Who is in for a second round?

TL;DR:  From July 24th on you can go here and look for my name or the number 151 to see where I am. For more information on how to use the linked website click here.

Important: The race is self-supported, meaning I am not allowed to receive any outside assistance, be it physical or just plain information. Therefore, please never contact me with things like “Sucks to be in your place with the big thunderstorm rolling in, eh?” or “I’ve read your complaints about how your bike is falling apart. Since you are sleeping a block away from that big awesome bike shop on the map, you are probably getting it fixed right now?”

It has been a while since I have updated the blog. In the past weeks I have cycled home from Latvia to Germany, relaxed a bit from the trip, met with old friends and spent a whole lot of money to get my bike going again as well as to buy gear I think I might need on my next trip: The Transcontinental Race.

The What?

The Transcontinental Race is a bike race. It starts in Belgium and ends in Istanbul, but it’s not a race in the classical sense like you know it from the Tour de France.  Besides a less professional field, the biggest differences are:

It’s self supported. Roughly this means, I am only allowed to use facilities and services, which are publicly and commercially available to everyone. I am for example not allowed to sleep at a friends place who happens to live along the route.
There are many discussions on where to draw the line, but in general this rule exists to make racing actually easier and more fair: If everyone is only allowed to use the stuff around him, then your available budget doesn’t matter as much, since the super rich/sponsored dude can’t just be followed by a support car catering to his every need.

It doesn’t have a set route.  There are 4 checkpoints along the way, which the riders have to visit. Which way we get there is completely up to us. This is kinda nice, because everyone can follow his preferences: Love the direct route with more hills? Take it. Want the flat way around? Take it.
On the other hand, it’s kind of a pain in the ass to plan for over 4.200 km, especially if you are trying to find out which border crossings from Albania to Kosovo are open, which roads are worse than Google predicts and so on.

Also, there is no strict finish time. There will be a finishers party, and everyones goal will be to make it to that party 14.5 days after the start. This of course will lead to a different tempo than on the trip home from Norway. I’ll have to average around 300 km per day, and instead of flat forests I’ll find high pass-roads in the Alps and the mountains on the Balkan.
But even if I realize that I won’t be able to make it to the party, I can still carry on and finish the race officially.

In general, the whole race will be mostly against myself and not against other competitors. The added mileage and uphill will severely cut into my time for sleep. Every minute of the two weeks will either have to be spent riding or sleeping. Eating should best be done on the bike, navigational errors are a no-no and the bike better stay intact after all the money and effort I’ve put into it in the last weeks.

Sounds nice. Can we watch you suffer?

But of course! As mentioned above, there is a live tracker. I’ll be carrying a Spot-GPS device, which is supposed to update my position a couple of times per hour. The action of sitting in front of the website and witnessing crazy people moving over maps actually has its own term: “Dot watching”. I’ve also linked to the dot watchers guide, which tells you how to get started.
For more information besides our position is a Facebook group, where currently lots of last minute chatter about bikes and stuff is happening. But once all the noisy riders are busy riding their bike, the group usually gets taken over by people commenting on the race or telling stories about who they have seen where on the road.
Direct reports from the riders mostly come from Twitter, since 2 sentences is about the maximum of what we’ll be capable of writing. I think I’ll stay mostly here on the blog, but the reports won’t be comparable to the ones from the Norway trip.

Alrighty, this should be it for now.

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