TCRNo4 // A message about where the hell are the results are...

Many riders have been wondering what is happening with the results (some publicly) and I have fielded a few questions via email to this effect.  I am sorry that this has gone on too long.  I did wish to make some kind of comprehensive statement about the results - but even that looks like it would take me days to write in full. In actual fact it is never likely to be an open and closed matter.  It will most likely start a lot of questions and a discussion. This discussion is happening internally at the moment and needs to do so, so that we have some clear policy on matters.

What it basically boils down to is that if you have a race with 10 rules, those rules are open to interpretation - otherwise you have a phonebook with tens of clauses and sub clauses and it all gets a bit ridiculous.

A big part of what makes the race what it is, is that it only really has these 10 rules and that so many different things can happen on the race. Clearly we couldn't have a rule for every eventuality and more than that I wouldn't want to, but we do need a clear understanding of how they should be interpreted and this should be consistently applied.

The race is continuing to grow and to evolve. It might be naive to think that just 10 rules can legislate such a race whilst being consistent and fair to everyone, so it really comes down to a choice - have a huge and stringent rule book with a specific rule for every eventuality, or have 10 basic rules, offer a good deal of guidance so everyone knows what to expect and entrust someone to apply their judgement fairly in their application. 

We are learning a huge amount each year from the data that each race throws up and thanks to some very hard working and well co-ordinated dot-watchers this year we collected a lot of information and got a much better insight into what is happening on the race than ever before - this all needs looking at and considering before these fair judgements can be made, any compensations made and any more guidance given.

The long winded application process is also a part of this - it is a chance for riders tell us about how they interpret the rules before the race and this can also be referenced after the race to see if our guidance is working or if it needs to be clearer. The application process is also a chance to feed some of the issues from the race back in to target people's attention to these before they sign up.

If we are confident that the rules are well understood then they can be robustly applied and when racers can trust that they have been carefully considered and will be applied fairly then they will agree to be bound by them.

Without fair and consistent rules there is opportunity for ambiguity which may mean racers interpret the rules in different ways. This leads to different levels of risk and different levels of opportunity to take an advantage.

If we get the interpretation and communication of the rules wrong it can lead to several outcomes all of which will threaten the future of the race.  The 2 major ones for me (in order) are :

1. An unhealthy and unacceptable culture of risk taking develops which makes serious incidents inevitable and the race administration as the promoter of this.  It is easy to see how this ends badly, forget that fact that the race would be shut down.

2. The result is not trusted.  The race becomes a cynical pantomime of superficial entertainment.  A circus, if you will.  Maybe you can see where I'm going with that.

My aim is to avoid these outcome at all costs, and I am prepared to walk away from the whole thing if it is not possible.

In the meantime that may mean you get a penalty, or taken out of the race classification, or maybe we don't have any results for while, or at all.  You still rode your bike across a continent, maybe you saw things and did things some people would never dream of, maybe it will stay with you for the rest of your life.  

Maybe you'll have forgotten it all by next week.  It is after all only a bike race.

Whatever the case we're working on making it good, for what I like to think are the right reasons.  Some days are more productive than others.  Bare with me.

Mike

There ain't no party like a TCR party

15 days ago, 186 solo riders and 30 pairs began riding the Transcontinental No.4. This formidable task has seen cyclists from all over the world gather and attempt to travel 4,000kms across some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, through high winds and wicked storms, dealing with tens of thousand metres of ascent, injuries, sunburn, mechanicals, and a daily mental challenge of pushing on through an all-consuming exhaustion. All for a stamp in a brevet card.

Before the race had even really got going we had our first drama with previous race winner Josh Ibbett scratching from injury. From Kristoff Allegaert (003) we've seen one of the greatest ultra-cyclist performances on earth, he almost made the ride the easy. Almost. James Hayden (075) made one of the most exciting come back ever known in an ultra-endurance race by sitting at CP1 for 30hrs recovering from a chest infection, and then riding furiously through the days and nights to end in 4th position overall. Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002), last year's second place saw his dreams crash and burn when his succumbed to his exhaustion. We've had one serious injury (Martian Cioana 101), a number of riders scratch with food poisoning / sickness, and various limb injuries. Many riders made such huge navigational errors that it nearly ended their races. But overwhelmingly, we've seen riders achieve more than they ever thought possible, experiencing the beauty of over 11 countries: mountains, coastlines, forests and cities, and enjoying spectacular views, plus a variety of animal spottings and some questionable sleep spots. 

At the time of writing 71 have scratched, 85 have finished, 60 are still out on the road. It's surely been the best Transcontinental Race to date in terms of finishers, with 40% already in Canakkale. In previous races only around 30 riders have made it to the finishers party, so tonight's celebrations will be one to remember. Following on from our last finisher list, these are the racers who made it to the finish line since Wednesday: 

7. Emily Chappell
62. Karl Speed
216. Luigi Burini
216. Luca Colonetti
59. Dario Valsesia
162. Rudy Rollenberg
19. Mike Sheldrake
21. Adrien Dugoujon
204. Charlotte Dequevauviller
204. Thomas Chavrier
163. Bela Kuzler
210. George Marshall
37. Cheng Liu
11. Jack Keevill
17. Anton Lindberg
67. Paul Buckley
159. Charles Batho
137. Dragan Mladenovic
151. Fabian Rabe
206. Muammer Yildiz
206. Burkay Gunay
211. Max Lindberg
211. Adam Krabbe
96. Robert Quirk
124. Ben May
44. Mikko Mäkipää
147. Pierre Nicolle
73. Mindaugas Sasnauskas
145. Mehmet Sertac Unal
215. Daniel Welch
215. Michael Cannon
230. Toon De Keyser
230. Jorne Bluekens
41. Eyvind Bergstrom
114. Darren Franks
221. Richard Egan
64. Joshua Rea
57. Michal Plech
146. Christopher Dennis
104. Andrew Brogan
122. Eric Jacquemin
141. Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken

A huge congratulations to all these riders who have made it to the finishers party, we hope you thoroughly enjoy yourselves - you deserve it!

Throughout this blog series we've been trying very hard to give all our riders a mention, meticulously noting every name and number that appears, but it seems that we still we haven't mentioned 29 riders! We can't leave it like that, so we've investigated each of these last 29 (all still out racing) to find out a bit more about each. Our stalking skills are so well-honed after writing these blogs we could have a career with MI-5. So here we go:

Oliver Quinton (22) - Olly's a 2015 TCR veteran, avid crisp eater and 'Chas and Dave' fan. He's currently about 165kms from the finish, passing through Eastern Greece. He's been experiencing all weather fronts known to earth, the wind pinning him down at times and once being blown completely off the road and over a safety barrier! He's regularly providing video blogs to tell us how he's been getting on: 

Ralf Hemmann (38) considered scratching earlier today after being denied entry into Kosovo, as he only carries an old German ID card and not his German passport. Dot watchers are encouraging him to stay in the race, and ride around the territory which he looks like he's doing, currently heading for the Serbian border.

Michael Lapcevic (45) is around 120kms from the finishing line in Eastern Greece. He took what looks like a very well researched and efficient route through the control points, in fact so efficient that his total mileage to date is 3,182kms (compared to say, Andres Rodrigo (112) who's in a similar position and has done 3,491kms, or Andy Buchs (110) who's only 30kms ahead of Michael but has done 3,216kms so far.) That said we've been told this could just be a tracker issue!

Alain Puiseux (52) is the editor of French cycle magazine 200.  He's only 80kms from the finishing line now so he could well make it to the finishers party, but after the 12pm 'last finisher' cut off we should think. We look forward to reading his TCR experience in his magazine once he's recovered!

Ory O'Neill (53) was one of the few riders to have taken the Serbian / Bulgarian route, and is currently taking the A1 down to Plovdiv. Last we heard directly from him was on the 11th August where he was "Sat in a Serbian bakery as it was the only place with lights on eating oven fresh bread listening to the bakers sing while they work."  

Avni Berk Okyay (55) has this morning completed CP4, and still has over 600kms to the finish. He's Turkish, so we expect he'll still make his way down to the finish as it's also the way home!

This is Mark Booker (65)'s second TCR having come 70th in 2015's race. He's still got over 200kms to the finish but we suspect he could have placed a lot higher in the race if this hadn't happened to him just before CP2 (forcing him to have to go and buy a new tyre):

Mark Booker (65)

Mark Booker (65)

Mark Booker (65)

Mark Booker (65)

Vinicius Martins (74) is our Brazillian rider, currently in Eastern Greece, just under 200kms from the finish but currently resting. He's put up a number of great videos and pics on his instagram account here

Florian Bongers (83) took the Northern route out of CP3 and followed the 108 through central Slovenia, Croatia and then Bosnia & Herzegovina to reach CP4 from the North. He seems to have successfully crossed Kosovo and is about to hit the border of Macedonia. 

David Price (99) has been keeping us up to date via his Instagram account. He completed CP4 last night and is on his way across Kosovo as we write. 

David Price (99) 

David Price (99) 

David Price (99) 

David Price (99) 

David Price (99) 

David Price (99) 

Andi Buchs (110) is only 90kms from the end now, and rather glad it's nearly over. Here's a few pics he's shared of his journey:

We mentioned Andrés Navarro Rodrigo's (112) route earlier as his mileage looked high, but we can't see anything unusual about his route which looks pretty much the same route that everyone has taken, including a straight route through the Alps and the coastal route through Croatia. Spanish Andrés currently lives in India according to Facebook, so should be used to racing in heat!  

Macedonian racer Simeon Jurukov (113) has just finished CP4 and on his way to Kosovo, we wonder if he'll stop once he gets to Macedonia or continue to Canakkale? Here are some wintery pics he took of the Furkapass, in the middle of summer... 

Simeon Jurukov (113)

Simeon Jurukov (113)

Simeon Jurukov (113)

Simeon Jurukov (113)

Mark Hunter (118) is one of our most elusive riders with no social media activity that we can find, some people do find this a distraction on the road so perhaps that's why we haven't heard anything from him. He's been a consistent rider, currently entering Macedonia.

However we have much more on Italian rider Beppe Scotti (120). This ex-rugby player & paratrooper and now endurance cyclist is also just about to cross the Macedonian border. We love this pic of him with new friends made during TCR:

Beppe Scotti (120)

Beppe Scotti (120)

Beppe Scotti (120) with Oliver Wolf (50, Joshua Rea (65) and Massimo Fusi (176) 

Beppe Scotti (120) with Oliver Wolf (50, Joshua Rea (65) and Massimo Fusi (176) 

Eric Jacquemin (122) is on his way down to Cakakkale as we write and is in contention for the Maglia Nera 'finshers' black jersey along with Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141) not too far behind. To win he must make the party by 12am but his Free Route EA says it'll be 0:22am  - can he put in a final push to get himself the prize?

Canadian Patrick Day (128) is currently in eastern Macedonia with 380kms to go until the finish line. We head he had some route trouble crossing the Croatian border but otherwise looks like a straightforward route to Turkey. 

Scott Andrews (158) is 180kms from the end in Eastern Greece. Scott, from Telluride, Colorado competed in 2014's TCR race and came 61st overall, and has raced the Great Tour Divide. Here are some shots of him at the TCR No.4 start line: 

Scott Andrews (158) Photo Credit: Isabel McKensie

Scott Andrews (158) Photo Credit: Isabel McKensie

Scott Andrews (158) Photo Credit: Isabel McKensie

Scott Andrews (158) Photo Credit: Isabel McKensie

Craig Dolwin (164) has just crossed the Greek border from Macedonia. Still 360kms to go but from our thorough investigation skills we can see he's a very experienced rider who really knows his routes and equipment so shouldn't be well prepared for anything TCR still has to throw at him.

We had trouble finding information about Massimo Fusi (176) because Facebook translates his name into English as 'Maximum Spindles'. Which we quite like. He's in Eastern Greece at the moment with about 230kms left until Canakkale. 

Massimo Fusi (176)

Massimo Fusi (176)

Pawel Sekulski (181) is nearly through Macedonia and on his way into Greece, with 350kms left to go. No photos yet of Pawel during the race but we managed to track down this one of him from Facebook: 

Pawel Sekulski (181)

Pawel Sekulski (181)

London-based rider Steven Pawley (202) started the race in a pair with Simon Williams but is now riding solo and has just made his way into Kosovo. Steven is a seasoned endurance cyclist, In August 2013 he attempted to set the World Record for the Fastest Bicycle Journey from Nordkapp in the Arctic Circle to Cape Town in South Africa with Reza Pakravan. There's even a film about it, entitled “Kapp to Cape”. They pedalled the entire length of the planet in 102 days (107 miles a day), each carrying 30kg of equipment over 11,000 miles (18,000km), crossing 13 countries and three continents, completely unsupported. He's definitely got the mileage skills, but his speed has put him towards the back of the pack. He posted these photos yesterday from CP4:

Steven Pawley (202) 

Steven Pawley (202) 

Steven Pawley (202) 

Steven Pawley (202) 

Eric Cupo and Christopher Hung Han Yun (217) have just made it into Greece and have about 320kms to the finish. We found this photo on Instagram from Christopher of his bike 'Mr Moose' (we assume that's who he's referring to and not Eric, as that would be awkward).

Christian Dittmann and Harald Triebnig (219), our German & Austrian pair are just about to cross the Macedonia / Greek border with 330kms left to go.

And last but not least is Stewart McConnell and Martin Mcconnell (231). We have already shown Stewart's wrinkled hand picture after spending a few soggy days in the Alps, but we wanted to see how this brother's team were getting on, especially as those who remember Martin McConnell from TCR 2015 will remember that this is how he left the race last year:

Martin Mcconnell (231) 2015 TCR

Martin Mcconnell (231) 2015 TCR

This year they're doing a whole lot better, and are currently on the Greek coastline with 220kms left to do. They seem to be having a fantastic time, what an achievement it will feel for Martin to finally complete a TCR!

Delicious dinner for Stewart McConnell and Martin Mcconnell (231)

Delicious dinner for Stewart McConnell and Martin Mcconnell (231)

"Ginger half of the Team " Martin Mcconnell (231). Who left that cup there?

"Ginger half of the Team " Martin Mcconnell (231). Who left that cup there?

The TCR team and riders are all partying in Canakkale tonight, and if you caught the live streaming this evening you'll have seen the presentation where Kristof Allegaert (winner overall), Emily Chappell (first woman in) and some other riders got their token prizes. Mike also gave out a 'Maglia Nera' limited edition jersey to the last rider in before 12am, possibly the most valuable prize given out this evening! Incredible what these riders will do for a free bottle opener or musette. 

So in the spirit of both the awards presentation, and the Olympics, we've decided to create our own prestigious 'dot-watcher' awards, covering all angles of what the Transcontinental Race is all about. Here they are:

The 'Everesting' Award

Bronze goes to Zuzanna Madaj (214) who got completely lost in the Alps and had her own 'Blair Witch' style nightmare where she rode around in circles lost, seeing the same mountains again and again until finally she gave up and started a new life as a mountain nomad.

Zuzanna Madaj (214)

Zuzanna Madaj (214)

Silver goes to Stephane Ouaja (012), who chose a rather unusual time to do a 5 hour hike in the Alps:

Stephane Ouaja (012)

Stephane Ouaja (012)

Gold must go to Andy Sallnow (144), who thanks to his additional Stelvio Pass trip climbed a whopping 93,868m in total - that's around 10,000m more than Kristof who did 83,895m. 

Most Horrific Minor Injury

Bronze goes to Oriol Hernandez Gorrindo (138) who took a tumble down the Passo Di Giau. 

Oriol Hernandez Gorrindo (138)

Oriol Hernandez Gorrindo (138)

It's Silver for Stephane Ouaja for this shocking sunburn:

Stephane Ouaja (012) rides until his skin falls off

Stephane Ouaja (012) rides until his skin falls off

But Gold must go to Darren Richards (111) who experienced an allergic reaction to a wasp sting:

Most fed up face

Bronze for Jacopo Porreca (171) for this early race shot:

Silver goes to Craig Boddice (073) for this shot taken when he reached the top of the Furkapass:

Craig Boddice (73)

Craig Boddice (73)

Gold is for Joshua Rea (64). Poor bloke:

Most undesirable sleep spot

There have been so many, but these made us shudder the most:

Bronze for Jan-Williem Bobbink (010), because although this toilet entrance sort of has walls, it looks so incredibly uncomfortable. And just think of the smell... 

Silver goes to Max Lindberg (211) for this. Granted it'll be soft, but that mosquito net leaves a lot to be desired:

Max Lindberg (211)

Max Lindberg (211)

Cold, hard, exposed, and built in sprinkler alarm, Gold goes to Lars Jørgen Landsem (009):

Lars Jørgen Landsem (009)

Lars Jørgen Landsem (009)

Tastiest looking cockpit

Delicious and organised, Bronze is for Matthew Falconer (154) for this Jaffa Cake stack:

Matthew Falconer (154)

Matthew Falconer (154)

Silver for Mathias Dalgas (150), a man after our own hearts with this appetising cheeseburger saved for later:

Gold goes to Emily Chappell (007), who shared with us a number of yummy looking cockpit shots but this one was the ultimate breakfast:

Emily Chappell (007)  

Emily Chappell (007)

 

Most enthusiastic moment

Bronze goes to Giorsio Raboen (229) we believe this was not long taken after his partner Lamri Adjis had scratched, so extra points for enthusiasm in the face of adversity:

Silver for Philip Schwedthelm (016) for this food face:

Philipp Schwedthelm (016)

Philipp Schwedthelm (016)

Gold has to go to Joshua Rea (64). This is what cycling is all about:

Most Undesirable Dinner Award

Bronze goes to Chris White (024) for this interesting combination: 

Silver goes to Alice Williams (109) because Haribo & Ham is not an ideal combo:

Alice Williams (109)

Alice Williams (109)

Gold for Simon Rounding (087) because - dog food? No. Just...No.

That's all we have time and space for avid dot-watchers. We hope you've enjoyed these blogs as much as we've enjoyed writing them. What will we all do with ourselves once The Transcontinental Race finishes and there are no more dots to watch? Slump into a depressive state and stare into the abyss probably. But what we should all do is get outside on our bikes and make our own adventures and stories. Get lost, sleep outside and climb some hills, but perhaps leave the dog food at home, yeah?

We're already looking forward to 2017, see you then. x

Show me the way to Canakkale

The Transcontinental Race No.4 may be done and dusted for 36 riders (at the time of writing), but for many, the race is far from over. To dedicate tonight's blog to the 113 riders still out on the road, we are going to report in reverse order.

Goodbye, yellow brick road

There have been only 7 more scratchers from the last two days, we keep this up and we could have a TCR finishers record! Unlucky for some, number 13 Gavin Scott hadn't been feeling well for a little while and checked in to a hotel in Split to recover. Unfortunately he still felt ill after 24hrs of rest so had to scratch. Franziska Kühne (029) announced her scratching yesterday, citing that things had changed for her and she couldn't go on at a respectable pace, but that she would tell us the whole story at some point. Oriol Hernandez Gorrindo (138) scratched yesterday at Knin, Croatia. Pairs team Abigail Connor and George Aldridge (207) scratch in Turin, Italy. And finally Daniel McNicolas and Luke O'Brien (224) scratched in Milan, Italy.

CP3 Complete

Currently snoozing in a bright green tent in the alps is our 'Lanterne Rouge' Hanneke van der Werf (148), just 30kms off CP3 which she will surely reach early tomorrow morning. A huge well done to Johanna for pushing through those hard ascents, we can see that she's been in the Alps for 8 days now, pretty tough going! Johanna might not make the finishers party (well, she still could, technically - ask James Hayden how). but she's a hero for sticking with it and reaching 3 checkpoints. 

Just leaving CP3 is pairs team Mattia Biffi and Alberto Varni (228). They are taking it a bit steadier than others, we've heard they've been thoroughly enjoying themselves having slap up meals with new friends and generally enjoying the Alps:

Mattia Biffi and Alberto Varni (228)

Mattia Biffi and Alberto Varni (228)

Maybe one of their new friends is Helmut Wagner (023). He too has been taking life at a luxury pace, had a nice lie in until 11am at a hotel in Alleghe, rode up the parcours and on to Cortina, where he knocked off for the day at 3pm. 

Now out of the Alps and on their way through the Veneto Plains are brothers Daniel & Guillermo Nicolás Muñoz (209). They're either having the time of their lives together, or, (as we would do if we spent 12 solid days with our brother), spending all their time giving each other 'Road Rash' punches and calling each other a Smeg Head. Either way they're taking their time about it.

In the same area is Lionel Bobb (117) who has decided to skip CP3 entirely. For Lionel, this is less of a race and more of a celebrity PR tour. Lionel is one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet, and his photos are testament to this. Here he is with his fans:

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092) made excellent progress today. She posted on Facebook saying that she knows she has been slow, that she tried to pedal faster but it made her feel bad and tired. Cheng-Hui, take it from us - you're doing great. Taken in context, it's only taken you 12 DAYS to cycle to SLOVENIA. It would take us 12 months, crying bitterly all the way. She's loving the views and is still feeling happy: 

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092)

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092)

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092) (Photo Credit: Andrea Collino)

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092) (Photo Credit: Andrea Collino)

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092)

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092)

100kms down the road in beautiful Croatia is Louise Soplanit (149). We showed a picture of her yesterday meeting Pierluigi Talamona (126) yesterday. Here she is reaching the top of the Grimselpass:

Just ahead of Louise is Pierluigi Talamona (126) who at 68 is the oldest racer in TCRNo4:

Pierluigi Talamona (126)

Pierluigi Talamona (126)

And whilst we're at it we should mention our youngest rider too Joseph Todd (89) who finished the race 22nd overall in 12 days 7 hours and 30 minutes:

Joseph Todd (89) Photo Credit: James Robertson

Joseph Todd (89) Photo Credit: James Robertson

Sleeping somewhere in Senj is Reinhold Mueller (169) and Henning Bock (165) the cycling photographer, who is using the race as an opportunity for a lie-in most mornings apparently. And around 100kms in front of Henning is Laurent Carlier (205) who started as a pair with Romain Mousset riding in support of Cystic Fibrosis. Romain scratched around CP3, but Laurent is doing rather well solo. 

