Unfortunately, as some of you may know, the Transcontinental had a very bad start this year. I had the pleasure to visit the wonderful departure from de Muur van Geraardsbergen on Friday and I was about to write a first little blog about it, when I heard the news of Dutch rider Frank Simons being involved in a fatal collision after just 5 hours of racing. I can't even begin to imagine how his family and loved ones must feel, my heart goes out to all of them.
My heart also goes out to every other rider, for whom the news must be yet another cruel reminder how vulnerable they are while out on the road. And really no one needed a reminder, with Mike Hall's and Eric Fishbein's death still fresh in our minds. We can prepare everything we can and take all possible measures to be safe, but unfortunately our safety is often not in our own hands. I hope everyone is okay and can find the will and pleasure to keep going and make it a good ride for Frank, because in accordance with his next of kin, the race is still very much on.
Photo credits: Philip Velghe
Headed for CP4
So that also means I still get to volunteer in Romania, and I'm now well on my way to the checkpoint. I landed in Budapest last night and after spending the night in an airport hotel (full of F1 maniacs, oblivious of the much better race going on right now) I set off towards the border this morning.
Unauthorized ferry crossing
The East Hungarian flatlands are rather dull (understatement, red.), but riding conditions are surprisingly good. Tarmac is mostly really good, traffic is low and drivers gave me plenty of space when they passed me. And the bus stops would score plenty of hobo stars for our bivvying riders, I even saw one with a sofa in it. Unfortunately the riders won't be headed this way, but I bet they'll find some good ones elsewhere in Hungary. But the good roads combined with the flatlands being genuinely flat (not like France flat, which was a huge lie), I set out for a fast ride. I didn't factor in the heat though. I'm not one to be fazed by heat much, but today I was suffering. When the afternoon was well underway, I had to force myself not to stop more than once an hour. And it was a hard battle with the heart, because I really just wanted to stop at every gas station. All in all, I had just 5 hours of moving time in which I drank 6 liters of water/fluid. And still I started to develop a head ache, so I decided to keep today short and end it in Szarvas.
The only hotel room available in close proximity of the city turned out to be a luxurious spa hotel. Did I try hard enough to find a more suitable alternative? Of course not… I figured this is my holiday, I'm not racing, in fact I even left my bivvy bag home to make space for my bikini, so what the hell. I just went for it. I'll survive tomorrow exclusively on 7 day croissant to make up for it. Of course, after my much needed shower I had barely enough energy left to get some food, let alone to go into the spa. Maybe tomorrow before breakfast. After all, tomorrow I'll leave the flatlands behind to exchange for hilly Romania. Bring. It. On.
Oh and before I forget: keep an eye on Karen Tostee (#228)! I met her in Girona earlier this year and I've taken the liberty to call her my friend now. 😉 She's new to these kinds of events and though I was already convinced she would do well, she still surprises me with how she's KILLING it. I'm a bit scared she's going to make me race her to CP4 (I'm not due until the 2nd shift on August 6th, but at this pace she'll be there earlier). Head over to www.transcontinental.cc to track the riders.