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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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:
Back by popular demand, we give you Rory Kemper's (116) fruit of the day:
“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it” – Doug Bradbury