The geo-points are divided into layers that can be displayed or hidden on the left. You can click on each item in one layer to get to the respective point. Check the map-legend below. There’s occasionally a bit of text to read behind each point:
In order to show where I cycled in daylight and at night, the track is coloured yellow from 06:00-22:00h (day) and dark blue from 22:00-06:00h. It very roughly matches sunrise and sunset.
Midnights & Mountains:
In order to really see what section was rode on what calendar day, I created markers for all the spots where I passed midnight, and also numbered them by the race day that would begin with it. As landmarks I also included mountains. However because they obscure some of the day/night-colour coding, I put those into a separate layer to allow you and me to switch them off, too. So you can switch off everything except for the route to get the most basic overview.
Here you find in black all the spots where I had what I’d call a proper night rest, i.e. where I pulled out my sleeping mat to try to really sleep, or where I booked a bed somewhere (twice). In light grey you find those spots where I closed my eyes for a bit. Sometimes some of that was sleep, but mostly it was just lying down on my back and relaxing. So next to going from midnight to midnight to see calendar days, you can alternatively go from black tent to black tent to see the beginnings and ends of separate stages.
These are random memories. They may address anything: detailed stories about my mood & things I experienced, struggles I had, people I met, etc. If you’re going for the story-telling part, this is where to look.
They are sorted chronologically in the list. (There is no functional, just a technical reason for having two layers)
Those are all stops that I identified as stops where I bought food or drinks. These are by far not complete: There must have been many more. But the displayed amount already gives you an impression how central eating is to the race.
These include multiple crashes, their stories, reasons and impact. Furthermore routing problems and health issues.
By default just the layers GPS-Track & Sleep are activated since they give the best overview. You can switch on/off the other ones manually.
Below you can scroll through a timeline of my race: it matches my stages in relation with the 24h-calendar-days. It provides information about:
When each stage started and stopped
Where each stop was and for how long I was stationary (does not mean I slept that long. Usually just a fraction of it due to faffing around).
How long each stage was in terms of time, distance and climbing
Where I rode into or through the night
The ratio of moving time vs. stopped time during a stage which indicates the efficiency of that stage. I realized the numbers here might not be very accurate; e.g. on the first stage I certainly stopped longer. But it gives an indication. I might look into this again and update it.
What you will see is, e.g. that
I did lots of riding until late at night or through the night (first and last two nights)
I had a couple of very weak days: with short stage distance and a lot of relative stopping time. I was simply very exhausted.
there was one long final stretch after Bjelasnica (last 830km) where I just wanted to finish the race (to 1 see my family at the finish line, to escape Albania and my condition, to overtake a few riders and have a shorter finish time). There were a couple of short semi-naps involved, but no real sleeping. See the map for details.
To zoom in and out you could also download the below picture of the timeline. Otherwise just scroll on this page
Now, 1,5 years after my Transcontinental Race (No.06, 2018, cap36), I still owed myself (and those of you who are interested) some kind of recap or writeup of my experiences during the race. And certainly wanted to do that before riding the next TCR edition this year for a second time (No.08, 2020). Now is the time, but I chose a different strategy…
I had postponed it time and time again simply because it seemed a tooo intimidatingly huge task. And equally importantly: There are already so many great text-based blog reports by other TCR-riders, so I did not feel there is a niche left. But I still wanted to do something: to relive it again, and also to make sure to refresh my memory – because it was an experience I would not want to forget.
So I set out to do it in a way that would be a bit different and also do justice to how important I find the spacial element of bike packing and racing. I wanted to create some sort of visual, geographical, chronological and data-driven representation of how my race unfolded. I chose two means, each will be introduced in a separate blog post:
Timeline of my stages:As an overview I plotted a timeline of my stages including some key data. I felt the amount of impulsive night-riding was very characteristic for my race, so I wanted to try a way to visualize how the stages did and did not correspond with 24h-days. This timeline you find in a separate blogpost.
