Tonight at midnight local time, 200 racers from around the world will set off up the cobbles of the Muur-Kapelmuur on a amateur race to cycle across the entire continent finishing at the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, where Europe stops and Asia begins. We at Bikerumor first found out about the event talking with one of its first finishers in Berlin last year following the inaugural running in 2013, and have been hearing about this edition now for the past few weeks as people and companies in our social media feeds have been finalizing their training and prepping their bikes and bags.
The event is 100% unsupported, to the extent that competitors aren’t allowed to borrow a pump from another racer, or even stop at a friends house along the way for water or a snack. That being said, publicly available services along the way are OK, so if your bike breaks down you’re welcome to hobble into a regular bike shop for repairs, and food and lodging purchased along the way are cool too.
This year’s event has four checkpoints along the way through southern and eastern Europe that each racer needs to navigate to on their own. Join us after the break for a glimpse of what they have in store…
The Transcontinental came about as something of a callback to simpler race days and tests of mettle, before well-supported pro-teams and commercial race promoters bloated races with team cars, advertising caravans, and nightly massages. (It’s probably no surprise that this race will be starting with a ride south across France, while another, shorter road race finishes there this weekend.) The idea was to race hard day-after-day, eat and drink what you could find along the way, and sleep wherever you could. So what grew out is a truly epic race with: One Stage, No Support, and No Route. Between the start and finish are just a series of required controls that visit some segments of road iconic to cyclists, but also make sure that the race changes character each year.
In this edition once racers leave Belgium, they will first have to climb the Mont Ventoux in France; then traverse the gravel military ridge road, the Strada dell’Assietta, in Italy; make their way next to the Croatian city of Vukovar; then up to the top of Mount Lovcen in Montenegro before finally reaching Istanbul.
The fastest riders are expected to finish in about 9 days straight of riding over 4000km. While many will sleep in hotels along the way and eat in restaurants and cafes, if things go as they have in the past there will be an equal number who sleep in bivouacs on the side of the road and eat out of markets along the way. It surely will be another challenging edition, and most racers will be happy to finish at all and thrilled to make it to Istanbul in less than 15 days for the official finishers party on August 8th.
Us armchair spectators can follow along with live-tracking at Transcontinental.cc since all competitors will be riding with GPS chips for minute by minute progress updates.
More info at Reportage.TranscontinentalRace.com
Update: Our friends at sponsor Brooks have sent over some great photos they’ve been taking out on the road from the first isolated few days of the race. I’ll add more as they trickle in: