The last weeks leading up to this Friday have been a bit troubling: I have been suffering from a tooth infection which made me feel quite crap the past three weeks so the number of training sessions have been a bit low. Finally discovered the source of my low energy levels and cold symptoms last week, followed by removing two molars last friday. Quite a risk to do surgery a week before heading to Turkey but the day after I already felt a lot better since the infection got a chance to cure. And two teeth out saves me some weight, everything for a faster time! Next to that we all have seen what happened in Turkey: besides the political situation which I already considered when signing up for the race, I have no problem racing through Turkey as long as my safety is not in danger. This isn’t the case and the race director has asked us to prepare an alternative finish in Greece, Alexandroupolis in case the situation changes in the upcoming weeks. I’m really looking forward to cross 12 countries and tackle all the challenges on my way. Route planning has been challenging, especially in the countries where Google Streetview is not present but I’m sure my Mason will take care of me on all the unexpected gravel roads and fight of chasing dogs in Bulgaria 🙂
Checking out Geraardsbergen
While feeling bad I did do my last training: I rode my fully loaded bike to the start line in Geraardsbergen, just 220km. After 70km I was totally done: no power in the legs, cramping and spiritless so I thought about turning around an go back to my bed. Luckily my mind didn’t allowed me to stop and after a coke at a 24/7 gas station I decided I really needed to finish this ride since the TCR will be raced in a similar state but then for over at least 10 days. I left Utrecht at 20:30 and arrived at 05:00 just in time to enjoy an amazing sunset at the top of De Muur, where cycling history has been made:
Average speeds was actually quite OK, the legs weren’t as bad after I decided to push through. Mental focus is surely more powerful than physical pain but due to the infection I really needed to have a few hours of rest. After enjoying a great sunset I found a nice spot behind some bushes at the top of the Muur and lay down for 2 hours. Actually the first time I used my sleeping gear so I got to finetune the packing a bit too:
For sure this setup will keep me warm enough. Current weather predictions are also really great so I won’t be scared to get cold. Not so sure about being attacked by mosquitoes and other wild animals since my head isn’t covered but I’ll take care of being so tired that I won’t notice anyway. I always find it difficult to get asleep but getting so tired all my body wants is to sleep won’t be to difficult. After 2 hours of semi-sleep I went to find a bakery and took of back to Utrecht. Initially I planned to ride at least 550km within 24 hours, but due to the high temperatures (30 to 38 Celsius during the day) and my lack of power I decided to take a shorter route back. After fighting the heat, stopping at least every 30-50km to cool down a bit in the shadow and drinking over 9L of water I came back home at 20:20. 468km within 24 hours while skipping a night of sleep, extreme heat and not feeling well in the first place is not a bad result. Mentally it was though, but it makes you stronger.
Following the race
All participants will carry a SPOT tracker device. This GPS device will send out a signal every few minutes and via http://www.transcontinental.cc/ you can check my current position and ranking in the race 24/7. I’ll be racing with cap #10:
All those low numbers are winners and participants of previous editions so I’m eager to keep this ranking until the finish 🙂 Next to that I’ll post multiple updates via my Instagram account and Facebook during the race. Each racer also has their personal hashtag, mine is #TCRno4s10 I really like the concept of having a dedicated hashtag per rider, since tracking personal related messages across all the social media will be much easier for followers of the race and for myself once I’m back.
Last minute decisions
This morning I had the final check with my dentist and the wounds are healing OK but I’m still suffering from the infection. My body has to clear itself from all the crap and that requires rest and time. Yesterday I was so exhausted after work that I was on the point of cancelling the race and focus on the Route 66 race starting in October but after watching the TCR 2015 documentary by the guys of Zanda Films, I decided to just give it a go and start tomorrow evening. If my body fails me, I did try it and will not be able to blame myself for not trying and being a sissy. There is always the alternative by racing the Route 66 race later this year.
I just finished packing everything and I must say I am surprised by the weight: bike and gear total is around 16,5kg without water and food. For sure not the lightest setup (Josh Ibbet, last years winner is racing a 12,5kg setup) but I am happy with it. I had to add a bottle of teeth rinsing fluid and added some extra food for the Sunday racing through an extinct France adding 2kg but I’ll eat and drink that before reaching the mountains anyway. Final kit picture: