If I was being sensible I would be dreaming up some nice long tours for the coming year, time rich, cash poor, but the fire is still lit under my adventure racing gene. With the explosion of new bikepacking events for 2019 I could not resist supporting a few new ventures. Solo touring is well and good, but you can’t beat the camaraderie of fellow riders prepared to ride all day and sleep in ditches. Hopefully we will have some great stories to share.
Starting in May the Race around the Netherlands will be a
1630Km 1900Km trial of wind that the leaders will be completing in just under four five days. I say this with confidence as old adversaries Hippy, Stephen Haines and Ashley Sharp will be resuming their TransAm battle, all big milage hitters. It will be very interesting to see how 24hr TT expert Jasmijn Muller adapts to unsupported racing, she will no doubt push them all the way in her home country. (The original route over the water has now changed and the route extended in land via Amsterdam and round the bay)
Back in the UK and a new initiative from All Points North sets a challenge to visit ten locations across the North of England over a weekend, starting from Sheffield. With no preset route this is not a race it’s a great initiative to let riders dip their toe into race waters. They have put a lot of time and thought into this and it’s great to be involved in the first one. Riding up to the start and starting at 8pm will be the first challenge, deciding the route the second. Making sure the timings work out to allow a stop over at the Tan Hill pub (one of the checkpoints) goes without saying. It’s a 1000km Audax like ride on acid and should be a nice reunion with some racer friends.
After a few weeks away on the organising side of things chasing after racers in the Transatlanticway Race once more it will be off to Scotland for the PanCeltic race, another great new event. Getting to Inverness will be the first challenge, whilst Scotlands midges in July will test the bivy skills to the max. This event almost closes the cycling lap of Ireland for me, and the two ferries might provide a couple of party boats if riders meet up. This will be a good 2000 mile round trip overall and at the moment there will be over 70 riders there; I will be but a spec in the wheel tracks of Stephen Haines once more, he has to be the favourite again.
Last year I watched a small group of riders race around Spain and Portugal, The TransIberica was born, another Freeroute event where a bunch of Iconic checkpoints must be visited in order, your route choice. A summit in the Pyrenees, Valencian hills, Almeria gravel coastline, the Andalucian high national park, Algarve coastline, Picos de Europa it looks fantastic for 2019 and I’m in.
There are areas I have had short visits to on two wheels before, to combine them into one long ride will be amazing. This will be a huge 3500km at least and hopefully the furnace like temperatures will have dropped a touch for September. The ferry is booked to get to Santander and after all this I could be living off the land and riding home.
At the moment there are 18 riders signed up, with me being the sole GB rider, so this is potentially less of a social race and more of a adventure tour, Hippy will be going for this one too.
So with 1900 + 1000 + 2300 + 3500 lined up, that’s a grand total of 8700 Km of adventure riding, I had better start getting some miles in.