Monday, 29 October 2007

Look back at Transportugal

Just been sent some pictures of the Transportugal race i did this year so seems a good time to write a little look back post... and tonight for once i have little work for my Msc.

Don't want to cover every stage more just look at the stand out moments that still seem fresh 4 months on...

Suppose the first place to start was the lead up to the race... i had been doing alot of road racing and was really hooked on it, i had entered the Transportugal on the night of the entry opening back in october 2006 and really hadn't been doing alot of mountain biking during the spring. I was in 2 minds whether to go or not.
In the end i decided what harm could it do.. at worst i would get some decent mileage in and a sun tan and come back to my road racing faster.

Arriving in Portugal i was met by Louize... the reason really i was there as i had found out about the TP through a mutual friend.. she was the liason for the foreign riders and really did her job well that week making sure in a land of carnivores that this little vegetarian had something to eat every night.
It was that first day that i met another Brit entrant.... I new i would be joined by Al Wilson and Matthew Barton as we had already been in contact with each other.. however Paul West was a new edition to the British contingent and proved to be a source of much comedy during the week ( i will write nice things about you now Paul but in 12 months when i'm in the Australian Desert and your to blame and times aren't good.. then my tune may change)...

The first day a proper was spent travelling far north to the start... that night we all assembled our bikes... It was reassuring to look round the room to see most peoples forks cost more than my bike..

..the evening meal was an eye opener, i was sharing a table with what proved to be the cream of this stage race and the usual banter was taking place everyone swapping stories of where they had been before... mostly the same race names... La ruta, Transrockies, Transalps, Crocodile Trophy... a few not so common.. Transafrique.. yeah a race across Africa 3 months long ( George Oertel you have too much money and are definately crazy)..
Me a stage race virgin in the company of much more seasoned riders... i was reassured by Pepe from that " i had chosen a hard one to start with" .. roll on the next 1000km

Day one and up early to watch the guys with time bonus set off ( Transportugal runs a handicapped scheme so older riders/women get a head start as it were so whoever crosses the finish first is the winner)...
Within 10km of our start i had gone of course, crashed and stopped to help Paul West has he'd double punctured.. what would the next 990km bring.

The first 3 days can be summed up by two words... Sore Feet... for some unknown reason in my wisdom i had brought my fancy carbon soled mtb shoes.. i had ridden maybe 3 hours in total in these.. racing for 7-8 hours a day in heat = swollen feet.
I was in so much pain i thought my race was over... My toenails had gone black and life was not good... step in Al Wilson withthe Sidi's from heavan.. size 10, 2 sizes bigger than my normal riding shoes but my feet could move and when clipped in they didn't feel too bad.
The next stage was like having new legs... i had been riding the first 3 days.. i would be racing the rest of them.

The rest of the days went really well.. i felt stronger everyday and clawed my way back up the leader board into a more respectable placing... not to say everyday went like a dream.

Day 7 was a real low point, i think my seatpost had slipped and after sitting with the leaders for the first 50km my knees were in agony to the point where i wanted to stop and have a little cry... thank god for Vince Haag that day.. we rode together and he got me through a real bad spell..

a special mention for the race mechanic who not only kept most competitors race machines in top working order but managed to coax my cobbled together effort through 1000km of Portugeuse terrain.

I think thats what i loved about this event... some people were racing, some people just plain surviving but its really nice to be around people who truly understand your passion and never think to question why we were riding a 1000km across Portugal it was just an everday part of life.
I rode with some great people that week... Tom, George, Tim, Vince, Martin, Aad, Hilary, Carol and alot of other people too... never a bad experience.

If you were ever to consider this event i would highly recommend it... yes at times it'll be tough.. there was times where i found myself riding alone for long periods of time and combined with exhaustion found myself to be quite emotional i know from seeing the faces of others at the finishes each day i wasn't alone..
But the experience you draw from it is worth it... i know the entry is nearly full for next years event and i won't be going this time around and i really wish i was going back.

Oh well 2008 is the year of the Croc... better get more miles in.

Portugal can be seen in 8 days here ...

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