There’s a build-up of nervous excitement over the final days and hours towards before the start of a big event. Anticipation steadily grows as the list of final preparations gradually gets ticked off. For me, and I think many riders, it’s an essential part of the experience – but if you’d rather just skip the preamble, then feel free to dive in and go straight to Day 1.
BRUSSELS – 27 Jul, 8am (RACE clock -1D // 12H // 0M)
Thanks to Qatar Airways and a ridiculously good-value Business Class flight, I landed in Brussels feeling fresh and rested. After a short wait by the baggage carousel the nagging doubts were at last silenced. A porter arrived with my bike box looking exactly as it had in Cape Town a few hours before – no signs of any form of distress. What a relief! My taxi was a little delayed reaching Arrivals, but eventually we were underway. The beginning of my TCR adventure was now just down the road towards Geraardsbergen. Continue reading “TCR No.5 – T minus 1”
“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”
“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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
Calitzdorp, 643km – 06:30 Monday 12th December 2016
One bonus of no longer standing any chance of making the 75 hour cutoff time, was that it made our stops considerably more relaxed affairs. Nico and I were both still keen to complete the full 1,000km route, but there was no longer any specific target time hanging over our heads – aside from a vague notion of “sometime tomorrow“. As a consequence, we didn’t exactly hurry to get moving after our sleep. Both of us grabbed showers, and once again I sat on the wall outside drinking my tea whilst Nico got the rest of his kit together. A flock of small hawks took flight from the tree they had been roosting in a couple of blocks away. Raptors are generally solitary birds, so even without a close look I knew they would be lesser kestrels – their SASOL bird guide entry describes this exact behaviour pretty much word for word. My tea drunk, I went back inside for a last check around the room and to chivvy Nico along. I was keen to get started on the steep climb ahead before the day got any hotter. Continue reading “Battling The Beast – part 3”
My eyes opened to a faint light creeping around the edges of the blinds. I didn’t recall the street lights outside being anywhere near that bright and then it dawned on me (quite literally). I rolled over to check on my phone what my eyes were already telling me. It read 05:00.
Crap, crap, CRAP!
Continue reading “Battling The Beast – part 2”
16:30, Saturday 10th December 2016,
Slumped over a table in a garage, sun-burnt, heat exhausted, probably dehydrated, and struggling to make any headway on the burger and fries in front of me – I slurped on a chocolate milk shake in a desperate attempt to get some form of calories down. Comparisons with my Joburg 600km DNF didn’t end there. We were 330km in and, as on that earlier failed ride, both Henri and Kenneth were sat at our table. The omens, if you believe in such things, were not good. It felt like we’d battled weather and terrain the whole of the way so far, often both at the same time. Our riding time of 22.5 hours to this point was already dangerously close to the cutoff time, and for the second time today I was giving serious thought to quitting. Continue reading “Battling The Beast – part 1”