The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part II

The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part II

Part I is here >>

CP 2 - Monte Grappa

The morning after arriving at CP 1, I woke up as if I was hit by a bus. Last night's push to do the parcour on an empty stomach and the fact that I fell asleep hungry didn't help either. Sleeping was also bad again because of the cold. Since I packed a bivy bag and air mat but not a sleeping bag, I ended up sleeping with all my clothes on every night.

As I was slowly waking up, I started to notice the diverse bunch that was taking shelter at the CP. People had arrived all through the night and also in first hours of the morning. We all had a small sense of accomplishment by getting the first stamp but we were also humbled by the realization that we are just 600 k's into a 4.000 k's race. I don't why but that thought just made me laugh out loud. By now, although only three days in, I found it normal to talk to myself loudly, to laugh or to swear out of the sudden. Nope, nothing strange there...

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My plan for the day was to cycle to Austria and sleep at the base of the Alps before making my way to Italy the following day. I knew that, considering my sleeping gear, I should definitely find a hotel for that night, otherwise I'd be freezing outside. The day went on absolutely miserably. I couldn't find my pace at all and I was constantly hungry. I managed to enter Austria in the evening and the welcome was as bad I as expected it to be: windy & cold. I went to the first McDonalds I could find and ordered basically everything they had. My mental status was one of relaxation because I knew that I would sleep in a hotel and, as the temperature was dropping, I was happy to do so. But wait...The idiotic thing I did was that I didn't take the time during the day to book any accommodation. Now, at 10 pm, I found myself realizing that...guess what...in this tiny city in Austria, there weren't any places available. My morale just fell through the roof at the thought that I would need to sleep outside again. After spending more than 30 minutes on research, I summoned up all my courage and went outside. Yep, still windy, even colder. What happened in the next hour is something that you could call "the desperate hunt for shelter"! I turned the small city upside down looking for a shelter, clothes, blankets, something to keep me warm. Nothing! Around 12 pm I realized that it's just useless - I either start cycling through the night or, just as well, go to sleep out there. I went into survival mode. I managed to find a secluded place and, after putting all my clothes again, I went to sleep. I woke up several times shivering and I had to massage myself to sleep every time. It was horrible...

As I woke up at 5, my Garmin was showing a temperature of 8 degrees C. I couldn't wait to start pedaling. My first stop was five minutes away in a life saving petrol station, for a hot coffee and a sandwich. I kid you not: I was hugging the coffee cup, crying and laughing at the same time. I was slowly realizing what it would take to get to the end of this race. New limits, here I come!

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My plan for the day was to cycle all the way to Bolzen in Italy via Reschen Pass. That would put me 160 k's away from CP 2. What an amazing day this was. I left the somewhat boring hills and plains of Germany behind and now I was cycling through these amazing valleys in the Alps. The vegetation was green and lush, water was plentiful and the most important thing, the sun was up and it was so nice and warm. The top of the Reschen Pass is one my favorite places in this whole race. After a grueling, long climb, arriving at top, with the turquoise lake and the 4.000 meters snow covered peaks in the distance, was just as arriving in paradise. I stopped to eat a pizza at the first pizzeria in Italy - literally it was in the first 50 m into Italy. While eating that pizza, I also booked the hotel in Bolzano. He-he, learned my lesson! :) The road down to Bolzano was epic - all downhill on bike paths trough the vineyards. Oh man, the first night at the hotel, after a hot shower and a cold beer, was a life saver. Only topped by the buffet breakfast in the following morning that I absolutely destroyed. Must have eaten 1.500 kcal at least :D