Stuck in the middle

From Bosnia & Herzegovina through to Turkey riders are much closer together, all taking a very similar path south to Canakkale. Those who have deviated from the norm are Rose McGovern (136) who is rather tired and currently sleeping in Sarajevo. She accidentally pressed discard instead of save on her Strava yesterday, so we're afraid yesterday didn't count Rose. Up you go again, them's the Strava rules. We do feel her pain - we pressed delete on a blog last week and had to lie down for 10 minutes in a cold sweat. Here's Rose at the top of Passo Giau:

Rose McGovern (136)

Rose McGovern (136)

Close to Rose and currently travelling down the M-18 and dodging angry dogs on the way in to Bosnia is pairs team Rebecca Harrison and Alistair McGregor (213). 

Rebecca Harrison and Alistair McGregor (213)

Rebecca Harrison and Alistair McGregor (213)

Also taking an alternative route is Thierry Mourlanne (071) who is now on the A1 coming down to Niš having completed CP4. He is one of the few riders to take the Serbian / Bulgarian route, along with Dragan Mladenovic (137) who is from Svilajnac, Serbia, so that makes sense. 

we can't mention all riders, but we'll just pick a few to see how they're getting on:

This little video is from Giorsio Raboen (229), perfectly summing up his race so far. After his partner Lamri Adjis scratched earlier in the race, Giorsio decided to push on solo and is doing well, having just crossed the Kosovan border after making it to CP4 earlier today. He had a crash at 50km/h yesterday but it seemed it wasn’t serious enough to stopping him from carrying onwards.

Johanna Jorsten (141) is looking like she'll take second-placed woman on her way to the finish, with only Emily Chappell (007) in front of her. Lately she's been sampling the delights of the Macedonia roads:

We are the champions

When we last wrote, only 8 people had crossed the finish line. Now, they're popping in every half an hour or so. In finishing positions from 9th, we have:

168. Vincent Muehlethaler
72. Michael Wacker
133. Daniel Fisher
154. Matthew Falconer
223. Sylvain Blairon
84. Samuli Makinen
12. Stephane Ouaja
212. Andrew Boyd
212. James Stannard
142. Stuart Birnie
171. Jacopo Porreca
16. Philipp Schwedthelm
166. Michal Wolff
66. Frank van der Sman
89. Joseph Todd
144. Andy Sallnow
226. Peter Tannenberger
226. Christian Schaefer
91. Ryszard Deneka
26. Bjorn Lenhard
42. Zbynek Simcik
70. Benedikt Hartmann
225. Bernd Frick
225. Josef Frick
173. Craig Boddice
140. Stefan Slegl
46. Jurgen Knupe
175. David Winton
24. Chris White
167. Urs Arnold Kutschera
30. James Mansell
218. Gualtiero Rossano
32. Patrick Miette
14. Jack Thompson

A huge congratulations to all that have made it to the finish line, especially our first pairs team in Andrew Boyd & James Stannard (212). All of you, have yourselves an Efes and some chicken nuggets (but not you Nelson Trees, we heard you ate 60 the other night, you've had quite enough! Oh, alright then, go crazy). Here are some shots taken from Canakkale over the last few days:

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Jacopo Porreca (117) Photo Credit: James Robertson

Jacopo Porreca (117) Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

What kind of race is this again?

It's the kind of race where you can take time off pedalling to help the locals with their chores:

Olly Kan & Matthew Pollard (203)

Olly Kan & Matthew Pollard (203)

Where you're on the road for so long you start going mouldy...

Stuart Birnie (142)

Stuart Birnie (142)

... or begin hallucinating tortoises:

Mikko Mäkipää (044)

Mikko Mäkipää (044)

A race where you get so damp you need nuns to dry you out. Yes that's right, nuns: 

Matt Brady (079)

Matt Brady (079)

And you're able to get this excited about a Mountain pass:

 

Where you will literally ride until your skin starts falling off:

'Tis but a scratch! Photo Credit: James Robertson

'Tis but a scratch! Photo Credit: James Robertson

And at the end, you'll need a wheelchair:

Stephane Ouaja (12)

Stephane Ouaja (12)

Yip, that sums up the Transcontinental Race.

 

And finally...

It's the finishers party on Saturday night, and with more riders than ever making it to the finishing line, it 's set to be the best one ever. It'll also be our last blog of the series, so we'll make sure it's a corker. Start your beautifying regime now dot-watchers, let's have our own party!

 

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

Mountain Kings and Queens

11 days since the Transcontinental Race started in Geraardsbergen, and at the time of writing 8 riders have made it to the finish line, 62 have scratched, and 148 brave men and women riders are still battling on through to reach the finish line in Canakkale. It's been such a dramatic couple of days that we're going to give you a soundtrack to play as you read through today's race overview, giving you a full sensory experience. 

So let's cast our minds back two days, and read along to  "In the Hall of the Mountain King"... (This doesn't seem to play simultaneously on a mobile so get the 2:33 version on Spotify to play along)

Kristof had just crossed the Dardanelles on ferry, winning TCRNo.4 in an incredible 8 days, 15 hours and 2 minutes, But 1500kms behind, a substantial amount of riders were still struggling with the rain and the unrelenting climbs in the Alps, trying desperately to reach CP3. Others were experiencing navigational issues that had unwittingly taken them on paths away from paved surfaces and onto gravel and muddy mountain tracks. Many were finding the climbs extremely tiring, taking them much longer than anticipated to make it to the control. Plenty were suffering from injuries, achilles in particular were troubling a lot of riders - taking them out, one by one. The mileage was demanding, exhausted riders were flaking, scratching and all were getting a good soaking. 

Further into eastern Europe, riders were battling against winds strong enough to take them clean off the road. Some weren't managing more than 15kms per hour, others had given up riding that day entirely. There was frustration as those who felt strong and revived couldn't get in the mileage in they wanted, and they watched with wretched hearts as the lead pack moved further and further away from them. There had been more scratches that day than any previously, showing how tough this race had really become.

Further West, a sprinkling of racers were dripping in to CP4, trudging up the 50kms stretch into the Black Mountains, through tunnels and over bridges as the Sedlo Pass, and the thought of a good meal and warm bed tantalisingly dangled ahead of them. Some were struggling to even get in to Montenegro, others struggling to get out. A number of lead pack had dropped out, giving those that remained real motivation to keep pushing hard.

Into the lead pack, Neil Phillips was just out in front and Carlos Mazon a catchable distance behind. Neither had much sleep but Carlos cracked first, leaving Neil to take the lead. With Canakkale in his sights he would not stop, and pushed his way South into Turkey until he reached the ferry, and then Canakkale in 9 Days, 17 hours and 43 minutes. Carlos had an issue with his GPS and had to rely on paper maps and his phone, creating another unneeded hurdle in his journey to the finish. Despite this, he could smell the Cornetto waiting for him at the finish line and followed his nose South, taking 3rd position in 9 Days, 22 hours, 51 minutes. In his attempt to overtake Carlos, James Hayden had a mechanical forcing him to stop and get a lift to find a bike shop, finished his chances of catching up with Carlos. His extended stop gave Geoffroy Dussault an opportunity to catch James up, possibly taking the 4th position. James, with a fixed bike realised what was going on, quickly made his way back to the point at which he got the lift, and then was back on the right road, and almost parallel with Geoffroy. These two cyclists were suddenly then battling in a dramatic head to head, overtaking each other again and again for miles, with Geoffroy eventually sitting ahead and looking good for 4th place. But then just over the Turkish border a catastrophe for Geoffroy: his tire exploded.

This gave James the opportunity he needed to take the lead, and 4th position in 10 Days, 5 hours, 31 Minutes. From bad to worse for Geoffroy as following closely behind had been Peter Sandholt, and he over took Geoffroy too. Not resting for a moment Peter sped through Western turkey, along the coastal route to Kilitbahir, taking 5th overall as he screeched into Canakkale in 10 days, 9 hours and 32 Minutes. Would Geoffroy also be overtaken by Ultan Coyle and Nelson Trees who were thrashing their way through Eastern Macedonia and Thrace? Yes he would - Nelson and Ultan raced at break-neck speeds through Western Turkey, Ultan just slightly ahead but Nelson only Kilometres behind. . Nail-biting moments for Geoffroy's dot-watchers as finally, he had his new tire fitted, paid the man and frantically began pedalling in an attempt to catch up with these two racers. Screaming in to the port of Kilitbahir he bought his ticket to Canakkale, but Ultan and Nelson were on the ferry and making their way across the strait, leaving Geoffroy in their wake, brandishing a fist in the air as the ferry sailed into the distance. As Ultan arrived at the ferry only minutes ahead of Nelson he got 6th place, Nelson got 7th overall, both achieving 10 days, 18hrs, 32minutes. Geoffroy had to settle for an honourable 8th position. An incredible 10 days, 19hours 30mins.  

Neil Phillips (172) - 9 Days, 17 hours and 43 minutes

Neil Phillips (172) - 9 Days, 17 hours and 43 minutes

Carlos Mazon (060) - 9 Days, 22 hours, 51 minutes

Carlos Mazon (060) - 9 Days, 22 hours, 51 minutes

James Hayden (075) - Finishes in 10 Days, 5 hours, 31 Minutes

James Hayden (075) - Finishes in 10 Days, 5 hours, 31 Minutes

Peter Sandholt (077) - 10 days, 9 hours and 32 Minutes

Peter Sandholt (077) - 10 days, 9 hours and 32 Minutes

Ultan Coyle (004) - 10 days, 18 hours, 32 mins

Ultan Coyle (004) - 10 days, 18 hours, 32 mins

Nelson Trees - 10 days, 18 hours, 32 minutes

Nelson Trees - 10 days, 18 hours, 32 minutes

For this next section we're recommending a calmer, Claire De Lune

And again, with less creative license (Geoffroy did not brandish a fist at the ferry, Nelson and Ultan didn't even realise they were so close to each other until they got to the ferry!), race finishers in order so far are Krisfof Allegaert (003), Neil Phillips (172), Carlos Mazon (060), James Hayden (075), Peter Sandholt (077), (Ultan Coyle (004), Nelson Trees (080) and Geoffroy Dussault (093). A race within a race is between Vincent Muehlethaler (168) and Michael Wacker (072) who are currently about 200 metres apart so they have each other in their sights and will be riding as hard as they can to the ferry for another intense 80kms. Will they get to the finish line before we complete this blog post? We suspect they will; they don't have delicious biscuits in the cupboard to investigate frequently.

Only 6kms behind Michael Wacker is Daniel Fisher (133), so there's not much in it and anything can still happen, given what we saw with the first 8 riders in. In Alexandroupoli, Matthew Falconer (154) Sylvain Blairon (223) and Stephane Ouaja (012) are very close to each other, so keep an eye on these three in the next 12 hours - they're only 90kms away from the finish now. 

Riders have begun dripping in to Canakkale like water from a leaky tap, but soon the floodgates will open and they'll be swamping the Canakkale ferry - so the race may be to a queue position in the ferry ticket line. The finishers party is this Saturday 13th August, so there's still plenty of time. And of course, riders will continue to arrive after Sunday, getting ferry receipts to validate their finish positions. 

