My 2015 ‘A’ race was the Transcontinental Race (TCR) which went from Belgium to Turkey. It took me 16:10:17 to cover the 4,214 km (with 31,515 m of climbing) for 54th place out of the 156 starters (only 76 of us finished).
The key rules of the race are simple:
- It is self supported which means it is just you and your bike with nobody else to help. If something goes wrong, you deal with it. You can’t get/give help to other riders, and only commercial services available to all riders (e.g. bike shops) can be used.
- You must visit four check points on the way to Istanbul. Between these points, you select your own route—which you must navigate on your own.
These races are very challenging not only physically but more so mentally. One plumbs the depths of exhaustion beyond what is imaginable and trying to average 275 km/day and 2,000 m of climbing each day (my target) puts huge demands on the body—hence over half of us not finishing!
Like all bikepacking races it had many highs and a few lows, and overall was a fantastic race which I would highly recommend. Rather than a ‘blow by blow’ account of the experience, I’m going to share some special (and not so special) aspects of the race.