Transcontinental Part 2: over as a contest, but not as a challenge

I'm well into Switzerland now, only a couple of countries behind the leaders...

by themartincox   August 13, 2014  

Hello everyone! I meant to write this last night, but the appeal of a warm bed and an enormous dinner (steak, with a mushroom sauce) ensured that sleep came quickly. I'm in Switzerland, eating a late lunch whilst watching the rain. It does seem to rain a lot here, especially on me. Whilst I chow down on this, Kristoff and Josh are about 1000km ahead and doubtless doing a phenomenal job, but they are certainly not enjoying this strawberry cake!

I last wrote on the ferry, a little despondent at the 3 punctures, but upbeat nonetheless. I was 3 hours down from my plan but that was fine. Well, the first night in France, literally beat the crap out of my vim and vigour.

I rode the 180 miles to Paris without enough air in the rear tyre (like riding a mountain bike tyre) and no way of inflating it as the pump was broken. I was in constant fear of more punctures and what that would mean, all the while looking for shops that might sell tubes and/or pumps, on a Sunday, in France. Unless I stumbled across a bakery that also did bike spares, that was basically mission impossible.

It was a horrid ride, so much effort with such rolling resistance, all the while with this fear in my mind. I particularly liked the part where the routing took me through a forest, with cobbles... and the rain! I was lucky; others were stuck out whilst I found a bridge to cower under at the right moment.

In Paris, at checkpoint 1, I expected to find myself last. But others had suffered worse than I, or just didn't ride as fast. At this stage, I was already laughably far behind the leaders, so the 'race' was over within the first 18 hours for me. My days and nights have become an energy conservation game, trying to eek out the Garmin battery long enough in between trips to mcds or cafes to drink coke, eat cake and steal electricity for the next 5 hours of riding: charging on the go is something else that hasn't gone to plan!

Thoughts of scratching out come to mind, along with the thoughts of being a failure, so despite the ease with which it can be done, the race goes on.

Nights are cold, I wake up shivering - having packed without creature comforts, and the days are either glorious and warm or soggy, today they are soggy!

I'm wearing the Assos s5 mille short and it's holding up well, despite being worn for every second of the first 4 days, cold air on my butt cheeks is particularly pleasant.

My plans – stupid and naive as they were – to finish in 8 days are gone. I've revised my goal: I need to finish on the 21st so I can get my plane home!

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Hang in there Martin. The race for the lead may be long gone, but the race for positions is well worth it. Case in point, 1st place in the Tour de France this year (once 2 notable favourites were out) wasn't really up for debate, but places for the next 4 riders were hotly contested.

I have no idea how you found a bakery selling bike spares(!), but that means you need to crack on with it - earn those pastries!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3464 posts]
13th August 2014 - 16:04

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Thanks for sharing the experience with us. You might be well behind the others, but by the end you'll have achieved something that 99.9% of us will never even consider.

posted by bamilton wackad... [51 posts]
13th August 2014 - 16:38

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Loving this. A couple of days ago you were in London, and now you open with, I'm in Switzerland. Wow. You seem to be having rotten luck so hopefully that balances out with some strong tailwinds.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

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posted by sm [355 posts]
13th August 2014 - 19:24

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Good to see you embrace the adventure Martin - just keep cracking on best you can and see where you come when you get there. It's a perseverance game and I bet you do well. And of course, what a great thing to do, just in and of itself!

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posted by alotronic [300 posts]
13th August 2014 - 19:56

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