It’s been a week since we were all notified about the fate of the next seven months of our lives. Transcontinental No5 is a thing for me and my teammate Laura Scott and it’s equal parts exciting as it is terrifying. While Laura’s a dab hand at crazy stuff like this having completed 2000 miles of Trans Am last year, I’m a complete rookie. I’ve never camped, I’ve never ridden over 355km in one go, I’ve never ridden with a fully packed bike, I’ve never entertained the thought of doing something so stupid in all my life.
The single part of the bike race which is arguably most important also happens to be the most up in the air. I have a bike that would more than do the job (my Giant Propel) but I see lots of people these days with disc brakes and 28mm tyres, two things my bike doesn’t have. I’ll need to get a new set of wheels built up for my Propel though if I do use it because I’m going to need a dynamo. I have also learned that 28 spokes probably isn’t ideal and I’d be better off with 32. This side of things is up in the air, as they say. TBC.
Kit and equipment
Laura and I have started a spreadsheet or as I like to call it, shopping list. I’ve got quite a lot of equipment to get in order to train with the weight I would expect to lug around with me and practice using the packs and kit I will have with me for 4000km. I’ve got one Rapha x Apidura saddlepack and I’ll be getting the matching handlebar pack along with an Apidura frame pack and top tube pack/food pouch.
I’ll have to practice with kit combinations in the coming months. It’s hard to do this time of year given the race isn’t until the middle of summer. Gut feeling tells me I’ll go with some Rapha Brevet kit but I’ll be waiting until this year’s spring/summer collection looks like before I pick and choose my colour scheme. Laura and I obviously need matching outfits for our expedition!
Laura and I will be meeting this weekend in a bid to navigate our way through Europe. I’ve got one map of Belgium but after that, we could end up anywhere: France or Luxembourg are the obvious two or even both! Logically, we’ll go to 12 different countries on our trip and I’m so excited to plan our adventure through them all.
4000km is a big beast to tame so I’ve got a few routes and events I’ll do over the next few months. In February, I’m in Australia so I’m planning a two-day trip that’ll take in about 500km in total, March is TBC, in April I’ll be lining up for London-Wales-London, May is a big one with Bryan Chapman Memorial in Wales, June is TBC and then it’s race month. Yep, it’s just 200 days until race day. I’ve got a route to Oxford and a route from Aberystwyth to Manchester that I’d like to do at some point too. There’s also chat about a lesson in bivvying from a few of the other women competing in TCR.
As well as on-road training, I’ll be looking at continuing my turbo training plan alongside Zwift as well as some strength and conditioning classes that I’m going to have a look at in the next few weeks.
I’m so lucky to have such great clubmates at the Rapha Cycling Club. They’ve offered to chaperone me on some silly rides I’ve planned or just offer to help me in any way they can. Another great forum is the Transcontinental Women Facebook group set up by Mike so we can all chat together and e-meet each other before we all go our separate ways. This forum, while only a few days old, has already struck up conversations about helping each other in the lead up. My family I’m sure are very anxious about it but they’ve already expressed support verbally. I think Mum’s more worried about me doing an overnight ride in Wales than she is the TCR itself. My auntie wants to wave me off on the Muur which would be great and I’m sure there will be plenty of others out there dotwatching for a few weeks.
You know when you see a job description of a position that looks SO good and you think, “that’s a bit beyond my skill set but I’m going to apply anyway and see what happens” then suddenly you’re accepted and you think “shit, I don’t know anything! How on earth am I going to do this? There were so many other deserving applicants who didn’t get the job and I’m here like :|”? well that’s how I feel about TCRNo5.
I feel overwhelmed, completely out of my depth, nervous, excited, challenged, scared, empowered but ultimately so happy and grateful to have been given this opportunity. It’s mine to do and I’m going to embrace it and have a whole lot of fun on the way. As the saying goes, it’s the journey not the destination that matters (even though I must make it to Meteora in order to finish!).
Apologies for the ramble. Yours forever with every turn of my pedals.