For me, cycling has always been about escapism, about the ride and breaking myself as a sort of therapy. It turns out that long hours in the saddle, tearing your legs off, makes you pretty quick and I’ve dabbled in racing and time trials as a result. I never really found the satisfaction I expected through competition, though. Too many egos in racing, too many crashes and not enough good, honest, hard work (of course, the bigger issue is I’m not tactically astute, I just want to ride my bicycle… hard). Time trialling fits me better – you against the clock, willing your body to work harder and blocking out the outside world.
The Transcontinental represents everything that I love about cycling. It recaptures the romance of early bike racing, the stories I loved about heroes and villains duelling in the mountains. There’s no drafting, so my tactical ineptitude and need to ride my heart out is no longer a weakness. This is the kind of race I was born to ride.
This year’s route holds a special meaning for me. My mother died in December – my staunchest supporter, always proud of my mediocre time trial results. She spent childhood holidays touring and climbing the Alps with her family in a campervan and cherished those memories with her father, who also died young. This is a chance to feel closer to her and hopefully spend some time processing my thoughts and emotions. There will be demons chasing me to Canakkale.
In the past, I’ve never really felt the need for a blog – I work in PR, so it feels like bringing work home and I don’t have much time for self-promotion (quite honestly, I also don’t find much of what I do on the bike remarkable or noteworthy). I intend to focus on thoughts related to the race, long distance cycling and information that I think might be helpful to other riders. If nothing else, I can look back on this afterwards and learn how to improve for the next TCR – after all, time triallists love data!