Interactive map of my race: For the spacial/geographical element I thought there would be no better tool than creating a map in Google’s MyMaps and plot the route and spots where I slept, ate, had social moments, problems, crashes or any other kinds of memories. I also wanted to make sure that map somehow intuitively represents my day/night-riding and found a solution for that, too. You will find that map in the second-next blog post.
I also viewed this as a challenge in terms of “user experience design”: How could I get across information in the most intuitive, efficient/effective and visually clean way? Please send me feedback in case you spot something you think could be changed improve user experience/interface.
How & for whom is it relevant?
Diary for myself: First of all I did it for myself. So even if no one else would find it interesting: I would create this as a diary for myself. Furthermore I really liked the design and data-processing challenge behind it and might apply some learnings from it to future projects. I also learned quite something about the technical element of GPX files and how to alter them.
Content-level: Some of you, who have not ridden TCR yet (and maybe want to) might find it interesting to browse through some random details of my race; because here you also find information beyond the “big moments” that most other accounts write about (very interestingly). You will also find-out how often I did food stops (however my account is not complete in that respect). How my sleep patterns were. But also softer things like rider interaction on the road and other social/emotional things. You pick what you like.
Form-level: If you do bike travels or races yourself, maybe you get some inspiration by my race record in terms of how to visualize your experiences or how to use your GPS data to help your memory a little. In case you have questions about that, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!
How to use…
The timeline serves mostly as an overview. The interactive map lets you dive into alllll the detail. Additionally it’s of course possible to copy-paste GPS coordinates of specific spots/pictures/momories/etc. into GoogleMaps to check them on Streetview. In case you’d really want to go all the way (which I doubt) you could even use multiple browser tabs simultaneously, e.g.: Timeline, MyMap-Racemap, GoogleMaps.
Method: Reconstructing memories after 1,5 years?
First of all: Yes, it was all long ago, but it also was such an intense and memorable experience that many moments, places, etc. are still burnt into my memory. Still: I got myself some help in the form of bits and bytes: downloaded and organized my GPX-files, i.e. the GPS-tracks that I recorded with my Wahoo Elemnt GPS unit – it plotted one GPS point per second of riding. Additionally, I had set it to auto-pause during TCR, so anytime I did not move for longer than 5 seconds, there is a gap in the record. I followed essentially these steps:
Downloading the GPX files
cutting up and converting the files in several ways
creating excel functions to better find the gaps in the record and thereby tracing every single time I stopped
check the respective GPS coordinates of each break longer than 30 seconds on GoogleMaps incl. StreetView and thereby remember what exactly was going on.
Create a note in my interactive map, choose an icon, picture and some text
Sort all points chronologically in the layer-list, per layer
In the process of that I also began to recall many more moments and memories in the context of those breaks so that in the end I had a VERY detailed account of all the stuff that happened to me during those 14,5 days. Of course that way I also figured out how long I rode each day in terms of time and km/elevation, and how long and where I stopped to get some night rest (when I did); i.e. the beginnings and ends of the separate stages
And here you find the two posts all that is about:
Many of you have read my post on my preparation for last year’s Transcontinental Race No06 in which I provided plenty of information on my equipment but also route planning & “training”. In hindsight i have to say: It mostly worked out really great! My gear was well suited for the situations I encountered. In some instances where I thought beforehand “Malte, now you’re overthinking it” I was really glad I made my choices and did my research. E.g. my gearing, bringing a spare rear-derailleur-hanger, etc… Bags, tires, clothing, electricity… all worked like a charm! The only problems I encountered were induced by myself directly (aka: crashes and being too tired).
That’s why I will ride the Three Peaks Bike race with the essentially same gear setup.
A) Changes I made to my equipment (incl. things I will NOT bring this time)
B) Planned changes to my racing approach and behaviour
First, a couple of pics I took today…
A) Changes to my equipment
DIY-work on my shoes:
My (back then) new Shimano S-Phyre shoes worked great on TCR. I mean: Until shortly before the end of the 4000km I had no foot issues, which is remarkable. However: By the very end of the race I became aware that I had a very swollen ball of my right foot that started impacting my pedal strokes and needed a while after the race to cure. Later I figured out what it was: Where the screws go into the carbon sole of my S-Phyre shoes, there are cavities in the sole. The soft insole didn’t protect my foot from feeling that hole, and hence got pushed in a bit very locally. This year, to bridge the cavities, I cut and glued in some punctured aluminum sheets. My verdict based on the couple of training rides: It works! feels very solid.
