Marc Wilcox blog on his amazing solo adventure.
27th July 2019
The Transcontinental is a single stage race in which the clock never stops
The Transcontinental is a single stage race in which the clock never stops. Riders plan, research and navigate their own course and choose when and where to rest. They will take only what they can carry and consume only what they can find. Four mandatory control points guide their route and ensure a healthy amount of climbing to reach some of cycling’s most beautiful and historic monuments. Each year participant riders cover around 4000km to reach the finish line.
The Transcontinental Race is the definitive self-supported bicycle race across Europe.
At the sharp end it is a beautifully hard bicycle race, simple in design but complex in execution. Factors of self reliance, logistics, navigation and judgement burden racers’ minds as well as their physiques. The strongest excel and redefine what we think possible while many experienced riders target only a finish.
Below is a brief account of Oakley Pedaler, Marc Wilcox, who took part in the event in 2019.
First status update…6am start and it's already 85°F. It's been 110°F all day, and so eager to push on that I have not been able to take any photos as I have to make control point 1. Its tough, 130 miles in with 7000ft thus far on a bike weighing 19kgs and just to make it spicy the past 30 miles has been on a gravel path.
Today’s ride is up on Strava if anyone wants to take a look…Bad roads(some good too) 30 miles of Gravel and it was 110°F for most of the day. Baked! Found hotel at foot of climb to 1st Check Point and figured 6hrs in a bed is better than riding 2000ft tonight then sleeping in a ditch ?????
TCR Day 1 Route: 27 July 2019
TCR Day 2 Route: 28 July 2019
Day 3 & 4 update… Day 3 was 100 miles 7300 ft 107°c finishing in the centre of Sofia, quite a shock to be riding on a 6 lane carriageway after spending the previous days literally in the middle of nowhere often on gravel tracks. I managed to get to a hotel without issue (having escaped the airport security dogs) and the ride out of the city this morning was relatively straight forward if a little intense! Today’s ride has got me just over the boarder into Serbia, 74miles 6300 ft with the temp only hitting 97°F but boy is it humid! I’m at the start of Check Point 2 Parcours and I’m trying to box clever, there are a whole load of people around 20km in front of me and I intend to catch them by deploying some age and treachery skills…I’ve cut today a bit short as they are making their way up Besna Kobila this is a 2000ft peak with the last 800ft is on unreadable gravel, there are no hotels or places to eat up there and speaking to the locals in the village at the bottom I have learned that it’s really windy up top just now, add packs of wild dogs in to the mix, and I’m thinking that I should have an early night, with a few hours of quality sleep before the chase begins at dawn. Either way they will either have to bivvy at some point or go all night, either way they are not going to be well rested and fed. Over over Check Point 2. I should be able to get a few big mileage days under my belt as a large part of Serbia is relatively flat (we will see!) Bulgaria is utterly stunning place to ride. Sure bits of it are rough and dilapidated but the people are nice and the mountains beautiful and whilst some of the roads are shocking many of them are really good.
Day 5, 84 miles 11500 ft 2000m of that was a gravel climb with some hiking required to reach the top…plan to catch those ahead back fired as I only got 2 hours sleep thanks to a dog that barked non stop for 7 hrs ? into the flat lands now some hopefully can cover some serious ground the next few days
Day 6…had ambitions on a monster mileage as largely flat, wanted to get to Belgrade. 107 miles in 100°F with a 20mph block headwind the whole way put paid to my plans…I think it’s a top 5 hardest rides day despite it being flat !
No nights in a ditch thus far hotels are easy to source though not always exactly where you want them. Today was one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done as a killer headwind in the 100° heat, working my arse off to do 14mph on the flat, went to some dark places today! Food and drink fairly easy though you have to accept what’s on offer at times. Got given some unbelievably good peaches by a farmer earlier ?
Thanks everyone for the positive comments, it definitely helps ?
1st August 2019
Another 107.5 mile ride today, had plans for more but a super stressful crossing of Belgrade followed by the most violent thunderstorm I’ve ever seen, multiple lightning strikes along the road had me poopin my pants! I was 4km from my hotel and bone dry, I arrived pretty much hyper thermic and utterly soaked, never seen gain like it, was coming down so hard that the cars stopped !
Similar day in the end plus a massive thunderstorm to boot. All good though, thanks for your messages of support, they really help especially when grinding 8hrs into the wind on 100°c plus temps ?
It’s really humid at moment but expecting showers tomorrow so might actually help me a bit, bike is spot on, speaking to the mental locals and some of the other guys briefly as we pass each other.
Star date haven’t a clue… Another horrible grind of a day, today was meant to be fast and long but again a killer headwind put paid to that so that’s 300 miles in 3 days into a block headwind, literally working my ass off to do 13mph ? still happy to be in Croatia and IF the wind plays ball tomorrow then Slovenia is possible 97 miles
Really appreciate all the support, the last few days have been exhausting and sole destroying 400 miles into a 20mph head wind! There is nowhere to hide on these roads and its been hot as hell too, I’m going to rest up early today, try and get a big recovery sleep in then go again tomorrow.