04 TCRNo8 – Finished! (on Mon. 8.8.22)

You’re now at post 04 of my TCRNo8-series. To jump to all so far existing posts on this in chronological order:
01 TCRNo8 –About the Race & Live Tracking (Cap63) – Start: 24.7.
02 TCRNo8 – My Rider Introduction

03 TCRNo8 – Equipment & Packing List
04 TCRNo8 – Finished! (on Mon. 8.8.22)


[This post was published on Wed. 17th of August2022, while the Finish was already on Monday the 8th of August; apologies for this ca. 1-week delay. This text is mostly a copy from the respective Instagram finisher-post, plus some stats]

Hell yeah! I FINISHED The Transcontinental Race 🙂 – on Monday 8.8.22 after 14d14h21m (14,6d) and 4194km/38056m (av 287km/2600m /day), as the 66th out of 250 solo-starters – the moment of arrival was emotionally very intense to me: of course the joy of having finished, and being „home“ with friendly and familiar faces; but also the infinite relief of finally being physically safe… the last 2-3 race days had thrown some heavy moments and circumstances at me… one driver to finish despite my pain and stress of those last 2 days was simply to be in a friendly environment. And that’s what this community really is.

Overall I‘m very content with my race. I was mentally mostly in a very good space. I realized how my riding has matured over the past 4 years since my first race (TCR No. 6); more continuity, more rationality and better decisions and self-awareness. The landscapes were largely stunning (e.g. Passo di Gavia and Durmitor). Not a single mechanical or flat tire (just added 1bar of air 2-3 times). Only the last 2-3 days were dark: incredible knee pain so I had to fight for every pedal stroke, the “baseball bat incident” (check out this Instagram-Reel for more information), horrendous traffic, tough road conditions and dog chases (although I managed to handle the dogs quite well this time). But I was determined and just about made it 💪

Thanks to all the kind people on location; fellow riders (you’re an amazingly special bunch!), organizers, volunteers, photo/press team. And also: Thanks to YOU! Followers and dotwatchers, both virtually and at the side of the road! For your interest in my journey, your encouragement and your sympathy. Without it I *may* have scratched.

All pictures taken by Sam Gate; thank you!

Today (Tuesday, 9.8.22) I just chilled with other riders, went for a swim, welcomed friend Amy Lippe at the finish line, ate icecream and tons of other food. Now off to bed, tmrw visiting Burgas.

Notice one thing? Yes.. my plans don’t involve any cycling 😂

Strava records…

I will probably do a proper write-up or some other recap-format for my race. For now, here you find the embeded Strava records. Please note: due to a technical error, Day 1 is incomplete; it was actually in total 430km/1636m on that first stint from Geraardsbergen to Warburg in the middle of Germany

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03 TCR08 – Equipment & Packing List

You’re now at post 02 of my TCRNo8-series. To jump to all so far existing posts on this in chronological order:
01 TCRNo8 –About the Race & Live Tracking (Cap63) – Start: 24.7.
02 TCRNo8 – My Rider Introduction

03 TCRNo8 – Equipment & Packing List


This post is largely copied and from my Transiberica 2021 gear / packing list post, and then altered to be up to date. it is now a summary of my gear. If you want to go into more detail on some items (wheels, lighting, shoes, gearing, etc…) I suggest you check that post: Transiberica Equipment & Packing List, 2021. And for even more information, also on my preparation (route planning, training), I suggest you check this one: Transcontinental Race preparation, 2018 (it is a few years old, but my approach was good and I did it similarly this year).

This Year’s Bike and Setup

Of course: My Rose Pro DX Cross from 2015, but I just call her lovingly „Rose“ <3. Rose runs on Sram Force22 (disc) and has an alloy frame and carbon fork that stood the test of many adventures. Her custom compiled gearing of 46/33 (front) and 12-36 (rear) will hopefully get me up allll the climbs while still allowing me to pick just the right cadence/force at any point (no large gear jumps). For comfort, Rose is equipped with Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tires in 32mm, a Redshift ShockStop suspension stemProfile Design T4 aero bars, a Specialized Power saddle and gel pads under the bar tape. I decorated Rose with tons of reflective tape, but my favourite accessories are still: a little rear mirror and my not-to-joke-with bell that is modestly hidden under Rose’s elbow pads.

Rose Pro DX Cross

WEIGHT:
– bike only: 10,8kg (without bags and rack, but including all adjustments like aero bars, dynamo, light/electronics, pedals etc…)
– bike with empty bags: 12,4kg (incl. Tailfin rack)
bike with luggage: 16,5kg (excl. food & water)

And some more kit…

This season’s kit colours: turquoise/orange for the jolly Miamy look to lighten my mood when necessary (or yours) and for good visibility. Additionally I’ll bring an funky VOID jersey that I wore already on my TCR06 in 2018 and still like. I will ride my local cycling club’s team bibs by Vermarc. Shoutout to RTC dasimmerdabei e.V.!

Morvelo summer jersey, LaPassione Duo Gloves Orange, Suomy Gun Wind helmet

My bedroom consists of a bivy, light mat & silk liner + boxers & shirt dedicated to clean sleeping. My Wahoo Elemnt (+ phone backup) in combination with a SON dynamo hub and Edelux II light will show me the way while an Igaro D2 USB-charger, two 10000mAh powerbanks (by Anker) and a strong 65W charger for quick charging will make sure I never run out of juice (was on the edge a few times last year on my Transiberica). A carefully curated bike-mech/spare-parts compartment (incl. rear derailleur hanger, spokes, etc.), and babywipes/chamois cream/ointment will rule out most show-stopping technological or biological malfunctions.

The bags are arranged to reduce the frontal area (aero) and optimize accessibility: 2 food pouches in-line between the aerobars, a fuel tank and phone sleeve behind them, small frame triangle to still make 2x 1L bottles fit, and my aluminum Tailfin rack & trunkbag that did an amazing job on past endeavours.

very small frontal area

What’s new? (gear-wise)

Got a new rain jacket: Gore Wera Torrent. But apart from that: Nothing really. My setup on Transiberica worked really well. It is not super duper light/compact. But gives me enough comfort while not being too bulky.

But if you wish to check my reasoning for certain gear choices and changes, I suggest you check these two older posts from past races:

Tailfin Alloy trunkbag & rack http://www.tailfin.cc
Cockpit with two Revelate Designs Feed Bags between the aero bars
Shimano XC7 shoes – SPD system
Igaro D2 USB charger for charging devices from the dynamo.
SON Edelux II connected to SON dynamo hub
Revelate Designs Gas Tank & Tatonka phone sleeve

Packing List

missing on this pic: boxers & t-shirt for sleeping (forgot it)

Documents

  • ID card
  • hardcopies of documents (incl. Corona stuff)
  • health insurance card
  • contact details
  • pay cards
  • some cash

Electronics

  • iPhone SE (with offline-route backup on maps.me)
  • Wahoo Elemnt (updated & with routes)
  • headphones Shure SE215 (bluetooth)
  • USB charging cables
  • 3 port USB charger (65W)
  • 2 Anker power banks 10000mAh
  • iPhone cables, 1 short & 1 long

Bike maintenance

  • mini leatherman (no name)
  • multi tool (Lezyne)
  • air pump (Lezyne, with digital pressure gauge)
  • puncture set (incl. tubeless plugs etc.)
  • 2 tire levers
  • cable ties (many!!)
  • spare shoe lace
  • Sram chain link
  • rear derailleur hanger (bike specific)
  • gear inner cable
  • chain lube (Squirt dry lube)
  • replacement spokes & nipples
  • 2 pairs of brake pads
  • schrader valve adapter (to use gas station pumps)