Scratchers - the itch is getting worse

We didn't have time to list all of the scratchers to date, so we'll do that this evening. 21 since the last scratchers  announcement. They are: Stuart James (006) - an achilles issue in one, and then both heels. Lars Joergen Landsem (009) with an ankle injury, Matthijs Ligt (025) who felt that his performance was not as it should be and sheer exhaustion led him to scratch. Socrates Solomides (034) experienced compounding problems: Navigational + comms issues after electronics breakdown, and neck pain stopped him from riding with aerobars. Demian Barlaro (081) with knee and achilles pain, Christian Ekdahl (088) another achillies victim. Gergely Taar (097) with reoccuring achilles tendons injuries, Alexandra Wright (098), Matija Ilic (025) who we meant to mention last night as a shocker lead rider scratcher with suspected Shermer's Neck, Stuart McCormick (107), Darren Richards (112), Robbrecht Desmet (129), David Coulon (130), Jurriaan Oudhoff (143), Matthew Swain (156) had severe stomach cramps and sickness and ulnar palsy in his left hand, pairs team Gawaine Clark & Richard Hunt (201), Alberto Vaghi (218) leaving Gualtiero Rossano (218) to continue, pairs team Louise Nalton and Peter Worsfold (222) again from achilles issues, Bruno González Vives (018), and finally Zuzanna Madaj (214) who was part of a pairs team and went solo for a while. She had what looked like an absolute nightmare navigating through the Alps from CP2 to CP3:

Zuzanna Madaj (214) 

Zuzanna Madaj (214) 

Other weird and wonderful routes we've seen over the past few days:

Never one to follow the crowd, Emily Chappell (007) is comfortable with her lead over the next female rider and has chosen a completely different path from all other riders. She's having a little holiday within the race:

Jack Thompson (014) has had quite enough of Montenegro mountains and has escaped north to Serbia. It's definitely a longer route, but perhaps he read our description of the E-80 and fancied the challenge?

Riders stories

We wanted to understand a bit more about racers mid pack, so we've had our investigators out finding out a bit more about their journeys:

Andrew Brogan (104) experienced three punctures and a split tyre sidewall on his ascent of the CP4 parcours in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro. He started walking and was offered a lift by passers-by, but turned it down as he felt that it would be faster to walk to the fourth control point than get a lift to some place that could help, and return back to his original position to restart his race. Andrew ended up walking 12km — but fortunately it was a beautifully sunny day and he had mountain bike shoes on. Andrew managed to find himself some tubes at least and will live to ride another day."
Oliver Wolf (050) - our smoking, drinking bike messenger,  had a terrible time with the winds in Croatia and sustained a leg injury when he was blown off his bike. We're so sorry that in our last blog we reported him as scratched, (we were very tired) it was not the motivation he probably needed, but luckily he's received loads of support from the dot-watcher nation and after a good sleep has bounced back to become a force of nature: 

Shortly after arriving in Croatia, Frank van der Sman (066) discovered he had had a bit of play in his steering. When he pulled over to take a look he realised he had cracked his fork crown all the way around. At this point he was seriously thinking about scratching.

He didn’t know what to do, but suddenly a guy from across the road came over, took a look, and said, “mechanic?!?”. Frank says yes! The man proceeds to call his friend who happens to be a welder. Frank calls his frame builder to check how to make sure the weld is safe and as accurate as possible, and the passes this on to the welder.

Frank made it to CP4 with the weld holding up. Let’s hope it holds up until the end.

Frank van der Sman (066)

Frank van der Sman (066)

Frank van der Sman (066)

Frank van der Sman (066)

Pierluigi Talamona (126) is the oldest rider in this year’s TCR, at 68. He descended CP3 Passo Giau earlier today and met with another rider Louise Soplanit (149) and his son who lives locally for a quick photo opportunity: 

Pierluigi Talamona (126) and Louise Soplanit (149)

Pierluigi Talamona (126) and Louise Soplanit (149)

In Other News...

The hounds have been released on James Stannard (212):

Booking seats on the bus to loony town tonight are Darren Franks (114) and all his opinionated appendage, Cheng Liu (37), and Stuart Birnie (142):

Play this one along to the music:

Last climb in #Bosnia #F5TCR2016 #TCRno4 #TCRno4s37 #Factory5 #WeBuildWeRide #Shanghai

A video posted by Jeff Liu (@jeffliu) on

Will someone please give this man a rubik's cube? Follow the unravelling of Stuart Birnie here

Will someone please give this man a rubik's cube? Follow the unravelling of Stuart Birnie here

Simon Rounding (087) runs to catch the loony bus:

There's been an outbreak of scurvy reported, everyone has started stockpiling bananas:

Max Lindberg (211)

Max Lindberg (211)

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010) Photo Credit: Mason Cycles

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010) Photo Credit: Mason Cycles

Josef Frick (225)

Josef Frick (225)

George Marshall (210)

George Marshall (210)

Unfortunately Rory didn't get the banana memo:

And finally...

Kitten therapy has been helping these ladies through:

Emily Chappell (007). This Kitten can't wait to get going!

Emily Chappell (007). This Kitten can't wait to get going!

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141). This kitten is not so sure.

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141). This kitten is not so sure.

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up" - Babe Ruth

The Brutal and the Beast

Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Transcontinental Times. The headlines this morning from dot-watcher blog HQ:

  • Kristof Allegaert wins the Transcontinental Race in 8days, 15hrs and 2mins

  • Many riders, including some in leading positions, scratch due to brutal conditions, exhaustion and injury.

  • High winds and more rain throughout Croatia and Macedonia offers no respite for already soggy and worn out riders.

Plus:

  • A common road sign causes outrage amongst riders

  • We reveal performance top tips from riders, including Kristof's secret strategy that contributed to his winning performance

 

Headline News:

Kristof Allegaert (003) wins the Transcontinental Race No.4 in 8days, 15hrs and 2mins. Kristof arrived in Canakkale just after 1pm on Sunday afternoon, after taking the ferry across the Dardanelles from Kilitbahir. Kristof was apparently so exhausted he could hardly speak, but he did managed to utter a few words, summing up TCRNo.4: "Brutal, absolutely Brutal."

He also tweeted this:

1 minute time difference due to Kristof travelling faster than sound.

1 minute time difference due to Kristof travelling faster than sound.

Here's a video taken of the moment he arrived:

In under 48hrs since we last wrote, Kristof took a near perfect route along the E-80 from Niš to Pirot and on to Sofia to join the 8. This road continued on a very direct south east direction all the way to Plovdiv, and over the border at Kapikule into Turkey. Here he followed the E87 south through Uzunköprü and Keşan along the coast until Kilitbahir, and the ferry to the finish line. 

Kristof's route from Niš to Canakkale

Kristof's route from Niš to Canakkale

We say "near-perfect" because  in a bid to prove that Kristof is indeed human, we finally found a moment of imperfection when he entered Svilengrad. Look at this craziness! Makes us feel better about all the times we go to the kitchen and forget what we're doing once we're in there:

Obviously this isn't conclusive proof he isnt part machine, so we are still recommending a Turing test.

But in seriousness, a huge congratulations to Kristof for an outstanding performance, we bow to your cycling prowess. Chapeau, sir.

Kristof's brevet card (Photo Credit: James Robertson) 

Kristof's brevet card (Photo Credit: James Robertson

The Beast - Kristof Allegaert (Photo Credit: James Robertson) 

The Beast - Kristof Allegaert (Photo Credit: James Robertson

(Photo Credit: James Robertson) 

(Photo Credit: James Robertson

Meanwhile back in windy Kansas, there is a three-man race to the finish between Neil Phillips (172), Carlos Mazon (060) and James Hayden (075). Yesterday Neil reported that he'd experienced 'a horrific cycle through a thunderstorm' where he was 'getting barrelled by the wake from cars'. Despite these conditions all riders are currently pushing on through Eastern Greece and will probably reach Turkey tomorrow morning. 

Neil Phillips (172) (Photo Credit: James Robertson)

Neil Phillips (172) (Photo Credit: James Robertson)

Carlos Mazon (060) checking in to Control 3. Photo Credit: Christopher Jobmann‎

Carlos Mazon (060) checking in to Control 3. Photo Credit: Christopher Jobmann

James Hayden (075) CP4. Photo Credit: Apidura

James Hayden (075) CP4. Photo Credit: Apidura

In positions 5 & 6 currently are Geoffroy Dussalt (093) and Peter Sandholt (077) who are cruising in to Greece as we write. There was some confusion earlier this evening when Peter's tracker stopped working and we hadn't heard from him after a long sleep, but as is now common with the riders, the batteries had gone dead causing a tracker outage. 

When last reported, Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) was experiencing some trouble getting in to Montenegro, and it seems Andy Sallnow (144) had the same difficulty yesterday:

Andy Sallnow (144) takes a few routes in to Montenegro

Andy Sallnow (144) takes a few routes in to Montenegro

Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) attempts to enter Montenegro

Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) attempts to enter Montenegro

After the border troubles of last night we have learnt that Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) has now scratched from the race. Luckily it seems that most riders have been able to get in and out of Montenegro with little trouble, and many are now well into Serbia, Macedonia and Greece, including Nelson Trees (080), Ultan Coyle (004), Michael Wacker (072) and Vincent Muehlethaler (168) who we last mentioned coming out of the alps in a top 20 position and now is top 10 - good work that man.

Another rider going full tilt is Emily Chappell who is currently on her way to CP4 and in 33rd position overall - excellent work Emily. 

Scratchers

Over the weekend there have been many scratches, we've had some from exhaustion, some from injury and some more serious, such as Richi Fox (152) who was so dehydrated she needed medical attention and the doctors stopped her race. Here's here video explaining what happened:

Another big story in this weekend's scratches is Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) who we mentioned on Friday was having a really hard time, and is just too exhausted to carry on. We really feel for Alex who was desperate to defend his 2nd place position from 2015's race. We saw this video with him on Friday and the haunting song he sings tells us all we need to know about how he was feeling:

Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002)

Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002)

 Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002)

 Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002)

We also saw Mathias Dalgas (150) scratch on Friday from a bad knee, he was a top 5 contender for a while but it just goes to show that you cannot count these chickens until they reach that finishing line in Canakkale . There are now officially 52 scratched from this race so far.

Going nowhere with the Wind

Our riders are not 'big fans' of the wind (geddit). We've had reports all day of winds so strong some riders are actually just pedalling on the spot, and many have had to retreat inside again and wait it out. It must be so very frustrating when you're capable of riding but the weather is simply not letting you. With winds of up to 214km/h in Croatia Oliver Wolf (050) was actually blown completely off the road. We've seen in the news the flooding and devastation in Macedonia where there is currently a state of emergency declared. A message to all our riders to please keep safe!

Time to ride again #TCR2016 #TCRNo4 #TCRNo4s064 #TCRNo4s64

A video posted by @joshuacarl_ on

In Other News...

Sign causes outrage

This seemingly normal road sign caused controversy today when it smugly pointed out the bleedin' obvious, proving too much for some riders to handle. "It's just so 'in-your-face'! said one rider, "we all know what's going on, so why the sarcasm? It's completely unnecessary" said another. 

