To Ride, Discover and Understand

A solo bike trip across Europe, 3,500km from Yorkshire to Montenegro.

The Transcontinental Race No.4 (TRC no.4) was my motivation for the journey, not that I was racing myself.

The purpose and destination of my trip was Zablijak, a town in the Durmitor National Park, Montenegro. Here I would act as race volunteer at the fourth and final checkpoint of the TCR no.4.

The Transcontinental is a race that benefits from no media coverage, nor the motive of prestige or money. Rather, it exudes the pioneering spirit of adventure that was once essential to endurance events such as the Tour de France. Those racing must possess the grit and desire to seek such adventure as to test the limits of their inner courage. Inner motivation may arise from different sources.

Being stationed at the Highlander Hostel in Zablijak (a location only disclosed as gps coordinates to those racing) gave a raw insight into the race itself. Having begun in Geraardsbergen in Belgium, the race was around 2800km in – and over 8 days old by the time the first rider had reached us at Zablijak. From Zablijak, the riders were faced with a 1000km ‘home straight’ to the finish in Cannakale, Turkey.

Volunteer duties, stamping the brevet card of Kristoff Allegaert at CP.4 in Montenegro. He didn’t hang around long, and went on to claim his 3rd TCR title. 

Cycling from the UK to Montenegro, it’s quite a long way (never mind to Canakkale). In addition to the volunteering, there were others layers of purpose and reasoning behind my own journey. Clearly, I could enjoy the trip, an adventure in itself. Despite still having to push 80-100 miles per day to arrive at Zablijak on time, I wasn’t racing. There was no anxiety to keep tabs on who might be in front or behind, closing in. A solo rider is a free spirit with no external competition. No competition apart from that which I set myself.

It was an incredible adventure in itself, but it was also meant as a test. I wanted to test my own physical and mental endurance, and my ability to spend hours, days and weeks in my own company, travelling on my own terms. I arrived at Zablijak exuberant, confident in my ability to pursue future endeavours, such as the TCR itself.

My initial thoughts about entering the Transcontinental No.5 began to manifest fairly early on during my own trip, possibly before even setting off from home. As volunteer, my initial thoughts and musings were soon framed by a degree of understanding. It was clear that pain, exhaustion, discomfort and hunger were all inevitable factors to face and overcome for those racing. Also, the sheer sense of exhilaration and overwhelming gratitude of having reached another milestone could prevail for those who chose.

To me these aren’t just bodily feelings, emotions. Potentially, they are phenomena that enable us to view the world and ourselves with brighter perspective. And something that I have experienced in my own cycling endeavours.

This is my first blog post! Which I choose to conclude with a quote from Jim Rohn:

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

We do miss 100% of the shots that we don’t take. To me, the TCR No.5 in 2017 is absolutely worth a shot. I have the passion, lets make this happen.

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