I specialise in never winning a race ballot. Ride London, London Marathon, any race with a ballot you can usually guess that I’m not going to win. So why would this be any different?
Oh. I’ve got a place. Well, my other half will never let me disappear for three weeks leaving her with a house full of hounds. Oh. She will? Not to worry, I’ll never get three weeks leave in peak summer season…
So July 27th saw me stood on the start line in Burgas, and I scratched 6 days and 1200km later on the forecourt of a petrol station in Serbia. So what went wrong?
On the whole, my kit was about right. Room to trim, but it wasn’t so outrageous compared with the winner’s pack list. Navigation worked, bike was in the ball park (but the gear set was full of wrong).
Honourable mention goes to the wheels – Hunt Dynamo Superdura with Panaracer Gravelkings in 700x32mm. Not a single puncture, although I’ll permit the tubeless fail after Bulgaria’s biggest pothole…
I was the weak spot. I wasn’t quite prepared enough. Didn’t do enough long/overnight rides, underestimated the elevations and my bike fit was well out – it wasn’t one thing, but lots of things all at once. My mental game wasn’t strong enough, 1200km is a lot of time to yourself and I wasn’t in the mindset to start padding saddle sores with sanitary towels. That’s a young man’s game, frankly.
Serbia. No offence, chaps, but you’re not a great country.