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Transcontinental Race No. 8 – fast forward through Europe

Jesko

Transcontinental Race No. 8 – fast forward through Europe

Road Cycling Collection by Jesko

15

Tours

233:28 h

2,604 mi

139,300 ft

The Transcontinental is the most important and best-known bikepacking race across Europe. Founded by Mike Hall, the race was the catalyst that made me interested in long-distance, self-supported cycling almost 10 years ago. The incredible stories you experience when you cross a country, or even a continent, as fast as possible under your own power, without outside support have fascinated and inspired me for many years. At that time, however, I never imagined that I’d find myself in the Transcontinental Race and that I’d successfully complete it within the time limit on my third attempt.

After following the Transcontinental Race for a few years and gaining my first long-distance experience in other Tours and races, I stood on the start line for the first time in 2017. I didn’t get very far until I had to pull out. My second attempt followed two years later. That time, I finished, but outside the time limit and overall classification. I applied again straight away, hoping to make it within the time limit next time. I was very lucky to get a place again, but due to the pandemic, it was postponed twice.

Finally, at the end of July 2022, the time came. The eighth edition of the Transcontinental set off from Geraardsbergen in Belgium. The finish was Burgas in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. In between, four checkpoints: Krupka in the Czech Republic, the Gavia Pass in the Italian Alps, the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro and the Transalpina in the Romanian Carpathians.

280 male and female riders took on the challenge of reaching Burgas under their own steam. As always, we were completely on our own in terms of navigation, finding a place to sleep, food and any mechanical failures. You can only use what is available to everyone. For example, you can use hotels and bike workshops, as long as you reach them under your own steam.

Less than half of the riders made it to the Black Sea within the tight time limit. To reach my big goal, the finisher's party, I had to cover an average of almost 300 kilometres (186 mi) a day. This leaves hardly any room for mistakes or unexpected hurdles, although they are part of the parcel when you travel such long distances. Thanks to the accumulated experience of the last races and also a good portion of luck, I made it on this third attempt, even though it was quite close. This is the story of my race.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Day 1: Geraardsbergen to Hann. Münden – Transcontinental Race No. 8

    24:08
    292 mi
    12.1 mph
    9,850 ft
    9,550 ft

    The first difficulty of the race arises right at the beginning. The start is at ten o'clock in the evening, which presents the drivers with the dilemma of either driving straight through the first night or having to look for a place to sleep in the first hours of the race. In addition, due to the start

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    by Jesko

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  • 15:04
    178 mi
    11.8 mph
    7,375 ft
    6,850 ft

    From the hotel it is only a few meters to the bakery, which has just opened. As long as I'm still in Germany, I don't want to do without this institution. Coffee, sandwiches and a few pieces for the road and I'm ready for the next day on the bike. Today we have to get as close as possible to the first

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  • 16:40
    166 mi
    10.0 mph
    14,150 ft
    14,075 ft

    At 4 a.m. I'm back on my bike and looking forward to the first checkpoint. I leave Chemnitz behind me in the dark. A fox stands on the street, we keep eye contact for a long time. In Olbernhau, just before the Czech border, it starts to rain. I take a break at the local bakery and secretly hope to be

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  • 16:16
    190 mi
    11.7 mph
    9,375 ft
    8,975 ft

    Like the day before, I start at 4 a.m. I'm recovered and looking forward to the next stage, which should bring me as close as possible to the Alps. There is something magical about the early morning. There is fog in the valleys, the rising sun paints an infinite number of colors in the sky. The streets

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  • 15:53
    165 mi
    10.4 mph
    8,325 ft
    4,975 ft

    I set off again in the dark. There is a moment of shock when suddenly a deer crosses the road a few meters in front of my bike. Things like that can end badly, but I was lucky once again. Shortly thereafter, the sun rises and the Alps already appear on the horizon. It's almost always slightly uphill

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  • 16:48
    137 mi
    8.1 mph
    14,150 ft
    17,525 ft

    Checking into the hotel early was a good decision. My things are not completely dry after the short night, but the rain has stopped in the meantime. Squeezing into wet cycling gear and shoes without breakfast and stepping out onto the dark road isn't a good feeling, but the next climb I think will warm

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  • 15:13
    170 mi
    11.2 mph
    3,550 ft
    3,550 ft

    The high Alpine passes are behind me, but there is still a long way to go out of the mountains and into the flat plains of north-eastern Italy. Most of my route here runs on a very pleasant bike path off the road. The landscape has changed completely compared to the north side of the Alps. Huge orchards

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  • 13:06
    110 mi
    8.4 mph
    8,050 ft
    8,175 ft

    Slovenia is quickly crossed. There is a long traffic jam at the Croatian border, fortunately I can quickly cheat my way through the queue on my bike. I know that there are several bike shops in Rijeka. After that there is no larger city on my route until Mostar in Bosnia. So it's very important that

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  • 18:25
    212 mi
    11.5 mph
    9,250 ft
    10,550 ft

    When I wake up, I don't feel like driving any further. The wild dogs and the few kilometers of the previous day have left their mark and dampened motivation. But after reading some encouraging messages and comments on Instagram, I suddenly remember how important a finish in the time limit is to me, why

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  • 108 mi
    -- mph
    11,250 ft
    6,775 ft

    Mostar looks like a very interesting city. It is full of young people and exudes a completely different charm than most places I have visited in the Balkans. I wish I had more time to see them but I have to move on so I intend to come back here sometime later with more time to explore the city properly

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  • 18:29
    202 mi
    10.9 mph
    13,200 ft
    17,425 ft

    At 4 o'clock in the morning I'm back on my bike and cycling through dark Montenegro. Switchbacks bring me down into the spectacular Tara Gorge, which I already know from photos. Unfortunately, the view is denied to me today due to the darkness, I can only guess the depth of the gorge when I cross the

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  • 16:26
    193 mi
    11.7 mph
    5,925 ft
    5,700 ft

    As a cyclist you can't really get used to the traffic in Serbia, but after a while you get a little jaded. Nevertheless, in the morning after Požarevac I get onto a road that I can't stand to be on any longer. One truck after the other overtakes me with only a few centimeters to the side, so that I dodge

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  • 16:17
    115 mi
    7.1 mph
    11,350 ft
    11,000 ft

    The clock is ticking and I have a rough idea of what to expect in the Carpathians. First I have to go over the Transalpina, the highest paved road in Romania, then down to the fourth and last checkpoint, then back up the same way and finally over the approximately 40-kilometer off-road course, by far

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  • 18:29
    206 mi
    11.1 mph
    6,200 ft
    7,075 ft

    I can't afford to sleep more than two hours if I want a chance to catch the last ferry of the day. It's two in the morning and I'm particularly afraid of the first fifty kilometers through the Carpathian hills. Since the rules of the race forbid us from taking the busy main road south, I know that I

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  • 12:12
    159 mi
    13.1 mph
    7,325 ft
    7,375 ft

    Actually, I only wanted to sleep for two hours and then roll the last 250 kilometers to the finish relatively relaxed and without time pressure. But because I'm tired, I oversleep the alarm clock and wake up another two hours later. Slight panic spreads. Actually, I have enough time, but the remaining

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    15
  • Distance
    2,604 mi
  • Duration
    233:28 h
  • Elevation
    139,300 ft

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