On that day, August 2nd, at 5 pm, CP 2 was going to close. I felt I had enough time to pedal the 160 k's as long as I wasn't going to waste any time. The cycling for the day went incredibly smooth and I reached CP 2 with 2 hours to spare. The only things that kind of slowed me down was the heat. Little did I know that it would only be the start of it. The atmosphere was extraordinarily lively at the check point. I also felt good and my morale was high. After four day into the race, I was getting the hang of it and I felt I was being more in control of the race. After I got the much desired stamp, I joined other TCR participants that we're waiting for the heat to go down a bit so that we could attack the Monte Grappa climb. We chatted for an hour or so about our adventures so far. Their stories of grit and resilience were amazing. I had the realization that everyone was suffering at some level. Just like me. We were all pushing our limits. I suddenly stopped feeling alone in this crazy challenge and I felt I'm apart of the amazing TCR community. I wasn't just the outsider anymore, the rookie that was dreaming to do this race one year ago. I was doing it! I left for the Monte Grappa climb all pumped up...

>> Distance from start: 1.200 km. Duration: 4 days 17 hours.

(to be continued)

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The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part I

The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part I

At the beginning of this year, as I was accepted to take part in the #TCRNO5, my feelings were of excitement and panic, in equal amounts. Now, after successfully finishing the race, as I look back at that moment in January, I feel that I'm different person. I have no idea how the Silviu Martin from January had the guts to do this race now that I know what I've been through and what it took to finish this beast of a race.

When does the Transfagarasan Highway open?

When does the Transfagarasan Highway open?

Since we're running cycling tours on the Transfagarasan here at Martin Adventures, I'm really interested in finding out when does it open and, of course, close. The Transfagarasan has its own functioning rules that state when this road is operational every year.

The Transfagarasan Highway closes every year on October 31st. According to the sames rules, the Transfagarasan Highway opens again on July 1st.

Is the whole Transfagarasan Highway closed?

No. The Transfagarasan Highway is 90 km long and out of that, only 25 km are closed every Winter until Summer. Check the explanation below.

OPEN between Bascov (km. 0) and Piscu Negru (km. 104)

CLOSED between Piscu Negru (km. 104) and Bâlea Cascadă (km. 130+800)

OPEN between Cabana Bâlea Cascadă (km. 130,8) and DN 1 (km.152)

Why is the Transfagarasan Highway closed seven months a year?

That's a great question. Of course there are other roads in Europe and in the World that are higher than the Transfagarasan (2.100 meters) that don't need to be closed. The reason is that the Transfagarasan is not safe in winter. Basically, there aren't enough snow and avalanche protection systems and it would be dangerous to attempt driving the road during winter.

Does the Transfagarasan ever open earlier?

Yes. And there are two sides of this answer.

First, the official one. There are cases when the snow melts before the 1st of July so the authorities start preparing the road when they have this opportunity. After this, they make an on-site inspection and decide to officially open the road earlier then July 1st.

And second, the unofficial one. Now, of course, the locals, who are interested in using the pass as early as possible, try to get to the other side even when the road is not yet officially opened by the authorities but it's still usable because well, the snow melted.

To sum up, technically, you could drive, cycle or walk on the Transfagarasan before 1st of July in two cases:

  • the authorities decide to open it before the standard opening time
  • on your own risk if the road is usable

Who decides when to open and close the road?

That's the mission of The Road Infrastructure Management National Company. They actually have an English website with some useful information.

How will I now when the road opens?

You could always follow Martin Adventures on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter and will let you know.

Check the real time updates on the Transfagarasan Forum.

Got more questions about the Transfagarasan Highway? Let me know in the comments below.

How was on my first cycling camp in Tenerife

How was on my first cycling camp in Tenerife

I recently just came back from the first ever Martin Adventures cycling camp in Tenerife and it was just A-MAZ-ING! Before I get into all the details, I can tell you that we'll be surely doing more of these off-season cycling camps in Tenerife. :) 

I stayed for ten days on "the island of eternal Spring" and I must say, the island did live up to its name: the weather was marvelous by any standards. Even though the middle part of the tour was under the influence of the calima (a dry and hot wind blowing from the Sahara Desert), the weather was still good for cycling.

