The Transcontinental Race is touted as being harder than the Tour de France, and if that doesn’t stretch your Lycra in unforgiving places, odds are you’re probably a cyclist not worth your weight in carbon fibre. For a brief background on the race, here’s an excerpt from the official website:
“In the early days of bicycle racing there was a time when plucky riders took on long hard races alone with no team cars and soigneurs to look after them. They were hardy and desperate men who ate what they could find, slept when they could and rode all day. They weren’t professional athletes or men of means, they were ‘mavericks, vagabonds and adventurers’, who picked up a bicycle and went to seek their fortune”
2015 marks the third Transcontinental Race and it certainly is an adventure. Entries are for solo riders or pairs, and your only mission is to ride from Belgium to Istanbul – completely unsupported. Here are the rules:
- There can be absolutely no outside assistance.
- This race is one stage only. Sleep time is race time, and there are no organised breaks from riding. Riders are looking to cover 3000-4000km over the race, with last years winner finishing in in 7 days and 23 hours.
- There is no prescribed route. Riders research the route and decided where they want to go, although there are 4 checkpoints they need to go through as they ride across Europe, dictating the general path of the race.
The Transcontinental is the ultimate challenge of simplicity. As the organisers put it, “we like the old way where a rider can simply pick up a bike, shake hands on the start line and race thousands of miles for the pure satisfaction of sport and no other motive but for the learnings of one’s self.” The race truly puts forward the argument that life is an adventure, not a package tour.
There is no doubt that the TR is an immense physical challenge. Pushing out 300km+ daily on a bike, in the elements, is for most people as enjoyable as seeing Pitbull live, yet apparently there are at least 150 mad(wo)men signing up for this years event. Even without the exhausting physical toil, competitors will have to deal with hours and hours of riding by themselves with minimal human interaction on a dangerously low amount of sleep. If you weren’t mad before you started, there’s no doubt you will be by the time you pull into Istanbul.
Speaking of mad men, it just so happens that Port Lore citizen and creator of the The Riders Tale Rian Cope (read his interview here) is taking part in the 2015 edition of the TR for which we wish him all the luck in the world.
Words by Pat Boxall from Port Lore.