I’ve been working on my route for the 2015 Transcontinental Race and this has reminded me of some of the problems I had in 2014. Thought it would be good to put some thoughts down as a heads up to others who have to plan their rides remotely using RideWithGPS.com or others. These planning systems use Google Maps or similar as their base mapping. These allow you to enter start and end points and then ‘drag’ your route so that you can customize it to avoid places such as heavy trafficked areas. When I was doing this around Turin I found a great route, but when I checked, it didn’t actually exist. Let me explain …
My friend Mary Pickering pointed out a fascinating web site: https://www.worldfitnesslevel.org which says that: Physical fitness is key to a long life and good health. Your body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise (VO2max) is the most precise measure of overall cardiovascular fitness. Based on the extensive research of The K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, you can easily estimate your fitness level by answering a few question. You answer a series of questions and they estimate your fitness for your age. By carefully considering the questions you can identify areas where perhaps lifestyle or dietary changes may make a difference, e.g. taking fish oil and Omega 3 supplements. It’s worth taking the test. Especially if you want stoke the ego of a middle-aged man! This also shows it’s time to take a VO2max test again. In 2005 I scored 70.6 mL/kg/min, compared to my currently predicted 56!
A lot of people are surprised to hear that I am a vegetarian and managed to do races like the Tour Divide (4,418 km) and the Transcontinental (3,400 km) without eating anything which moved of its own volition. I became a vegetarian 27 years ago for health reasons, but I’ve also over time become sensitized to the issues of animal welfare and the environment. I found the attached image at: http://www.upworthy.com/is-vegetarian-something-youd-never-try-these-numbers-might-change-your-mind?c=slt1 and thought I would share it. Animals really do have a major negative impact on the environment. New Zealand’s rivers and streams are particularly suffering from the impact of increased dairying. So next time you go for a hamburger how about consider a veggie burger instead?
This is an age old debate. For the record – I’m not a proponent of shaved legs. However, a recent set of wind tunnel tests showed that one could save up to 70 seconds in a 40 km time trial by shaving the legs. That is like 5 minutes on an Ironman distance race which is a lot of time for … nothing. Will I shave? No. But if you are serious about your cycle times its one thing to consider. Here is a video of the wind tunnel testers describing their surprising findings.
This race is only in its second year but will undoubtedly grow into one of the top self-supported bike races around. It has a very unique format—after starting in London you are given three check points which change each year (for 2014 it was the cafe near Paris where the Tour de France started in 1903; Stelvio Pass in northern Italy; and Mt. Locven in Montenegro) and you choose your own route between the points, ending up at the Rumeli Hisari in Istanbul (where the finisher’s photo below was taken). You have just over 14.5 days to finish the race, although you can complete it outside that window but the results will not be included. There were 101 riders entered, 88 started, and at the time of writing 18 scratches.I ended up finishing in just over 13.5 days after 3,400 km of riding and two ferry trips for a 34th place tie. The race was challenging, rewarding and all I could have hoped for. I’ll definitely come back and ride it again!
What a great adventure. 3,400 km of cycling, two ferry trips, all the way from London to Istanbul in 13.5 days for a 34th place tie. It was more than I had hoped for with great riding, challenging conditions, and fantastic camaraderie. As I sit in my hotel room in Istanbul thought it would be good to do a few reflections on what worked and what did not work for those who want to race the TCR themselves in the future. A race report will follow.