Gavin Scott (013)

Gavin Scott (013)

Jan-Willem Bobbink

Jan-Willem Bobbink

Top Tips from our riders

Riders today have shared some of their top tips and trade secrets to riding ultra-distances. 

Tip No 1: Ultan Coyle's explains the secret to his efficiency is to sleep at any given opportunity, even when having dinner with your friends for instance. The cumulative effect allows Ultan to ride almost continuously as a result.

Photo Credit: Flo Jaqcuin / Nelson Trees

Photo Credit: Flo Jaqcuin / Nelson Trees

Tip No 2: James Hayden's tip for success is to balance a day's riding with household chores. Not only does he find it mentally relaxing, it's also important to always keep your pants clean:

Tip 3: Don't bring a (heavy) second pair of shoes with you on TCR, just ask concierge to have a look through their lost property and find two shoes that sort of fit. This ain't no fashion show. This tip was passed down from TCR 2015 veteran Gareth Baines to Rory Kemper (116) who put it into practice this evening to good effect:

Tip 4: Darren Franks shows us how he makes sure not to relax too much and risk oversleeping whilst on the road: Try to find a bed with a scary-ass face always watching you...

Tip No 5: Simon Rounding (087) shares his diet secrets: Tibetan 'go faster' Goji Berries

Tip No 6: Kristof revealed that he trims every piece of unnecessary weight off his equipment to improve his weight/speed ratio,. This includes the usual toothbrush handles and chamois cream, and now he has decided he can make do with only one sunglasses handle:

 

And finally,

Back by popular demand, we give you Rory Kemper's (116) fruit of the day:

Banana Bonus

Banana Bonus

Banana Bonanza

Banana Bonanza

“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it” – Doug Bradbury

The Transcontinental - Olympics for the crazies

At midnight tonight there's a major international sporting event that the entire world will be watching. Something called the "Olympics"? we wouldn't know, we're far too engrossed in an event that's already highly entertaining, undoubtedly the craziest international sports race ever - #TCRNo4. We would love to see a new 'ultra-endurance cyclist' discipline included in the Olympic games, but only if the riders were unsupported. Then we could sit back and watch as the athletes got totally lost, supplied crying videos mid-race and took to making impromptu plastic hats when it rained: 

SInce last writing Kristof Allegaert (003) has travelled another 300kms through Serbia and will very soon reach Niš, where we expect he'll make his way onto the E-80 down to Sofia and on to Plovdiv. Now there's nothing that Kristof can't handle, we all know that, but it's well reported by other riders and even by Kristof himself in one of his previous blogs that the E-80, especially South of Plovdiv is torturous. The holes in the road are less of the 'pot' variety, more of the 'sink', the tarmac is completely destroyed and riding it in the dark is like an Indiana Jones challenge. Parts of it has little to no hard-shoulder, and it's full of truck drivers with spacial awareness impairments. The heat in the day is apparently almost unbearable, dusty too with rain storms so colossal it seems like the second coming has arrived.

Adrian O'Sullivan #TCR2013 finisher and E-80 survivor wrote this about the road "A relatively better road than the first half but very busy through out the night with heavy trucks and lorries all heading for Turkey like me, on pitch black roads I glimpsed in the corner of my headlight in the middle of the road a big red mass of skin and flesh and as I passed it not sure what kind of animal it was, only big like a sheep or large dog or even a human torso. A big lorry thundered past rolling it forwards and across towards me just missing my back wheel and off into the darkness. I thought if a lorry hit me out here in the pitch black and decided not to stop I’d probably end up a unrecognisable lump of red flesh half bike half man by morning too"

And James Jordan, #TCR2013 veteran wrote this about the route "The roads in central Bulgaria are, in a word, terrible. In a few more words, they’re really really really crap. In the dark with my woefully insufficient head lamp, I’m having to zigzag slowly back and forth, inching the bike along the narrow strips of ancient tarmac rimming cavernous potholes. This is not the triumphant charge through the night I’d envisaged."

So to sum up, that should set Kristof back by about, hmmm, 10 minutes?

Kristof Allegaert (003) at CP4. Photo Credit: James Robertson

Kristof Allegaert (003) at CP4. Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Photo Credit: James Robertson

Control 4 is reached via the longest control parcour yet: a 50km stretch though the black mountains up to it's peak - Durmitor Massif. The route takes our riders from Pluzine to Zabljak, crossing lake Piva and climbing sharply through hairpin tunnels hewn into the rock, past wooden hiking huts and the twisted strata of the peaks towards Montenegro’s highest pass at 1907m; Sedlo Pass or as the locals call it, the “Saddle of God”. They also need to pay a national park entrance fee of 3€, let's hope they've remembered this before they have to turn around and curse their way back to the nearest shop.

Control 4, sponsored by Apidura

Control 4, sponsored by Apidura

Illegal Aliens

At the time of writing only Neil Phillips (172) of the lead pack has made it to the top and is currently sleeping in Zabljak. However, the route Neil took into Montenegro it seems was for locals only, passing the border through a forest, presumably paying Robin Hood and his merry men 50 shillings and a firkin of mead to cross, but crucially not getting a Montenegro stamp in his passport. It might take a little more than that to get out of Montenegro... Carlos Mazon (060) also took that same route:

Peter Sandholt (077) took a huge detour South to ensure he passed through an official border control. This detour may have lost him time now but it could pay off later. He's staying at the bottom in Pluzine, riding the course first thing tomorrow morning we expect. Behind Peter is James Hayden (075) who has crept up into 4th place overnight. Still super strong, he is putting pressure on the lead group to maintain their positions, and only 50kms from 2nd place. We think in another place and time, James Hayden might have what it takes to challenge Kristof's crown.

James Hayden (075)

James Hayden (075)

Behind these are the usual suspects, Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) as well as Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) and Ultan Coyle (004) but joining the gang is a new face - Geoffroy Dussault (093) a professional cyclist from Canada, so he's technically at work right now, putting in some overtime. Nelson Trees (080) took the same North route as James and Kristof, 1,000m less altitude than the southern route and puts Nelson in a good place for tomorrow's ride. On the Southern pass there's Matija Ilic (105) and recovering from his extra trip to Stelvio Pass, Andy Sallnow (144).

We're sorry to hear that Mathias Dalgas (150) who was in this lead pack scratched this evening, due to a bad knee. He will still make his way to Canakkale for the finishers party, but this is where his race ends. However Bjorn Lenhard (026) is feeling much better after experiencing breathing difficulties and knee issues. A bit of rest has sorted him out and he's back on the move.

That concludes our top riders. There have been another five scratchers today: Kees Steinebach (121), David Coulon (130), Nick Pusinelli (139), Pair half Romain Mousset (205) leaving Laurent Carlier (205) and Pierre Spielewoy (227), leaving Arthur Janus to continue (227). The race is brutal - that's 38 so far.

A quick look at the ladies in the race. Emily Chappell (007) is currently in 35th, on the coastal path through Dalmatia and looking great. Her breakfast today looks tasty!

Jayne Wadsworth (005) is about 300kms behind Emily, she's just completed CP3 and looks to be taking Kristof's route out of the Alps.

Jayne Wadsworth (005) - ""It's a bit like childbirth. You forget it hurts this much and decide to do it again." (Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring)

Jayne Wadsworth (005) - ""It's a bit like childbirth. You forget it hurts this much and decide to do it again." (Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring)

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141) has also completed CP3 and is on her way to Passo di Giau. She's mostly been using her hammock camping gear but was delighted to have had hotel last night in Bolzano for the first time. Hilde Geens (031) is just about to reach CP3, currently resting in Forchiade. The weather today has been repulsive, so many riders are still hiding out - but it's not getting Rose McGovern (136) down:

Rose McGovern (136)

Rose McGovern (136)

Hand gallery

It's wet up in the Alps, very, very wet. So wet that our riders' hands are pruning up like they've been sat in the bath for 2 weeks:

Photo Credit: Camille McMillan

Photo Credit: Camille McMillan

George Marshall (210)

George Marshall (210)

Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring

Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring

Craig Boddice (173) could probably do with a bath (Photo Credit: Camille McMillan)

Craig Boddice (173) could probably do with a bath (Photo Credit: Camille McMillan)

Jayne Wadsworth (005) (Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring)

Jayne Wadsworth (005) (Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring)

Rory Kemper (116)

Rory Kemper (116)

Rob Quirk (096)

Rob Quirk (096)

Stewart "Ginge McGinge" McConnell (231)

Stewart "Ginge McGinge" McConnell (231)

No issues for Cheng Liu (037) though who brought his marigolds (Photo Credit: Davide Stanic)

No issues for Cheng Liu (037) though who brought his marigolds (Photo Credit: Davide Stanic)

Speaking of "Hands"...

Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) has been attempting to get in to Montenegro all evening but just cannot find the way in. He made the call not to follow Neil and Carlos in through the forest, but only when he got all the way up to Gacko. He then retreated, following his tracks around 22 miles back and then took a run up at Preraca, but changed his mind at the last second. He's currently travelling South on the M20, he may be aiming for Granicni Prelaz Vraćenovići but this indecisiveness is costing him positions.

Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) route into Montenegro isn't straightforward

Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) route into Montenegro isn't straightforward

Rained in

Due to the rain, many riders have been hiding out today, resting, eating, sleeping, reflecting. Nathan Jones (076) took this video today showcasing the weather:

Nathan Jones (076)

Nathan Jones (076)

Douglas Migden (047)

Douglas Migden (047)

Franziska Kühne (029)

Franziska Kühne (029)

Matt Brady (079)

Matt Brady (079)

Hanneke Van de Werf (148)

Hanneke Van de Werf (148)

Matt Swain (156)

Matt Swain (156)

Prune-y fingers crossed that the weather improves tomorrow so everyone can get off the mountain, but for this evening we'll remind everyone of Velominati's Rule No. 9: "If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period."

 

P.s. No blog tomorrow from me, i'll be back Sunday!

Two's company, but three's still winning

These riders are absolutely incredible. We just don't know how they're doing it - we took a little walk up to the corner shop this evening and had to take a nap afterwards. Our riders meanwhile are busy riding through entire countries, ticking them off like they're different ice-cream flavours to try. 

Kristof Allegaert (003) has entered his eighth country this evening, checking in to control 4 at 9:09pm. His mileage overall is definitely longer, but his route through central Croatia and over the boarder crossing at Brod into Bosnia and Herzegovina has at least afforded him a route around the Bjelašnica mountain range. In fact, his Free Route stats suggest that his path since the alps has been relatively flat. Despite this all other riders have chosen the Southern path to CP4, which is shorter in distance by about 250km. The only rider so far who looks to be considering it is Jurgen Knupe, and we so want him to go for it. Perhaps one of the Volvo team cars could lay a path of M&M's in that general direction and see who takes the bait.

In the following pack, at the time of writing this Mathias Dalgas (150) is in the lead with Neil Phillips (172) only 2kms behind. Mathias and Neil are tucked up in bed, leaving Peter Sandholt (077) to tiptoe past being careful not to wake them, and streak off into the distance. We're sure Mathias won't be having any of that for long, he's been asleep for 4 hours now so it's likely he'll soon wake from his slumber and dominate the pack again. 

30kms behind these three is Carlos Mazon (060) but he's not had much sleep in the past 24 hours either, so is due a kip soon. Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (56) is next. His sleep pattern looks as if he's only taking about 10 minutes at a time, but very frequently. Perhaps he has Narcolepsy. It's a strategy that's paying off though as he maintains his position in the pack. 

Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) has really had a tough time this evening. His post that we attempted to translate poorly, explains that he hasn't yet slept in a hotel, roughing it every night to try to keep on the road, but it's taking its toll on him. Alexandre is an incredibly strong rider, both physically and mentally, and it's dealing with lows like this that separate those that ride long distances, from ultra-endurance champions. We hope that a good night's rest will see him right for a better day tomorrow.

Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) sits in quiet reflection - Photo Credit: Norbert Münch‎

Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) sits in quiet reflection - Photo Credit: Norbert Münch

Further back we have three riders all close to each other but taking different routes through Croatia's Dalmatian region. Geoffroy Dussault (093) has been quietly working hard to gain on our previous lead pack members, and has opted for the coastal route. Ultan Coyle has taken the middle road, and looks to be staying at Albatros B&B, whether in a comfy bed, or out in their back garden looking longingly through a window, we just don't know. And to the North is, incredibly, James Hayden (075) now officially in a top 10 position. This man is a total inspiration. He sets a goal, and sticks to it. He's just crossed into Bosnia and Herzegovina via the Bihać border crossing which means he's probably on his way to Sarajevo and will descend on CP4 from the North. 

Behind these three we have Matija Ilic (105), Nelson Trees (080), Andy Sallnow (144), Michael Wacker (072) and Vincent Muhlethaler (168), and what's this? Stuart Birnie (142) back in the game! To be honest we thought his southerly diversion had finished his chances, but that's the beauty of this race, it's all about the long game, and Stuart might have tactically saved leg energy by avoiding all those mountains. We'll see.

These riders are all so close together, this might be the first year that we need a photo finish. However, there's still Albania to come for some, a terrain that takes no prisoners.

For a more detailed account of Kristof's ride over the past few days, dot-watcher-en-route Christopher Jobmann has written this blog about his time waiting at CP3.

A quick note on scratchers for today: Stephen McCarron (033) - ongoing knee trouble. Dominik Möller (036), Rafael Hernández (051), Abhishek Dahiya (069), Tim Beicht (085) made it to CP2 but felt that he couldn't continue. Christopher Litt (123), Miroslav Važík (127), Robbrecht Desmet (129), Thomas Rounding (174), and Thomas Quinn (221) who was part of a pairs team with Richard Egan (221), who is continuing solo.

Is two company, or a crowd?

30 pairs started TCRNo4 in Geraardsbergen. These couples are riding a very different race to solo riders, experiencing both advantages and disadvantages over solo riders. The overwhelming positives are that they have company, support and another brain to help with decision-making. Small things help - someone to look after your bike if you need to go into a shop, someone to talk you out of slumps. Pairs can also draft. But for every one of those positives, there is a negative. Someone to disagree with, someone you have to wait for when you want to get going, two different paces - especially during climbs. Petty arguments when the going gets tough, and just a general need to synchronise body movements and sleep patterns. There's been a number of scratchers from the pairs category, but there are still 23 pairs together, and so we thought we'd take a moment to see how they're getting on. 

Adam Krabbe (211) and Max Lindberg (211) enjoy some lunch after completing the Ofenpass (Photo Credit: Christopher Jobmann)

Adam Krabbe (211) and Max Lindberg (211) enjoy some lunch after completing the Ofenpass (Photo Credit: Christopher Jobmann)

Adam Krabbe (211) and Max Lindberg (211) are closing in on CP2. These Swedish friends seem to be getting along well, we know they slept in a garage last night with another rider pair Burkay Günay (206) and Muammer Yildiz (206), but seem to have found a very inviting bar to sleep in tonight. 

Andrew Boyd (212) and James Stannard (212) are friends and recreational racers from London. They are currently the leading pair and are likely to be the first pair into the finish. They seem to be very fast, but still managing lots of sleep, regularly using a hashtag #sleepmoreridefaster. Both strong riders and climbers, their strategy is to ride hard and fast all day and to book a hotel each night for a proper night’s sleep.

Andrew Boyd (212) and James Stannard (212)

Andrew Boyd (212) and James Stannard (212)

Thomas Chavrier (204) and Charlotte Dequevauviller (204) are a couple in real life too. Thomas is a courier in Paris and wanted to do TCR after watching last year's race. Charlotte wasn't an experienced cyclist but loved the idea of TCR, so she took to the saddle only a year ago, even changing her job to also become a courier in order to train for the race. They are currently 59th tonight despite a broken derailleur on Charlottes's bike just before the alps. 

Giorsio Raboen (229) & Lamri Adjis (229) before Lamri scratched

Giorsio Raboen (229) & Lamri Adjis (229) before Lamri scratched

Alberto Vaghi (218) and Gualtiero Rossano (218) 

Alberto Vaghi (218) and Gualtiero Rossano (218) 

In other news...

This pic of the team made me choke on my tea this morning:

The riders are still finding unique and inventive places to sleep:

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010)

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010)

Sleeping rider Emily Chappell (007) (Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring)

Sleeping rider Emily Chappell (007) (Photo Credit: Juliana Buhring)

Chris Dennis (146)

Chris Dennis (146)

Sleeping riders (Photo Credit: Camille McMillan)

Sleeping riders (Photo Credit: Camille McMillan)

Max Lindberg (211)

Max Lindberg (211)

Andy Sallnow (144)  - not satisfied with completing the 4 mandatory checkpoints, decided to visit 2014's Checkpoint 2, Stelvio Pass - the second highest pass in the Alps. It doesn't seem to have even phased him or affected his position that much - currently in 13th!

Just to make it clear how huge (literally) an error this was, here's a picture of Stelvio:

Photo: Transcontinental 2014

Photo: Transcontinental 2014

Mechanicals & Weather

It's currently hoofing it down between CP2 & CP3, so many riders are understandably taking the night to shelter from the thunder and lightening storms. A good excuse for everyone in the region to pause and gain some sleep but it puts a bigger distance between them and the leaders...

We've also seen and heard about lots of mechanicals and equipment failures today,

Matt Swain (156) has a screw loose

Matt Swain (156) has a screw loose

Stanislav Piorkowski (134) reportedly had issues with his back wheel, and Chris Dennis (146) had a snapped spoke. Rudy Rollenberg (162) had a flat: 

Rudy Rollenberg (162) flat tyre

Rudy Rollenberg (162) flat tyre

But thank goodness, we can report that there have been no more cock-related injuries today. 

And finally, here's Rory Kemper (116)'s pair of apricots:

Rory Kemper (116)

Rory Kemper (116)

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

Miles to gain, lots of pain

It's official, Kristof Allegaert (003) is AN ENTIRE COUNTRY ahead of the next rider. And whereas most riders would choose the flatter and more populated coastal route to CP4, Kristof of course heads straight through the centre of the barren and wild Dinaric Alps where food and drink are hard to come by, but hills are aplenty. He cycles like a kid who's just realised it's way past his curfew. Perhaps he only booked a week off work?  His only rival now is the Volvo team car, who are actually having to move their entire schedule to make it to the finish line before him.

Meanwhile, the next eight riders are jostling for position through the foothills of Slovenia. In current order we have Mathias Dalgas (150) shooting into prime position. Carlos Mazon (60) is only 20kms behind, with Peter Sandholt (77) and Neil Phillips (172) hot on his heels.  Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) has made a bizarre move of heading for Lazzaretto, we can't quite understand why, we're sure they sell ice-creams inland too. Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) isn't far behind and fresh out of the Alps is Ultan Coyle (004) and Nelson Trees (080).

Previous lead group members Matija Ilic (105) Bjorn Lenhard (26) and Stuart Birnie (142) are still stuck in the mountains, but by gum - if it isn't James Hayden (75) joining in the fondue party! This man is made of tough stuff, we would love to see James achieve his goal of a top 10 finish telling his chest infection where to stick it. 

Let's take a look at some others who have made it into significant positions today. There's Vincent Muehlethaler (168) who is currently careening down the side of Monte Civetta to place in the top 20, along with Andy Sallnow (144) and Michael Wacker (072) who has been consistent throughout the race and is now sitting in 14th overall position.  

There were seven scratchers today, they are: Gafyn Meredith (100) - cock-related injuries, Alice Williams (109) - Achilles heel issues, Jurriaan Oudhoff (143), Katie L'Herpiniere (178) reported that she has had been experiencing a bad stomach and after a few days of feeling quite delirious on the road decided it was time to scratch. One half of pair team Michal Waszak (214) leaving Zuzanna Madaj (214) and finally one part of team 227 Pierre Spielewoy (227) leaving Arthur Janus (227).

To make sure everyone get's a bit of coverage here, we're going to pull out a couple of riders who our dot-watcher extraordinaire's are following intently. Tonight's is Stuart James (006). This from his dot-watcher Claud Butler:

Stuart James has passed Pontarlier at 4.32pm today (3.8.16) and crossed the French-Swiss border at 5.45pm today and is currently in 172nd place. He is racing on his bright orange bike with a water tank mounted between the aero-bars. And whilst it does not make him the fastest racer he hopes that the colour of the bike will be good protection against the Balkan dogs. Stuart seems well prepared for the Swiss and Italian mountains. He has had mountain training in the Dolomiti only 4 weeks ago and now, as he would say in his second language: Daglar beni cagirdi, ben de duydum (The Mountains called - I listened).
— Claud Butler (Dot Watcher)
Stuart James (006)

Stuart James (006)

In other news...

Whilst Mike and his team lord it up in their Barvarian castle accommodation this evening...

... Let's spare a thought for Camille McMillan and his team who's accommodation is somewhat less desirable:

Camille sleeps with one eye open tonight

Camille sleeps with one eye open tonight

At least they have beds, this lot would kill for a gypsy caravan right now:

Adam Krabbe (211), Max Lindberg (211) / Burkay Günay (206) Muammer Yildiz (206)

Adam Krabbe (211), Max Lindberg (211) / Burkay Günay (206) Muammer Yildiz (206)

Pleasure v Pain

It's been an emotional and painful day for some, whilst others have been having the times of their lives. Here are some of our riders and team experiencing both pain and pleasure:

PAIN: Stephane Ouaja (012) (Photo Credit: PedalEd)

PAIN: Stephane Ouaja (012) (Photo Credit: PedalEd)

PLEASURE: Rishi Fox (152)

PLEASURE: Rishi Fox (152)

PAIN: Nelson Trees (080) (Photo Credit: Heikki Tanskanen)

PAIN: Nelson Trees (080) (Photo Credit: Heikki Tanskanen)

PLEASURE: Mike Hall and AH Studio Film Makers enjoying a trip on the lake

PLEASURE: Mike Hall and AH Studio Film Makers enjoying a trip on the lake

PAIN: Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) (Photo Credit: James Robertson)

PAIN: Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) (Photo Credit: James Robertson)

PLEASURE: Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141) arriving into CP2

PLEASURE: Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141) arriving into CP2

PAIN: Joshua Rea (64)

PAIN: Joshua Rea (64)

PLEASURE: Hilde Geens (031) reaching CP2

PLEASURE: Hilde Geens (031) reaching CP2

PAIN: Demian Barlaro (081)

PAIN: Demian Barlaro (081)

PLEASURE: Click to listen toJoshua Rea (064) getting a picture with a llama

PAIN: Matt Swain (156)

PAIN: Matt Swain (156)

PAIN: Gafyn Meredith (100)

PAIN: Gafyn Meredith (100)

Talking of pain, we must recap what happened to Stephane Ouaja (012) last night... Stephane took a wrong turn somewhere on the 'Kantonsstrasse' road last night between CP2 & CP3, and found himself on what started as a gravel path and ended up steeper and steeper until he slowly reached a very cold and pitch black mountain peak. He posted these messages on Facebook:

He got in touch with the dot watchers to explain what had happened, and sent us these reports (careful, some (completely justified) strong language!)