(Spare) clothes

  • Buff merino multipurpose head scarf
  • spare socks (Assos summer socks)
  • spare bib-short (Vermarc)
  • spare base layer (LaPassione summer)
  • arm & leg warmers (Vermarc)
  • down vest (Endura)
  • rain jacket (Gore Torrent)
  • high visibility vest
  • boxershorts / T-shirt (for sleeping)

Hygiene

  • toothbrush (cut off, obviously ; ) ), toothpaste, shampoo
  • Ibuprofen
  • Diclophenac cream
  • wound healing cream (Bepanthene)
  • baby wipes
  • tissues
  • chewing gums
  • chamois cream
  • sun protection lip stick, & healing lip stick
  • micro fibre cloth (for glasses)

Sleeping gear

  • silk liner
  • sleeping mat (Thermarest ultralight)
  • bivy (MSR AC bivy)

Miscellaneous

  • 2x 1L-bottles
  • Hiplok (small cable tie lock, number lock)
  • spork

Wearing

  • helmet (Suomy Gun Wind)
  • Glasses: Adidas Proshift with photochromic prescription lenses
  • short gloves (LaPassione Duo Gloves; light padding)
  • bib-short (Vermarc)
  • short jersey (Morvelo summer)
  • base layer (LaPassione summer)

Human Encounters – mini-post about meeting fellow riders & volunteers on the road

A mini-post about: *human encounters* in self-supported endurance (e.g. Transcontinental Race)

Fellow riders on the road by the nature of it understand so well the experience of a race. That’s why encounters on the road are so deeply special: No words needed to express how rough the last night was, how beautiful the descent, how mesmerizing the landscape, how pain- and doubtful the last morning, how itchy the bibs. Because all of that is tacit common understanding among riders and creates an immediate connection.

On top of that, based on my experience, riders of these races are a special and pleasant bunch: many in touch with themselves, curious and (often calmly) enthusiastic, humble because they got to know their limits so many times, and all that is why they’re part of the race in the first place. “Sociable loners” as Anna Haslock (of @thetranscontinental ) once phrased it.

Now imagine..: a trip where both your inner and outer world are constantly in flux… and then you bump into a fellow rider, maybe one you’ve already met 400km ago. These are “home” moments. A landmark in time that makes you look forward to the next one and socially contextualizes the route between now and then.

A similar connection occurs with media teams on the road, and volunteers at Checkpoints: they have seen so many riders and the same landscapes, that they look beyond the obvious craziness of such a race, naturally empathizing more with the acute emotional state of the rider they encounter. Especially volunteers: from their position of stability they manage to get us back on the ground when we may feel there is none.

I’m grateful for these social experiences. They make these races what they are beyond „just“ tough rides. 🙏

The above pictures were taken by the kind media crew of @transiberica_club (www.transiberica.club) in ‘21. You see Julio (cap28) and myself at Checkpoint 4. 7:30h in the morning. We both and the media crew had a rough night for sure, the desert was still cold, a long hot day ahead. We simply had a good time in that moment.

See you on the road!

Malte, Cyclingtourist & #TCRNo8cap63

02 TCRNo8 – My Rider Introduction

You’re now at post 02 of my TCRNo8-series. To jump to all so far existing posts on this in chronological order:
01 TCRNo8 –About the Race & Live Tracking (Cap63) – Start: 24.7.
02 TCRNo8 – My Rider Introduction

03 TCRNo8 – Equipment & Packing List


The organization of The Transcontinental Race asked all riders to publish a brief introduction on their social media. Here is mine… copied from my Instagram @maltecyclingtourist

Hello!!

picture by http://www.transiberlica.club @transiberica_club

#tcrno8riders #tcrno8cap63

Hi there I’m Malte „Cyclingtourist“, Cap63 and at heart exactly that: a cyclo-tourist & explorer; things just turned up a gear (pun intended) over the years. Had miraculously brought myself through TCRNo6 and 2 other races that taught me a lot, and now back at „the“ race, TCR! Super excited to meet old and new fellow rider-friends and all volunteers & team on the road & in Burgas! 👋

BIKE

I simply feel at home on Rose 🌹. She’s set up with all kinds of perks for comfort: custom gearing (Force22, 46/33 + 12-36), Rockshift suspension stem, 32mm tubeless Schwalbe Pro 1, padded bar tape and aerobars, Specialized Power saddle and overall perfect geometry in all positions. My favourite accessories however are: her little rear mirror and modestly hidden but not-to-joke-with bell.

Setup

SETUP: SON dynamo and light, Igaro D2 dynamo charger, 2 power banks. Tailfin, small frame triangle, 2 Revelate Designs food pouches & fuel tank, all set up for small frontal area & easy access. Bedroom: mat, bivy, silk liner, dedicated boxers/t-shirt.KIT: cyan/orange for the jolly Miamy look to lighten my mood when necessary (or yours) and for good visibility. Bibs: now in team kit of my Cologne cycling club 🧡 (shoutout @rtcdsd )

RIDING STYLE

Rather impulsive, luckily it got a bit better over time. My performance over the course of a race is usually very volatile; my specialty: catching up with long mid-race night rides. As I love independence and flexibility, my setup is designed to sustain me for a few days outside between the occasional BnB nights.

TRAINING

On the positive: I generally have a crappy diet, so I’m perfectly prepared for running XX days on 7day-Croissants, Pringles and Coke. On the negative: my cycling season tends to start… late. One doesn’t ask a gentle(wo)man for their yearly mileage. I tend to compensate for it with my enthusiasm and curiosity to do it.

Can’t wait for all the landscapes, people, ❤️ on the road, interaction with dotwatchers. Shoutout also to Dragan 🐩 & Cruella 🐕, the 2 stray dogs that will make me loose my day‘s food pack at 1:35am on day 8.

01 Transcontinental Race No. 8 –About the Race & Live Tracking (Cap63) – Start: 24.7.

You’re now at post 01 of my TCRNo8-series. To jump to all so far existing posts on this in chronological order:
01 TCRNo8 –About the Race & Live Tracking (Cap63) – Start: 24.7.
02 TCRNo8 – My Rider Introduction

03 TCRNo8 – Equipment & Packing List


Something new is on and I can’t wait for it to start! I have the immense privilege to ride the Transcontinental Race No. 8 – one of the most iconic cycling races in the world. HELL YES, I’ll do it again. I’m as excited as I am humbled.

My personal background: In 2018 I already joined and finished the 6th edition of the race. In the meantime did two other races (Blog entries/information here: Three Peaks Bike Race 2019 & Transiberica Bike Race 2021). Now – through the lottery and maybe aided by the fact that I successfully finished my first TCR – I am privileged to be granted a placement to ride it again.

Here you first find some information on what the TCR actually is & how you can live-track my “dot” on the map, if you wish. In case you‘re interested in my gear or my rider introduction you find the links to post 02 and 03 above at the beginning of this post.

Transcontinental Race No. 8 – facts & figures

The Transcontinental Race is a (attention please…) self-supported free-route ‘ultra’-endurance single-stage bike-packing time-trial in the spirit of Mike Hall† (who founded this race, and is one of the founders of this sport and scene). That means…

  • Start: Geraardsbergen/BelgiumSun. 24th of July 2022, 22:00h
  • Finishline: Burgas/Bulgaria, whenever riders arrive.
  • 4 Checkpoints (CPs) spread over middle and eastern Europe to be approached in this order:
    • Start Geraardsbergen
    • CP1) Krupka/Czechia
    • CP2) Passo di Gavia/Italy
    • CP3) Durmitor/Montenegro
    • CP4) Transalpina Strategica/Rumania
    • Finish in Burgas/Bulgaria.
  • free route choice, except for a compulsory parcours at each Checkpoint (ranging from 40km to 120km)
  • over 4.000km and 40.000m cumulative climbing
  • self-supported, i.e. carry your own luggage, no outside assistance, no rider-cooperation, no supply pre-arranged
  • single-stage, i.e. the clock never stops; there are no fixed stages or stops, neither for sleeping nor for food etc.
  • ca. 275 participants (28 of which riding as pairs, all others solo), all genders competing in the same category
  • more detailed rules: see here

A spectator sport! – How to follow the race and riders in realtime

Despite the geographical spread of the events, endurance bicycle racing is a spectator sport, because: Each rider has their own GPS-tracker. Your chance to kick my a** when I hang around for too long at McDonald’s or oversleep in the ditch!

