What are you doing this summer?
I know what myself and my good buddy Russ over at Shand Cycles are doing; racing our bikes from somewhere in Flanders to a bar in Istanbul. That's a distance of 4000km (2500 miles ish) and we have only 14 days to finish if we want to make the finishing party that's being held in the Bosphorus brewery.
This years Transcontinental Race is the 3rd incarnation and looks like it's the longest and possibly the hardest that Mike Hall and his band of sadistic helpers have put together so far. There are 4 check points en-route, including the top of Mont Ventoux and the whole event is run like an ITT (Independent Time Trial).
I've looked and read about the TCR since it started 3 years ago, but I've never been brave enough to contemplate it seriously, this year though Mike has allowed Pairs to compete officially and this appeals a bit more and it means that some of the stress and responsibility is shared not to mention the navigation. (I could get lost going to the corner shop)
Funnily enough Russ had been of the same opinion and when I suggested we take a look at getting an entry he agreed (silly bugger). We made it through the application process, negotiating the over subscribed servers and waited with baited breath until we got the nod in Dec that we were in!
Obviously kit choice is a major consideration, none more so than the type of bike capable of carrying us in a befitting manner that distance. Russ and I spoke about bespoke custom Shand frames and forks but when we looked at the numbers it was obvious that an off the peg large Stoater would do nicely, ta very much.
For wheels up front I'm building us some Supernova Infinity S dynamo hubs onto Stans NoTubes Grail rims with Sapim race spokes 32 hole 3X which when coupled with Supernova lights and USB charging devices will provide us with light and power along the way. The guys at Amba marketing have been great providing some great advice and supplying us with everything we need.
For tyres we are going to try a few options but i think my preference so far is Schwalbe 1 in a 28mm width running tubeless (there's an off road section along the way).
We will both be using Widcat gear's excellent bike luggage to carry the little kit we will have with us as it's British made and they have years of experience with Bike Packing and sleeping in ditches :)
Training has begun, the freezing weather is not helping much but we are still clocking up the miles, and by starting early in the year we get a chance to try out the majority of our kit before we board the ferry to Belgium in July.
We aim to update our blogs and social media feeds with further equipment choices and things we discover over the next few months as our minds and bodies adapt to the vast mileage and stresses, then when we start it may go a bit quiet, but we will carry spot transmitters to allow people to know our whereabouts.
Istanbul here we come! EEK!