#facestodots

About 250 riders started the Transcontinental. Most I only saw on the startline as they charged on ahead findishing days ahead of me. I was surprised by the number I saw along the way; I’d guessed our routes would be very different but as it turned out many were ploughing a similar course. I decided I would try to get a photo of each dot I met and post it on Instagram to help tell a bit of the tale of the race and reduce the anonymity of the dots on the maps. Now I’m back I thought it would be fun to follow up on those I met and try to figure out what happened to them, presented in ascending cap number order…

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Noel McNamara – Cap 7

Noel did not enjoy the CP4 parcours the only time I met him. He is though another example of great perseverance having snapped his derailleur hanger earlier in the race and somehow finding someone to make a new one for him so he could finish.

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Keith Hicks – Cap 10

I met Keith on the way to CP2 and rode some of the parcours with him. We went our separate ways meeting again CP4 where he came in a few hours after me just missing the time cut. We then rode the last three days to the finish together and I really enjoyed his company and steady pace-making. To my embarassment I rolled down the final descent not realising he only had reserve lights left. Adding to the misery he punctured coming down and rolled in about 20 minutes after me.

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Loïc Taymans – Cap 17

Loïc and crossed paths on the Brenner Pass and rode together to near Bruneck where I got fed up riding on a bike path and hopped onto the SS49 a rode which had been advised against but turned out to be quite safe. He kept pushing into the night, gaining distance and finished  over two days ahead of me.

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Thomas Chateau – Cap 22

Thomas rolled in Bovec – part way through the CP2 parcours – a few hours for me and we spoke over dinner. We kept pace and saw each other regularly on the way to Greece and he finished in the afternoon of 15 August about 10 hours before the time limit.

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Peter Weller – Cap 26

Peter was another refugee from the storm on the Bielerhöhe that I met drying out in a bakery in Ischgl. He scratched between CP2 and CP3 but I’m not sure what the reason was.

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Daniel Szaina – Cap 37

A brief encounter on my second morning in Lorraine, it looks like Daniel scratched between CP1 and CP2.

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David Hawkins – Cap 40

I only saw David twice. First on the shores of lake Constance on my third day of riding. Second as I descended from CP3 he was on his way up just reaching it in time. A series of mechanicals put him on the back foot but he kept going to Greece, after the finish closed but with huge respect for keeping on going.

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Thomas Jacquelinet – Cap 41

Thomas was enjoying a cold drink and ice cream just over the Slovenian border when I met him. I was astonished anyone could be wearing tights and arm warmers at over 30C. It didn’t hold him back and he finished a day and a bit before me.

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Douglas Migden – Cap 47

Douglas was the tactical opposite to me riding long, efficient days at a steady pace. This was his fourth TCR and he comfortably finished before the party

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Michael Kronberger – Cap 48

Michael had braved the Bielerhöhe the night before I met him in a storm. We met and chatted in a bakery in Ischgl where he was drying out. He went onto finish but about two days outside the time limit.

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Roberto Baldassi – Cap 49

Roberto is a fellow RCC member and we shadowed each for most of the TCR taking similar routes at a similar pace. He doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Italian but everytime we met I was touched by his energy and friendship. One of the riders I was overjoyed to see rolling into Meteora safely within the time limit.

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Seb Nolens – Cap 54

A guy who seemed to be having fun. Seb went out of his way to collect countries adding four more than I managed and even managed a Strava heart for his girlfriend. It was great to see him at CP3 and the finish which he reached a few hours before the finishers party.

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Berk Okyay – Cap 55

Berk is a veteran of three TCRs. We seemed to meet at checkpoints: first at CP2, just as I got to CP3 and at CP4. Sadly the last encounter wasn’t a good one as he had crashed having completed the parcour and had limped back to the hotel. The volunteers took him to the hospital then he magiced himself into the hotel room a few of us were sharing while we slept only noticing him some time after we woke. The injury though was too serious and led to him scratching.

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Håkan Höglin – Cap 56

Håkan powered on to get to Meteora as the finishers’ party was going down but when I met him in the Czech Republic he was down in the dumpts about missing CP3. Catching up on the TCR is hard to do and riders tend to enter a downward spiral so huge respect to him for pushing on.

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Michal Plech – Cap 57

Michal’s second TCR wasn’t meant to be. I met him struggling with the heat on the way to CP1 and he scratched the next day due to the high temperatures.