Additionally the race in general it is vividly accompanied on social-media:

I’m always happy to hear from you. Encouraging messages, cheering, etc. are highly motivating (also to the other riders!). I may not always be able to reply immediately, but be sure I read messages and mentions with great pleasure!

03 Transiberica – The very late post-race post

You are now at post 03 of my Transiberica series. If you want to check them out in order, voilà:
01 Transiberica Bike Race 2021 – Live Tracking (Cap33) & About the Race
02 Transiberica – Equipment & Packing List
03 Transiberica – The very late post-race post


Dear readers, and dear diary (after all, that’s what this blog is, too), I thought..: why not speed things up? I had published my Transcontinental Race 06 report 1,5 years after the race (it still found many readers and I got a lot of positive resonance about the format. Thank you!). So with this post coming ca. 3/4 of a year after my Transiberica 2021 finish I’m reducing the delay by half!


PODCAST: Before we start… to my German speaking readers: Last October (2021) I had been kindly invited by Pascal of the Gravel-Podcast who interviewed me about my Transiberica Race – it was great fun. In that episode you find a lot of information, anecdotes and also more general things, that you will not find in this blog post. So, if you’re interested you may want to have a listen. Viel Spaß!
“Gravel-Podcast – Die Transiberica ist immernoch in Spanien”


Now my actual blog post:
I will not bother you with a detailed daily report of my race. On 10 days and 3000km there are simply too many things happening to do them justice in a report that anyone would still want to read. With my interactive Transcontinantal-Race-map I had already found an alternative way to take you by the hand on my trip but still spare you hour-long reads. …and I have a similar goal this time, but by different means:

  • 03a) first: a few words on my most important takeaways
  • 03b) my Instagram-stories from during the race – because in this case both their form and their content are closely linked to my race experience. I will explain…
  • 03c) facts & figures, Strava tracks & short reports & pictures: some stats and a map that summarise my race, some photos, the daily Strava-captions and links to each stint on Strava where you find more information and also more pictures.

03a) My most important takeaways from Transiberica 2021

I think all “ultra” (whatever that means) endurance racers can relate: You proudly accomplish your first race, and then the idea is:

Let’s do this again, but better.

In my case the first race was the Transcontinental Race 06 in 2018, and “better” meant to me: largely reduce my suffering / increase my enjoyment and increase my daily mileage. In between I had the Three Peaks Bike Race 2019, which I finished, but did not really improve any of those factors due to an injury-induced lack of training before hand. But 2021 was my year to seriously tackle that “better racing” mission.

I had a few goals:

  • sleep better and more regularly
  • more efficient riding through less stopping time – make 300km/day
  • focus more on enjoyment, moments, landscapes, the social element. Do not “celebrate” suffering but instead avoid it as much as possible.

And to get right to it: I mostly succeeded!

Sleep better

I slept every night (more or less) either bivaking outside or in BnBs. I underestimated how cold it would get at night in the dry and elevated landscapes, so I certainly had a few miserable nights. But I took rests, and was mostly somewhat revived for the next day. Usually I rode on until at least midnight, and got up again a few hours later. BIG improvement over my Transcontinental Race performance where I often rode through the night and had very ineffective next days, with huge fluctuations in daily mileage and even sleep induced crashes (see my TCR blog post/map).

Sleeping spots outside ranged from bus stops to parking lots to football fields. Since large parts of the Spanish Peninsula is a plateau at a few 100 meters altitude and additionally very dry (sometimes deserts, cooling down quickly) or at rivers (i.e. cold & humid), it got incredibly chilly at night. With only my bivak, silk liner and sleeping mat I was clearly under-equipped and often declared my sleep over just because I wanted to cycle to warm up; i.e. bad conditions for sleeping, good conditions to get up early and make some mileage. Still… I had rest, slept or at least closed my eyes and that was enough to not be sleepy the next day. I guess my average bivak sleep was 4-5 hours. I slept 7 out of 10 nights outside.

Proper beds I found mostly through booking.com in affordable hotels. 3 out of 10 nights I spent in beds. Having a shower, charging devices, and having a literally clean and fresh start for the next 2-3 days. While sleeping in proper beds my average sleep was probably around 8 hours.

Only in two instances I was very close to falling asleep on the bike – that was in the two last nights: On day 8 I did a massive stint and in the end managed to catch up with some riders by doing some good old night riding. That day I had checked both Checkpoint 7 (Portugal) & 8 (back in Spain) that included two massive climbs. I was on top of CP 8 at midnight, full moon and Venus in the night sky – what a view and feeling, especially combined with the accomplishments of the day. At altitude I branched off from the road to take a hiking route through the wild mountain landscape into the very end of a long valley, because this would allow me to ride downhill almost entirely until CP 9 and saved me about 2000m of climbing. So I had already done 250km and 4700m of climbing that day, then that hike over rocks and dirt tracks and super challenging rubble descent into the last village of that valley, so was crazy exhausted. Weird feeling to arrive in that village – like an alien intruding human civilization and a random landing spot. Anyway: The valley went along some water stream, so it was very cold, humid and foggy – i.e. a kind of coldness that really gets in your bones. Since it would have been too cold for me to sleep anywhere I was forced to continue cycling until the villages got a bit bigger and the valley a little bit wider until I found a little square far enough from the water so the temperature at the sleeping spot would be a bit milder. That feeling of riding when you’re dead tired, after 8 straight days of cycling, the massive stint that day… your eyes just want to close. And they do, and all you can do is talk to yourself, shake your head, listen to loud music, scream sometimes just to get your adrenaline up again to keep you awake. Delirium – surreal. All that on pitch black, smoothly paved valley roads in the middle of nowhere, a slight decline pulling you forward; like on a monotonous highway.

The other instance where I got too close to falling asleep on the bike was the following and last night, after day 9. Again I had another massive day behind me with 320km and 2400m of climbing, including the super challenging Checkpoint 9 climb. The conditions were similar to the night before. I wanted to ride on for as long as I could so I’d have as little mileage left for the next and last day to the finish line. So I moved on, but got somewhat trapped in a similar situation: cycling along a valley with a river that made it too cold and humid to sleep. Again battled my eyes closing (failed a few times, but just about did not crash), stopped a few times to kind of pep-talk and collect myself, until I finally found a parking lot in a village that worked for me – see the 4th picture here. At least I had managed to reduce my remaining race distance for the last day to a comfortable 180km.

Some sleeping spots:

Ride more efficiently

I certainly reduced my stopping time. I tried not to give in to the continuous itch to stop for another cold drink or ice cream. Also: I kept a healthy pace, and as mentioned I slept more, so my daily mileage increased. Over all my average daily mileage was 297km, so I just about missed my 300km/day goal, but I didn’t mind. Close enough. Average daily elevation gain was 3177m.

Apart from being more rested thanks to (somewhat) regular sleep, another positive factor was eating. Don’t get me wrong: I still ate mostly crap which is the perfect thing to do: calories, carbohydrates, some protein, salt… the body doesn’t care where exactly those basic ingredients are coming from. What I did better was: i ate more frequently/continuously. Constantly taking a handful from my food pouches that I had placed between my aerobars: Haribo, M&M peanuts, Cliff-Bar (I brought many of those, love them), Chips. Even some fried pork skin that they sell in Spain and somehow appealed to me, hah. And of course occasional café stops, proper meals, sandwiches, many gas-station stops with the obligatory half liter Coke and icecream. That worked well. next time I should just eat a bit more.

Focus more on enjoyment, moments, people, places

Definitely worked! I was in great contact with other riders. Everyone in this scene seems to be kind – I realized that again. Additionally I tried to be as receptive and observant as possible for all things around me on my trip. Weird moments like where I found dozens of books spread all over the road, or the kind employee of the rural supermarket with who I communicated through gestures only, who handed me two cold pieces of watermelon on a 42°C day. The forest that had burnt down, was all black and still smelled like a camp fire… what a view and vibe. Being heavily chased by pair riders Richard & Sam Gate (father and son) on the last 180km, and arriving just 8min (in a 10-day-race!) ahead of them. And many more unforgettable moments and experiences that I will keep in my heart, but not write down here.

Needless to say I also had my moments of negativity. Especially around the middle of my race I was fatigued and didn’t make the progress I hoped; several riders who had been around me for days were getting more and more ahead of me, which was frustrating to see. Apologies to everyone who was exposed to my fluctuations in mood. I overcame this negativity not so much through a change in mindset, but “simply” through improving my performance: with some big efforts in the last 3rd of my race where I checked Checkpoint 7 & 8 in one day and did a good bit of night riding. Anyway…

I also tried to capture some of my encounters, situations and moods on social media, mainly Instagram stories. I had many followers – maybe also you – who watched them with interest, engagement and interaction. This was a very important experience to me, because it may have made me more attentive, selective in my attention, and more reflective; I looked out for things and situations that I would like to show, reflected them and myself. On a 15-hour cycling day there’s plenty of time to think about what story to tell with what image or words.

Which leads us to…

03b) My race through the lens of my Instagram-Stories

I think both form and content of my Instagram stories this year are well suited to make them this years main feature to let you participate in my racing experience.

The form, because – as mentioned – my goal was to focus on the positive, special and on enjoyment, to be more observant and reflective. That is exactly what Instagram stories are in form: a selective representation of moments. I also wanted to focus more on the social element, and as a social medium (even though some doubt it) these stories were a form of communication that brought me closer to you or anyone who was interested in me and my race and to many people that I was interested in, too. Such a race is an opportunity to experience many productive facets of loneliness: being with oneself, self-reliant and self-aware. This social interaction with loved ones and strangers and loved strangers managed to remove many of the unpleasant elements of loneliness while preserving the productive ones.

The content-level of these Instagram stories is for rather obvious reasons suited for taking you with me on my race: they depict things that I saw and experienced; often accompanied with some text, to give context. And on a somewhat “meta” level: the way I designed the stories – some humorous & ironic, some plan or even boring – they tell something not just about their subject but also about my state of mind and mood and take on things in the moment.

So, without further ado…
CLICK HERE to go straight to my Story-“Highlight” in Instagram, containting 100 stories. (requires Instagram account)

For anyone without an Instagram account, I created this compilation of all 100 stories in one video (ca. 15 Minutes). It’s the same content, but you miss some of the usability features that Instagram offers (like pausing or skipping stories)

03c) Facts, figures, pictures & Strava tracks…

Map of my race

And now… first a map of my race. Better click this link to open a larger and better to navigate version of the map. You also find a preview below.

The map shows:

  • Start & Finish (Bilbao)
  • the 9 checkpoints in between & compulsory parcours per checkpoint
  • my individual route (the way I rode it)
  • sleeping locations & types

Stats overall & per stint

Race start:
Sat. 14th of August 2021, 22:00h at night
Bilbao, Spain, Guggenheim Museum

My overall stats:
2897km, 30980m
– daily average: 297km and 3177m
9d17h54min – 9 days, 17 hours, 54 min
– arrived on 18th position (out of 59 solo-riders at the start)

This means: in terms of daily mileage I almost reached my 300km-goal, and improved my performance by ca 25km. In the field I arrived on a similar position as in previous races, namely about top third of finishers, and top half of starters. This means that the field was stronger in this race overall compared to Trancontinental Race No. 6 and Three Peaks Bike Race 2019.

day0/day1 – f***ing up and catching up

https://strava-embeds.com/embed.js

(Strava) 14.8.21, 22:00h Bilbao to 16.8.21, 00:13h Xerta
Total distance: 518km
Total elevation: 3017m
Elapsed time: 26:13h
Moving time: 19:27h
Stop time: 25%
Sleep afterwards: bivy on local football pitch
Further remarks:
– Two personal records: longest distance in one go (518km) and longest distance within 24 hours (475km)
– light didn’t work at the start, so I had to fix it right when the control car released us; just outside of Bilbao stopped at a gas station to find the issue; turned out an extension cable I had soldered was shoring the circuit (of course I had tested the light before. It had worked). I was behind the field from that moment an. Also: picked an “exotic” route that left me way behind, so I was last. But during the day I slowly caught up (caught the first midfield riders around noon of the first day); the next morning I was already in the middle of the field at CP1.
Strava caption:
Phew… what a ride.
I fell back behind the main field early because of a less efficient routing choice (see screenshot among pics. Nr 33). But looking at my stats (not current placement) I’m incredibly satisfied. I think it will be a matter of days to have caught up more, hopefully this was not a 1-day performance.
Was tough though, obviously. Especially the desert parts at 42 degrees or so.
Also have a new Personal 24h-record: 475km
Now gonna sleep properly and climb CP 1 in the early morning.
Found a water fountain, have some cookies… so nothing can go wrong ; )

day2 – getting my bones used to it

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(Strava) 16.8.21 Xerta to Barbastro
Total distance: 227km
Total elevation: 2898m
Elapsed time: 15:31h
Moving time: 11:43h
Stop time: 24%
Sleep afterwards: Hotel in Barbastro
Further remarks:
– Checkpoint (CP) 1 climed in the morning: 1400m up, with a view on the Mediterranean Sea
Strava caption:
Obviously shorter than yesterday. Was of course still exhausted from the long one, and had a cold few hours of sleep in the wind (was too lazy to get the bivy out), and also: this ride was opposite to the previous one:
– begann with a crazy long and quite steep climb in the morning (1400m), continued with several tedious climbs in the heat of noon
– route had a continuous incline
– headwind
only the torturous heat in the afternoon was equal.
Also, I feel my Achilles and knees (no problem, will go away. Always happens after the first big climb), so better not overdo it.
Wanted to have a shower and bed after 2 nights on the road, and charge my power bank, so got a cheap hotel room kind of on the route. Will get up early to do the last bit to CP2 and the respective Parcours, so I‘ll climb before the sun hits.
Greetings from Barbastro, Good night!

day3 – feeling well. climbing/descending took a lot of time. And: classic Nachtattacke : )

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(Strava) 17.8.21 Barbastro to Cáseda
Total distance: 255km
Total elevation: 3800m
Elapsed time: 17:55h
Moving time: 12:58h
Stop time: 28%
Sleep afterwards: bivy behind some parked cars in a village shortly before the Bardenas desert
Further remarks:
– climbed CP2, descended westward on a gravel route. Rode until late into the night
Strava caption:
Overslept in the morning (original plan: 5am), but also needed it. My legs felt fine: as predicted: Achilles issues gone, knee issues almost.
The route towards the beginning of the Parcours was stunning! In and along a canyon. The Parcours climb to CP2 was doable: long, but reliably between 7-10%, however with my road tires had to sit all the way (otherwise no traction). The descent was hell. I opted to continue the path down to Torla; instead of backtracking. Heavy gravel, so: 1,5 hours of full tension, keeping the brakes tight, full focus to not hit the rocks wrong, at ca 10-15 kph.
From there on quite straight forward. One climb, then long countryroads, slightly descending but also headwind. Felt very fresh until late at night. My playlist (made by my friends) helped a lot! 💪
Now in my bivy in Cáseda. Until the end I was still in shape to move on
Good night!

