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Racing the Transcontinental

Posted on July 28 2015

Two hundred of us squeezed into the briefing room. We were handed our trackers and the instructions: hit the checkpoints as fast as we can and don’t do anything that could be considered foul play. The atmosphere had an understandable edge of apprehension with plenty of silent characters. This would be the longest ride that most of us had ever done, times ten. It barely seemed worth getting to know anybody, in a few hours we would all be alone.

The time came and we rolled together as a pack, looping the town and then away. It didn’t really feel like the start of the race, more like a group of riders heading on home. We chugged in a loose group and the pack began to dissipate after a couple hours. As per race rules we were to keep our distance to avoid drafting or team strategies. I got my head down and settled in for a long night.

And that’s when it hit me. On a roundabout in the wind and rain somewhere outside Reims, a car emerged through the gloom and rode straight into my back wheel. I hit the floor, took off a few layers of skin on my palms and ended up by the side of the road replacing spokes.

Fortunately the weather cleared and I caught a tailwind down towards Dijon. The temperature dropped to 5c and I took a chance to catch a few hours sleep and find a rhythm. Little did I know I’d be back on the road before long with a sleeping bag tucked into my jersey to try and keep warm.

Map:

Distance Covered: 445.1 Km

Hours of Riding: 17:20:42

After the excitement of the first day, Day 2 felt like a trudge across France. In truth it was. Because we all have different sleeping patterns, and pace, the field had spread by the time I was riding again, so I could only occasionally spot a couple of other riders on the horizons.

The route was a grind down through Belleville and Lyon with strong headwinds. I had energy but I could feel yesterdays distance on my mind so took a couple caffeine pills to focus on the road ahead. The result was me stopping every 10 minutes to pee. I’ll not be doing that again.

Map:

Distance Covered: 355.1 Km

Hours of Riding: 14:48:48

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