Day 2

Gorgeous ride through national park Morvan today! It did put me back a little bit time wise, but I think I’m still on track for the polka dot jersey. 🙂 At least I managed to write down one (just one??) QOM on Strava. And the knee was doing much better. But I can tell the power of my left hand is giving in, the tip of my pinky is already numb. I expected it to happen at some point, but not this fast.

Tomorrow shortest route to CP1, generally it should well be possible to get there before they close the checkpoint at 3pm.

Goodnight everyone!

Ps, didn’t see a single rider today, but I did see a dot watcher and he took this photo:


And so it begins 

I’m actually way too tired for an update, but I’m so worries I forget details. Besides, I HAVE to eat before I go to sleep, and I think I can manage both at the same time. I’ll try to keep it coherent.

Start at market square

The start day was actually a lot fun, getting to know some of the people you’ve been interacting with on Facebook. I could mention all the riders, but my special shout out goes to Marion, she is basically the uber dotwatcher and she always has a kind word for every single person on the TCR Facebook she moderates (I accidentally called her the mother of all racers, but I meant that in the caring way, not in terms of age 😉 ).

Once we made our way to the market square, I was amazed about the turn up of fans. I’d expected supporters from racers and the odd one from down the street, but there were a lot of Belgians from the area that were genuinely interested. And even a Dutch family who happened to be on the Mont Ventoux (last year’s CP1) when racers started coming through, and they wanted to come to the start this year. So when the town crier started counting down, the sides of the road were properly filled with fans.

Anyway, we’re nearly 24 hours later now, and I’m too tired to give you a full run down. I was hoping to get 400km done today, but with all those rookie mistakes I made, I’m pleasantly surprised I made it as far as 350km!

  • It took me all of 30 minutes after the start to get off track. (But on the bright side, it took me 10 minutes to get unlost, and the Garmin and I are still going strong. Despite the uncoventional and probable impractical way I’m using it)
  • It wasn’t until my lights went low, that I realized my lights can’t shine while they’re being charged. Unbelievable I never came up with the idea to check that… This happened at 2am on a particularly poorly lit road. And it’s one of those lights that takes hours to fully recharge. I took 15 minutes to hang the light on my battery pack, have a sit down and eat something while overthinking the situation. I was in the middle of nowhere and staying there for a couple of hours was not an option. So the plan was to put the light in it’s lowest setting, which would hold for a while thanks to those 15 minutes. This would mean I was somewhat visible for a car heading in my direction, and I could just barely see where the edge of the road was. Impossible to see the state of the road though. I was hoping the light would hold long enough until I caught up with other riders (which it did), so that I could safely ride to the next little village following their tail lights. This is not really allowed I think, but I wasn’t drafting and in my opinion this was the only safe option, so I found it justified. By the time we reached a town, it was 4am and I parked the bike and myself next to the canal on the completely silent (across from us racers) town square to sleep for an hour to wait for dawn. This strategy worked flawless, but also resulted in me not seeing another racers for hours afterwards, because everyone close to me had now passed.

  • I failed to stock up and thus eat properly. Obviously this happened right when my route planning turned out to be faulty, meaning I was bound to follow a bush/river path for kilometers on end. Not a town or civilization in sight. I still had some croissants and granola bar back up, but I still had 45km to go and due to way too low energy I was struggling to even ride 20km/h on a flat surface. So I had to try and spread the emergency. The last kilometers were not exactly fun.

And in other news:

  • My right knee started acting up during the night. This is a new injury and I have no idea what causes it. It forced me to take those gazillions of hills today as if they were the Ventoux, meaning slow, steady and sustainable. This worries me a bit for CP1 and especially Switzerland, but we’ll see how it’s doing tomorrow.
  • The media car caught up with me a couple of times. The first time when the cool blue Volvo with Anna’s friendly face rolled up next to me, it gave quite a mental boost. The team was taking pictures, and it reminded me again I was in a race, so I immediately knocked it up a gear. Of course, 5 minutes later they were out of sight and I was out of breath, so I soon went to my touring speed, taking the hill easy. But alas, as I rounded the corner to the top of the hill, there they were again, waiting for me. No less than three cameras were pointed at me. So I got up out of the saddle and tried (and probably failed) to pretend it was all super easy. And a few hours later they busted me while I was chilling on the terrace with a coke. I think they have some compelling footage of me…
  • While on the terrace, Anna filled us in that last year’s winner Josh Ibbett scratched, due to a back injury. A shame to lose a Titan like that, I know everyone was looking forward to the show down between him and Kristoff Allegaert. I hope he heals soon and can come back with a vengeance next year.
  • Troyes seems to be a really nice city!