Transiberica day4 – productive day 💪

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(Strava) 18.8.21 Cáseda to Albarracin
Total distance: 319km
Total elevation: 2055m
Elapsed time: 15:36h
Moving time: 13:16h
Stop time: 15%
Sleep afterwards: hostel in Albarracin
Strava caption:
Slept 3 hours in my bivy. Then moved on; at first super tired and feared falling asleep on the 40k way to CP3 parcours … during the Parcours slowly woke up. After the Parcours the north wind picked up to help me push south. Had a very strong, continuous ride with not much stopping. Later the wind turned around so I really had to fight. Found a room in Albarracib by phone and then started a race against the thunderstorm. I womit by 10 minutes. 💪
My Achilles pain is gone. My knees hurt, but will probably be better tomorrow. Worried ore about my feet… they hurt a Lot towards the last 3rd of the ride.
Greetings from Albarracin!!

day5 – headwind and literal ups and downs

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(Strava) 19.8.21 Albarracin to Riaza
Total distance: 288km
Total elevation: 3430m
Elapsed time: 16:21h
Moving time: 13:27h
Stop time: 17%
Sleep afterwards: bivy on lawn next to gas station on CP5 parcours
Strava caption:
By the way: I post frequent updates on Instagram as Malte Cyclingtourist.
Started at CP4 (Albarracín). At 22h arrived at the start of the CP5-Parcours and decided to still do the first climb of it.
First two thirds of the whole ride had headwind. And the elevation meters came through a constant up and down. Pretty tedious over all.
First third I was quite slow and had too many stops. Then changed my attitude and riding a bit, which worked.
Damn.. so tired, I’m falling asleep while typing this. Good night.

day6 – no flow

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(Strava) 20.8.21 Riaza to Zapardiel de la Canada
Total distance: 280km
Total elevation: 3138m
Elapsed time: 18:46h
Moving time: 13:26h
Stop time: 28%
Sleep afterwards: bivy in rural bus stop
Strava caption:
Original idea was to get up and really push through to a 300+ ride. But was exhausted, stopped a lot, rode slowly. Hot, boring landscape (except Parcours), constant up and down… not motivating. Pushed on until late at night when I noticed I‘d fall asleep soon. Stopped in a village, slept in a bus shelter. Tmrw will be better.

day7 – Slow day, a lot of climbing. but then racing to the hotel

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(Strava) 21.8.21 Zapardiel de la Canada to Fermoselle
Total distance: 248km
Total elevation: 3306m
Elapsed time: 16:16h
Moving time: 11:34h
Stop time: 29%
Sleep afterwards: hotel in Fermoselle
Strava caption:
The numbers don’t look impressive compared to other days, but: I’m super glad it turned out that way. At my arrival at CP6, 18:30h I had only 135k on the clock and was a bit frustrated about it. Since I wanted a hotel for the night I was so restricted in choices that it might have been a 170k-day. I found one last room at a distance I originally thought was too far. I raced there with (by my standards) super high pace (35kph most of the 75k Ride to the hotel) to be in time to get the keys. Made it 23:55 – 5min before homelessness.
So: yay, a hotel, and a day distance + elevation that’s really ok.
Even ended up having 3 Colas on a street festival that was going on when I arrived..
Good night!!

day8 – incl. CP7 & CP8 – up up up

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(Strava) 22.8.21 Fermoselle to Lagunas de Somoza
Total distance: 261km
Total elevation: 4707m
Elapsed time: 18:38h
Moving time: 14:12h
Stop time: 24%
Sleep afterwards: bivy on side wall of little square
Further remarks:
– on that day I cycled into Portugal to CP7. The terrain was tough; hopping from from one river valley to the next. Portugal was like the “Hungary of Western Europe”
– moved on and did two more huge climbs, incl. CP8 where I ended on top exactly at midnight with Moon and Venus high in the sky. What a view.
– Then moved on and took a little gravel/rumble path off the road to skip over into the last end of a tiny valley. This move was risky as I had no idea if I’d successfully pass that wild stretch; but it ultimately saved me ca. 2000m of climbing, and the the next day I would mostly ride smoothly downhill or flat towards CP9
Strava caption:
Probably the most I ever climbed in one stint.
More text will follow later.

DAY9 long, hot & flat, then torturous CP9 climb in icy fog

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(Strava 9a & Strava 9b) 23.8.21 Lagunas de Somoza to Siejo
Total distance: 321km
Total elevation: 2490m
Elapsed time: 18:28h
Moving time: 13:41h
Stop time: 26%
Sleep afterwards: bivy on a parking lot next to a river; cold valley
Further remarks:
– rode down the looong valley, country roads past León, ultimately to the edge of Picos de Europa
– downhill, and then up the challenging climb of CP9 where it was incredibly cold, rainy and foggy
– back down, and then as long as I could along the valleys eastward. at some points couldn’t keep myslef from sleeping but had a hard time finding a suitable sleeping spot because the river valley was so cold. ultimately found a parking lot and took shelter behind some container
Strava caption:

day10 to the finish line. Arrival: 14:54h

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(Strava) 24.8.21 Siejo to Bilbao (Finish)
Total distance: 180km
Total elevation: 2123m
Elapsed time: 9:33h
Moving time: 7:46h
Stop time: 18%
Sleep afterwards: bivy on a parking lot next to a river; cold valley
Further remarks:
– after a few hours of sleep in that cold valley moved on. Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, finding some café
– overall took it rather easy and still had an efficient ride that day
– at some point by checking the live-GPS-tracks it dawned on: Richard & Sam Gate (father & son riding as a pair) who I had bumped into on the CP9 climb, were chasing me relentlessly. So for the last 70km over the hilly coastal roads with many tiring ascends, I really pushed it. After getting lost a bit in Bilbao I still arrived 8min before them! 8min! in relation to a 10-day ride. That was a close one.
Strava caption:
Yaay, finished! 🎉
For now:
– finished in 9d17h54m (=9,75d)
– as the 18th (of 59) rider
– total: 2897km and 30980m
(that‘s on average 297km/3177m per day)
I‘m incredibly happy with the result… not just because of the stats. But also because my riding style matured a lot, I managed to do it with more joy/less suffering and managed to also enjoy little things in between and: be connected with many of you! THANK YOU SO MUCH. Really, this kind of interaction matters a LOT in these otherwise lonely and very challenging days. Every support-emoji and comment counted and put a smile on my face.

To anyone who got this far..: Thank you! You’re a real ultra-cycling fancier. I appreciate your attention. And here’s a little heads up to you exclusive bunch: My next big thing will be the Transcontinental Race No. 8 in 2022. Start is on 24th of July in 2022, if you like, follow me on Instagram for regular (also smaller) updates. If you have any comments or questions, use the comment function here, or contact me via the contact form or via Instagram. Byeee!

02 Transiberica – Equipment & Packing List

You are at post 02 about my Transiberica Race in 2021. If you first want to know what it is all about, check my post 01, and if you want to know how it all turned out, you can check post 03:
01 Transiberica Bike Race 2021 – Live Tracking (Cap33) & About the Race
02 Transiberica – Equipment & Packing List
03 Transiberica – The very late post-race post

Yeeees, I know, kiddies… you want to know all about the gear and what kind of things I’ll bring on the Transiberica Bike Race. So here we go… First I’ll give you a quick text summary. Then point out a few items that I (ex)changed or added to my setup; further down you find a complete packing list. Plus some pics on the way…

This Year’s Bike and Setup

Of course: My Rose Pro DX Cross from 2015, but I just call her lovingly „Rose“ <3. Rose runs on Sram Force22 (disc) and has an alloy frame and carbon fork. Her custom compiled gearing of 46/33 (front) and 12-36 (rear) will hopefully get me up allll the climbs while still allowing me to pick just the right cadence/force at any point (no large gear jumps). For comfort, Rose is equipped with Continental GP5000 tubeless tires in 32mm, a Redshift ShockStop suspension stemProfile Design T4 aero bars, a Specialized Power saddle and gel pads under the bar tape. I decorated Rose with tons of reflective tape, but my favourite accessories are still: a little rear mirror and my beloved bell that is modestly hidden under Rose’s elbow pads. Sometimes it goes off accidentally and then it’s as if Rose and I were having a vivid conversation; yes, that’s how lonely it can get on the road sometimes.

