Transibérica 2022, el reto bikepacking de ultradistacia en bicicleta de carretera

Albert Valiente had a challenge, to live the TRANSIBERICA 2022. His first participation in a real ultra-distance cycling race. Everything else had been tests, solo rides and challenges. 

"On my track 3,423 km. 53,936+. Cap number: #1"
Starting from this basis, it was clear to me that the best way to deal with this test It would be from humility and respect that this tour deserves. Although if I'm honest, I also wanted to find my limits and learn a lot along the way. 

August 13

It is a very curious day because the race does not start until 9:00 p.m., so you practically have the whole day free, taking away the time to pick up the number, GPS and gift bag.
At first it seemed too late, but then it seemed too short. There was still so much to do that the hours passed as if they were minutes. I did the last purchases in Bilbao (medicines, cables, chargers...), I checked the bike well in case it had been affected after the trip and I prepared to fill my body with gasoline.
we take the last beer, on many days, in a tavern that Roberto knew where you could choose the pintxos while you talked about the weight of the bike with bags, the strategies or planning of the runners. The first thing I learned is that nobody keeps anything here, they are partners and share everything they know, each with their "tricks" and I like that. 
Everything ready for the competition to begin, sparkle. We make the first km neutralized creating a quite striking snake of light while I take the opportunity to load the track that takes longer than necessary to do so. First nerves.
They finally give the exit and at the first roundabout the group is divided by each exit generating 4 groups at a stroke and staying with only 2 companions. The track didn't bother me... but I remembered in my head to previously study the first km (all actually) of the transiberica.
They warned me that, at the beginning, people came out too strong but I went with Julian and Miguel who seemed to control the rhythm well. We soon realized that even the CP1 We would share a tour. We decided to roll at ease and go chatting. Sometimes someone stayed up, others down, one pissed and another stopped to put on a raincoat but in the end we had the same rhythm and a very fun rubber was generated. Everyone knew that one of the loneliest events in the world was ahead, so you stop giving importance to who is there, you simply enjoy their company.

August 14

My intention when starting so late on Saturday was not to sleep the first night and link up with the first full day, from there, see how the body assimilated it and go to sensations. I realize that the strategy was correct as I advanced many positions and passed through the first checkpoint in third position. The absence of "roosters" encouraged this but I didn't really care, I just wanted to feel my best for as long as possible.
It was very nice to go through towns that were partying and see how people had a good time in the orchestras while we pedaled by.
The area of CP1 It was beautiful, another reason why I wanted to do the TRANSIBERICA, for its national and interior tourism. It does not disappoint. Between Burgos and Soria we spotted some roe deer grazing, sharing a meadow with some windmills at dawn, this was my reward for having stayed awake all night. 
Miguel Ángel, number 29 (who finished third) and I made an alliance that was not agreed upon, since we had the same track. We prefer to do some extra km but avoid unnecessary accumulated unevenness, so we saw that we were going towards Pamplona and we rode together. It was very exciting to see how you matched up with other participants who were going slower but stopping less or following a different track than you. a very strange feeling, how can you be so happy to see someone you hardly know but to whom you are united by a bond, the Transiberica
I was impressed (at first) by the amount of food they ordered, at any time, and of course I followed suit. You take the opportunity to charge the battery, literally and figuratively. Let's get on with it!
Transibérica, prueba de ciclismo de ultradistancia
A lot of wind, a lot, we coincided with Anatole (2nd finished) who rode a good km with us and we shared a meal in a very charming town in La Rioja. We soon parted ways because I had a strategy of going slower stopping for less time (correct). I was happy to see how my legs continued to respond and that was thanks to putting so much gas at each stop and the adaptation of the body focusing on the basics. I'm sleepy
First night in a hostel with dinner included, good treatment and finally a shower and a bed, it doesn't last long. 4 hours of sleep. I took the opportunity to turn on my mobile and see that my family, friends and acquaintances were following me on the official track of the test. I got very excited. I answered everything I could and set the alarm.

August 15th

It's 4:00 in the morning. You wake up without thinking, like an automaton, you get dressed, you eat the potato omelette sandwich and the coffee that the man who ran the pension kindly left us prepared the day before. Let's get on with it!
Every time you get on the bike, you kind of check all the parts of your body. The first stinky km, typical of the city ring road with its polygons and others, but you are doing well to add km and clear without realizing it. So it was, we were the two riders who took the Pyrenees further west to climb the Eugi reservoir. It was a very steep and beautiful climb that brought you very close to the border with France. The other side had nothing to do with it, a good road yes, but very steep and with curves that deposited us, almost without respite, in the first little town in France called Aldudes. The area had a lot of charm, which gave me motivation, because for the CP2 Col you Tourmalet there were, easy, about 200 km.
It was a very nice stage through very small towns. In the morning they smelled like butter so we stopped for breakfast at Saint-Etienne-de-Baigorry. It was funny to see how my friend, after entering a bakery, asked for 2 things of each and I, believing that he was asking for me, thanked him. He was surprised and told me: "Why? If all this is for me, you can ask yourself what you want." We had a giant and warm coffee, it seems unbelievable to be August... but until now we had been more cold than hot. The owner of the bar did not want to give us tap water to fill the bottles, he sent us to a fountain that has no water. Seeing the scene, a friendly neighbor invited us to his house and filled all our bottles. He asked us where we were going, replying that at Tourmalet the man offered us more water and encouragement.
There were some mountain passes and some leg-breaking terrain, but as we approached the Tourmalet, vast expanses of green plain predominated. We visit supermarkets to get more food such as juices, sandwiches or Neapolitans, as well as coffee and sweets. He calculated that every 1h30 / 2h he would spend 1,000 calories and to fill that void you have to put a lot into the body. On the previous day we did 500 km which means an approximate expenditure of 10,000 calories. Crazy! At no time did I look at averages, rhythms, power, or pulse. I only went with the navigation screen and sensations.
We pass through Lourdes, a spectacular place but with a lot of traffic. We had to be careful, no fright, although the caravan of cars was going to accompany us more than we wanted. It is overwhelming to approach a great mountain range such as the Pyrenees. You notice how they lock you up in the valley. Emotion overwhelms me, I was going to fulfill one of my dreams, climb the Tourmalet and after making a short stop to fill (and empty too) we faced the approach to the port, we call it the pre port because it was ascent all the time with slopes of 2 -3%, but without stopping.
At last in Luz-Saint-Sauveur, where the port officially begins and where we met a group of friends who were also going bikepackingWe salute and continue with the ascent. I cry while I pedal, the cars don't stop but I don't care, I pick up my rhythm and go up. Very stinky first km until you face the other slope on the ski slope, higher slope, bare meadows and very good visibility, in fact, not seeing how far you had to go would have helped psychologically. Miguel Ángel gets off the hook, with my development I couldn't go slower so each one at their own pace, I took a photo and each mileage plate made me tear up. Last km, I'm still crying but I don't know if I'm excited or tired because the last km is significantly harder than the rest, like the icing on the cake. All the cars I pass roll down their windows and tell me ""Allez, allez" with a complicit smile feeling that there was nothing left to achieve it. Corresponding photo above, I eat something, I wrap up and wait for my friend, who arrived shortly. Together we face the descent on the other side, not so sunny and calm. The descent was frantic, seeing graffiti on the ground of professional teams and cyclists. All the time a feeling of anguish overwhelms me... I felt that these were first-class ports and mountains and not the little ports that went up and down my land (they are going to kill me for saying this).
The descent is very long and I'm shivering with cold, I take the opportunity to stretch, my neck hurts. We stop for dinner and a very picturesque lady prepares us some combined dishes that tasted like heaven. There we coincided with another participant who spent the night there. We are still willing to face the challenge of sleeping outdoors after looking for a quiet little town protected from the cold and wind. It was a very fun experience and easier than expected, due to fatigue, I guess, anywhere is worth it. The dream was complicated because M.A. He started snoring and it was hard for me to fall asleep, when I managed to, he woke me up telling me that he couldn't sleep and I asked him if it was because of my snoring. He laughed and said he was cold. We would sleep 2 hours maximumI don't even know where I was but I decided to continue. 
Transibérica, prueba de ciclismo de carretera ultradistancia en bikepacking