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Dan Gregory – Cap 58

The first time I met Dan he needed a hug so I gave him one. It was one of my favourite moments of the TCR as three riders shared an impromptu picnic outside an Aldi in eastern Austria and shared their woes. We went our separate ways and I saw him next on the road to CP4 and a number of times in the following days until he put his head down for some massive days to make the finishers party.

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Alan Parkinson – Cap 60

I’d met Alan on TINAT and it was great to see him again on the TCR and especially to ride the CP1 parcours with him on a beautiful morning. We kept bumping into one another the last time being at the top of CP3 where he seemed to be going strongly and I expected to see him at the finish. Disaster struck though as he saw his frame develop a crack through the downtube forcing him to scratch.

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Gianluca Morini – Cap 69

Part of the Friday night party in Gradinska, Gianluca slowed down in the last few days making it to Meteora an agonising 12 hours after the finish closed.

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Turgut Alper Kerpiççi – Cap 76

Turgut kept a similar pace to me and we met multiple times including at the finish as he rode in a few hours before in closed.

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Yannick Banville – Cap 78

The youngest rider in the race and a vegan too we rode together from shortly before CP4 to the finish which we reached together. I have huge respect for what he achieved as I know I couldn’t have done the TCR at 20 nor would I have survived on such a constrained diet.

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Jonah Jones – Cap 81

A TCR legend and the original #routemuppet I was reassured that I was on the right path when I met him on the third day when I should have been anything but given his reputation for -ill-advised route choices. He’d broken his pelvis barely a month before TCR and when I first saw him was recovering from heat stroke. We crossed paths a few times in the next few days as I rode faster and he rode longer. My last sight of him was rolling into CP3 just making the time cut and looking destroyed. He kept going and I was overjoyed to see he had finished in the wee hours of 17 August.

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Rob Thomson – Cap 86

I crossed paths with Rob a few times but never got his number so for a time he was a man of mystery to me. It looks like he got to Meteora about two days after the finish closed but not without good reason – he’d had to buy a new bike along the way to complete the journey!

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Mark Hugaerts – Cap 89

The first dot I photographed and I never saw him again as he sped off into the distance, finsishing with two days to spare.

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Stephane Molliet – Cap 94

A rider I met once and briefly at the CP2 hotel. As far as I can tell he scratched a few days later in the Czech Republic having ticked off Cp4

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Erika Rowen – Cap 100

Sadly Erika scratched not long after CP1 which she fought bravely to make in time. She has vowed to return and conquer the TCR.

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Jason Smith – Cap 106

I’ll never forget seeing Jason appear in not much more than a pair of bibs from a rundown shack on the side of a Hungarian road where he had been snoozing. Always cheerful and asking after others, he was another rider at the opposite end of the spectrum to me with an ability to push out colossally long stints in the saddle. We kept leapfrogging one another from CP3 onwards and he finished about 5 hours before the cut off.

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Will Armitage – Cap 108

Some dude. He finished. You can read his story here. He no longer has a moustache.

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Matthieu Lifschitz – Cap 109

It was Matthieu’s brithday when I met him drinking beer in Gradinska. I saw him a few times on the road after that before I gradually pulled away. I always enjoyed his refusal to speak English forcing me to use my French. Agonisingly he finished a few hours outside the time cut.

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Dermot O’Grady – Cap 121

Dermot was the first fellow racer I met, standing on the platform at Gare du Midi waiting for the train to Geraardsbergen. I saw him again for lunch on the first full day of riding but not again. His tracker shows he scratched shortly before reaching CP2.

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Arnoldas Jakstas – Cap 134

Arnoldas was having a nightmare when I met him at CP4. The parcours had trashed his bike but he managed to get it fixed and make it to Meteora a few hours after the party. He was much happier at the finish.

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Meg Pugh – Cap 138

Meg was one of the riders I leapfrogged covering similar distances each day but at different paces. Always upbeat, cheerful and very hardy, I first caught sight of Meg as I climbed the CP1 parcours and she was leaving a concrete garage where she’d waited out the storm the night before (I’d slept in a hotel). She showed her hardiness again at CP4 climbing the parcours in the dark when again I went to bed. That gave her a headstart to the finish which she reached about 4 hours before me.

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Charles Billau – Cap 149

An incredibly strong rider with the most minamilist set up (just a saddlebag) I don’t know how I managed to finish ahead of him (he still made the time cut). I suspect some strange route choices may have been the cause looping far further east than most of the field on the way to CP3 and then a catastrophic choice to go to a closed border crossing between Bosnia and Montenegro.

