Those riders that made the noon sailing from Dover were undoubtedly going to be the first to control so the question became, of the four, who and when?
The early prognosis from several UK based watchers was that a midnight finish could be on the cards, but UK time that is; as riders were now running on CET and the rolled off the ferry at around 14:30 local time. Control 1 was approximately 300km away from Calais putting a 1am CET arrival at 10.5 hrs, not impossible if the tailwind stayed with them, but very ambitious. It was Josh Ibbett that reached the control first having circumnavigated Paris to the East and avoided riding through the center. Ibbett reached the Reveil Matin at 02:30am with a 300km ride of 12hrs. Half an hour later was Richard Dunnett. Both Dunnett and Ibbett had not slept and set off into the night again unsure where they would rest their heads.
The all night, all Volvo stake out of Reveil Matin was woken again at 5:07 by the arrival of racers #89, #67 and #14; Steffan Streich, Adrian O’Sullivan and Ishmael Burdeau respectively. There were some weary and disappointed faces as they found the meaning of “a simple roadside control with no services” and realised that the Reveil Matin was not open for accommodation at this hour. They too had pushed for the control without worrying about food or water or what next.
Kristof Allegaert was a man with a plan however and wasn’t going to let the nocturnal activities of riders 15 years his junior dissuade him from it. He was the first rider to arrive having slept and appeared confident in his strategy, although he did take a break from being a man of very few words to ask ‘who this Josh Ibbett’ was. Kristof appeared to bed down near Beaumont at midnight local time for around 3-4 hours and rolled into the control shortly before 06:00, followed soon after by another of last year’s veterans; Sergei Konov who was enjoying a lighter, faster ride this year. Of the first seven riders through three were veterans, underlining the value of experience.
Rounding out the top 10 were last minute entrant Matthias Muller at 9am, experienced bikepacker and Tour Divider Gunther Desmedt at 10:42 and Mark Collinson. Mark arrived around ten minutes later along with Andrew Allday, with whom he took breakfast. The pair were quite surprised to be troubling the top ten.
Pippa Handley was the first woman to control 1 at 12:07 but not by a large margin, Gaby Leveridge arrived all of 7 minutes later with Ben Thompson and Gareth Baines. Michael Woolridge was hot on their heels coming in at 25 past noon. After a stellar first day he had stopped early in Amiens and enjoyed a lengthy sleep but unlike Allegaert was not cruising back to the front of the pack.
Riders continued to roll in all day and fill the local fast food establishments. Sundays in France give little options for services and with morning and afternoon shifts came rain, sometimes with sudden and great downpours.
The first 20 or so riders had clearly invested their time wisely in planning their route through or round Paris but further through the field and the tales of misadventure began to pour out. For many it was simply getting lost in Paris or stuck at the many many traffic lights through the city. Chris White a regular visitor to these parts (and a very thorough planner by all appearances) spoke of the benefits of knowing when to take the bike path and when to hit the road. He and Dylan Hubble at least had visited the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower on their route through the city but still made decent time, arriving early afternoon.
A few riders found themselves accidentally on motorways, thus becoming examples in our lesson to study routes in detail or not to rely solely on the decision making of electronic devices for navigation. Thus Andy and Jane Chadwick climbed over Armaco and extracted themselves after the road they were travelling on became upgraded in status and illegal for bikes. Jonathan Elliot wandered onto the M2 when it stopped being the A2 and was quickly extracted by the local constabulary.
Kieran Shanahan arrived with Tom Stone, Rob Savin and Nick Busst solving one of our missing rider conundrums. Kieran’s tracker was collected by his friends but when he failed to report in for late registration at Westminster, the organisation assumed him a non starter. He told us at control he was so excited and nervous on the bridge that he missed all of the formalities and the megaphone shouts for his name. A few other tracking swaps last minute accounted for some temporary alter egos but tracking rates remain high and most irregularities are now accounted for.
The control was due to close at sunset, which was nominally a little after 8pm but a last minute influx had us there until 21:30 during which time another 3 riders sneaked onto the sign in list to bring the sign in tally to 76 riders.
With news of one scratch before control 1, #98 Peta McSharry reaching us later that put 9 riders still out on the road to make control 1. Peta cited a dead gps as her reason to pull the plug, unable to remain in the fight and ride the times and distance her plan required with navigation by other means. Transcontinental does not have a ‘cut off’ as such, but there comes a time when the cars must leave and set up other controls, often driving through the night to stay ahead of the leaders as they charge across Europe. Thus the riders reaching control 1 after the crew’s departure are required to ‘self validate’ by whatever means they can prove their visit. One such rider was #18 Alberto Varni, pictured, who clocked in still smiling at 10:47 on Tuesday after having rear wheel problems and unable to find an open bike shop on Sunday. Forza Alberto! – its the fortitude of riders who find themselves near the rear of the field with problems but still keep battling away that we love about this race.
Meanwhile the leaders continued their unstoppable charge across the continent, heading towards Switzerland by tea time with Allegaert first catching Richard Dunnett as he hit the road after sleeping. The two rode together for a short time before punctures set Dunnett back and Allegaert pushed on to find Ibbett further up the road as they approached the Voges.
Control 1 Sign in times – 10th August 2014 (all CET)
|47||80||Willem Van Zyl||16:30|
|48||69||Frederik Van Niekerk||16:30|
|54||91||Henri van Winkoop||17:15|