Epic journey crosses Europe
Former rugby player Johanna Jahnke may have retired, but she still likes a challenge as her participation in the Transcontinental shows.
The cycling epic taken riders across Europe in a 3924 km journey that takes the elite around 15 days. There’s no route, just four checkpoints, and one stage, so self-sufficiency, route planning and endurance are all tested.
Johanna’s groundwork was good, she entered the 400 km Maurice Brocco as preparation, and won it. She was aware that the Transcontinental was ten times this distance, and explains that planning took up the eight months prior to the race. Part of this was a ‘Breakfast 100’ that she trained with her cycling partner Marion, who was to attempt the Transcontinental with her. “We would meet at 6 am and ride 100km before breakfast” explains Johanna. “The night before we had done an intensive interval session to empty our carbohydrate stores, so we would really train our fat metabolism the next morning.”
The race itself took Johanna through some landscapes she had been looking forward to. “Riding through Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania will definitely stick in my memory” she said afterwards. “Riding 414 km during the night from Geraardsbergen and the 321 km on our last day (with plenty of climbing) is something I don’t usually do. It’s unbelievable what your body is capable of!”
The determined ride saw Johanna and her partner complete the course in time for a finishers party. They were the only female pair in the party and the first females to have ever completed the event in time for the party.
Fuel for the epic crossing was focussed on carbohydrates, with simple and complex carbs being used depending on the profile of the stage. High calorie foods including nuts biscuits and fruit juice were popular.
Much of Johanna’s food was bought during the trip at supermarkets and petrol stations, often filling up on fruit during the day then carb loading with pasta and pizza later in the day.
“TCR is really a lifechanging experience” Johanna told Great Vegan Athletes. “And a lot of people didn't think it would be possible on a vegan diet. I actually think it was part of the key to success.”