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Wim Ceulemans – Cap 166

Wim and I met bitching and complaining about the bikepath riders were taken to avoid the SS49 in Sud Tirol. Our paths crossed numerous times at CP2, at CP3, crossing in Bosnia, at CP4 and into Montenegro. By his own admission he was slowing down by the end struggling to make 150km a day. He finished about 36 hours after me sadly missing the close of the finish control.

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Ive Weygers – Cap 173

Another rider with unfinished business having scratched last year. We rode the Vrsic Pass together on the CP2 parcours then met again nearing CP4 and saw each other lots as we neared the finish which he reached before the cutoff.

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Aimerick Stanisiere – Cap 181

Another rider I met loads of times with three things that stand out. First his strength on the climbs. Second his crazy saddle without a nose that meant he was happy riding without a pad in his shorts! Third his interesting route choice from CP4: most of the field headed south through Montenegro and Alabania; Aimerick went east into Serbia and through Macedonia. The longer, hillier route lost him a day I reckon but he still finished within the time cut.

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Michael Vandermeerschen – Cap 184

A brief encounter at a gas station in Lorraine Michael went on to finish around 4 days after the cut-off.

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Svenja Schrade – Cap 185

Another paragon of perseverance: Svenja scratched a day or so after CP2 because she was behind schedule but instead of going home she headed straight for the finish missing out CP3.

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David Fairweather – Cap 187

Another TCR veteran, encountered on the run in to CP2. David stayed just ahead of me all the way to the finish which he reached with a few hours to spare before the finishers’ party started.

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Jean-Yves Coffre – Cap 188

I don’t think Jean-Yves enjoyed the TCR. My first sight of him was surreal: he was wearing borrowed moon boots and about to tackle the CP4 parcours. I learned he had been knocked off his bike the day before and couldn’t walk in cycle shoes. I next saw when he finished safely before the cut off, swearing and cursing about the event. Lesser men would have quit so he has my admiration for pushing on.

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Jakob Dieckmann – Cap 191

Jakob had to withdraw from TCR5 due to a mechanical and it looks like he had to scratch this year too. I met him shortly after CP1 and again at CP2 where he was having a nightmare with punctures. The tracker shows me he made it over the parcours but stopped shortly afterwards.

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Dario Dargento – Cap 192

Despite the name Dario is from Glasgow. It was always a pleasure to meet him as I did many times from just before CP2 onwards. He kept pushing out huge days in the saddle and shared my love of Fanta. Our last encounter on the road was dinner at the top of the climb between Tirana and Elbasan after which he kept pushing and I stopped for the night. We met again in Meteora which he reached slightly before me and just in time for the finisher’s party.

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Stefan Landtau – Cap 201

A lunch partner with Dermot (cap 121) on day one I didn’t see Stefan again. His tracker shows he left the race somewhere between CP2 and CP3 and then seemingly kept going to northern Germany!

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Lars Götzenburger – Cap 203

We met briefly after CP2 then again at CP4 and at the finish. Looking at his track Lars had a similar strategy to me of riding hard but making sure he had time to rest. He finished at a similar time too.

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René Hinnum – Cap 207

I only saw René at CP4 and at the finish which he reached five hours before the party.

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Raphael Grau – Cap 213

Raphael proudly told me he’d never done a ride further than 200km before the TCR which kinda blows my mind. That was at CP1 and I didn’t see him again until nearing CP4 and I enjoyed his company for a few days until the hills took their toll and I drew away. He finished a few hours before the last control closed showing once again how much the TCR is in the mind.

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Isobel Jobling – Cap 224

Isobel got agonisingly close to completing TCR5 scratching barely 300km from the finish. She was back and riding strongly. We met at the Croatian-Bosnian border and a number of times on the way towards the finish, the last time as she fixed a puncture about 60km from the end. She finished with about 8 hours to spare.

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Daniel Nicolas and Guillermo Nicolas – Cap 258a and Cap 258b

The only pair of racers I met on the TCR were brothers Daniel and Guillermo from Murcia in Spain. I found it odd that they often rode apart rather than slipstreamining on another but that didn’t stop them reaching the finish. They were the riders that arrived closest to midnight on the evening of the finishers’ party earning them the official lanterne rouge for the race.

2 thoughts on “#facestodots

  1. Epic insight to each rider you met Will, look forward to seeing the new profile photo without the moustache and hopefully crossing paths with you again in the near future……..”oh look I found some chain oil next to my bike” You Legend x 😉

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