Pippa Handley from Edinburgh became the first woman to cross the finish line in this year's TransContinental Race when she reached Istanbul yesterday afternoon, 12 days 5 hours and 44 minutes after leaving London.
She was followed just under five hours later by Gaby Leveridge of Cookham, Berkshire, who has the unusual distinction of being the first woman to come second in the TransContinental as only one woman, Juliana Buhring, rode in 2013. Vasiliki Voutzali is currently 60km from the finish and expected to take third place sometime this afternoon.
Here's Handley looking tired but very pleased as she hands in her brevet card:
— The Transcontinental (@transconrace) August 21, 2014
Handley was the 14th rider to cross the finish line, a feat comparable to Buhring's 2013 9th place finish in a much smaller field. Final rider distances have not yet been announced (the SPOT tracker distances on the TransContinental site are far from definitive) but it looks like Handley's average speed was significantly higher thah Buhring's.
Leveridge led Handley at one stage of the race, after pulling ahead by taking a ferry across the Adriatic instead of taking an overland route. But that bit of tactical nous wasn't enough to beat Handley's sheer grit.
In one of those bits of bizareness that have typified the TransContinental, Handley completed the race with just one sock after the other was stolen by a dog. On her run into Istanbul she tweeted:
Turkish kid in petrol station asked me in perfect English 'why only one sock?'..i said a dog stole it. His answer'did he not need the pair?'
— Pippa Handley (@pipster_h) August 20, 2014
As of this morning a total of 23 riders have completed the TransContinental. Last year 20 of the 31 starters reached Istanbul.
Here's the finish list so far:
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.