For those that don’t know my entry into the Transcontinental Road Race 2016 has been confirmed and I’m now a fully paid up member. There was a lot of interest in this year’s race, a 1,000 applications and almost 600 entrants with only 350 places up for grabs, so on the balance of play I’m very pleased to be invited back again. The next issue of the race manual is still to be supplied which should give us a little more detail. Over the coming weeks various registration documents will have to be supplied before the focus is on the start line. For the time being its route planning and virtual recce’s as well as getting out and riding the bike. I’ve been having a good look over the distance and the climbing figures are, one word – intimidating! Well that’s the appeal of the race!!
What is this race?
For those that don’t know much about the race well in a nutshell it’s an unsupported race, so once we start we are on our own, the clock starts and it doesn’t stop until somebody shakes our hand and says ‘well done’ at the finish in Turkey. No outside help, all under your own steam and only using services in a manner that’s accessible to all.
and the rules?
Broadly speaking these are the rules.
So how does it go with the route? Pretty simple really, its up to you which way you go as long as you follow roads that accommodate bikes (legally) and get you to each checkpoint. As you approach each you simply have to comply with the given direction and specific parcour. That’s it.
This years route
Well after a quick look I make the overall ride distance around 3,800kms accumulating climbing anywhere between 50 – 60,000 meters.
Stage 1 – The time of start hasn’t been officially announced yet but its expected to be a midnight start on the 30th July in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. Everybody will line up and we’ll then have the pleasure of riding at least one lap of the Kapelmuur under darkness and the fervour of local support then released on our own little adventure across Europe. Here’s a great little video showing the atmosphere at the start. The film was produced by fellow Australian racer Rian Cope, so all credit to him, who I and others had a bite to eat with the evening before the start. Its good to see Rian is back racing this year.
The first stage takes us south to control 1 and the dormant volcano Puy du Dome climbed from the city of Clermont Ferrand. A distance shy of 700kms.
Stage 2 – The second control will see riders climbing high up into the mountains of the Swiss Alps heading for the Furka Pass. That’s another 600kms or so from the first control. The parcour is significant, a single track road over the Grosse Scheidegg from Grindelwald with gradients of 15 – 20%, luckily with not much traffic. After descending into the valley its then a good alpine road over the Grimsel Pass before taking on Furka Pass. The parcour is not to be under estimated, its not much more than 70kms with the legs taking on upwards of 3,500 meters of climbing. We are also going to need some luck with the weather especially night riding, it could be awfully unpleasant if its against us.
Stage 3 – Riders stay high up in the mountains crossing into Italy and the steeper climbs of the Dolomites. To get your third stamp riders need to reach the summit of Passo Giau. That’s another 400kms or so and around 9,500 meters of climbing. As I said earlier, with intimidating climbing figures like these back to back there is a strong desire to travel light.
Stage 4 – We now head out of the mountains on a very long stage of around 1,000kms to the Durmitor Massif located in Northwestern Montenegro. There are quite a few borders to cross on the way and with the recent tightening of many crossings I fear each is going to be an exercise in facing tighter checks. The Parcour is from Pluzine to Zabljack and is by no means flat. It will be interesting to see the various routes riders choose to take, coastal or a mainland approach. Either way riders wont be that far short of having 3,ooo kms in the legs by the time the card is pulled out for the penultimate stamp.
Stage 5 – Route dependent a further 700 – 800kms and the race is in the bag. This year sees a pleasant change from the regular traumatic approach to the finish in Istanbul, Turkey. I think many will breathe a sigh of relief. This time its a calmer approach down the Gallipoli Peninsular and then a short ferry hop across the water to Canakkale, the closest modern town to the ancient city of Troy, very nice! The iconic clock tower marks the finish.
What’s the target?
Well…finish in 14 days and make the party. That’s what every rider wants to do. Ultimately I want to be more competitive this year. I’ll stake my claim a little nearer to the race start.
For those that wish to support and follow my journey I’ll dish out all the information nearer the race. Every little bit of support really does help.
More to follow as the weeks pass, stay safe folks!