The TCR05: Tosh & Lauder blog will be devoted to following Ian Tosh and Neil Lauder as they prepare and participate in the Transcontinental Race an annual, self-supported, ultra-distance cycling race across Europe.
One of the toughest races in the world
The Transcontinental Race (TCR), now hosting its fifth edition, is considered one of the world's toughest ultra-endurance races and takes participants across the entire European continent, from Belgium to Greece. Because there are only four mandatory checkpoints, racers can choose their own route and distance vary each year. In recent editions, distances have been between 3,200 to 4,200 kilometers (1,980 - 2,600 miles), with winners completing in 7 to 10 days.
While choosing your own route seems to offer a certain advantage to the racers, it also makes things complicated. Riders need to do their homework and consider advantages and disadvantages for alternate routes when faced with crossing the Alps or the Slovakian High Tatras, and when choosing roads that will permit long, steady speeds.
One rider in this year's race tweeted a proposed route, giving insight into the challenges facing each participate as they weigh the need to hit checkpoints with maintaining maximum speed and prolonging physical endurance.
It's not a stage race and the clock never stops. Riders are timed from the moment they leave the start to the moment that they reach the finish. So, in essence, it's a long and grueling individual time trial with riders strategically choosing how much time they should devote to riding, resting, and refueling each day.
Not for the faint of heart
On top of unpredictable riding conditions and weather, extremely long days in the saddle and a rather amorphous mileage count, riders must be completely self-supported. That means there's no drafting and participants are not permitted to receive any form of support from other racers, friends or family. All food, accommodations, repairs or other needs must be purchased from commercial sources.
TCR05 with Tosh & Lauder
This year's race, the TCR No. 5, begins at 10 p.m. on Friday, July 28, 2017 at Geraardsbergen in Belgium and concludes in Meteora in central Greece.
At the start will be two mates who met through bike racing in their local county, Ian Tosh and Neil Lauder. Both are Category 2 riders who have participated in local, national and international races, such as the Belgian Kermesse, who feel the time is right "to escape into the unknown and race across Europe before our kids get too old and our partners change their minds!"
Tosh & Lauder on a weekend trip to Tour Of Flanders, 2 days with 15 hours in the saddle.
We had a chance to ask Ian and Neil a few questions about the nature of the race and their preparations:
What attracted you both to entering this year?
Seeing the growth of endurance bike packing drew is to the race, we are both racing at weekends as 2nd Cat riders in the UK but fancied something to top off the season and a little different.
How did you come to ride it as a pair?
We think it's important to experience races like the TCR as a pair in the first instance (might be back as solo's next year) to really get a feel for what it's like.
How is training going so far?
Training is going well, we have done some long days, managed our ambition and ability on the first long ride. It got to the point we were riding so hard that we were eyeing up service stops every 30 miles or so, we both have the fire in our belly for the race but realise it's more of a tortoise and the hare affair. Ten or eleven long days to get through the 2,400 - 2,500 miles expected.
What are your chosen steads for the TCR and any special alterations to the bikes or kit?
We are both using our normal race bikes at the minute, we have asked UK based bike suppliers for a loan of a frame but at this point no positive leads.
How do you come to plotting your route, is there any guidelines?
Elevation will be key, also safe routes, ensuring we do not accidentally veer onto main or busier roads on the route. We also plan to "not stop moving" throughout the day and rest should we find adequate shelter in the night and darker hours.
So what sort of distance will you be looking to cover per day?
We aim for 240 miles per day - four 4 hour shifts with a structured 20 - 30 minute break for nutrition and water intake. We estimate 10,000 calories per day as a nutritional guideline of intake per rider coupled with upwards of 10 litres of water.
What do you want to get out of TCR, whats the objective?
Our principal aim is to do well in the pairs category, however we do respect that the race is long and we must judge each day as it comes. The race is long and we will be sure to encounter all types of climate.
What are you most looking forward to/dreading about the TCR?
We're looking forward to finishing, embracing the countries and landscape. Sleeping under the stars.
We're dreading the technical issues with equipment and unforeseen injuries.
Have you visited any of the countries before?
(Ian) I have served in the forces for 19 years now and have pretty much visited every country across the trail of Europe, sometimes business and sometimes pleasure. This experience will be one to remember for sure.
Tell our readers about a typical training day.
This Saturday seen us ride out from 0400 hrs (4 am) through the Kent countryside covering 100 miles in 5 hours, albeit fast we are continuing to monitor each other, develop communication and learn to gauge when each of us is suffering, going well, cold, warm and comfy with the kit and equipment we are using. As the days get longer in the UK we plan to do a few days of multi-trips with longer mileage and sole focus of "just keep moving."
Pactimo is thrilled to be the clothing partner for Tosh and Lauder as they prepare to embark on one of the most challenging cycling events in the world.
Read more about them at thedomestiquecc.com/portfolio/tosh-and-lauder-tcr-05/
Neil Lauder sampling the tailored, wind and waterproof Gore-Tex bivvie bags which they will use for "accommodation" throughout the trip.
Their training bike setup.