Rose Pro DX Cross

WEIGHT:
– bike only: 10,8kg (without bags and rack, but including all adjustments like aero bars, dynamo, light/electronics, pedals etc…)
– bike with empty bags: 12,4kg (incl. Tailfin rack)
bike with luggage: 16,5kg (excl. food & water)

And some more kit…

This season’s kit colours are turquoise/orange for the summery Miamy look that I think will fit the Spanish heat. Additionally, I’ll bring a light pink merino Buff for that extra bit of quirky but homey living room flair and for its versatility (remove sweat from my eyes & warm my ears at night).

Morvelo summer jersey, LaPassione Duo Gloves Orange, Suomy Gun Wind helmet

My bedroom consists of a bivy, light mat & silk liner + boxers & shirt dedicated to clean sleeping. My Wahoo Elemnt (+ phone backup) in combination with a SON dynamo hub and Edelux II light will show me the way while an Igaro D2 USB-charger and a 13000mAh powerbank will make sure I never run out of juice. A carefully curated bike-mech/spare-parts compartment (incl. rear derailleur hanger & spokes) and babywipes/chamois cream/ointment will rule out most show-stopping technological or biological malfunctions.

The bags are arranged to reduce the frontal area (aero) and optimize accessibility: 2 food pouches in-line between the aerobars, a fuel tank and phone sleeve behind them, small frame triangle to still make 2x 1L bottles fit, and my newest acquisition: a Tailfin rack & trunkbag.

very small frontal area

What’s new? (gear-wise)

If you’re interested in my gear (well… you’re here), you can also check my post on my Transcontinental Race preparation in 2018 where I go through the reasoning regarding many of my gear choices. Here’s some more…

Tailfin luggage system

Like so many riders recently, I exchanged my standard-style seatpack (great working Specialized Burra, 10L) for a Tailfin setup (alloy, quick release trunk bag).

The advantages:
a) even more rigid construction than the Specialized Burra
b) much easier access (namely from top) and handling (quick release)
c) larger volume
d) slightly lower center of mass

This allows me to store all luggage incl. sleeping gear in the back and therefore do without a drybag strapped under my aero-bars = less weight on the handle bars.

Tailfin Alloy trunkbag & rack http://www.tailfin.cc

Position of food pouches

Now with the aerobars free, I moved my 2 food-pouches (Revelate Designs) in-line between the aerobars. Previously they were mounted left and right behind the handle bar under the elbow pads.

The advantages now:
a) easier access
b) a smaller frontal area (more aerodynamic; yes, it does matter)
c) simply a much tidier cockpit (matter of aesthetics)

Cockpit with two Revelate Designs Feed Bags between the aero bars

SPD shoes/pedals:

I switched from SPD-sl (road system) to SPD (MTB system). This was because I needed new shoes anyway (got numb toes in my otherwise excellent Shimano S-Phyre) and to be more flexible and worry less about my shoes in case I have to walk small gravel/rubble sections. At the same time it also makes the shoes more practical in any situation off the bike.

Even though they are the most expensive option, I opted for Shimano XTR pedals because the have the lowest stack height and I hope it will get closest to the feel of a road-system. Even if the effect is rather psychological than mechanical: I wouldn’t want to put pressure on the pedal and have the feeling my foot wants to rotate around the pedal axis because it is (or feels) too high above it.

For shoes I got the Shimano XC7 as I really liked my previous Shimano shoes (S-Phyre), and they have a “wide” (larger volume) version. They are very stiff (didn’t want to risk feeling the smaller contact surface of SPD) and have a moderate bottom profile and are overall rather clean looking and “racey”. To allow for better air ventilation in the hot Spanish summer, I added some larger holes with a pair of hole punch pliers (Danke, Rainer Zeller für Idee und Zange!); the result looks good, but I didn’t test it; fingers crossed.

Shimano XC7 shoes

USB dynamo charger igaro d2

After a lot of disappointment with the Plug5 Plus by Cinq (very cumbersome installation and failed immediately in the rain) I needed a new device. After consultation of other riders in the scene, I opted for the UK-made Igaro D2. Admittedly there were some issues with the batch of units at first; but Igaro customer support is phenomenal, and ultimately they managed to sort everything out and now I have a well working device.

I mounted it on top of my Redshift Rockstop stem. I made sure to let the cables enter/exit without making the sockets vulnerable to the elements and fixed everything with cable ties. Now I have a USB outlet going straight into my fuel tank bag; perfect.

Igaro D2 USB charger for charging devices from the dynamo.

Lighting: son edelux ii

I had made this adjustment already 1,5 years back, right after my Busch&Müller IQ-X lamp failed again in the rain on my Three Peaks Bike Race 2019. The IQ-X’s beam is absolutely perfect and incredibly powerful. But its housing and general build is disappointingly flimsy. So instead I went for the crème de la crème: SON Edelux II (and rear-light), i.e. the same manufacturer as my high-end SON dynamo hub. The beam is fantastic (just not as great as IQ-X), but especially: it’s super robust and water tight. Additionally I installed everything with sturdy SON coax cables and properly soldered in some plugs. To allow myself to fix the rearlight to the Tailfin rack, I added an extension cable at the back and also built simple fixtures to attach the rearlight to either the tailfin or the frame directly. In the whole coax cable routing I also included a little split-box to neatly plug in the power-chord for the Igaro D2 USB charger. I’m incredibly satisfied with this lighting setup.

SON Edelux II connected to SON dynamo hub

Cockpit bags: Fuel Tank & phone sleeve

I really liked my Blackburn Fueltank bag; but after so many years and heavy use, the zipper failed. Decided to go for something slightly more compact, and with the zipper positioned in a way that I guess makes it less prone to failure: The Revelate Designs ‘Gas Tank’. Really like it; it’s very stable on the top tube, and access is perfect.

Additionally I got a separate Tatonka phone pouch that I velcro-tied to the side of the stem. Admittedly it doesn’t look great, but it’s super functional, aero, and good use of that space in the cockpit. Now I can more easily access the phone for quick photos etc.

Revelate Designs Gas Tank & Tatonka phone sleeve

smaller chainring: 33T

Changed the smaller chainring from 34 to 33 teeth (by TA Specialties), i.e. even slightly lighter gearing than I had already. So my geating is: 46/33 in the front and 12-36 in the back (custom cassette). Probably that 3% difference will not be so significant. But it’s the smallest I can go on my crank, and the surprising side effect: shifting is much smoother now. My 46T chainring (Sram) is designed to work best together with 36. My former 34 chainring consequently didn’t shift so smoothly. But the combination with that 33 ring does a perfect job for some reason.

Redshift suspension Stem

I now ride a Redshift suspension stem: it’s essentially a stem that has some rubber inserts that allow for a slight suspension. It is hardly noticeable, which is great because: originally I feared it might feel too soft/uncontrolled, but that’s not an issue at all. Essentially I simply notice that I’m willing to stay in the aero bars on even slightly bumpy road surfaces. So: overall it’s less tiring on hands and arms, without any compromises on a solid steering feel.

Wheels: DTSwiss custom build

Nothing fancy, but works very well: I got these wheels built already 1 year ago. Simply because the rims of my old set were done. They were built by Reinald of Komponentix in Berlin; had to be custom built because I wanted my SON dynamo in stable rims. Overall really sturdy wheels and very affordable (620€ excl. SON hub). Removed all labels, and they look fantastic.

