One of the world’s toughest – if not the toughest – bike tours started last weekend: the Transcontinental Race. In about two weeks, 326 participants will have to ride from Geraardsbergen in Belgium to Thessaloniki in Greece, covering thousands of kilometers and thousands of meters in elevation, with at least half of the route being unpaved.
The Transcontinental Race is both famous and infamous. The route is different every year, but every year around four thousand kilometers and equally challenging. Participants complete the route completely self-supported and are thus completely on their own for thousands of kilometers. Along the way, they pass a number of checkpoints – at least if they want to make it to the finish – to eventually arrive at their final destination within the time limit. The Transcontinental Race has a large percentage of dropouts every year. Participants decide how they set up the Transcontinental Race and their balance between cycling and resting.
For many fans from around the world, the start of the Tronscontinental Race means they will stick to their computer screens for the next few weeks simply to follow the participants via dots on a map. You can do that here and immediately you can see that – at the time of writing – the front-runner is already riding deep into Switzerland and has completed over 850 kilometers, while the straggler is currently almost crossing the Belgian border and is “only” at just over 200 kilometers.
There is an interesting documentary on Netflix about the Transcontinental Race. This documentary offers a wonderful insight into the 2019-edition of the event.