The the race four weeks away I’ve been vacillating over the final route. After lots of deliberations—and advice from my riding buddy Mike and Jok who is recovering from his training crash the die is (sort of) cast. If I don’t get lost, go off route I’ve got 3,471 km of riding to do, with some 35,115 m of climbing. Makes me tired just thinking about it … but what a holiday!
The elevation profile shows a few hills on the way!
I decided to take the ferry from Bari rather than Ancona not because, to paraphrase one of Jok’s reasons the female ‘eye candy’ is amongst the best in Europe, but because there is a lot less climbing than crossing to Split, and one hopes that Italian drivers are more cyclist friendly than Balkan drivers. I decided against my original Bulgarian route because of the strong advice in the race manual:
The number 8 road from Sofia through Plovdiv to Edirne. This road is at times narrow with no shoulder and very fast moving traffic including trucks which will attempt to overtake despite your presence. Of all the roads that Transcontinentalists in 2013 travelled on, this was reported as the out and out worst. Avoid it like the plague.
Now just to try and get a lot more training in over the next few weeks before I begin to taper. My bike and kit is all sorted out and working great. Just the body needs work!
Outside Magazine has an excellent interview with Jefe Branham who won the 2014 Tour Divide—just outside record time in spite of absolutely appalling conditions—the number two ride was some three days behind. Very insightful and thought provoking about what these sorts of endurance races mean. I’m glad they show the Tour De France is easier—short distance over a longer time. The TDR really is the toughest race!
When I was handed a copy of my ECG test there was a warning at the top of the page “ ** abnormal rhythm ECG **”. That had me worried. I took it home and gave it to my wife—who was a cardiac rehabilitation nurse her previous life—and she laughed at me. Yes, it was abnormal … because my resting pulse is 45 beats/minute. The machines don’t tell the difference between someone who is really fit and in the process of having heart failure.
Followers of this blog know that I write a lot about racing, training and equipment. Today’s post is on an even more important issue: health. While training makes you healthy, it can also have a detrimental impact as well. I’ve been on a journey lately which has been informative and reassuring. It is one that most endurance athletes should consider also taking.
The must read web site Cyclingtips.com.au published a short video on a trip that they took to New Zealand. In just over two minutes it encapsulates why I am so lucky to train here: great roads, no traffic, and unmatched scenery. Eat your hearts out.
Most people who go on long-distance endurance races like the TCR are somewhat obsessive compulsive types, who generally really appreciate having a structured training program and, of course, don’t mind spending many hours in the saddle. One area where our obsessive natures really come into play are with our bike setups. We spend countless hours refining our position, changing equipment, etc. It all seemed quite normal to me until recently I was having lunch with an Australian colleague who pointed out that modifying a bike which already costs several thousand dollars to most people sounds quite over the top. Fair comment. But having said that, I’m almost at the point where my new BMC Granfondo GF01 is ready for the TCR.
If you are involved in any sport the blog ‘Sweat Science’ is a must to follow. Alex Hutchison takes a look at the latest findings in science as they apply to sports. Often dispelling commonly held myths. His book ‘Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?’ is a great read (for endurance athletes: cardio).
He recently had a post on round numbers for marathons. Based on a NY times report, it proves what every marathon runner knows: round numbers suck. Just have a look at the spikes in the distribution of times before 3:00, 3:30, 4:00 and 4:30. Why? Because if I’m running a 3:32 I’m going to do all I can to break 3:30, and most recreational marathoners would love to break 4:00 (or 5:00). I know it was true for me during my time running marathons!
A key challenge with the Transcontinental Race (TCR) is the route planning. We have three check points: Paris, Mt Stelvio in northern Italy, and Mt. Locven in Montengro. We have to pick the route between them. This calls for balancing the distance travelled with the elevation gains. Some routes may be shorter physically, but have a lot of climbing. Then there are the ferry options. From the UK you have several choices, and then do you stay on land after Italy to Montenegro, or do you take the ferry across the Adriatic? Decisions, decisions… Fortunately for me, I am a highway engineer working in the World Bank so I’ve been able to call on the advice of several colleagues with local knowledge who have helped immensely.