Well, that’s all for now, it got already much too long, and I need sleep! Hopefully another update tomorrow.

Look out for #149

#149 is my new lucky number! Last Saturday I found out I’ve been allocated that number, so I’ll be rocking one of the bad boys below with number 149.


Photo courtesy of the Transcontinental race FB page

From Friday 10pm, you can start following dot #149 on to see my progress. I will also try to write short daily updates on this blog. For those new to the concept, remember it’s a self-supported bike race. This means:

  • No navigational help, f.e. when you think I’m going the wrong way, you can’t let me know. I have to figure it out myself.
  • No help with finding accommodations, bike shops, anything like that.
  • If anyone had any crazy plans to come cheer my on en route, no resupply of drinks, food or materials and don’t let me draft in your wheel. It’s encouraged by Mike and Anna to have any supporters come to one of the checkpoints, instead of anywhere else along the way.

Well, I think you get the point. Just trust that I’ll be fine, because I will be. There’s a couple of things you can do:

  • Your cheers and (mental) support are very welcome. Drop me a line on Facebook or on this blog.
  • Feel free to share this page with others. I’ve been getting a lot of love from the most unexpected corners, which made me a bit shy, but I also liked it.  🙂
  • I often get songs – or just 2 or 3 lines of them actually – stuck in my head while riding. Different song suggestions to sing in my head are very welcome, to have some variation. It helps if I know the song.
  • If I end up calling you to say that I want to give up, do not let me! Unless I’m physically hurt, or I have another really really really plausible reason to quit, please tell me to woman the F*** up, maybe have a good night rest, and continue the next morning. Dont fall for my act of emotional trainwreck. If you fear that you will, just hang up.

I don’t think that this situation will occur, I’m usually quite good at kicking myself in the butt. And I’m not even exactly sure if an act of tough love like that is really allowed, but it’s still important to me that you understand how I feel about it.

As for preparation, I’m doing quite OK. All my pre-race vaccination are done and I’ve stopped training by now, to be as rested as I can when I leave. My kit is near complete, except for some minor things I need to get at the store. I thought I’d go mad with nerves by this time, but so far so good. Spare time is spent doing some last minute route checking, and when you get to look at these kinds of streetviews, you can only start looking forward to it.


CP3/Passo Giau with a couple of struggling cyclists.

4 more days!

On worries about Turkey

A lot of you have been asking me the past couple of days about the events in Turkey, whether this would jeopardize the race, whether I’d still be going, if I had any worries about them, etc. Your questions and worries are shared by many riders as well, some of them are afraid for mere practical reasons (no insurance if there’s a negative travel advice) and some of them wondering if they should be concerned for their personal safety. Between the attempted coup, Erdogans measurements and terrorist alerts there’s a lot to consider. So let me tell you what the race organisation’s position is, as well as how I’m looking at it.


The original finish line in Canakkale, hopefully also the definite finish line.

The race organisation (here after referred to as Mike and Anna, to make it a little more personal 😉 ) has been closely monitoring the situation with help from people living in Turkey and stated that for now the plan remains unchanged and the finish will continue to be in Çanakkale (remember: not Instanbul). However, riders were given an alternative finish location on the Greek side of the border to prepare a route for, just in case things will go awry in Turkey. At Mike and Anna’s discretion, the finish will switch to plan B if the situation requires it.

I personally have full trust in Mike and Anna to make this decision. They would never put their own safety, the riders safety and the existence of the race at risk just for the sake of finishing in Turkey. But besides that, I also want to stress to anyone who’s worried for me that I will make my own decision to quit the race before the Turkish border, independent of their decision, if I find there’s any reason to do so. Yes, I’m terribly stubborn, but I’m also not an idiot. I’m well aware it’s just a bike race and it’s not worth it to risk it all for the sake of finishing. I highly doubt Mike and Anna will make a decision I won’t agree with, but again, if they do: trust me, I will account for myself if I have to.

In terms of flights home, I always planned to arrange my way home once I got to the finish line, so no planes were booked yet. This means I can avoid Ataturk Airport and decide to fly home from Izmir or even from a Greek airport if I prefer.

You also need to remember that I still have 12 other countries to cross before I even get to the Turkish border. So there’s at least two to three weeks – depending on how fast I’ll go – to monitor the situation. Hopefully that will be enough time for things to settle down a bit, but either way it’s plenty of time to consider the options and chose whatever is best at the given moment. I have every intention to start the race and enjoy the countries as much as I can. But I also have every intention to stay safe. Keep calm and keep dot watching! 🙂