Women of the Transcontinental Race : Rishi Fox

The transcontinental race (TCR) is an unsupported race across Europe and is known as one of the toughest ultra endurance bike races. With a distance of between 3000-4000km riders must race from the start to checkpoints and then to the finish. In-between these points riders can take any route and Last years race, TCR04 started in Belgium and finished in Turkey. There is no doubt that this is a epic challenge to undertake and over the coming weeks we will be speaking with some of the female riders to dare to take on the challenge.

This interview is with Rishi Fox, 36 from Melbourne, Australia and she tells us about her experiences and plans…

 

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How long have you been cycling for and what sort of riding do you do?

I’ve been cycling for about 8 years. I started out mountain biking, which led to racing. I picked up a road bike around 3 years ago. Originally the intention was just to use it for training for my MTB racing, but I found out I really loved it. I started riding longer and longer, and the rest is history 😉

What attracted you to taking part in TCR in the first place?

I came across TCR through the internet, watching no3 online. I instantly connected with the idea of having this amazing adventure and just signing up for something completely insane that I really didn’t think I could do. I figured the fear of actually having to do it would spur me into training and get me to the point where something like this actually felt achievable. And it did.

” I figured the fear of actually having to do it would spur me into training and get me to the point where something like this actually felt achievable. And it did.”

You rode in TRC04 – How did that go for you?

Both brilliantly and terribly. In reality I am amazed I did as well as I did. It was a huge step. I had never even ridden on my own when I signed up. I could ride, but I wasn’t confident of my ability to be self sufficient, and this was the big challenge of TCR and why I really wanted to do it. I wanted to challenge myself to believe in myself and to be able to survive on my own without relying on anyone else to help me. It was terrifying but amazing and has changed me forever. I made it 1800km in 8 days, the most riding I had ever done in my life. I saw some amazing places and pushed myself more than I ever had before. Unfortunately I had to scratch from the race. I had become so dehydrated and had severe heat exhaustion and was taken to hospital in Trento by ambulance on my way to checkpoint 3. It was very hard coming to the realization that I wasn’t going to be able to finish.

What will you be doing differently this year?

For starters I have a lot more experience behind me this year which will make a huge difference. I plan to take electrolyte with me as well as increasing the amount of water I can hold on my bike. If it gets too hot I will reassess my plan knowing I can’t tolerate extended periods of time in the sun. If necessary I will ride through the night as an alternative. Listening to my body instead of thinking only about riding without stopping will be the new focus. It’s more important to finish than to ride as fast as I can, so that means managing my health. I will also take more time planning my route to check services along the way. Coming from Australia I was not familiar with where to find water etc, so now I know… in Europe petrol stations don’t have water taps! 😉

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 “I have a lot of support behind me. It’s amazing and I am incredibly grateful”

 

What training do you do to prepare for long distance cycling?

Lots and lots of long rides!! For me Audax has been amazing. I do as many of their longer rides as possible. They are also good practice for navigation, managing food and water intake and taking care of any mechanicals all while in an environment where you know someone will be behind you if it all goes terribly wrong. I also have a coach who has got me prepared.

What reaction do you get from people when you tell them about you plans?

It’s been mixed. At first I got a lot of “on your own?” “Is that safe?” “What if X happens?”. But this year after people have seen I can do this I have had nothing but support, with the occasional “again?!?! Why?!? Are you crazy?!”. I have a lot of support behind me. It’s amazing and I am incredibly grateful.

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“I want to experience what it’s like to finish and know that I completed what I set out to do”

What would your top tips be for anyone wanting to take part in TCR?

Decide to do it. Make the agreement to yourself. Then list out everything that you are worried about, and make sure you take the time to address as many if those concerns as possible before race day. Train, get your kit ready, practice navigating, go on long solo rides, learn how to fix your bike. Do some shorter “practice runs” using everything exactly how you plan to in the race so you can fix any problems. Don’t make last minute changes to your bike!

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“There are some amazingly tough women out there doing incredible things.”

What motivates you or inspires you when taking part in these events?

I try to think about what it will feel like when I get to the end. That makes me want to keep going, because I want to experience what it’s like to finish and know that I completed what I set out to do. While riding I try to stay in the moment and not focus on how far I’ve gone or how far I’ve got left to go.

Will a woman ever win TCR?

It’s completely possible! There are some amazingly tough women out there doing incredible things.

Photography by Rian Cope

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