#TCRN05 Race Report - FINISH


Day 14 - Macedonia

I awoke to the sound of rifle shots. A bit scary. But was obviously sleeping in the wrong field. I swiftly packed my bike bags. I got on my way and was ready for the penultimate country of Macedonia. After a taxing climb on an empty stomach to the Macedonian border. I was ready for a hearty lunch. 

Speaking with a local, he kindly escorted me to the best restaurant in town. Fed & happy. I carried on South into the roasting Macedonian wilderness. I rode into the afternoon until I ran out of water. I luckily found a small town and bumped into the Greek pair of riders; 269ers. We talked about how torturous the relentless climbing was in the heat. I was surprised as they were from around here! This made me feel better and thought I was handling this heat much better now. I asked when they thought they would reach Meteora, they responded Monday. I was set on reaching Meteora Sunday evening...
Macedonia had the coolest flag

After some bog-standard chocolate milk and salty snacks. I became drowsy so I grabbed some disused cardboard and built a makeshift bed & slept under a pine tree for few hours
Covered in rashes and spots. TCR had 100% morphed my face now
I hit the night hard  with big expectations while a thunderstorm erupted. The fatigue from the previous two weeks of hard riding had really settled with me now. My legs where okay with it, but my perception of the world had become almost dream like. The storm made for an exciting but soggy night ride. Some of the descends down the big hills felt particularly sketchy on the greasy, dark and pot holed roads. Full attention now Fraser. I made it through Macedonia in one piece. I really enjoyed the place. It felt wild and real. A lot of the cars where not really cars, they looked liked bits of old farming machinery that had been welded together. I found it amusing however I did appreciate the thick mushroom cloud of diesel smoke that was deposited into my face.  The locals where super friendly to me and everything was amazingly cheap! Speaking with other riders they did not have as smooth an experience in Macedonia…. 

Greek border guards cracked up in tears of laughter as another clumsy rider showed up. They had obviously seen quite a few racers by now. I dared to look at Trackleaders to see how many positions I had lost. 

The final chapter
Immediately entering Greece, I was slapped by massive crosswind. I rode down a wrong turn that added 15km. I felt tired after this mistake. I bivved in an uncomfortable bit of field. Sharp rocks and thorny bushes where my mattress for tonight.

Day 15 - Final Greasy push 
The 7day diet had started to take it's toll on my body
I awoke with my stomach moaning. It had not been playing ball for some days now and I knew I had to have a messy poop. With no toilet paper.... I was in a desperate frenzy to sort myself out. The only useful thing I could find was 7day wrapper and a corner of the paper Greek map that the Greek Border guard had jokingly gave to me last night. (Sorry Greece). Cleaned & relieved... I hit the road for the final country. 

North Eastern Greece was flat and windy. I had to face the wind directly which was blowing me all over the road. Eventually it became a tail wind and I was flying. I rode about 100km in 3 hours. I felt like a fucking velo god, zooming down the eastern coast, comfortably perched on my aero bars whilst listening to my 80s playlist of Cyndi Lauper, Starship & Go West. Nothing's gonna stop me now. Empowering shit. Was great progress and I had a gigantic grin on my face. 

 'The King Of Wishful Thinking'

Although my Garmin & route data files had managed to corrupt & erase themselves... Not sure if this was due to unit being so exposed day in day out through extreme heat, that it had literally fried the memory card. Much better today than the first day of the TCR! My brain was certainly fried by now...

I stopped for the best restaurant lunch so far. Chicken, chips and salad. Very fresh and very clean. Energised I rode strong until I reached West Katerini. Heading westward now It started getting very mountainous again, near Mount Olympus. Beautiful scenery and was only 130km from the FINISH!

I was so excited and really wanted to finish this thing tonight! With 3,000meters of climbing on this leg. I knew that Mike Hall would not make the final boss easy! 

The sun was rapidly setting now I was this far South. My legs had become so used to climbing these long 
mountain climbs. It did not even feel taxing, it just felt slow moving. Considering the state of my knee's in Romania, I was amazed about good the legs felt. It just shows the resilience of the human body & spirit! 

34t FTW

Popped in my baby 34t and spun to the top. I am massive softy & spinners are winners. I could smell the end and could only ride 10km an hour. As darkness fell, I could hear the sheep dogs chasing again. I did not care anymore. All I wanted was to arrive in Meteora now. Bastard wind picked up again. I was getting blown all over road like earlier that day. 60km away! Although the wind was blocking my path, it was like riding into a brick wall.

Goat life and their farmers
3km an hour up this climb. I could have walked faster up this thing. After I reached the summit I felt shagged & frustrated. I noticed their was a small Christian orthodox church. The descent didn’t look very appealing with the wild mountain wind blowing me over at 50 miles an hour. I didn’t want an accident so close to the finish and the podium positions had been filled... Another Portuguese rider had also seeked refuge in the small church, Rui.

SO after taking a 10 minute snack break. I became very drowsy. While Rui lit the candle, It created a cosy atmosphere. I am not a religious person but I said a little prayer in my head. Thanking whoever it is out there, for this journey. What it had shown & taught me about the world, is a priceless gift that I cannot put into words. 

I felt myself drifting off, and thought to myself screw it, lets rest. I decided on my final night of the TCR to sleep with the angels. 
It was like Brokeback mountain TCR edition, bivving next to the Portuguese rider cramped in the small chapel with the sounds of the wind hammering against the makeshift wooden door & distant echos of the Shepard dogs barking... 
Say a prayer and go to sleep little boy


Holy accommodation 
6am: Best bivvy sleep of the trip! I awoke with the Sunrise feeling inspired. The wind was still howling but nothing to the extremes it was a few hours ago. I saddled up and descended to the start of the parcour. 

This is it! The final climb of the TCR. I smashed down my final Redbull and snickers as I wanted to give this thing some passion! I bumped into the Greek Pair again, was quite clear who the strongest climber was! It was a tough climb but reaching the top was worth it. 

The Meteora Monasteries! Fucking epic finally seeing them in the horizon in the rising morning sun. Bumping into Arron at the top of the climb was a pleasant surprise. We had both gone completed different routes through different countries but always seemed to be bumping into each other. We began descending and it was all starting to melt together in my head. I really didn’t want this to end. 

What an odyssey this had been. Don’t quite have the vocabulary arsenal to explain how it felt to finish the TCR. Cycling from Belgium to Greece. But I was in 'euphoria'

Riding into town, we found the hotel. Excitedly greeted with cheers and beers by all the TCR crew. It was a bit surreal that this journey had finally come to an end. Almost an anti-climax. I had only ridden 35km this day and was ready for more! But I needed to accept that this was it. My arse needed a rest. 

16 days. Not what I had planned of 14. But still thrilled to bits to have finished it, make all the checkpoints and most importantly be safe. 

I joined the collection of other hardy finishers. It was now time to relax and chat. Mostly about WTF has just happened. I talked primarily about the dogs and different ways I dreamt of killing them. But also about the qualities of roads, funny/random things witnessed, what kit worked and best/worst TCR moment. All the fast guys had left, so the circus of photographers and video crew had died down. What remained was a friendly atmosphere in the hotel of a handful of TCR finishers, volunteers and loved ones waiting for their heroes to arrivee. I was alone still. I was okay with it but it made me miss home more than ever. 

Although I had missed the finishers party. We made up for it. Me, Rui, Arron and his Girlfriend got together and went out for a celebration steak in town. This was perfect for me, nothing fancy. Just a low key meal with some comrades. We certainly did not run out of conversation ammo from all our experiences...
I was already planning in my head the logistics of getting to Thessaloniki airport. And returning home. I found it hard to relax, beer certainly helped. 

Top boys at the Podilatorama Bike Store

Arriving at the city of Thessaloniki. The guys at Podilatorama Bike Store where incredibly helpful. They gave me a good size bike box. They let me dismantle bike, sort out my clutter and chill in their store all day while I waited for my 11pm flight. Thanks guys. After a lot of waiting around I eventually got onto my flight. I was asleep before I even sat down on the plane. Arriving at Stansted,  their was one last anxious moment while I waited patiently for my bike box. 40 minutes late but did arrive in one piece unscathed.

I want to say a massive thank you to Anna and the Transcontinental team. The volunteers, dot watches and riders. Not forgetting the facebook TCR group. It was incredibly useful community & resource for me. I believe it is a integral part of this race.

I know this one was not easy for you guys. But Mike would be proud. The TCR is a beautifully challenging bike race. It is the biggest thing I have ever done. The experience has really changed me. It has made me crave travel on two wheels and to explore the world. Pushing my physical and mental boundaries, anything is possible in this ever shrinking world that we live in   But also thank you to the countless helpful strangers that helped me on my journey when I was need. Letting me stay in their homes, filling my bidon's with water and feeding me.


On top of that massive thanks to my family & friends for all their support and being my anxious dot watchers. Thanks to my employer Event Technologies for letting me take the time off. Cheers to BikeUlike, my super helpful local bike shop that helped get my bike TCR battle ready. The SP dynamo hub is a game changer! Also thanks to Rapha for the free Brevet memory foam gloves they let me test, I can safely say that I had no significant ulnar nerve problems. Supernova lighting system for their incredibly powerful lights that confidently lit my night rides. Specialized for my trusty ALU Diverge.