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It’s a long thin line

VecchioJo ponders his new long-distance relationship

It’s a lot…. it’s a lot like love. It occupies my mind constantly, thoughts wander towards it every spare moment of the day. I stare longingly out the window. I feel a little sick.

It’s a couple of weeks to go until I actually know that my team-mate Gavin and I are deserving of entry into the Transcontinental No5 but there’s no time to wait until we have confirmation. Training has started already, maps have been looked at and gulped over, it is often the first topic of conversation, dicking about has had to stop.

It fills my head.

I try and do something each day that works towards this Transcontinental goal. If I’m not out my bike then I’m spending that time doing some stretching, and starting on core work which I’ve never done before. Or I’m thinking about my diet, not in a faddy hashtag-pictures-of-my-food way, just being a little more careful of what I eat, gently chipping away at the pounds. I’m not averse to a bun or a beer though, if they’ve been earned. Same as always really. Stick and carrot. I am aware of everything all the time, every day. Ride well, rest well, eat well. It’s more than just getting the miles in, it’s about looking after yourself. I’m not as young as I used to be so rest and recovery are just as important as training, rest is training, knowing when tired isn’t just tired but being run down and reacting accordingly, taking it easy and doing something else beneficial. Naps are good.

Am. I. Doing. Enough?

I’m conscious of everything; aches, pains, hunger, is that a cold creeping in or am I just weary? I very much don’t need to get a cold, they can take desperately long to clear from my old rattly tattered lungs, I’m shying away more than usual from people that cough this time of year, I wash my hands frequently. It’s more of a worry than it ever was. I’m trying not to worry.

Scared is good.

And now my Transcontintal bike is ready, or a Winter incarnation of readiness. It’s taken a while to put together; the last bits of chain, cassette and cables bought in lieu of food for the week just so that I could get on the thing and start schlepping out the miles. Most of the rest of the kit nicked off the other bikes and unearthed from clutter in the shed. For the next few months this bike and I will be inseparable, like a get-a-room new couple.


Kinesis GF-Ti Disc frameset, Kinesis Racelight Disc wheels and TRP Spyre brakes thanks to Upgrade, Fabric ALM saddle and bar tape, the Ultegra running gear and Fizik seatpost are stolen off the other bike, forgotten about Rotor cranks with Praxis rings remembered in a box in the spare room from that bike that never got built up again, Fizik stem and some bars that have had their logos sprayed over in black paint that were both set aside for that other bike that never happened. You know, the random crap that a cyclist accumulates.

Come the TCR acceptance e-mail that Ultegra will become Di2, those wheels will get well poshed up and whatever upgrades I can spoil on the finishing kit will occur. A box of Ebay Things is already in the corner to help fund this, I’m going to need two boxes I think. Three.

Training so far has been nothing much to crow about, nothing epic, no kudos, just getting on with it, riding the bike as much as possible and trying to fit it in with everyday life. Much the same as anyone then. Luckily the weather has been remarkably kind to this sort of riding so it hasn’t been much of a chore. In fact it’s almost been a make-hay requirement, to get out now whilst the going is good because at some point Winter is going to scratch its way in and it’s going to be shit. Thus there has been simple day-on-day riding, which is something that I very seldom do, not big rides in terms of miles, they can come later, just getting my body used a conveyor belt of riding rather than having the usual ride-rest-ride-rest happy routine that it’s used to. But rides done fast, with gumption and purpose, enough to end back home tired in a good way, and hungry. Yeah, food. It’s not only the bike parts that are going to require money.

How on earth am I going to pay for all of this?


Already things are lining up to do in preparation, Gavin my co-pilot and navigator has been busy; London-Wales-London, riding from Brighton to the Bespoked Festival in Bristol in a day (rather than the one and a half it took us this year), visiting friends that live in far flung nooks of the country, and that one that lives in the Pyrenees, random 400km and 600km excursions on the flimsiest of excuses, and four days covering the Pyrenean section of the Tour de France route with the Tour de Force. All rides that once upon a not long ago would have been Big Trips and the highlight of the year, now just things jotted down as part of the training plan. The landscape has shifted.

All of this has been happening with just the gentlest of undercurrents of fear rippling under the surface, it gurgles about my being, but there’s been only one night of waking up at 3am in a crushing panic so far. Should have got up and gone for a ride really.

My head is already in the right space, I think. I know there’s hard work to be done, there is no getting away from it. In the past I have seen various other people gear themselves up for Big Things On A Bike and what they have put themselves through so I have an inkling of what to expect. I am ready to step into that place. This will not be easy, but if there is purpose and reason and an end-goal then it will be ok, it will at some point make sense, and things will explode in a glorious fruition. Hopefully.


But it is going to hurt, there will be tears, there are going to be times I wish I’d never got myself into this. It’s a lot…… it’s a lot like love.


Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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Liteultom | 7 years ago

Hi there vecchiojo !


I don't know what your experience is in ultra-cycling event but you might want to avoid loosing too much weight ! TCR cost me 5kg for a finish under 14 days, and it seemed to be an average amongst the finishers (although I know one extra-terrestrial who only lost 1kg) . It is very difficult to eat as much energy as you spend during the race so the body as to find this energy somewhere else. If you don't have a little bit a fat to burn, you might find yourself in a very hard place after some days, drained of energy. So yes these few kg might make you lose a few minutes in the moutains, but mught save you hours in the second half of the race  3 . Some good compromise seems to be around 5kg over you ideal weight for climbing. Hope your get our ticket and enjoy the race as much as I did !

Rapha Nadal | 7 years ago

Sounds epic.

Freddy56 | 7 years ago
1 like

big luck. it is all a mental thing. People have done- so you can do it.

key is to do it with joy. 

Embrace the joy.

Accept the pain and all will  flow

ktache | 7 years ago

The avoiding colds thing, washing hands frequently is very good advice, but also, when you are out amongst the unclean, be careful about touching the mucous membranes, the eyes and nose, it's how a lot of those pesky viruses get in, and the ears, which is a more recent bit of knowledge for me.  Extra care should be taken when on public transport and around young children, who tend to be filthy pools of disease, with no sense of personal hygiene.

I am currently enduring a cold, the other half became infected, so I had no chance.  But it did give me some warning, and as soon as I got the first twinge at the back of the nose I started using Vicks First Defence, it hurts, and I feel the cold but I'm not as full of gunk as she is.   Any lessening of the symptoms is appreciated, and you feel you can do something, rather than be completely powerless.

And I do hope you have had a flu jab already, bad case and you could be in bed for 2 weeks and out of action for a month.  £8 at Tescos.  I've spent more than that on Sudafed and Night nurse on this cold.

Good luck.

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