You can see from the map below the route he travelled which took him eventually onto a mountain bike path which he had to navigate in the dark, with his bike on his shoulder, climbing down a scree path wearing cleats. It is essentially a ski-slope. I don't think a man has ever been happier to see the town of Davos. "Type-2" fun!

That's all we can manage for today, there's just time for a quick Fruit Update from Rory Kemper (116) who went against his audience's banana-requests and chose an apple:

And our parting quote, today from Winston Churchill:

"If you're going through hell, keep going".

Eat. Sleep. Ride. Repeat.

Not content with riders climbing a volcano, a glacier and three mountains, Mike Hall's evil master plan includes a third control in the heart of the Dolomites for the sole purpose of 'keeping riders in the mountains for longer and out of the flat lands of the Italian Po Valley'. 

The parcours for control 3 begins at Alleghe.  A beautiful but brutal climb with a long straight approach from the West, riders will see exactly what is being asked of them with a steep and twisting decent into the Biois Valley testing their brakes and handling skills.  From here they will climb via the 'old' road through Selva di Cadore to Control 3, the top of the Passo di Giau (2236m). 

Kristof Allegaert (003) arrived at Control 3 just after 3pm this afternoon looking fresh as a daisy. We believe he took a quick power nap here, and was soon off again, aiming for what looks like the b100 drautal straße to Spittal an dur Drau, to begin his route South.

Kristof Allegaert (001) arrives at Control 3

Kristof Allegaert (001) arrives at Control 3

For Kristof fans, here are some facts about him:

  • Kristof eats bullets and nails as snacks
  • He wears sunglasses so that his eyes won't hurt the sun
  • Kristof's jersey is actually made from a cloth they found in the meteorite he hatched out of
  • His day job is to power Belgium's national grid on his turbo
  • And so on.

To get your Kristof hit for the day, watch Apidura's video here:

Here are a few more shots taken from CP2 & CP3 today:

Control 2 - Sponsored by Kinesis BIkes

Control 2 - Sponsored by Kinesis BIkes

 

Movers & Shakers

Carlos Mazon (060) looks likely to be the second man into CP3. Bjorn Lenhard (026) is only an hour behind, but is taking what looks to be a slightly longer Southerly route via Predazzo. Also close is Neil Phillips (172) who is cutting right through the middle of Carlos and Bjorn's routes. Just behind Neil is Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (56) who we haven't mentioned before, so either he put in some serious effort today to get into top 5 or we missed his flag yesterday in our sleep deprived state. Hans-Rudolf is a highly-decorated ultra cyclist, he came first overall in the over 50's category for RAAM 2014 and came third in Race around Ireland in 2015, amongst other achievements. 

Behind the top 5 in current order are Mathias Dalgas (150), Peter Sandholt (077), Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002), Ultan Coyle (004), Nelson Trees (080), Matija Ilic (105) and Andy Sallnow (144). All to play for. The riders have started to thin out now giving us a clear view of current positioning. What we don't know is who has and hasn't slept properly, and as these riders won't make CP3 before midnight, it will be interesting to see who rides through and who take rest on the mountain. 

Completely separate to the main group is Stuart Birnie (142) and not far behind, Jurgen Knupe (046). Stuart reported that his route was about to take him onto a (banned) autostrada so he had to reroute.  Stuart may turn this re-route into an opportunity, attempting to thwart Mike's evil plan by avoiding the mountains completely and cycling an extra (but flatish) 120kms to use the back entrance of CP3. We hope when he gets there he creeps up behind Mike and shouts boo. Given that he's a TT champ, this route could work in his favour, but we do wonder if he's still got all his marbles as his last tweet showed that he thought he'd just cycled through Sweden. 

PedalEd were out on the road today between CP2 & CP3 asking riders Stefan Slegl (140), Samuli Mäkinen (84) and Stephane Ouaja (012) how they slept last night:

Keep up to date with PedalEd's #TCRNo4 Photo of the Day here.

Scratchers

Six official scratchers for the today, starting with Adrian Bailey (035), Xavier Pesnel (132) and Lara Prior-Palmer (180).

Also , one half of pair team Joseph Duffy (210) leaving George Marshall to continue the race solo:

Joseph Duffy (210) leaving George Marshall (210) to continue the race solo

Joseph Duffy (210) leaving George Marshall (210) to continue the race solo

And now official, Jesper Sørensen (048) has scratched. We last reported Jesper heading North for a short spell, then back South - this was likely to have something to do with the food poisoning he contracted from a bad chicken sandwich (and not from capturing Pokemon, as we speculated). Another pair member Lamri Adjis (229) has also scratched, with Giorsio Raboen (229) remaining in the race - Despite losing his partner Giorsio still seems in great spirits:

Giorsio Raboen (229)

Giorsio Raboen (229)

In other news...

Darren Franks's (114) body parts have taken to Twitter to protest about unfair work conditions. @Darrensarse started the revolt and @Darrensballs were quick to pitch in. We hope for Darren's sake that no other body parts join in and they can resolve the dispute without losing any members.

(Image credit: Janis Sipkovs and Clive O'Connell)

(Image credit: Janis Sipkovs and Clive O'Connell)

Nick Pusinelli (139) and Mikko Mäkipää (044) took the road less travelled through the mountains today:

But then the parcours from CP2 to CP3 doesn't look a whole lot better:

Rory Kemper's (116) Fruit of the day is an orange. We'll keep you up to date on all fruit developments from Rory.

There are distinctly less food shots coming on today, indicating how difficult it is to come by. Charles Batho (159) and Darren Franks (114) don't seem to be having any problems though:

Charles Batho (159)

Charles Batho (159)

Darren Franks (114)

Darren Franks (114)

Darren Franks (114)

Darren Franks (114)

Rob Jordan (061) found a luxury apartment to spend the night in, whereas Lars Jørgen Landsem (009), did not. And to add insult to injury the automatic sprinklers turned on him at 5am. Nice wake up call.

Rob Jordan (061)

Rob Jordan (061)

Lars Jørgen Landsem (009)

Lars Jørgen Landsem (009)

We'll leave you this evening with a quote from Haruki Murakami:

"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Day 3 draws to a close, and at the time of writing this there are only 12 riders (including 2 pair teams) left to reach checkpoint 1. which means that if everything goes to schedule, everyone will get through CP1 before it closes. Great effort. If you haven't already seen it, here's the video blog from the first 48hrs: 

The majority of riders are now on their way to CP2 and we're really beginning to see some variety in their route choices. The mass are travelling on a more northerly route through Charolles, crossing the Saône river at Tournus, but around a quarter look to be taking a more southerly route through Lyon and Geneva. The mileage looks shorter on the Southern pass but they have to encounter more hills, so it's really a matter of where your strengths as a rider lie. 

Kristof 'the machine' Allegaert (003) reached checkpoint 2 at 10:57 this morning, and still hasn't slept properly. Theories include him being a Telsa-manufactured cyborg, part-animal/human hybrid or that he's actually a twin in a Prestige-style cover up that he's kept secret his entire life (sorry, film spoiler for those who haven't seen The Prestige). He must rest soon, but then so must all the riders. His veracity may be because the next nearest rider is only 50kms away... Björn Lenhard (026) must have had his Weetabix. While most of us today have struggled through our 9-5 jobs, Bjorn has put in an exemplary performance, passing Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002), Carlos Mazon (060), Ultan Coyle (004), Neil Phillips (172) and Nelson Trees (080). No wonder Kristof is still pedalling hard. A quick reminder on Björn Lenhard's pedigree - Björn won 2015's Paris-Brest-Paris unsupported, 1,230kms in 42hrs 26mins, and apparently all on a single Nutella baguette. 

We should also mention a few new names that have made it into the lead pack. There's Peter Sandholt (077) who we flagged as a wildcard in the first blog post. There's also Matthias Dalgas (150). Hear how he's getting on here. And just behind Andy Sallnow (144) and Stuart Birnie (142) (who has made a remarkable recovery from his route issues through France), is Matija Ilic (105) who has shared some images of his day in Switzerland below:

Here's the delighted smile and a thumbs up from Carlos Mazon (060) reaching the top of the Furkapass:

That covers all the riders expected into CP2 by tonight. Here are some shots taken at CP2 today:

Scratchers

We have had some terrible news today that Martian Cioana (101) got hit by a car at 0:30 GMT (1:30am CET). It was a hit and run, throwing Martian off his bike and into a ditch. Martian was taken to hospital by a passer-by and thank goodness, is okay. He even finished riding to Check Point 1, but has now scratched from the race. We wish Martian a full and speedy recovery. All riders have trained so hard in preparation for this race, it must be devastating to scratch, especially when it's not from your own free will, so our hearts go out to those who this has happened to. Other scratchers from today are Matt Robertson (040) and Hendrik De Vries (058). 

We can fully immerse ourselves in the rider's experience of the Furkapass, with this handy live webcam. Pretty dark at the time of writing this, but we took a shot earlier in the day, so you can see the intimidating view that the riders have before them. Many are now sleeping before attempting this tomorrow bright and early.

Webcam shot of the Furkapass

Webcam shot of the Furkapass

What kind of race is this?

There is surely no other race in the world where riders race so hard, yet still find the time to hop into a BMX park to pull out some trick moves, such as Simon Williams (202) here:

And where else could you get away with spokey dokeys on your wheels? 

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141)

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141)

It's the kind of race where you can also stop to do your weekly shop:

Mikko Mäkipää (044)

Mikko Mäkipää (044)

Equipment Alterations

Charles Batho (159) must be playing the long game, because despite completing most of the flat without aerobars, he's now getting them fitted for the mountains - hopefully they'll be of benefit to him on the descents!

Charles Batho (159)

Charles Batho (159)

Rishi Fox (152) heard that sandals are the fashion in Switzerland:

We've also heard that Stuart Birnie (142) is having 'rear end issues and is considering scratching'. Stuart, don't touch it any more, there are creams for that. We have also seen this sneak preview of his saddle, which may explain things: 

Stuart Birnie's saddle: Posted by 'Owl' on the LFGGS Forum

Stuart Birnie's saddle: Posted by 'Owl' on the LFGGS Forum

But on a serious note, please keep going Stuart, we are willing you on!

