Friday 22 July 2022
I guess I have some explaining to do. I mean how does one get from the previous blog post where I questioned my desire for more long distance riding, to sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow watching baggage handlers load my bike box into a plane bound for Brussels and another TCR. I can’t even blame it on hallucinations – the lurid blue smurfs decorating the inside and outside of the plane are actually there (apparently the national animal of Belgium). The answer starts in the middle of an unusually mild British Winter.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Prologue”
0km – the start – 22:00 24 July 2022
The atmosphere at the start alone would bring me back to TCR every year. The plug of riders compresses together as we funnel under the Start banner, and then fans out again into the slightly wider channel beyond, flanked either side by a cacophony of cheering supporters, clanging bells, and the wafting heat of those torches. I’m already mounted up and pedalling slowly as we pass under the banner. As soon as the space opens in front of me I stamp on the pedals – the rough cobbles are every bit as steep as I remember and I spin like mad to get up and over them with some semblence of balance. It’s a frenetic, somewhat chaotic start but it’s done in seconds and I’m cresting the rise onto brand new smooth tarmac (did they lay this just for us?). I barely have to back pedal before Nico is alongside. The road is closed and we have space all around us as we begin the cruise back down into town. We’re not racing yet – this part is to be enjoyed. We exchange banter about keeping an eye out for dangerous kerbs (a reference to my near mishap in 2017). Other riders slide past us, and we do the same as the throng jostles and settles into position. Once we are around the town, the gloves will come off and we’ll be racing for space on the narrow ramps of the Muur.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 1”
A chorus of alarms drags me out of the depths of sleep, both my watch and phone nagging me to get up. I can’t recall any long distance ride where I’ve fallen asleep so quickly, and slept so soundly – there were some pretty lurid dreams too which I remember mentioning to Yoli, but for which the details have now gone. As I potter around the room repacking my gear and attempting to make tea nothing is overly sore either. My bum is rarely a problem area anyway, but my hands and feet were worryingly painful last night and both now feel like they can handle another round in the blender. The only black spot on the morning is that tea. I totally stuff up the unfamiliar brewing contraption, covering myself and the furniture in near boiling water in the process. If I wasn’t a stubborn Brit I’d probably have given up, but tea has a near mythical property for me in the morning and on a second, more careful, inspection I figure my mistake and manage a half decent cuppa to go with a couple of muesli bars. The few minutes delay is more than worth the calm bliss this brings.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 2”
Once again, I’m dead to the world when the alarms go off. Hauling myself out of the bed I survey the untidy mess of gear across the room. Getting ready today is going to be a two stage affair with the bike down in the garage. First I have to get myself kitted up, for which the hotel has kindly provided me a conventionally easy-to-operate kettle and tea to lubricate the process. Second is lugging bags down to the basement and loading up the bike, passing reception along the way to collect my packed breakfast – which turns out to be an entire paper bag’s worth of goodies. Some of the contents get scoffed whilst I potter around with the bike. The rest gets stuffed in my feed bag and back pockets
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 3”
I need to add a note here on the nature of this entry. The views expressed in the account of parcours #1 are purely my own. They are authentic to my experiences at the time, but it must be understood these reflect as much on my mental and physical state as they do the actual route. I know some riders at the tail shared similar feelings but I’m sure many other riders did not, and enjoyed the challenge of the parcours. I do comment on the nature of the parcours in terms of how I felt as I rode it. But none of what is written here is intended as a criticism towards the organizers of TCR No. 8 in any way.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 4”
There is just one thought in my mind as I shower and kit up:
Tomorrow’s behind, Today lies ahead
Actually there’s possibly an extra thought – “don’t fall getting the bike down those steep stairs“.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 5”
As I wake I’m looking forward to a day of much flatter riding. Although it’s interesting to note after the fact a big discrepancy between Strava (1,075m) and RideWithGPS (1,870m) in the amount of elevation. Having ridden it (and also because it’s distance & elevation data always seems more accurate to me), I’m inclined to trust the latter. Before we get there though there’s a couple of small matters to deal with: those spiral stairs down; and one last climb out of this valley.
Make that three small matters to deal with.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 6”
Getting underway was delayed by some unexpected Origami. Last night my bike was the only occupant of the small covered area at the back of the hotel yard. But now, several rows of eBikes are stacked up in front of it. Heavy and locked together, it’s difficult even to squeeze myself past them to where my bike stood behind. Getting it out required a strange tiptoeing dance around wheels and bars with the Niner shouldered to get it clear. Not the ideal start. It was tempting to make a racket kitting up in the yard to wake whatever twats had done this, except it was probably just 4 or 5 of the twenty plus rooms above the courtyard. Having said that, it’s hard to lube a chain and pump up tyres in complete silence, so the end result may have been much the same anyway. Last night before sleep I’d swapped a few messages with Yoli that sum up my physical state and how I’m feeling towards the next couple of days
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 7”
I can’t remember now if my later start this day was intentional or I had faffed with something and ended up setting out later. I do recall though being aware that I was more likely to run out of energy than time with the two big climbs just up ahead. So it could well have been a concious act – realising that I in all likelihood I may be heading for a hotel after the Gavia rather than tacking on the extra 500m or so of climbing over the Passo Tonale as well. Whatever the reason, it’s already beginning to get light as I push the bike back up the ramp from the basement. After quickly jogging up the steps to get back into reception and drop the key off, I roll left onto the main road.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 8”
Even with a room that had a kettle and tea, it was more of a battle to get woken up and going than usual. At some point in the night a huge thunderstorm had broken across the mountains. I don’t recall whether it woke me, but it was still rolling around when the alarm went off. Although it took me some time to realise what the rushing sound was – at first I thought it was the waters of the nearby river. But on walking over to the window I could clearly see the cause – a heavy curtain of rain was lashing down into the street. The idea of riding out into it did not fill me with joy but having covered so little ground yesterday I knew I’d need too as soon as the thunder had passed. No way I was going to climb back up into the mountains with lightning forking down.
Continue reading “TCR No.8 – Day 9”