The second edition of the Transcontinental Race gets underway this Saturday (9th August) whith the 101 entrants lining up at Westminster Bridge for a 8 a.m start ahead of their 2000+ mile race to Istanbul. It is a solo, self supported race with 3 checkpoints making sure the riders pass through some of cycling's most iconic locations. The route taken is decided by the rider but will end up being at least 2000 miles, with some serious climbing. Effectively a 1 stage race, there are no rules as to when or where to rest (if at all!).
One of those riders will be Martin Cox, who we are excited to be supporting for this race. Having previously completed the Lands End to John O'Groats double (3000 km) in 10 days, along with an impromptu 3 day, 1500 km ride to Poland in order to surprise family, he's used to putting in the miles on the road. We will be loading up Martins bike with a select range of our UK made bike luggage and he will be giving a test run on a lihtweight bivvy prototype. Well our bike luggage has certainly seen plenty of race action in the past, but is more accustomed to the offroad variety (Iditarod/Holyland Challenge/Tour Divide etc)than the high speed road type.
Minimal packing for the 9 days on the 1500kmHolyland Challenge for Paul Errington.
On the TCRMartin will be riding aRapide RC4, with PRO saddle and Missile Aero bars with Shimano Di2 (electronic) bar end shifters. Lighting will be provided byExposure Revo front light running off a dynamo hub.So this is a great chance for us to test and demonstrate the versatility of using this style of luggage over the typical touring panniers. Not only can you load up your mountain bike with this type of system, but it works equally effectively on a fast road bike.
The bike and luggage on a 500 mile test run.
So before he set off we managed to squeeze in a few questions.
AK. Hi Martin. The 2014 TransContinental Race kicks off on the 9th August. Can you you give us a quick account of what's involved?
MC. The race starts 8am on the 9th of August from Westminster Bridge, and it finishes upon arrival at the Rumeli Hisari in Istanbul, whenever you arrive. There’s no support, no drafting (riding with others) and the only supplies are to be commercially available. The route is up to each rider, taking in 3 control points in france, italy and montenegro - the rest is completely individual. It's modern day adventure racing!
AK. You've done a few long distance rides, how do you feel this will compare to these previous rides.
MC. Well this is only a couple of hundred miles longer than my biggest so far, but then I had a support vehicle and crew to assist with food, washing and directions etc. none of that is available this time around, so its a new beast completely. there are so many variables that flexibility and adaptability are absolutely key to completion (and success)
AK. What do you expect to be the hardest bit?
MC. Keeping focused at nights can be tricky, but the hardest bit is the great variable; the weather. if it rains it could be torrential, if its hot it could be well past 100f! packing the right kit for so many probabilities is an adventure in itself
AK. Is there anything that you're particularly looking forward to?
MC. I’d love to be in contact with my pre-race schedule on day 3 and be climbing the Stelvio (Italy) in the morning before it gets too hot - the scenery there is fabulously iconic in cycling!
AK.How long do you plan to take?
MC. In my head, 8 days is do-able. In reality, 10 days would be pleasing. worst-case, my flights come back on the 22nd!
AK. So how much sleep does that mean you plan on having?
MC. 4 hours is the plan, maybe split into 3 and 1, night and day. but after a few days I’ll just have to listen to the body and ignore the ego
AK. Any reasons why you're not loading your bike with racks and panniers and taking a couple of weeks to do it?
MC. It’s a race! I think some people are still using panniers, but there is more of a move towards streamlined luggage like the Koala seat pack to help keep the whole unit more aero. It’s not just aerodynamically faster, but the bike handles much more like a bike still, rather than having so much weight and bulk over the wheels. Traditional touring is still cool, but it is that, touring. This is too fast and far to be considered a tour, the clock is always ticking.
AK. We've loaded up your nice lightweight, streamlined road bike with some of our bike luggage. It's more used to being on a mountain bike out in the wilds than fast paced road work, so how will you be using it?
MC. The name of the game is speed, maximising time pedalling and minimising time standing around. So getting to each item is essential, as is being able to store it quickly afterwards. The Alpkit luggage has done a great job on a recent 500 mile training ride, really keeping everything stowed efficiently
AK. What's going in each bit?
MC. Koala seat pack: change of cycling clothes, sandals, items that are needed at night
Stem Cell: food, drink,
Fuel Pods: 1 will have food bits in, what ever I’m eating over the day. 1 will have hygiene and personal essentials, sudocrem, plasters, suncream etc. and the last one, will have tools, spares etc - hopefully never to be needed!
Possum frame bag: cables, batteries, electronics. bits and pieces that are needed throughout the day
AK. How many languages of the countries you pass through can you speak?
MC. My English is pretty good, my German (Switzerland) is passable, I can flirt in French - which may or may not be useful, and that may well be it!
AK. Well I hope your passport is up to date.
MC. So do I!