I’ve been reading. Getting inspired. Specifically, I’ve been reading the blogs of Kristoff Allegaert, the guy who won the first edition of the race in 2013, backed up in 2014 to win the second edition, skipped the third edition to win the Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme instead, and then came back in 2016 to win the last edition by a big margin. I’m not sure if he will be lining up this year (he’s actually starting in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race from Freemantle to Sydney in 14 days, so he might still be recovering when the Transcontinental starts in July) but I really hope so (as well as being terrified by the thought).
Specifically, a few things stand out to me. The first is that he seems to have been physically pedaling his bike for over 18 hours most days. This is a little more than I have been hoping for – it doesn’t really leave a lot of time to sleep, eat, get supplies and enjoy the view! The next point is that it seems from his blogs as though it rained for most of the time, in all three of the previous editions he has ridden. Now my thoughts have certainly involved some level of precipitation, and a rain jacket is very much on the packing list, but I might have to think a bit more seriously about wet weather gear. The third thing that stood out to me was the line “Waiting around for the weather to change is not a solution”. I think it’s pretty clear that there will be some rain, and equally clear that if I am thinking about overall placings at all I’m going to have to ride through it. So again, more thought on wet weather gear.
Happily, this morning I got in some good practice. Waking up and hearing rain I nearly rolled over and went back to sleep, but a little part of me that can’t resist a race took over and pushed me out of the door to roll up to a local club race. It was over a particularly pleasant course so I figured I might as well. Unfortunately it rained basically all the way out, all the way through the race and most of the way back home.
So that is how my hands were looking by the end, and I only rode 80km! Maybe I’ll just hope that it is an unusually fine edition of the race!
The good news though is that the riding wasn’t actually that bad. My bike computer shows the average temperature as 15 degrees, and I felt fine while I was riding. I put on a rain jacket for the ride home, not to keep my dry (too late for that) but just to cut the wind and keep me a bit warmer while I wasn’t working so hard. I did pretty badly in the race unfortunately, and there were two reasons. The first is that I was loosing a lot of ground on the descents. My race bike has top end rim brakes on it and in the dry they are fantastic, but when the rain pours down they lose a LOT of their stopping power. This reinforces my decision to go with discs for Transcontinental. I’m slowly closing in on the perfect bike, and am hoping I’ll be able to tell you what it is in a couple of weeks.
The second reason I did badly is a little more disappointing – I just wasn’t fast enough. I’ve been fighting off a cold for the last couple of weeks, and I am feeling better, but I’m still not at a hundred percent. I’m hoping that was the problem, but it might also just be that I need to try harder. Anyway, still got 20 weeks to figure that out…