The hype train is powering full steam ahead as the details of the fifth edition of the Transcontinental Race became public. In true, Transcontinental, style it’s a cross between the stunning beauty of Europe and gruelling climbs. Maybe more intriguing, is that this edition is also the first non-coastal finish. There have been changes to finisher classifications and even considerations on media teams, clearly demonstrating the growth of this event. So where are we going this year…
Firstly, a brief overview for those unfamiliar with the format. The Transcontinental Race is the brain child of ultra-endurance supremo Mike Hall, who you may recognise from the equally brutal 2745 mile Tour Divide which he completed in a mind boggling 13 Days 22 Hours 51 Minutes. The race itself is self-supported, no team cars, no staying with friends, pre-booking accommodation, or even guidance from your mum. You plan the route via the checkpoints provided, obey the laws of the land and spirit of the race, and buckle up for some (mis)adventure. To make the finishers party you will need to cycle 270km+ a day, and if you want to be competitive…… well last years winner did it in 8 Days 15 Hours 2 Minutes, so I’ll let you do the maths.
It is also a great spectator sport, from the comfort of home 24 hours a day as a “dot watcher”. You will find yourself watching over these tired cyclists until the last one crosses the line into safety. We had particular fun last year when Ellie’s Dad’s tracker stopped working along Furka Pass, this was exacerbated by the reports of bad weather from riders who had passed through that area. Needless to say he returned safely with an tale of adventure to share. I recommend dot watching, but prepare yourself to start shouting at your screen in the hope that the lost looking dot can hear you.
The build up for this years race has been amazing, it all kicked off with a Facebook Live broadcast on the Transcontinental Facebook Page (4th November 21:16). This was followed by the longest 3 days in history, as excited riders began route planning and speculation in anticipation of Race Manual 0 and the opening of applications.
Registration – Opens 7th November 2016 20:00 – Sunday 13th November Go to transcontinental.cc and click TCRNo5 Registration
Application – Straight after registering – 20th November (READ THE RACE MANUAL FIRST)
Race Start – Friday 28th July 2017 22:00CET (GMT+1)
Finishers Party – Saturday 12th August 2017
Start: Geraardsbergen, BELGIUM
Once again the TCR will start at the Muur van Geraardsbergen, on the famed cobbles which were a regular visit of the Tour of Flanders. Each year it gets better and better, the whole town turns up for the start of that race lighting torches on either side of the road as riders set off into the night.
CP1: Schloss Lichtenstein, GERMANY
I love Germany, after cycling through it last year I was amazed at the beauty of the place, so this checkpoint got me more excited than I would like to admit. This is made better by the fact it involves going to Lichtenstein Castle, who wouldn’t want to see that?
CP2: Monte Grappa, ITALY
History buffs will know this from The Battle of Monte Grappa, it is also considered one of the more difficult Italian cycling climbs. I imagine in a tired state it’s going to be hard to know exactly how you feel as you climb this icon.
CP3: High Tatras, SLOVAKIA
To my mind this will be the hardest checkpoint to reach, as it takes you quite far away from a ‘straight line’ you could take to CP4. There will definitely be a mental challenge as you battle through the surrounding hills to the checkpoint, knowing you will then turn back around to head South.
CP4: Transfagarasan Highway, ROMANIA
Made famous by Top Gear as the “world’s best road”, this road looks both stunning and brutal. It climbs to just over 2,000 meters making it the second highest mountain pass in Romania, after the Transalpina (TCRno6?).
Finish: Meteora, Greece
A Greek, non-coastal, finish. These monolithic pillars are sure to open even the most tired of cyclists eyes after the adventure that is now behind them. The lack of requirement for a Turkish visa also allows for $20 extra in the budget for food. It was also the inspiration for the Eyrie for and Game of Thrones fans, you may recognise the view from Tyrions sky cell.
Put it all together and what have you got
It’s safe to say that mindless navigate from one checkpoint to the next is not the way to plan, as you would miss all the enjoyment in route planning. However, here is a top level visual of what to expect.
Distance: 4,000km+ | Elevation: 38,000m+
Home for tea and medals
There you have it folks, for more information head over the the Transcontinental website. We hope to see you all at the start line, failing that following our dots :).