Lighter/smaller sleeping mat
I already had a light mat by Therm-A-Rest, but when I saw one that packs much smaller and is lighter, I immediately envisioned how much more compact that would make the drybag I’ll strap under my aerobars. So I bought it: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLight
I had never thought about what socks I wear. Always just wore simple H&M cotton sneaker socks. Just a recent hiking day in proper hiking socks made me notice what a difference that can make. Indeed, I often felt my feet were wet and not much air was getting through. So, the simplest thing on earth: I got some proper, simple, thin, short-cut, synthetic cycling socks: Endura CoolMax Race II Awesome! Feels much better indeed! Not expensive. And it didn’t take me any time to get used to it.
Luxury item: Bluetooth speaker (maybe)
Headphones are often fine and I will bring some; sometimes it’s perfect to escape into that sound bubble. Only when the traffic circumstances allow it of course; on long, monotonous stretches. But at some time that isolation becomes tiring, and climbing up in the heat – sweating, breathing heavily – with plugs in my ears just doesn’t do it for me either. Last year on Vrsic Pass I tried for the first time to listen through my phone speakers. Art Farmer – Modern Art. But obviously those phone speakers sound shitty, esp. when facing surrounding noises.
So, yes, I’m seriously considering bringing a Bluetooth speaker – JBL Clip 3.
Fixing my seat pack even more
I love my Specialized Bubba (10L) seat pack because it is rocksolid: Due to the little aluminum frame that attaches to the seat post it does not sway to the sides at all. That’s why I bought it in the first place. It is held up by a though strap – it works, but still the bag sags down a bit so usually it ends up hanging ca. 5cm below the saddle, which is not a real functional problem. But somehow not aesthetically pleasing and simply not satisfying from a design point of view.
But no more! Luckily I discovered two threads at the very back of my Specialized Power saddle whose position coincides with two eyeletts on the bag. So I built something to fix the bag up, using: two M5 steel screws, two metal stripes that I cut to size, two flat washers and two layers of heat shrink tube to make it look better and smoothen the edges. It will be attached with cable ties that I also additionally wrapped in heat shrink tube. The result:
Extensive use of reflective tape
This is for two reasons: a) I was a fan of reflective tape already and had quite some of it applied to my fork and seat stays anyway. b) The race organizer of TPBR requires this, which I very much agree with. So I added tape to my rims, the crank, my helmet and my shoes. Originally the organizers also asked us to wear reflective ankle straps at all times; however, after quite some discussions they thankfully agreed that this should not be necessary. (I appreciate Michael’s flexibility on this).
Things I will NOT(!) bring on this year’s trip
A couple of items I never or hardly used last year on TCR06. I will leave those at home this year and it’ll save me quite some room and weight, too.
Sunscreen. Against all advice. I never used it last year and was fine. Also I hate the feeling of sticky, oily skin. I will bring a lip stick though.
Sebum. Brought some last year cause I wanted to make sure I have all the options to keep my behind healthy. But since I found out that the strategy of Assos-cream + wet-wipes + Bepanthen worked really well: No need for sebum any more.
Nylon grippers for overshoes.The idea was to use those to prevent rain from entering the overshoes from the ankle. But: I think a) it will not rain enough for it to be worth carrying them and b) my feet will first get wet form below. Those grippers were quite bulky and I hadn’t used them once.
Long-sleeve merino top. I only used it once: at 2:00am on 2300m altitude on Mangart Sedlo. I will not get myself into such a situation again. So, no need for it. My arm warmers (plus rain jacket) will be sufficient
Long rain-gloves. Didn’t use them once. And really: If it rains my hands will just get wet, and I hope it will not get too cold.
