The Transcontinental Race is an epic bicycle race from A to B, via some control points. It is a race without assistance and this year will see riders cycle from the cobbled streets of Flanders to the shores of the Black Sea. There will be hills, cities, gravel, dirt tracks, mountains, rough sleeping, heat, rain and dips in temperature. It is also something that participants will be able to dine out on for decades to come. It is a truly epic, epic cycling event. Fellow Brompton rider and gentleman that is James H (rider number 132) is completing the race on his Brompton. In fact he is participating on the back of completing the Pan Celtic Race! Truly astonishing but I will give you five reasons why I won't be signing up for the TCR #9!
#1. Not with these legs!
I can quite comfortably cycle 70 miles in a day or overnight on my Brompton. Apart from the fueling issue on the recent Dunwich Dynamo, I would go as far as saying that 100 miles on my Brompton would not be a problem either. My legs were fine the next day but I wouldn't particularly fancy having to cycle the same the next day. Taking part in the TCR would involve lots of miles each day and I am not sure these legs could or would want to handle that. I also suspect that after a few days of consecutive cycling, I might have the gait of a cowboy of old who had been on his horse for a few days!
#2. Sleeping like the littlest hobo!
One thing that participants need to embrace on the TCR is that there may be times when you are forced to sleep in a field, bus shelter, park bench or worse. Most simply put down a bivvy bag and sleep. I know that I just couldn't do this. I recall when I was 17 or 18 years old and went interrailing around Europe with a few friends. Even though I had a rucksack, sleeping bag and rolled up foam mat like everyone else, I refused to use it. My interrailing stops involved checking into the nearest hotel that had a bed, toilet and wash facilities. My TCR would be over before it started as I would need to have hotels booked for the entire route, which may of course result in my timings being delayed. In addition to this, the theme tune of the television programme, 'The Littlest Hobo' would be played constantly while cycling and especially if I were to sleep rough like one!
#3. Hipster beard!
Participants on the TCR concentrate on reaching the checkpoints and the miles covered. Sleep is when and where you can get it and as with #2 finding a place to sleep, let alone somewhere to shave is possibly further down the batting order. Brought up to be a gentleman (where possible) I could not exist with stubble appearing on my face and would need to shave it off. On the TCR this might be problematic. My stubble starts appearing before midday and after only a few days I would have a rather nice beard forming. I can only imagine that upon my return to London that some may mistake me for a hipster! This may result in people thinking that all my friends are either musicians, baristas or artists. Or worse still, that I am on my way to see a five-hour, silent, independent film with my Brompton Borough Waterproof bag carrying the soundtrack of said film - on vinyl!!
#4. My Brompton!
Thinking more about #2, imagine the worry of looking out for your Brompton. You find yourself in a bus shelter, field or goodness knows where and I would be concerned that someone would make off with it. I suspect that potential thieves would have a very easy task of making off with your Brompton as you would be sound asleep as a result of #1. I would have to resort to handcuffing my Brompton to my ankle. Would I be able to sleep at all?!
#5. The smell.
The TCR is about making it to certain checkpoints by certain times. As such things such as sleep, where you sleep, washing, washing your cycling gear are secondary considerations. Unless I had a clean set of clothes to wear every day, I could not rough it. The earthy bouquet of manly perspiration wafting as I cycled would not be pleasant.
There are almost certainly many more reasons why I could not do the TCR but these are certainly the main ones for me. For anyone participating you have my absolute respect. James H completing it on his Brompton is approaching iconic status. I wish you all the best of luck for the remainder of the race and happy and safe pedalling.
Until next time, stay safe out there people!
An addition that I almost forgot about:
A part of Brompton ownership that can sometimes be a curse, is the desire to take copious photographs of your Brompton bicycle with something scenic in the background. If I were ever to embark on anything like this (which believe me I won't) I would not make the deadline for any checkpoint as I would have been taking photos!