Transcontinental 2020 – Blog 2
Preparing for the biggest challenge of my life – Transcontinental Race No. 8.
“I’m in the middle of nowhere, miles from home, a van just nearly took me out, my bike is making funny noises and I just want to be home”
Not the news I wanted
I was 100km in to a 200km ride, the ‘Poor Student’ audax route starting in Oxford, heading to Malmesbury in Wiltshire before turning north. The final stop in Chipping Camden would take me south east back to Oxford, but for some reason I decided to stop and look at my phone somewhere in Gloucestershire, and instantly wished I hadn’t. Messages asking ‘Is that TCR cancelled then?’ made my heart sink. The official email confirmed it; Transcontinental Race No8 2020 would now be held in 2021.
To be fair, I’d been expecting it. It was mid March and the threat of Coronavirus was starting to creep over the UK and all of Europe. My girlfriend had had to make a hasty exit from Spain only days before as they were about to close their borders, so I knew things were serious, and would only get worse. Still, the news when it came was just as unwelcome.
Training until that point had been going well; I was completing at least one 100 mile ride per week, plus other decent sized rides and some strength sessions. I was feeling stronger, and meanwhile the guys at Handsling bikes were busy designing the perfect bike to take on the mammoth 2,500 mile race across Europe.
As a lifelong McLaren Formula 1 fan, I had settled on the papaya and blue colour scheme from the current cars. Simon from Handsling had managed to colour match the paint and come up with an awesome design. He was also looking into solutions for aerobar extensions as well as dynamo hubs for the hand-built wheels.
What about the bike?
I’m not sure he really knew what I was getting him into at the beginning of all this, until I urged him to watch the short film ‘Onboard the Transcontinental Race‘. This beautifully shot movie documents the sheer horror and beauty of the race.
Simon and the Handsling team have been nothing but enthusiastic about the venture from the start, and this feeds back to me and makes me want to work harder in order to do them and the bike justice.
I find it really hard to train without a specific goal, and having the race postponed meant that my season had been turned completely upside down. Not only that, but the cancellation of all British Cycling races has meant that there really is noting to train for right now; no Crits, no time trials, nothing.
Much as I try, I can’t get in to online racing, so I am in the unusual position of just being able to ride my bike, for fun! If I feel like riding 100 miles, I’ll do that, or if I don’t feel like riding one day I won’t. My plan for the summer and autumn is just ride. As much as I can or as little as I want. There will be plenty of time for training sessions, gym workouts, route planning and kit choices when the world returns to some kind of normality, so I’ll enjoy myself while I can
Take a look back at Barry’s first blog here.