London-based Richard Williams and Tunis-based William Scott Moncrieff are taking on the 5th edition of the Transcontinental, starting this week in Geraardsbergen, as a pair..
text by Richard Williams
We first read about the Transcontinental last summer. We were celebrating Will’s 30th birthday in the mountains and, as we followed the riders online as they travelled through Europe, some of them cycling over 350 miles a day, we wondered absent-mindedly what sort of superhuman could take on such a challenge.
Fast forward 12 months and we (Richard and Will) are counting off the days before TCR No5 begins on 28 July 2017. Except this year we won’t be following the action online because, in a fit of madness, we’ve decided to take part. Since signing up for the race before Christmas we’ve been gradually increasing the mileage in training to the point where, one week out, we might actually have a fighting chance of finishing this mammoth challenge. Depending on our exact route, we’re staring down the barrel of about 4,000km in the saddle from Belgium to Greece. Along the way we’ll visit 8 countries, scale mountains and free-wheel down 200-mile descents in the hope of fetching up at the beautiful monastery in Meteora in central Greece by Day 15.
Time to Train
In writing this, we wanted to show that this challenge, whilst not for the faint-hearted, is not just the preserve of top-flite athletes with powers that mere mortals don’t possess. I work as a consultant based in London – when I’m not delivering on a project I’m brewing beer along with a mate to create ‘the world’s most refreshing double IPA’. Will is a civil servant who enjoys kitesurfing and hanging out at home with his wife and badly behaved dog. It’s true we enjoy our cycling and have done a few long rides in the past, but mostly these were longish sportives around the UK with a few spontaneous 130-mile routes independently.
We’ve obviously had to ramp up the training over the last few months, doing long rides most weekends and getting used to 14+ hours in the saddle. The hardest part of training for an event like this is fitting it in around your daily life. We could spend every hour of the day cycling; however, not only would we probably burn out, it would take all the fun out of it! Making the balance work involved everything from super early cycles before work, to skipping the train when heading off on a weekend away. Richard had a stag-do in north wales and what better way to get there than by cycling! Equally a wedding in France enabled an impromptu trip up Mont Ventoux!
Ready to Ride!?
Not sure really – we can’t practice the whole distance so once we get past day three or so, we’re in uncharted territory! But we’re quietly confident – the most amazing thing over the past months is how quickly you can train your mind to take on ever bigger challenges (because really it’s the mind that gives up before the legs). Not long ago 100 miles felt like a big weekend. Now that we’re clocking up 200 miles days, the 100 mile mark is just a stop for lunch!
We’ll probably regret this decision when half way up a Dolomite in the rain or when lost down a Romanian farm track at some point, but more than anything else we’re excited to be taking on something we can look back on and feel proud of, along the way taking in parts of the world we’d probably never normally see.
We’d definitely recommend that anyone reading this check out the TCR website and track the progress of the 250 or so people taking part in the race this year (look out for a couple of sluggish dots near the back). And if you’re wondering whether you could take it on yourself next year – the answer is probably yes!
And finally just a word of tribute to Mike Hall, the pioneering founder of TCR who so sadly lost his life this year as he followed his dream in an endurance cycling event across Australia. Thanks Mike for establishing such a brilliant event, and for giving us the inspiration to get out and take on the impossible.
Make sure to follow their dots here. Richard and William will be sporting items from our launch collection.
Best of luck guys.