I took part in the 2015 edition of the Transcontinental Race 2015 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even managed to come 19th place, if you're interested in hearing my account then click here. I was also the youngest rider to enter the race and the youngest to complete at the age of 19 - subsequently Mike Hall awarded me the 'Spirit of the Race' award. I stupidly signed up to do it again and came 20th in the 2016 edition.
Big rides so far:
July 2015, Transcontinental Race No. 3
June 2016, Munich to Rome (kinda)
July 2016, Transcontinental Race No. 4
September 2017, Manali-Leh Highway, India
July 2014, Newcastle to Cambridge 404km (my first big ride)
July 2015, French Alps trip including L'Etape
July 2015, Cambridge - Dunwich Dynamo - Cambridge (almost) 356km
Growing up in Cambridge, a particularly cycle-friendly city, bikes were always a part of my life. As a child, it was maybe a mark of my independence or some occasional fun in the park, but nothing more. It was not until I was about 15 that I began to see it as something with the potential to intellectually and physically engage me at a higher level, beyond just a way of getting around. On a whim, inspired in part by a link sent to me of the ‘bike porn’ section of LFGSS, I started researching parts on eBay. It transpired that really, building a fixed gear bike was cheaper and easier than I’d anticipated. I was already interested in mechanics, but the act of physically building something was far more satisfying, and began to turn into a hobby. More than that though, I started riding for pleasure. While it wasn’t anything serious, it did mark a distinct change in the way that I saw cycling.
Soon though, short rides got longer, and I began cycling to London with friends or taking part in the occasional sportive. This carried on for around a year, but it was the summer of 2013 that my riding really took off as something more significant. While I’d been fascinated by fixed gear, I’d probably attribute the change to the purchase of my first proper road bike - a 2012 ‘Cannondale Synapse’. Cambridge itself is relatively limited in terms of hills, but it really came into its own on my longer rides to Cornwall and in Essex. At the beginning of that summer I cycled in the Alps with some friends, riding the Cormet de Roselend, to an elevation of 1,967m. I continued cycling in Cambridge but discovered proper group cycling and the Sunday club run with Cambridge CC. This introduced me to new rides, different builds and styles, and a community with a shared interest and knowledge about riding that was invaluable to my development as an amateur cyclist.
I began riding in chain gangs and club time trials, testing my ability to compete with myself and others, which inevitably had a great impact on my attitude towards rides. In being part of a larger body, what had begun as a hobby became a commitment and an intrinsic part of my daily life. During my summer holidays I was cycling daily, and when off the bike I was on my computer researching the ways that I could ride better. I would research parts and builds, but I was also captivated by the surrounding culture, an interest which was greatly facilitated by accessibility to international forums and videos. Fixed-gear remained a part of my everyday life, with many of my friends becoming interested in it. I worked for three months during the summer at a bike shop, a job which in itself evolved into alley cats with friends and further rides. Having a knockabout fixie to get to school within city traffic was great fun for me, and became a part of everyday life.
However, the following summer I furthered my abilities long distance, during which my regular cycles culminated in my first really long ride. After visiting my sister in Newcastle, I cycled back to Cambridge, a 250 mile journey that I completed in about 16 hours. Considering the lack of serious training I had done (beyond my normal rides), I was pleased with my time. It was not a meticulously planned trip, nor was it necessarily reaching my full potential, however it did give me an insight into the stamina and commitment necessary for long distance rides. That trip was what inspired my initial ideas about ultra-distance riding, and I am hoping that with some dedicated training I will be able to replicate that performance, ten days in a row.
While the Transcontinental Race works on the proviso that it is accessible to everybody, my ability to achieve my full potential is to some extent limited by my equipment. To tackle this, I am hoping to have some sponsorship in the race, allowing me to better my chances of attaining my goals. If you are interested in what I am doing, and would like to contact me concerning the race, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to answer any questions, and would be grateful for any propositions which might aid the ride.