This style of event has really taken off in recent years and TCRn04 saw hundreds of entries for a strictly limited number of places. I don’t think I’m in any way particularly more qualified than any other cyclist, so being accepted brings a certain responsibility to respect the race and ensure I make the most of the opportunity that other riders weren’t given.
I know I’m fit enough, but I also know this is a challenge like no other I’ve faced. I’ve ridden 400km in a day, but I’ve never ridden 300-400km day after day for over a week. I’ve never had to sleep at the side of the road for longer than 30 minutes. I’ve never had to carry enough supplies to last longer than a couple of days. I’ve never had to plan a route that crosses multiple countries and terrains. There’s a lot to learn and I’m determined not to be complacent.
I’ve tried to break the race down into its key components and am steadily working my way through them in a way Dave Brailsford would be proud of – exploring all angles and looking to cover all possible eventualities and gains.
It’s not about the bike. Mike has been kind to us this year – no gravel or obstacles that require a particular bike or trade-off between speed and utility. I’ve still chosen my bike carefully and planned out the build that I believe will be fastest over the parcours, but it’s nice not to be limited in your choices or feel the need to second guess.
The pragmatist in me knows that relying too heavily on a pre-determined route will almost guarantee Garmin failure and lost time. That said, I’ve whiled away many hours creating a best case scenario route that, assuming no Garmin troubles, will get me to Canakkale quickly and in relative comfort. The hours spent on this route have hopefully cemented a feel for the route in my brain, which should make it easier if I need to re-route on the fly.
Just how little can I get away with? I’ve made some key choices on the big stuff that I reckon will be major factors in how well I do. I’ve chosen my main bag, my lighting, my power supply… I figure the rest needs to be determined during the training…
I can plan all I want and buy the best kit available, but it won’t mean a thing if I’m not up to the challenge. Years of long rides and time trialling have me at a point where I reckon my fitness isn’t going to be an issue – I can polish my FTP and keep training away, but the gains are going to be smaller than from elsewhere. My main focus in training will be the other elements of the race – overnight rides, sleeping in bushes and generally trying to condition myself for what lies ahead.