The Transcontinental is a solo, unsupported bicycle race from Flanders to Istanbul with four check points along the way ensuring at least 2500 miles are covered by each competitor. The race ends at Hisar Cafe along the Bosphorous in Istanbul on the very edge of Europe. Each rider has an array of unique, yet shared experiences on their journey: fatigue; hunger; packs of wild dogs; close calls with cars, lorries and potholes.
It is the kind of race that is more about the journey than the destination: as one of the competitors described it a “race with a small r”. More about pushing your own limits than finishing first; for many it is only about finishing.
Each rider is equipped with a small GPS tracker that pings their location every few minutes, spawning the secondary sport of “dot watching” and allowing the organisers at the finish line to know when the riders are due to come in. Poor reception on the outskirts of Istanbul coupled with riders either knocking their trackers or covering them with pastries strapped to their handlebars helped retain an element of surprise at the finish line.
Josh Ibbett was the first rider into Istanbul in a frankly astonishing 9 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes.