A brief update

You’re probably wondering how it went, aren’t you? Unless you were following my Twitter account, in which case you’ll know that I pulled out on Day 8, after ending up in hospital in Ljubljana with mysterious chest pains. They turned out to be nothing fatal, and although I didn’t end up finishing the race, what I did of it went very well indeed. I’ve been in surprisingly good spirits ever since, and am already full of plans for next year.

I know some of you are getting impatient for a longwinded and soul-searching race report (because you’ve been telling me), but I have my final book deadline on Monday, so this is going to have to wait just a bit longer.

In the meantime, if you simply can’t wait, you might come along to London Bike Kitchen’s WAGfest this Saturday, once again at the Oakley pop-up on Exmouth Market. Jenni and co. are putting on a whole fabulous day of bikes and women (though I believe men are welcome too), and I’ll be on at about 5pm.

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And if that’s still not enough, I recommend you go and read the riveting race reports of James Hayden and winner Josh Ibbett. My own will follow shortly. I promise.

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Time for the Transcontinental

“I’ll be following your dot!” is what everyone keeps saying to me at the moment. They mean the dot on the map, showing where my Spot tracker, me and my bike (assuming we’re all together) are at any given moment during the Transcontinental Race. Here’s a link to the map, if you’re interested. You can watch all the other riders too, see who’s going fast, who’s going slow, who’s lost, who’s ahead of me. I’m told this can get rather addictive, so be warned. Have fun. I’ll be out there trying to forget you’re all watching.

I’m currently breathing deeply through my final hours at home. A friend’s picking me up at 4pm, we’ll drive down to Dover, and I’ll get on a ferry at 8pm. Two hours later I’ll roll off into France (and shortly Belgium), riding through the night to the start. And I can’t wait. It’ll be the moment I shrug off all the inevitable and excruciating pre-trip stress and become a cyclist again – just me and the bike and the road and the sky. I’ll smell the nighttime fields. I’ll ride into the sunrise. I’ll stop and drink coffee in some small Belgian cafe in the morning. And then I’ll arrive in Geraardsbergen, which I expect will smell of fear and look like lycra, since another 200-plus racers will also be arriving that day. On Friday night the race begins.

But I don’t need to rehash any more of my pre-trip fear here. You’ve heard it all before. Instead I’m going to introduce you to the beautiful bicycle that I am very lucky to be taking with me across Europe.

It’s a Genesis Datum, and it’s incredible.

IMG_5523You can read a more detailed description over on the Genesis blog, here. Suffice it to say, it’s a bike that could have been designed for the 2015 Transcontinental. The evil genius that is race director Mike Hall took great delight in messing up everyone’s road bike plans by including a gravel section between Sestriere and Susa in Italy, which meant a lot of us have had to make some difficult decisions (and inevitable compromises) regards builds and tyres and clearance. But Genesis kindly took this out of my hands. The Datum is as fast as any road bike – in fact, it’s notably faster than the Zero.4 I did most of my training on, so much so that the first few times I rode it I felt like I had a tailwind both ways, and was convinced this constituted an unfair advantage. But it’s perfectly happy to go off road if you ask it to. It has massive clearance (I’ll be riding 32mm tyres and carrying a Panaracer Gravelking for the Strada dell-Assietta), and it’s a surprisingly comfy ride – which I’m sure I’ll be glad of this time next week.

Oh my god, this time next week.

So I’m going to leave you with that for now, and a promise that you’ll hear more in due course, although I’ve no idea how regularly I’ll be able to keep in touch during the race. I definitely won’t be updating my blog, but I may find time to post on Twitter (@emilychappell) and Instagram (@emilyofchappell). On the other hand I may not. You can follow the official Transcontinental Facebook page, and their Twitter account is @transconrace. If that’s not enough for you that I’d suggest you consider stepping away from your laptop and entering the race yourself next year.

And finally, I need to say a round of thanks. Everyone keeps telling me that I’m a winner for even making it to the start line, and I know for sure this dubious victory would never have been possible without a lot of patient friends, faithful supporters and generous sponsors, who have gone to considerable time and trouble to get me ready for what lies ahead. This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but THANK YOU to Alby from GenesisTHANK YOU to Tori from Apidura, THANK YOU to the wonderful people at Brixton Cycles, who have worked miracles, THANK YOU to Jenni from London Bike Kitchen, THANK YOU to Simon at CadenceTHANK YOU to Broken Spoke in Oxford, THANK YOU to my friends at Vulpine and Alpkit and nuun, THANK YOU to all the people I’ve rudely forgotten, and THANK YOU to all the friends who have given me so much support over the last few weeks, be it material, technical, emotional, psychological, nutritional or alcoholic. Without you this ride wouldn’t be happening, and whatever it now becomes, you will be a part of it. Thank you.

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See you in London?

I’ll be giving a talk next Wednesday (the 8th July) at the Oakley pop-up on Exmouth Market, EC1.

Emily Chappell

Come, and bring beer.

(And in case it adds to the incentive, I will almost certainly have my shiny new TCR bike with me.)

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Over-reaching myself

Do you ever realise you’ve become a very different person? And perhaps that you’d been this sort of person for quite a while, and everyone else was fully aware of it, and you were the last to know, as ever? No one was surprised that I entered the Transcontinental Race. No one except me. Turns out […]

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On chasing men

Don’t ever get the impression I’ve got it all sorted. Just when you (I) think you’ve (I’ve) got life figured out, and it’s all plain sailing from here, you either discover something completely new that you have to get your head round, or simply realise that you’re not the master you thought you were. Both […]

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How to host a cyclist

I quite often get to the end of a ride and say to myself ‘that’s probably the toughest day I’ve ever had on the bike!’, and then remember all the other times I’ve said that, and briefly try to figure out which day was actually the toughest, and then decide that I don’t really need to […]

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The kit list to end all kit lists

Here’s a treat for all you gear nerds. A few weeks ago I found myself with a spare morning (or at least, the disinclination to fill it with anything more useful), and decided to spend it clearing out my panniers, going through all my stuff, tidying, itemizing, editing and repacking it all. I was staying […]

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My friends in Tok

I had a long way to ride after leaving Chistochina, but I was fresh and energetic after a few days off the bike (and a handful of hearty meals), and within an hour or so decided that I would try and push on to the home of John Rusyniak, a tall grey-haired gentleman I’d met […]

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The writers’ blessing

I’m going to issue one of those typical blogger complaints/apologies: that, in trying to live as interesting a life as possible, in order to create entertaining blog posts (as well as for personal enrichment, etc.), I have left myself very little time or energy actually write them. I have, as you may well have guessed, […]

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Loose ends

Notes on finishing a journey. ‘It is not the goal but the way there that matters. And the harder the way there, the more worthwhile the journey’ Wilfred Thesiger I am all out of order at the moment. That’s to say, things aren’t happening in the sequence that I expected or assumed they would. This […]

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