The Transcontinental Race is one of the toughest bike races in the world. Across Europe, the driver drives completely on his own and is only allowed to take with him what he can transport on his bike. So you are not allowed to send any material by post anywhere or stay with acquaintances. Everything has to be decided spontaneously and the drivers are only allowed to use opportunities that are open to everyone else. I applied for a starting place at Transcontinental Race No. 8 (TCRNo8) and I hope to get a starting place. Until then, I would like to say something about that at this point Transcontinental Race (TCR) and tell you what is so appealing about it. The bikepacking virus has after my trip last summer possessed me.
I'm happy to announce that I've got a starting place! Folks, I could jump in the air and I think that today in Hamburg you could hear my cry of joy. I actually got one of the coveted starting places for the TCR 08 and now it's time to start preparing.
I'm still in winter training in the gym, but I'm already starting to work on my stamina - parallel to weight training - and I'm planning my first trips. Thank you for crossing your fingers, it helped. Please ignore that in the following if I get a starting place 😉
Across Europe from Brest in France, until after Burgas in Bulgaria. There must be four specified checkpoints (CP) can be approached, but the rest of the route is freely selectable. However, one always comes to about 4000 km for the entire route from the Atlantic coast to Burgas. I would like to introduce the checkpoints (CP) to you at this point.
Start - Brest (France)
The city of Brest, in western France on the Atlantic, is well known to all racing cyclists! Brest is the turning point in the cycling race that takes place every four years Paris-Brest-Paris. That will be there this year TCRNo8 start. From Brest, head north-east to Roubaix.
CP1 - Roubaix
Roubaix is located in the northernmost part of France, above Lille. In Roubaix you are right on the Belgian border. Roubaix is also a well-known place for racing cyclists. The notorious Paris-Roubaix cycle race takes place here every year. The bike race Paris-Roubaix is notorious for its bad roads. A lot is demanded of the professionals here and the choice of material is crucial here. The TCR drivers can also look forward to exciting challenges here, because it is well known that the checkpoints of the Transcontinental Race are tough.
Especially the checkpoints of the Transcontinental Race have it all!
CP2 - Grosser Speikkogel (Austria)
The second checkpoint of TRCNo8 is the Big Speikkogel in Austria, again TCR typical CP with a big challenge. The distance between CP1 and CP2 is the longest in this year's Transcontinental Race and on the way to Checkpoint 2 you almost completely cross the Alps. At 2140 m, the Großer Speikkogel is a real hit. The mountain is 10 km from Wolfsberg in Carinthia away, I've been snowboarding there for the last two years, a very nice area. Shortly after CP2 you cross the border Slovenia and one penetrates deeper and deeper into the East.
CP3 - Durmitor (Montenegro)
This is in the north of Montenegro Massif Durmitor. Near the small town Pluzine So the TCR organizers have one again Checkpoint with obstacles chosen. I don't want to accuse the organizers of anything, but I recognize a pronounced tendency to sadism 😂
Fun, that's how we want it!
Let's assume that I get a starting place, I'm now moving in areas that I've never traveled to without a bike. I have one though great faith in humanity and think it could be a wonderful experience. The nice thing: at this point you have already mastered between 2/3 and 3/4 of the route and you could prepare for a final sprint. That's my plan too, because I don't know my way around Eastern Europe very well and would like to drive through it as straight as possible.
CP4 - Transalpina (Romania)
From CP3 in Montenegro it goes through Serbia until after Romania. Of course, the cultural highlights are waiting here Carpathians, home of the legendary Count Dracula. The checkpoint is on the Transalpina, a road popular with tourists that reaches an altitude of over 2100 m. the Transalpine itself has a length of 148 km and leads to Transylvania.
Destination - Burgas (Bulgaria)
From Romania it goes to the Black Sea coast to Burgas. There are still almost 600 km to go downhill from CP4. The goal is in Burgas and if you arrive in time, the final party with the organizers and the finishers. In a race like the Transcontinental Race, it is always to be expected that you will NOT be able to reach the finish line. At the moment, when I don't even have a starting place, I just want to think positively.
I can't put my expectations into words at the moment. Of course I want to reach the goal and of course the checkpoints in the given time. But I also know that it will be very difficult to even finish the race. Only 50% to 60% of the starters reach the finish line and this is not due to poor preparation. One must on the day between 250 km and 450 km set aside to do this, every day. If my research is correct, you have up to 16 days to complete the route. My goal is definitely to finish in time, otherwise I wouldn't want to take part.
I'll admit I would have preferred to ride from east to west like last year, but you have to celebrate the festivals as they come.
You may laugh at me now, but I have more respect for the logistics than for the 4000 km. I have to come to Brest with bag and baggage, which I can probably plan well from Hamburg by train. Unfortunately, I also have to come back to Hamburg from Burgas. I can't book in advance. Maybe my bike will break and I'll never get to Burgas. I'll probably have to do it spontaneously again and take the slow train or the coach from Burgas to Hamburg. If I get a starting place, I will definitely have to check my options very carefully in advance.
My TRC equipment
About my TCR equipment I'm still not quite sure if I'll get a starting place. Either I ride my Crosser or I actually lie down the perfect bikepacking road bike to. My Crosser as Bikepacking racing bike with luggage, has already been tried and tested, but a new bike also has something!
I wanted a little better equipment on my TCR road bike, because my crosser only has Tiagra equipment and is kept rather simple. I already have something assembled virtually. What's most important to me is that I have better equipment, such as Ultegra and a hub dynamo, which I can also use to charge my USB devices while riding. I would like to be a little less dependent on electricity than on my last trip.
The subject of overnight stays is my most difficult subject. Actually, I would like to bivouac as often as possible, but unfortunately I have had little experience with it. Biwak I will definitely practice before I really start, whether it's the Transcontinental Race or something else. Of course there will also be an overnight stay in a hotel, but rather less. Will I go back to Zelt grab or not depends on how the bivouac will suit me.
As you can see, I'm already thinking a lot, although I don't even know if I'll even get a starting place. But the way I see it, if not the TCR, then something else cool. I will definitely find a new challenge for myself in 2020. Of course I will keep you up to date here on my blog. I am excited and look to the future with high expectations.