Retrospectively

Retrospectively

Up until this years race began I wasn’t all that bothered about racing it again. People had asked me previously if I’d had any intention of going back, part of me wanted to have ago again but a big part of me didn’t want to revisit some of the suffering experienced.

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When the race started, that feeling seemed to subside. It was so very strange watching the TCR youtube channel, reading racers from TCR 2016 twitter, speaking about problems or pains as they unfold. One rider in particular Oliver Wolf added Facebook video’s letting folk know of his troubles during the race. A cleat malfunction along with GPS difficulties on consecutive days, already the toils of the TCR looked as if they were getting to Oliver.

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He talks about how he’s dropped back from 40th to 100th and that the malfunctions have really set him back. Taking 3 hours rest bite in the closest Ibis to try and recover and continue on.

Time.

He say’s ‘I’ve lost so much time‘. The clock is always hounding you during this race and it made me feel so nostalgic hearing him say this. It reminded me of the piece I wrote for Pannier.cc post TCR2015 – The Race Against Time.

It was seeing this that properly reminded me of how absolutely emotionally/physically destroying the race was. Oliver looked as if he was welling up through the entirety of the 1 minute video, scratching his neck in essence to remove the emotion and replace it with a ‘chicken’ scratch. Something I vividly remember doing myself when talking to friends and family on the phone.

‘I’m OKAY.’

I think one of the most heavily used words of the Trans Continental Race. I don’t know about anyone else who has raced the TCR but I almost feel that word has lost meaning in day to day life. ‘Okay’ was close to destruction, broken, hanging in there, etc I’m almost lying when I say I’m okay day to day – I should say I’m fucking fantastic instead.

I know it’s all relative to the situation your in.

Following Oliver through the race, he lands a bit of luck n the next couple of days. At 2AM he stumbles upon a party in what looks like a community hall where he’s welcomed in and fed, He’s also invited for lunch by a french family during another day.

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These little ups and downs are totally what make the TCR. The two I most vividly remember personally is bumping into Karl Speed crossing the boarder into France on the first morning of the TCR2015, soaking wet we both found salvation in a small but beautiful patisserie – we shared back grounds, what we did, who was routing for us and why we wanted to do the race. Karl was such a nice guy, he left me feeling ambitious and optimistic after he told me he wasn’t much of a cyclist but loved a good challenge.

My next was having a really down point coming into Turin, my body was absolutely destroyed and I was feeling extremely lonely. Eriç Dol passed me and said something like ‘It’s as easy as riding a bike, just push each pedal! Keep going!’ That’s it, nothing more, just enough to give me a little push.

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When people ask me was it worth it, in and amongst seeing all the phenomenal scenery, I’d say these interactions, just before a ‘wobble’ or moment of pure desperation/complete destruction are what make the TCR totally worth while.

During this years race, sitting in my cosy safe house having not cycled over 400km let alone 40km all week, I got excited about having a second attempt at the TCR. Unfinished business – I can’t lie. It’s one of my main reasons for wanting to have another go, I didn’t complete the race. DNF – Did Not Finish.

I suggested to my girl friend that I might have a second go in 2018, use 2017 as an opportunity to up my fitness, correct the issues that occurred physically with my body and have another go. As you might imagine she was absolutely against the idea and quite rightly so – I came back a broken man and it took me quite a few months, maybe 6 to completely recover.

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‘Please don’t ever let me do anything like this again – you told me on the phone in Italy. Never EVER LET ME DO THIS AGAIN’  She recalls to me.

True. It’s so difficult to put yourself in those shoes let alone back into the shoes I’d already worn. From time to time I can still feel the strain on my fingers due to the nerve damage sustained during the race.

The TCR is such brutal race, the loneliness, the strain on your body, the emotional fatigue.  These things you might feel like you’re fully aware of, if you’re planning on taking on a similar race, but unless you’ve experienced it, you really can’t prepare yourself for eventualities that will occur.

Would I do it again? With everything as discussed.

Yes. Much to my girlfriends dismay.

DNF is one of the most disappointing and unfulfilling results you can end with and as a result I’m still left with that burning desire to complete the race. Depending on how I feel in 2017, whether I can shift the added 8KG of weight I piled on after the race and up my fitness will determine if I choose to have a second attempt at the race.

 

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