We were stationed in the southern part of the Island, in a small village, called Arona, that is lying conveniently on the road to Mt. Teide. One the highlights of the trip was actually climbing Mount Teide (3.718 m), the highest mountain in Spain and still an active volcano. I was lucky enough to do the climb twice. The first time I started at sea level and the second time from Arona (600 meters) (Strava Ride 1, Strava Ride 2)

We also explored some of the popular areas in the South, such as the Los Cristianos & Las America beaches, Los Gigantes, Masca village. I also had the chance to visit  the north of the island, around Taganana beach and then further East to Santa Cruz, which is the capital city of Tenerife.

I'll leave you with some photos of the tour and a video of the descent from Mt. Teide to Vilaflor.

Also check out a video of me descending from Mt. Teide to Vilaflor. That was an epic sensation! :)

Shot during our cycling camp in Tenerife, March 2017.

https://www.martin-adventures.com/tenerife-camp/

How to plan & achieve your cycling goals

How to plan & achieve your cycling goals

First of all, let me just start by stating something obvious: It's really useful to set goals in life.

And I'm not just talking about cycling. I've heard from other people there's more to life than cycling. :P It's been proven scientifically that if you have goals and if you work towards them every day, you tend to achieve them. And that makes you happy. See? It's not rocket science. The best news is that setting and striving for a goal, even if you don't make it, will make you happier.

Ok, since I hope I convinced you to start setting cycling goals, let me tell you how I do it.

I start by dreaming

Before I get into a specific goal, I basically day dream for a while, trying to imagine some thing: a destination, a challenge, a route or a competition, that would motivate me to want to do it. I try not to limit myself in ways that are dependent of time, money, equipment or any other down to Earth reasons. For example, for this year I totally wanted to go on an incredible bike adventure on my own. I didn't know when or where but I wanted something challenging. I was feeling that in the past couple of years I haven't been so adventurous and I needed some more adventure in my life. A couple of weeks later, I found out about TCR and I instantly felt I wanted to do it. In the same instant, a dozen reasons came into my mind about why this is too crazy: no experience, no time, not enough money, equipment and other bla bla.

I set goals that scare me

There's no point in setting goals that are comfortable and easy to achieve, that won't give you a major adrenaline kick at the end. If you're already doing 100 k rides don't make the 2017 plan to reach 120 k. That's boring! Set a goal that it's in that sweet spot between impossible and achievable. Coming back to my goal. The TCR is certainly scaring me and keeping me awake at night but I know that with enough training I'll surely do it.

I set SMART goals

SMART meaning:

Specific - do a tour in Europe in June or ride 200 km in a single day

Measurable - some way of knowing that you achieved your goal: a specific mileage, competition, etc.

Achievable - see what I wrote above about the sweet spot

Relevant - make sure your goal is relevant to you, your passions, your overall life goals or more specific cycling long term goals.

Time - have a clear deadline for achieving that goal. I would also add: have at least monthly (if it's a year long goal) checks to see if you're on track.

I write them down. Yes, on paper. With a pen.

I can't really stress enough the importance of writing your goals down. Almost six months ago, I started journaling again and I do it every other day. It gives me clarity, focus and it reminds me why I do the stuff I do every day. Now stick the paper on your desk or in front of your bike trainer to see it every day.

I break it down into a plan

Now that you have the big goal it's time to break it down in more chewable bits. For example, I'm planning to do a specific mileage each month before the TCR. This means I have to do a specific number of rides weekly to achieve that. At the beginning of each week I plan those rides to reach my quota.

I follow through (I hate this part)

Now this is the really nasty part: actually having to work every day towards that goal. This is what I find the hardest and where the struggle really is.  It's because it's here where the fluffy and sweet stuff that dreams are made of is meets the cold and bitter stuff reality is made of. Reality is that cold, windy, misty morning,  when I have to clock this week's 200 k. Brutal!

You just have to remind yourself (and I know it's sooo hard) that this is the stuff champions are made of. It's called GRIT.

What are your audacious cycling goals for 2017?