August 16th

Dawn happened to us the most beautiful of the trip: a doe fleeing from us through a meadow, jumping fences, going at the same speed and in the same direction for a few seconds, impressive. 
It was a very nice section that took us to another not so nice, speaking of unevenness. we arrived at Vall d'Aran in search of the famous tunnel Vielha, the organization enabled us a slow lane to cross. The tunnel itself was like climbing a 5-6km pass but on a straight...possibly the hardest mentally I've ever done. There we overtook the French couple who were standing on the shoulder, one of them vomiting, the forces are leaving. That tunnel leaves you at the foot of the peak Aneto, little joke. The cold it was was important, once again shivering on the very long descent, wanting to reach a town to get warm and get newspapers. that town is called VilallerI will always have a special affection for the bar that saved my life with its giant sandwich where they put everything they had in the kitchen, a giant coffee with milk. Entertained by a group of bikers who were amazed by the route we were taking, they even offered us a house in Lleida, where we would pass in the future.
The CP3 would be the Embalse de Sallente  that in km it was not relatively far but in unevenness we were going to put about 10,000m + in 2 stages. Until reaching it, a lot of rattan road, mountain passes and always an amazing landscape. After lunch we decided to separate and ride alone, the aggressive position of my bike and wearing 25 wheels began to take its toll on me and my neck began to bother me. The ascent to the reservoir was very hard because it was long and had important ramps. It seemed curious to me to overtake a participant who overtook me every day (he was slower but he stopped much less so he always passed me) that made me think about the strategy. The best of the race awaited us upstairs, two colleagues from the organization set up a tent with pastries, coffees and chairs to rest. They were there from the first to the last participant, look at them. They also recommended me to go down to Lleida via Balaguer, I had it like that on the track and that information comforted me. On the way down it was lunchtime and I stopped in a small town where I ran into M.A. and 3 more participants, we ate and each one threw or up or down.
Going down, my neck hurts again, I was straining my cervicals. Up and down terrain but fast. Direction Balaguer, storm, hours later, very hot. I had to bring forward the stop in Lleida, it was an ordeal to pedal the last 4 hours with a strong neck pain. I start to worry. I looked for a place to sleep and a physio, which I did not find. I bought an ointment and soon to bed. I was going to make a longer stop than normal but the intention was to recover the neck. I wake up tired and with sore legs. I go down to reception where they kindly give me the bike and I start walking, only with a little neck discomfort. I take the national road II towards Zaragoza at a good pace, at first I had to turn off before getting there but the pain continued to increase and I began to feel dizzy. It was the hardest 6 and a half hours that I have done by bike, luckily the road did not include any technical notion since it was a very long straight through the steppe. I only had to focus on looking at the white line on the shoulder and follow it, my head hurt enormously if I raised it, even so from time to time, for safety, I had to look. I stopped at several gas stations, did stretches and the wind started against me. All wrong. I called several centers physiotherapy in Zaragoza while I was having lunch in a bar and I told my family and friends that the adventure was getting complicated. They couldn't send me more encouragement, which I appreciate.
When I got to the crossroads I had to take and went straight on to get to Zaragoza, I felt very sad and getting to the city seemed like an eternity. The pain got worse and something happened to me that I didn't even know could happen. if i "head fell" literally. My neck muscles collapsed and could not support the weight of my head. My position on the bike was, with one hand where you rest your elbow on the triathlon handlebar and the other hand holding my head...
In Zaragoza I decided to eat at a Mcdonalds before the massage session where the guy asked me what I was doing. When I told him that I had 1,400 km and I had another 2,000 left, he freaked out. He recommended that I not continue, I told him to infiltrate me like soccer players or pilots, but he told me that he couldn't. I went back to rest as much as I could and the next day I went out to see what was happening. I no longer had my head in the test. I forgot to load the GPS that the organization gave us, I fell asleep before setting the alarm and I lost several hours, a disaster. Although in those moments, the only thing that mattered to me was being able to continue.

August 17th

I didn't even last 80 km... I began to cry inconsolably due to impotence, I didn't expect this setback. Carlos Mazón himself was interested in my condition and gave me some advice. He also told me that in a test the same thing happened to a British man and he put a hanger between his shoulders and his helmet to hold his head, although with so many km left... he understood me. I was very disappointed because curiously my legs were going well (as well as you can go after this) but I said goodbye to this adventure with the feeling that I would repeat in future editions with a beastly apprenticeship. I am left with the rhythm that I had until then and all the experience gained. You have to keep in mind that you feel the competition no matter how much you want to go at your own pace and that was an extra motivation, although it can also take its toll on you. I missed taking more photos of the trip.
I spent the bus ride listening to a podcast about what had happened to me and other typical ailments, to inform myself. I also appreciated the follow-up they gave me. And look testing dates for 2023...
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