2nd multi purpose bandana. I brought half a bandana additionally to my main one. Will just carry one this year.
Toothbrush for chain cleaning. No use for it. If I really need one I’ll buy it.
Spare cleats. I will just start with new cleats.
Passport. Won’t need it in Western Europe/EU
B) Planned changes to my racing approach/behaviour
There are many lessons I learned last year. I will at some point finalize my report on the TCR where you’ll find out more about what I learned. But briefly, these are the things I will change, mostly related to my sleep pattern:
Sleep more and in a more regular rhythm. Specifically I will make sure to stop riding at night. I think by 12h I should lie down somewhere and sleep for 5 hours.
Have fewer (no) crashes. This is linked to the previous point. During TCR I mainly crashed because I fell asleep. I want to avoid that this year.
Get up early and ride more in the early morning hours. It will be good for my motivation because by noon I will already have quite some mileage behind me.
Not viewing the Checkpoints as “landmarks” or places to rest or intermediate milestones. That way I will not be tempted to push too far to reach the CPs in the current stretch. Instead I will just reach them and move on – make my breaks depend on my reasonable riding/sleep rhythm and not on these artificial landmarks. This is easier in TPBR because a) all CPs are on mountain passes which are – due to their altitude, few facilities and low temperature – not really suitable for relaxed stays. And b) the CPs are not even manned; so they are purely virtual and there will not be anything to keep me busy there.
More continuity, fewer breaks. I should avoid faffing around and giving in to too many inviting stops (gas stations etc.). I should refuel plentifully instead to keep going for longer. Also I should pedal maybe even a bit more lightly.
Eating also salty stuff. Last year I started the race eating a LOT of sweet stuff and only noticed after the first two days that I completely forgot to get some salt. Got to keep that in check a bit.
I might think of other things to change and will possibly update this post accordingly.
I’m looking forward to the ride, and also to being in touch with you all. (For information on how to follow me, check my previous post) Your’s Malte, Cap 36
I’m very excited to participate… to meet the riders and roam our continent. A word of expectations management though:
This year I started my cycling season very late and “moderately”. And on one of the first couple of rides I had a (self-caused) crash in which I broke my right pinky. Curing it meant 7 weeks off the bike, which just ended last week = 2 weeks before the race start. So: Of course I have some plans as to what I want to achieve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I couldn’t put out all the daily kms I wished. But who knows… another element of surprise! As if there weren’t already enough of those in this kind of cycle touring/racing, haha.
I’m very much looking forward to hearing from you while I’m on the road! It is incredibly encouraging!
Some facts and figures about TPBR:
Start: Sat. 20th of July, 16:00h
Vienna to Barcelona
via 3 peaks (checkpoints):
Passo Dello Stelvio (IT)
Colle delle Finestre (IT)
Arcalis Ordina (Andorra, Pyrennees)
no fixed route (each rider/racer has to plan their own)
self-supported (no support cars, no outside assistance)
A somewhat belated newsflash! For more little and random posts from throughout the race, check my, Instagram, Facebook or Strava.
This past Monday (13th of Aug 2018) around 17.30h CET I finished my Transcontinental Race #TCRNo6 in Meteora/Greece, after 14d19h18min, 16 countries passed over 4029km and 32030m of altitude gained. (I will probably be listed around Position 65 out of ca. 280 starters)
A BIG shoutout and thank you to all of YOU who watched my GPS dot, sent me messages and comments of encouragement and interest. You can‘t imagine what an incredibly important force you were to me – who knows how/if/when I would have arrived without you..?
My arrival was extremely overwhelming to me as I flew down the mind blowing descent of the final parcours to then fall into the arms of my parents and brother who came all the way to the finish line (by plane though 😜). That was after a final stretch from close to Sarajevo to the finish line in Meteora/Greece: ca. 60 hours (303+520km) with just 3h of sleep including a feverish nightmare trip through the Albanian heat and night, chased by stray-dogs and starting hallucinations. I just wanted to finish this.
I am incredibly happy and a bit proud – it was a crazy journey that will accompany me for all of my life. Many ups, downs, beauty, ugliness, happiness, comfort, love, anger, fear, ecstasy, physical pain…
I will certainly publish various notes/articles on this blog some point. If you wish, you can enter your email address (see column on the right) to find out when I posted something (no spamming of course).
Yours, Malte / Cap36
Here are some visual impressions as I had also shared them on my social media channels for this “finished” post:
There are many ways to approach this endeavour. Here’s what each of them would mean to me. In order of importance and intensity to me:
survive. That would be nice!
finish in any time. I would have had a fantastic adventure that surpassed any cycling I’ve ever done. I’d be incredibly happy and thankful!
finish for the party. Oh Lord (or whoever), this would be unspeakably overwhelming to me and make me very very proud (I’d have to admit). I would be able to share an evening with many heroes. And some days with my parents and brother who will be there for me!
finish a few days before the party. Wow, I think it would take me some time to process how this could have been possible. I will check my agenda a couple of times to be sure I didn’t make a mistake and mixed up the dates. I would also consider that I was unknowingly involved in some time travel experiment by some alien civilization. Also a ripped time-space continuum or a glitch in the matrix would be options to consider.
As you can see, none of those points involves my placement among the riders. What other riders do affects me in the sense that it can be inspirational benchmarks. They will show me what could be possible and will certainly keep me sharp and make sure that I won’t be hanging around. But primarily I will experience my trip just by my own standards.
What motivates me…
(In no particular order)
My parents and brother are waiting for me at the finish line in Greece. If I manage to arrive (let’s assume I do), that will be one of the best things.
That drive to make it! Would take too long to explain in detail; it has to do with independce, agency, learning, achievement. You can also check my “approach” section in the “about” menu
The sense of community among riders. We will all go through the same and will understand each other. That is very new to me, since in the past I was an almost exclusively lonely rider (apart from many friends following/encouraging me online! And one great duo trip with Jon through Japan)
Stunning scenery. Especially looking forward to the parcours! I have the feeling the organizers of TCR really have a good feeling for dramaturgy! (independent from that strange excursion to Poland : D )
Arriving on top of the pass. And then descending for ages.
Insight & connection. Into myself and how I cope with adversity. And into the world because I will again very tangibly have experienced a part of our blue marble. (Attention, seeming corniness ahead! But I mean it) I think an important part of my/our kind of cycling is that it allows us to bridge some of that very natural and archaic gap/detachment between our inner and our outer world.
International exchange. Among the colourful bunch of riders but also across the nations of Europe.
“You have nothing else to do than cycle. So you’ll automatically move ahead” That’s a paraphrased quote by Ultan Coyle; a crazy, very successful and also very kind and humble Irish TCR veteran. I had the chance to have a chat with him after a short presentation of his in Berlin. I found that actually very eye-opening!
What I fear…
(in that particular order)
Stray dogs. I’m really not a “dog person” – as long as they’re not on a leash, they terrify me! (ah, btw. is there a linguistic link between “terrier” and “terrifying”?). I have no idea how to interact with those beasts.
A sore arse. No need for explanation.
Crashes. Not so much from traffic (strangely), but rather from slipping in a curve or from falling asleep, or because of:
The heat. In particular its effect on my circulation. I know I can get headaches from heat
that my body wont keep the food down. I’ll need tons of calories and I know the feeling when the body can hardly take any more. In contrast I also fear the almost inevitable moments of “hitting the wall” due to under-fueling
Sweat in my eyes. I burns so bad.
That the route might not work out. Despite my confidence in the research I’ve done… you never know.
All that’s left to say…
I wish all my fellow riders a lot of fun success, health and a great adventure. – I wish dotwatchers and friends and families a lot of fun watching and supporting their loved ones and that they will have a lot of good sleep at night because it’ll all be fine. – I’m thankful to the organizers of the TCR and wish them a smooth event and as much time as possible to enjoy it together on the road, too!
Lastly, once more:
You can follow all the riders’ GPS dots on their individual routes across Europe on