 

Fuelling strategy

Today's prize for most excellent fuelling strategy has to go to Rob Quirk (096) who as you can see from his tracker, went to Subway, then immediately on to McDonald's. A quick pop up Col de Ceyssat and then straight back to McDonald's again:

Rob Quirk (096) - Fuelling Strategy

Rob Quirk (096) - Fuelling Strategy

These three are dining out in style:

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010) - Healthy option

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010) - Healthy option

Gavin Scott (013) - A glass of red

Gavin Scott (013) - A glass of red

Emily Chappell (007) - pancakes & coffee

Emily Chappell (007) - pancakes & coffee

These two riders have gone for the takeaway option:

Mathias Dalgas (150) - Drive Thru

Mathias Dalgas (150) - Drive Thru

Rory Kemper (116) - Peachy bum

Rory Kemper (116) - Peachy bum

The road ahead

Some riders are finding the easy road through the final part of France, others are still struggling to get off the unbeaten track:

Alex Wright (098) - the long road ahead

Alex Wright (098) - the long road ahead

Nathan Jones (076) - also a long road ahead

Nathan Jones (076) - also a long road ahead

 

'Pain du Jour'

The race is starting to take it's toll on people, we've seen some very tired faces, but this picture from Simon Rounding (087) inspired us to seek out more tired eyes:

Simon Rounding (087), Nelson Trees (080), Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002)

Simon Rounding (087), Nelson Trees (080), Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002)

To finish

Whilst we write this, we have heard that James Hayden (075) has rested from his chest infection and has started racing again - he has put it out there: he is aiming for a top-10 finish! Good man!

To finish off, here's the video from today's riding, entitled 'Where should I sleep?!' - are all you dot-watchers becoming sleep deprived too? We are!

Health check, route check, checkpoint 1

Last night Kristof Allegaert (003) arrived at Checkpoint 1 at 21:56pm CET, which means he completed the entire first leg in just under 24hrs. All riders then have to ascent Le col de Ceyssat which is around 15kms distance, and 1 078m steady climb (Starting from around 5-600m). Kristof arrived at the summit at 23:23pm. 

Bernd Paul (015), never far behind hit the control point around half an hour after Kristof, and proceeded to the peak arriving just after 12am. Interestingly, Kristof chose to take rest in the town that evening whereas Bernd continued on, giving him the lead on Kristof for a few hours. This leapfrogging will now start to occur through the race as sleep requirements start to kick in, so factor this in to your dot-watching. That said, last year's winner Josh Ibbett had a very low overall sleep to cycle ratio proving to us all that those who snooze, do indeed lose.

Kristof's sleep stop looked to be either incredibly strategic or just a stroke of luck as he missed most of this epic downpour that the rest of the riders had to endure:

Tweet from Jack Thurston showing Kristof's sleep stop coinciding with heavy rain

Tweet from Jack Thurston showing Kristof's sleep stop coinciding with heavy rain

 

Riders came into the checkpoint thick and fast through the night and into the following day, including first woman rider Emily Chappell (007)  At the time of writing this 103 riders have checked in so far (See the full list in order here). 

Movers & Shakers

James Hayden (075) at Check Point 1, succumbing to a chest infection

James Hayden (075) at Check Point 1, succumbing to a chest infection

James Hayden came into CP1 in 3rd place but immediately told the team that he believes he has a chest-infection, putting an end to his win-bid. James is currently resting up at CP1, with the hope that he can continue racing soon. 

Bernd Paul (015) has also been suffering today, with the same sun-induced skin condition that finished his race last year. Bernd unfortunately has had to scratch. Other scratchers from today are Christopher Herbert (182) and James Coleman (153).

Pushing on with the race is Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) only 60km behind Kristof, closely followed by Carlos Mazon (060), Ultan Coyle (004) and Neil Phillips (172). Behind them is Nelson Trees (080), Bjorn Lenhard (026) and Andy Sallnow (144). And these riders are too, followed closely by a strong tail of riders all pointing in the right direction - Switzerland.

If the riders thought France was tough, they won't know what's hit them with this second stage. Starting in the shadow of the Eiger's North Face at Grindelwald, riders will start the longest parcours of any TCR control to date. They will first climb the Grosse Scheidegg before descending to Innertkirchen and on to Grimselpass. This will lead them to the source of the Rhone river as they climb past the mighty Rhone glacier on elevated roadways clinging to the mountain side to the top of the Furkapass, to reach Check Point 2.

The mountain passes are notoriously difficult, and are always a key element of any Transcontinental race (we can hear Mike Hall's evil chuckle in the distance...). One man who is very familiar with the challenges of TCR is Mikko Mäkipää (044) who is the only rider to have ridden all 4 of the TCR races. He summed up what the race is all about in this amusing clip - make sure you watch it on a desktop with subtitles, it's worth it! 

 

Sleeping arrangements

Now 48hrs into the race, most people have had some form of sleep. Here is a diverse range of sleep spots chosen by our riders:

David Winton (175) - Hobbit House

David Winton (175) - Hobbit House

Adam Krabbe (211)

Adam Krabbe (211)

Rudy Rollenberg (162)

Rudy Rollenberg (162)

Matt Brady (079)

Matt Brady (079)

There has also been some interesting sign spotting throughout France:

Emily Chappell (007)

Emily Chappell (007)

Mikko Mäkipää (044)

Mikko Mäkipää (044)

Eating anything and everything continues to be the theme of the day, we've selected some of the choices on the menu du jour for these ladies. Get it whilst you can riders, the mountains of Switzerland on a national bank holiday will not be fruitful...

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092) - Cold Baked Beans

Cheng-Hui Hsieh (092) - Cold Baked Beans

Rose McGovern (136) - Tarmac Picnic

Rose McGovern (136) - Tarmac Picnic

Emily Chappell (007) - one huge meringue

Emily Chappell (007) - one huge meringue

Alice Williams (109) - Haribo

Alice Williams (109) - Haribo

"Full Value" Riders

Some riders are getting full use of their race entry by exploring France thoroughly before moving down to CP1. Jesper Sørensen (048) started going North for some time, we believe he caught his Pokemon, and is now thankfully going South again. 

Cheng-Hui Hsieh's (092) and the Italian pair team Alberto Varni and Mattia Biffi (228) both took the 'all-over-the-shop' route, we can only assume they were being chased by bees for a short spell. 

 

We'll leave you tonight with a final image, a look at the mountainous range these bold riders are about to tackle in order to get to CP2 & CP3, so many hills so many paths to take, so many opportunities to get totally lost...

Managing the essentials - route, food & sleep

24hrs since the race began and already so much has happened. Josh Ibbett is out, at the time of writing this 7 riders have scratched from the race. And we have two riders already pulling away from the group to contend for the lead…

Movers & Shakers

Last year’s winner Josh Ibbett (001) was the one to beat, but only 303kms in Josh has had to scratch from the race with a reoccurring back injury. We’ll give you more info on Josh if we get it. Sorry to see Josh go so early.

Kristoff Allegardt (003) is predictably leading the pack, travelling at an incredible average moving pace of 32.6kph (at time of writing). Just behind him is Bernd Paul (015). Bernd raced in Transcontinental 2015 and fifth overall when he had to scratch on the top of Mount Ventoux due to a severe reaction to the sun. Bernd is a very strong and experienced rider, winning Race around Ireland in 2010, 2012 and 2015, so certainly has the calibre to win TCR – he might be one of the only riders willing on the rain!

Not far behind is Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) – Alex has been cycling for over 15 years and for the last two has had professional coaching, which has definitely paid off given his 2nd place last year. There’s also Bjorn Lenhard (026) who won Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in 2015, and in exceptional style as he was completely unsupported. Neil Phillips (172) is one half of the pair-category winners from 2015 which he raced with Timothy France. This year he is taking the challenge alone which seems to be working in his favour so far. And just behind Neil is James Hayden (075) who has clearly reflected on last year’s efforts to put in a more consistent performance this year.  Not too far behind is Carlos Mazon (060) who last year came 4th overall in Trans Am, and Nelson Trees (080) who's credentials include hand-building a carbon-fibre tandem and riding it with a friend from Shanghai to Paris. Nelson also was in a strong position in 2015 TCR but had to scratch due to injury.

Those who have scratched so far are Michel Sutter (161), Pair team Sebastian Zimmermann and Nebil Abdulgadir (220), Stefano Mantegazza (068), One half of pair team Bruno Le Bras (223) leaving his partner Sylvain Blairon to continue solo, and Dmitry Motylev (160).

Directionally Challenged…

A consistent theme from the first day has been people getting lost. Stuart Birnie (142) chose to move away from the peloton towards a ‘West’ route which he quickly regretted:

Stuart Birnie (142)

Stuart Birnie (142)

Franziska Kühne (029) also took a scenic route:

Franziska Kühne (029)

Franziska Kühne (029)

In fact many seem to be sampling the delights of rural France…

Abigail Connor (207) riding in pairs category with George Aldridge

Abigail Connor (207) riding in pairs category with George Aldridge

Matt Brady (079)

Matt Brady (079)

The TCR Diet 

The famous French cuisine is on offer for the next few days, if only they can find shops and restaurants that are open. Good luck on Sunday riders...  They may all have to opt for the 'Gareth Baines Approach' which consists of eating more cheeseburgers in one sitting than is humanly decent, and filling every available space on bike or body with spare cheeseburgers. It doesn't just have to be cheeseburgers though:

Gavin Scott (013)

Gavin Scott (013)

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010)

Jan-Willem Bobbink (010)

Jacopo Porreca (171)

Jacopo Porreca (171)

Emily Chappell (007)

Emily Chappell (007)

Mikko Makipaa (044)

Mikko Makipaa (044)

 

Sleep Patterns

Sleep is an essential element to a race performance, some will have opted for no sleep at all for the first 24hrs, some find more regulated sleep is required for them to continue riding. Will riders sleep in a hotel every time, or on the side of the road? A bit of both? Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141) seems to have it sussed, perhaps Max Lindberg (211) less so...

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141)

Johanna Josten-van Duinkerken (141)

Max Lindberg (211)

Coming Up

For the leaders, they'll reach Check Point 1, Clermont-Ferrand in France's Massif Central this evening. From the city, the riders take a gradual 15km climb to the Col de Ceyssat, just south of the dormant volcano, Puy de Dôme. For many riders though, their second day will be making it through Southern France, attempting to find food, drink and sleep stops, whilst pushing through the miles. We also hear that thunderstorms are predicted for the region, so wet-weather gear may see it's first outing. 

Well done to all riders who have made it through the first 24hrs, commiserations to those that haven't, and good luck for the next stage of the ride...

Josh Ibbett wins 3rd Transcontinental Race

Josh Ibbett first finisher after 4239km in 9 days // 23 hours // 54 minutes.

After a ride of 4239km Britain’s Josh Ibbett wins the 3rd Transcontinental race into the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul.

175 Racers set off from the Muur van Geraardsbergen in Belgium last Saturday.

Ibbett wins after finishing second in last years event and reached the Rumeli Hisari at 00:54 local time (EET) as second place France’s Alexandre Bourgeonnier was still approaching the Turkish border with Bulgaria with just under 400km between him and the finish.  Ibbett returned with the experience of 2014 under his belt, a more robust plan and a bigger hunger for the win.

 

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