’s going to be the shortest entry. You see, under TCR rules, we’re strongly discouraged from sharing details of the actual routes we have planned. The four checkpoints are well known and common to all riders. But what lies in between them remains a closely guarded secret that each of us will hold until the wheels start to roll, and the trackers reveal our various directions. Continue reading “TCR No.5 Prologue Part 3 – Route Planning”

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TCR No.5 Prologue Part 2 – Preparation

“One doesn’t train, one prepares”

It’s a phrase oft quoted in the Audax world, but it’s even truer for TCR – especially so in my case. Early on in my preparation came the realisation that I was likely to reach the start line considerably shorter on kilometers than most of the other entrants. In other words my actual physical training was in all probability going to be under done. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, more of an accepted reality of the need to balance my time. But I also knew there was something I could do about it – focus on quality over quantity. Rather than endless hours without purpose, I’d aim at rides with targeted goals. Kit testing, pacing, sleep deprivation, terrain – everything longer than a regular training session would have specific aims. Continue reading “TCR No.5 Prologue Part 2 – Preparation”

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TCR No.5 Prologue Part 1 – Kit

Be careful what you wish for

Regular readers will have noticed the blog has been rather quiet for the first six months of 2017. There’s a reason for that – the letter right arrived in my inbox on January 5th. Reading it was both a moment of elation, and also a stern wake-up call. An immense and sudden ground-rush of hopes and dreams about taking part in an ultra-endurance cycle race. It was actually going to happen, in seven months’ time, ready or not, I’d be lining up to start #TCRNo5 (the PedalED Trans Continental Race No5). Continue reading “TCR No.5 Prologue Part 1 – Kit”

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Funding the Unfunded

For some riders, The PedalED Transcontinental Race No 5 (#TCRNo5) is a full blown race. A gargantuan ultra-marathon across the continent of Europe. Battling it out alone, unsupported, around the clock, for a distance of close on 4,000km from the start in Belgium to the end in Greece. For other riders, like me, it’s an adventure. A physical and mental challenge unlike any we have undertaken. Victory for us will be simply to reach the finish inside the 18 day cut-off time. Or better still within 14 days to arrive in time for the party! But for all of us taking part, one thing this is not is a sponsored event. Most riders, like me, are privateers – funded from their own pockets, and using up precious annual leave for their race across Europe. Not being sponsored or funded does not mean that no funding can be raised though. And for me, there are a couple of local causes which I’m passionate about and have chosen to raise funds and awareness for.

Continue reading “TCRNo5”

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Not a fluke

Cape 600km, 17th March 2017

With no Argus for me this year my March riding highlight was the Cape 600km Audax. With near perfect timing, my Niner RLT9 rig was complete in close to it’s planned final TCR form the week before.  And just to top things off, we’d be riding a new variation on our regular route, with around half of the Randonneurs – myself and Theunis included – taking a novel ant-clockwise option on account of the wind forecast. There was much to look forward too. Continue reading “Not a fluke”

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A gem of a tour

It’s a little before 8:30 in the morning. And it’s Wednesday. But this is no ordinary weekday. I’m not sat at my desk working – instead I’m cresting this morning’s climb. It’s been a long, tough, and utterly delightful haul – made even more pleasant for a number of, also unusual reasons. Firstly the bike I am riding. We are far from home, and we have a full 160km of riding planned for the day, but I am not on my normal heavily loaded Audax bike. I am on my Giant TCR Advanced – a nimble rocket-ship that has just made effortless work of the first 40km and 1,000m or so of ascent to this point. Continue reading “A gem of a tour”

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Climbing a South African icon

7th November 2016

A faint trail of dust rises up behind the bakkie, depositing a fine coating on frames, saddles and bars of our bikes, before swirling across the arid landscape and fading out completely. It’s somewhere after 7am, and the morning air is fresh and crisp as I step out to open one of last gates as we leave the farm behind us and head back to civilization, family, jobs, and lives where something other than cycling takes centre stage. Continue reading “Climbing a South African icon”

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Running doesn’t suck

Bentonville, Arkansas, 6th October 2016

Business travel can be a chore, but it becomes significantly more interesting when one’s destination is new. Not only had I never been to Arkansas before, I’d never ventured into the southern US states either. I must confess, our destination of Bentonville, Arkansas was a complete surprise. I’m not really sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t a hipster cafe society vibe – complete with uber-trendy coffee shops and art galleries. It was easy to forget we’d actually swapped from our regular venue in Sausalito, California. But this was not just Arkansas, it was “North West Arkansas” – a subtle but important difference which we were reminded of more than once. Continue reading “Running doesn’t suck”

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Assumptions and Angels

10th September 2016, Cape 300km

I’d already resigned myself to the fact that in all likelihood I would be riding most of this 300 alone. In fact I’d said as much to Yoli the evening before. Neither Gerhard nor Theunis were riding, and everyone on the signup sheet was a faster rider than me. So it came as no surprise to see the blinking tail lights of the main group slowly shrinking ahead of me as the gap between us widened. It was 4am, and I was completely alone in the dark – the civilization of Franschhoek was still 15 or 20 minutes riding ahead. I reminded myself that this would be my reality for two whole weeks if I take on TCR next year, so I’d better get used to it. Continue reading “Assumptions and Angels”

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By this time next year Rodney …

The impossible dream, spoken in a south-east London accent by Del Boy to his younger brother across countless episodes of the BBC hit TV series Only Fools and Horses. Something they’ll probably never attain, until of course almost by accident they actually do (albeit briefly). It’s pretty much how I feel about the Trans Continental as I sit at my PC watching all those dots edging their way across the map towards Turkey in this year’s edition. As much as I say to myself I’m going to be there next year, it seems just as far fetched as those words to Rodney.

Continue reading “By this time next year Rodney …”

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