For those of you who don't know, last summer, I alongside my long suffering friend Russ set out to race our bikes from Belgium to Istanbul in something called the Transcontinental Race.
The TCR as the Transcontinental is better known and more easily pronounced, is clasified as a Long Distance Time Trial, what this means in reality is that it's a bloody long way, you have to go as fast as possible and there is no set route just checkpoints along the way that you must visit to validate your Brevet - wee card thingy - .
The other thing about the TCR is that it is totally independent, you must carry as much kit as you are comfortable with, there are no support vehicles, people, or feeding stations, you're on your own whatever happens. You can use any commercially available service such as a restaurant, hotel, bar, whatever, but you cannot take any outside assistance from friends, spectators or fellow competitors - unless you're a pair, which i'll come to soon - . In a nutshell it's hard and quite frankly stupid. But that's never stopped me before...
The story of my/our TCR in 2015 has taken a while to fester into something that I feel is worth sharing, so here goes, I hope you enjoy it, i'll try to be as frank as possible and also as positive as possible because -SPOILER ALERT - We didn't make it to the Finish.
Since I first spotted the TCR in 2013 where the race set off from London Bridge with the goal of making Istanbul in 2 weeks, I have wondered about doing it, or something like it. But, the one major thing that put me off - apart from family, work and having never ridden more that 130 miles in a day - was the fact that it was a solo event, just you, your bike with your world strapped to it and a map to guide you. To some people this would be bliss, but to me it just brought me out in a cold sweat. Mainly down to my, at that time, poor navigation skills and lack of languages other than Mancunian.
This all changed though with the anouncement for TCR Number 3 that 'pairs' would be allowed. Now a pair in the TCR is simply that, 2 people working as 1 unit, pairs could share kit, share routes, share shorts if they felt like it but they were clasified as 1 entry.
I remember sending Russ a message one day that was simply a link to the entry page and a note that said 'fancy it? Serious BTW' the rest as they say is history.
It's all well and good wanting to do something like the TCR but getting an entry, at the time, felt quite stressful - nothing compared witht the race itself though - but it has to be that way, it's a serious undertaking.
We had to negotiate; registering an interest and proving your worth on paper, answering some sobering questions, wrestling with broken or overloaded web servers when we all try to submit our entries and of course the warnings about dogs, roads, the route oh and of course you have to wear a helmet, no headphones and a yellow jacket or sam brown in France.
Then you get the nod that you're 'In', that's when the real fun begins.
Once you've told the wife, dog and kids that is. (you did mention it to them before you went through the application process, didn't you?)
Next up ... Planning, Scrounging and Training