Archives mensuelles : juillet 2017

Silk Road : a dream come true

For many years I’ve dreamt of riding from my home all the way to China along the mythical Silk Road, following the footsteps of Marco Polo and many great explorers of ancient times. I’m not the type of guy that is just content to dream. I have to act.

Now is the time for the dream to come true.

Now is the time to live what will most likely be my greatest adventure to date.

Leaving from Paris, my plan is to ride to Switzerland, from there to Austria, then onward to Hungary, across Romania to the port of Constanta. A ferry will then take me to Azerbaijan. A few hundreds kilometers further to Baku where I will hop on another ferry to Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are next on the list before crossing the border to China. The last leg of my trip will be dedicated to riding across this fascinating country.

Just like I did on my 2016 Oceania/Asia tour, I plan to ride long distances everyday and take very few rest days Because there’s nothing I like more than being on my bike and because rest days are boring. My goal is to get to Taiwan in 3 or 4 months depending on how many detours I make. This way I won’t have to deal with the cold in Northern and Central China.

Last week I applied for my Uzbekistani visa.  Next step is to apply for my chinese visa. I the mean time, I will finish building my Omnium CXC and do some route planning. Hopefully I’ll be ready to leave in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait for the long days on the saddle in places I’ve never been. I’m gonna try and post updates here every two or three days.

If you want to help, you can donate here :

http://www.gofundme.com/sofianes-silk-road-adventure

Trans Am recap

There is a lot to say about a 7000km race. It’s a very long journey but surprisingly the first half went by very quickly. Having learned a lot from my first racing experience on the Tour Divide, I managed to make the necessary adjustments and didn’t have to much trouble riding in the top 5. I was having a ton of fun most of the time. The weather was great and, compared to the tour divide, I found the Trans Am was a rather easy race.

Wyoming was windy, but that’s nothing new, so I was prepared. Colorado was windy as well, which surprised me, since it usually is not. Then came Kansas. After 3500km, I was in third place and ahead of Mike’s record pace. My goal of finishing in 18 days was still within reach. Or so I thought. After 100km or so in Kansas, the wind kicked up. It was a 40km/h southerly wind. As we we’re headed east, most of the time, it was a crosswind. But there were also times where we had to ride straight into it. Evan Deutsch proved to be much stronger than me in such conditions and made a huge gap. The wind kept blowing day and night for three days and I dropped from 3rd place to 5th. Long, straight, flat stretches are not my strong suit and the wind really messed with me. The fun was gone and I was not as mentally strong as the other top riders in such conditions.

Kansas proved to be a swing state, if I may say. I stopped to spend the night at Newton Bike shop and asked James, the owner and mechanic, to rotate my tires and get me back to tubeless (I had an inner tube in my rear wheel due to a flat in Colorado). The next morning, I forgot to get my tube back and left the bike shop. Unfortunately, after a hundred miles, my tire exploded in a downhill. There was no way to fix it without a tube. I hitched a ride to the closest town but couldn’t find a tube. I tried to get a ride to the next town but was unsuccessful. Only the next day was I able to get tubes and a news tire delivered from Independence, KS. When I got back on course, I had lost 24 hours.

Following this infortunate incident, I had a hard time getting my focus back. The podium was out of reach and so was my initial goal of finishing in 18 days. Focus is key in these events. Without it, the second half of the race seemed like it would never end. I was able to ride for 600km straight to bet back in the top 10. But when I realized how hard it would be to get back in the top 5, I was a bit discouraged. I kept lowering my goals and finally finished in 8th place in 20d 5h.

So all in all, I’m very disappointed with my race. Still I’m very happy with what I was able to achieve for the first half. For me, it’s almost like two different races. One that was good, where I was able to perform, with great landscapes and a ton of fun. And a painful, long monotonous race where my only goal was to finish.

Overcoming such a disappointment is hard. I know it will take time. Now I can’t wait for my next race. I want to erase the memory of what I consider a failure by performing to the full extent of my abilities on an another event.