The components are:
– rims: DT Swiss RR521 db. Aluminium, deeper section, affordable
– front hub: SON dynamo (had this one already)
– rear hub: DT Swiss 350 Road db CL. It’s heavenly quiet ❤

Hiplok Security Tie (“lock”)

Previously I used an Otto Lock.Now I felt it is too bulky in comparison with how much it protects the bike (namely: hardly). Instead I got a Hiplok Z Lok Combo, as it gives equally little protection, but packs smaller.

Packing List

Documents

  • ID card
  • hardcopies of documents (incl. Corona stuff)
  • health insurance card
  • contact details
  • pay cards
  • some cash

Electronics

  • iPhone SE
  • Wahoo Elemnt (updated & with routes)
  • headphones Sennheiser bluetooth
  • USB charging cables: 2 micro, 1 C
  • Anker USB charger (4 ports)
  • Anker power bank 1300mAh
  • iPhone cables, 1 short & 1 long

Bike maintenance

  • mini leatherman (no name)
  • multi tool (Lezyne)
  • air pump (Lezyne, with digital pressure gauge)
  • extensive puncture set (incl. tubeless plugs etc.)
  • 2 tire levers
  • piece of old tire
  • cable ties (many!!)
  • shoe lave & thin thread
  • Sram chain link
  • rear derailleur hanger
  • gear inner cable
  • chain lube (Squirt dry lube)
  • replacement spokes & nipples
  • 2 pairs of brake pads
  • schrader valve adapter (to use gas station pumps)

(Spare) clothes

  • Buff merino multipurpose head scarf
  • spare socks (Assos summer socks)
  • spare bib-short (Rapha basic)
  • spare base layer (LaPassione summer)
  • merino arm warmers (Mavic)
  • white UV protection arm sleeves 50+ (Castelli)
  • down vest (Endura)
  • rain jacket (Endura)
  • high visibility vest
  • boxershorts (for sleeping)
  • T-shirt (for sleeping)

Hygiene

  • toothbrush (cut off, obviously ; ) ), toothpaste, shampoo
  • Ibuprofen
  • wound healing cream (Bepanthene)
  • baby wipes
  • tissues
  • chewing gums
  • chamois cream
  • sunscreen 50+ (for babies, like me)
  • micro fibre cloth (for glasses)

Sleeping gear

  • silk liner
  • sleeping mat (Thermarest ultralight)
  • bivy bag (MSR AC bivy)

Miscellaneous

  • 2x 1L-bottles
  • Hiplok (small cable tie lock, number lock)
  • spork
  • mini backpack (Decathlon)
  • light plastic bag (to separate clothes, sleeping gear etc.)

Wearing

  • helmet (Suomy Gun Wind)
  • Glasses: Adidas Proshift with photochromic prescription lenses
  • short gloves (LaPassione Duo Gloves; light padding)
  • bib-short (Rapha basic)
  • short jersey (Morvelo summer)
  • base layer (LaPassione summer)

01 Transiberica Bike Race 2021 – Live Tracking (Cap33) & About the Race

You are at post 01 introducing you to my Transiberica Race in 2021. There are two more posts about the preparation and gear (02), and about how it all turned out (03):
01 Transiberica Bike Race 2021 – Live Tracking (Cap33) & About the Race
02 Transiberica – Equipment & Packing List
03 Transiberica – The very late post-race post

Yaaay, something new is coming up! After The Transcontinental Race got postponed one more time to 2022, I managed to get a late placement in the Transiberica Bike Race. Start is on Sat. 14th of August 21.:00h in Bilbao, Spain, and of course it’s with live tracking and followed on social media.

Transiberica facts & figures:

Transiberica is a (attention please…) self-supported free-route roundtrip ‘ultra’-endurance single-stage bike-packing time-trial in the spirit of Mike Hall†. That means…

  • Start & Finish: Bilbao, Spain
  • Start time: Saturday, 14th of August 2021, 21:00h
  • 9 Checkpoints (CPs) all over northern Spain to be approached in ascending order. Starting in Bilbao the course goes clock-wise.
  • free route choice, except for compulsory parcours at 5 of the CPs
  • ca. 2.900km and 38.000m cumulative climbing
  • self-supported, i.e. carry your own luggage, no outside assistance, no supply pre-arranged
  • single-stage, i.e. the clock never stops; there are no fixed stages or stops, neither for sleeping
  • 65 participants (6 riding as pairs), all genders competing in the same category
  • more detailed rules: see here

>>Here’s a link to a map to check the CPs in detail.<<

How to follow the event and me (realtime)…

Despite the geographical spread of events, endurance bicycle racing is a spectator sport. Each rider has their own GPS-tracker:

Additionally it is vividly accompanied on social-media

I’m always happy to hear from you. Encouraging messages, cheering, etc. are highly motivating (also to the other riders!). I may not always be able to reply immediately, but be sure I read messages and mentions with great pleasure!

03 TPBR – Race Summary

Here’s a very late summary of my 2019 Three Peaks Bike Race (TPBR); rather for the sake of completeness. And who knows, maybe there’s someone out there – a future TPBR rider or the like – who has some use for it. If you’re new to this blog and are looking for some more exciting and complete representation of my riding and racing, you may e.g. wish to check out my visual Transcontinental Race report.
In this current post I’ll simply provide you and myself with some facts and figures of my 2019 race. I also added my short Strava descriptions of each ride, but obviously they don’t do justice in any way to the richness of my TPBR experience and the hundreds of situations and encounters I had, good and bad.

If you first want to find out what the race is all about, better start here:
01 TPBR – This year: Three Peaks Bike Race
If you want to find out about my preparation, check this: 02 TPBR – What I changed: Equipment & Racing Approach/Behaviour

Below you find some data and visual impressions on a daily basis. At the end you find a few overall stats. I should mention that during the 8 weeks leading up to the race I couldn’t do any sports due to a broken finger that I didn’t want to risk; I’m very content with my race performance given these circumstances, but hope to perform better next time with more preparation.

Here you find a map of my recorded GPS tracks. For better usability, follow this link.

Day 1, Vienna – Linz

Start: Sat. 20. July 2019, 16:00h, Vienna, Austria
185 km, 1.110 m
Moving time: 7:10 h
Elapsed time: 8:45 h
Stopping time: 18%
Average speed: 26 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2019, 00:45 h, Hörsching shortly behind Linz (Austria)
Sleep (end of stage): front roof of commercial building

Went quite smoothly. Had to stop once to sort out issues with my Wahoo Elemnt map display. Around 1:00 am at night a thunderstorm came up. Good timing to try to get some rest under the front roof of some commercial building. Surrounded by a raging storm. Didn’t really sleep. But was no other option really.

Thunderstorm while sleeping in Hörsching after Day 1, ca. 1 am at night.

Day 2, Linz – Haiming

Start: Sun. 21. July 2019, 05:37 h, Hörsching, shortly behind Linz (Austria)
313 km, 2.396m
Moving time: 13:10 h
Elapsed time: 18:10 h
Stopping time: 27%
Average speed: 24 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2019, 23:50 h, Haiming (behind Innsbruck, Austria)
Sleep (end of stage): Hotel

Dear diary, 

I had deliberately set my GPS track to a destination far beyond what I deemed realistic; just to give myself something to push towards. Surprisingly I managed to get there – despite the first 100km in the rain. 

I fell behind the field because I was one of the few who decided to have some sleep in the first night (yes, I learned from my TCR mistakes). But today I fought myself back to the front of the midfield. Surprising. 

Not surprisingly I‘m getting tendon issues due to that sudden spike of activity (there was rediculously little training) – I will set my cleats back to the middle of the foot before climbing stelvio tmrw, to relieve my Achilles’ tendons. 

Wonder where I will end up tomorrow; I.e. if I have to pay the bill for todays effort or if my legs are just getting started…

Strava entry, day 2

Day 3, Haiming – Lago di Como

Start: Mon. 22. July 2019, 07:17 h, Haiming (behind Innsbruck, Austria)
269 km, 3.377 m
Moving time: 13:10 h
Elapsed time: 18:45 h
Stopping time: 30%
Average speed: 20,5 kph
Finish: Mon. 22. July 2019, 23:50 h, North-Western shore of Lago di Como (IT)
Sleep (end of stage): park bench

I‘m exhausted.

Strava entry, day 3
Descending from Reschenpass
Climbing Stelvio with Music (Art Farmer – Modern Art)
Descending from Stelvio (westbound)

Day 4, Lago di Como – Torino

Start: Tue. 23. July 2019, 08:43 h, North-Western shore of Lago di Como (IT)
235 km, 973 m
Moving time: 10:30 h
Elapsed time: 14:50 h
Stopping time: 29%
Average speed: 22,5 kph
Finish: Tue. 23. July 2019, 23:33 h, shortly behind Torino (IT)
Sleep (end of stage): campsite

Heavy heavy… especially with over 40 degrees in the Italian flatlands. 

Big climb tomorrow..

Strava entry, day 4

Day 5, Torino – Sault

Start: Wed. 24. July 2019, 07:26 h, shortly behind Torino (IT)
281 km, 4.350 m
Moving time: 15 h
Elapsed time: 29:30 h
Stopping time: 49%
Average speed: 19 kph
Finish: Thu. 25. July 2019, 13:01 h, Sault (Provence, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): launderette

I extended the ride through the night. Very ineffectively. But felt extremely uncomfortable in my dirty kit. And needed to change to my better bibs. Destination was Sault where there was a Laundromat. 

Tired.. we’ll see how the rest of the day goes.

Oh and… It’s my birthday.

Strava entry, day 5
Climbing the Colle delle Finestre with music
Approaching the Lac Serre Poncon around sunset
Pedaling…

Day 6, Sault – Sète

Start: Thu. 25. July 2019, 13:43 h, Sault (Provence, FR)
197 km, 397 m
Moving time: 8:45 h
Elapsed time: 10:50 h
Stopping time: 19%
Average speed: 22,5 kph
Finish: Fri. 26. July 2019, 00:35 h, Sète (Mediterranean Sea, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): hostel

Got my legs and my brain back. My very long but necessary break in Sault (eating, washing clothes, spending time deliberately aimlessly) took until ca. 14:30h. Considering that I’m quite content with these 196km even though it is far below what I want as a daily average. 

I cycled with very few stops and continuous pace. And even the land bridge before Sete was open and worked out great. 

Listened to the Podcast “Zeit Verbrechen”… kann ich sehr empfehlen!!

Strava entry, day 6
First time Mediterranean water

Day 7, Sète – Ax Les Thermes

Start: Fri. 26. July 2019, 08:18 h, Sète (Mediterranean Sea, FR)
223 km, 2.497 m
Moving time: 11:30 h
Elapsed time: 14 h
Stopping time: 18%
Average speed: 19,5 kph
Finish: Fri. 26. July 2019, 22:20 h, Ax Les Thermes (Pyrenees, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): hotel

Rain & Achilles pain

Strava entry, day 7
Approaching the Pyrenees with the occasional heavy rain shower

Day 8, Ax Les Thermes – Spain

Start: Sat. 27. July 2019, 09:17 h, Ax Les Thermes (Pyrenees, FR)
150 km, 3.315 m
Moving time: 8:45 h
Elapsed time: 12:30 h
Stopping time: 27%
Average speed: 17 kph
Finish: Sat. 27. July 2019, 21:53 h, shortly behind Spanish border (Pyrenees, SP)
Sleep (end of stage): hotel

Rough day for me. 

First overslept, cause I forgot to set an alarm. 

Then pouring rain almost constantly. Lots of climbing (two big passes) and obviously colder with every gained meter of altitude. Then after 1h of climbing realized I forgot my wallet in the hotel. Back down and back up in the rain. – while being soaked. and even colder when in that state you descend: further cooling wind and no work to keep you warm. 🥶 after the descend from arcalis Ordina I kept shivering for 30min in some café. 

Checkpoint 3 (last one) done. 

But a great conclusion: Found a fabulous little hotel just behind the border in Spain. 

Dialogues you never hear: „Where shall I put my bike?“ – „I suggest you just take it on the room.“. Here that actually happened ❤️

Strava entry, day 8
Singing in the Rain – On Arcalis Ordina

Day 9, Andorra – Barcelona

Start: Sun. 28. July 2019, 06:42 h, shortly behind the Spanish border (Pyrenees, SP)
220 km, 3.369 m
Moving time: 10 h
Elapsed time: 11 h
Average speed: 22 kph
Stopping time: 9%
Finish: Sun. 28. July 2019, 17:41 h, Barcelona (SP)

Finished Three Peaks Bike Race on Sunday, 17:40h after 2100km/22000m/8days. 

Wow… today I was on fire. Started at 7 and basically went through without a break. I took over 3 other racers who got up much earlier and had a headstart of at least 50km. Very satisfied. Also overall: with this trip I doubled my yearly mileage 😂 – involuntarily there was hardly any training. So, i‘m quite astonished I managed to finish at all. 

At the finish line I was sprayed by Rainer with sparkling wine and treated with a cold beer. Thanks SO much! 

Thank also to YOU followers for your interest and messages of encouragement. It was highly motivating to know I was not alone on the road.

Strava entry, day 9
Cycling through a canyon
Approaching Montserrat on the final parcours

Overall…

Total distance: 2073 km
Total elevation: 21784 m
Total time: 8 days, 1 hour, 45 min
Stopping time (weighted): 27%
Daily mileage: 260 km
Daily elevation: 2723 m
Sleeping: 4x Hotel/Hostel, 4x bivy/other/none

Lessons learned…

A) I should reduce the stopping time (27%) by a lot. E.g. bringing it down to 10% could increase my daily mileage by 40 km to 300 km/day
B) a ride/sleep rhythm by day/night works. I should even more fight the impulses to ride on at night.

05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map

#TCRNo06 #TCR06cap36
You are now at post 05c of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order and/or first want to find out what this is all about.., voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map


CLICK HERE to get straight to the Interactive Map.
! open on desktop ! (not phone)

A few words on how to use the map

Firstly: the map only really works on Desktop; to benefit from all the features I built in and for comfortable usability, you need a proper screen and mouse/touchpad (i.e.: mostly useless on your smartphone).

The interactive map lets you dive into alllll the details of my Transcontinental Race in 2018 (edition 06). Additionally it’s of course possible to copy-paste GPS coordinates of specific spots/pictures/momories/etc. from my map 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.

Layers of the map (switch on/off)

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:

  • Legend to the map.pngGPS-track:
    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 I rode on what calendar day, I created markers for all the spots I passed at exactly 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.
  • Sleep:
    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 (which happened 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 stints (“stint” defined as the part of the way between two proper night rests).
  • Memories:
    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. Usually they also contain a text description of the situation.
  • 2 Photo-Layers:
    They are sorted chronologically in the list. (There is no functional, just a technical reason for having two layers)
  • Refueling:
    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.
  • Adversities:
    These include multiple crashes, their stories, reasons and impact. Furthermore routing problems and health issues.

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 6 steps:

  1. Downloading the GPX files
  2. cutting up and converting the files in several ways (e.g. by calendar day and stage)
  3. creating excel functions to better find the gaps in the record and thereby tracing every single time I stopped
  4. check the respective GPS coordinates of each break longer than 30 seconds on GoogleMaps incl. StreetView and thereby remember what exactly was going on.
  5. Create a note in my interactive map, choose an icon, picture and some text
  6. Sort all points chronologically in the layer-list, per layer

Yes, it was a lot of work. 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

Below you find the map, but I highly recommend to open it in a new tab with this link.
-> INTERACTIVE MAP (link)