The TransPyrenees is a self-supported ultra-distance cycling event: 1500 km in the most spectacular and remote landscapes of the Pyrenees, from the Bay of Biscay to the Balearic Sea, and back.
Mike Hall designed this event in 2016; his vision was to reward the most adventurous, giving them an opportunity to beat the clock by tackling the most challenging terrain.
Christophe Dijkmans ran the 2022 Transpyrenees and finished it coming in second place, 67 hours behind a winner with monstrous talents.
The weather was not favorable but, as he said, "for a Belgian it was an advantage."
The emotions of a race like this are impossible to describe unless you have experienced them in person, so we let Chris tell us about his epic adventure.
"The 2022 Transpyrenees was a great way to end my first part of the season focused on road races. It was my first time in the Pyrenees and it was worth it because the landscapes are breathtaking. Although the race took place mostly under clouds and rain, I was lucky enough to continue my vacation in the Pyrenees after the race and enjoy this beautiful environment.
As for the race itself, I found it quite unique compared to my previous experiences. Drafting was authorized by the race director during the briefing, and this was very helpful during the first night of the race (8 p.m. start): I regularly found myself alone in front of a group of racers who were hiding wisely between the wheels.
Very different behavior from what I usually enjoy in ultras. Fortunately the mountains blew up the peloton and the riders finally dispersed on the course. Early in the morning I was 6th and slowly caught up with the riders in front of me who probably pushed too hard during the night. I stabilized in 4th position on the first day until a new actor appeared: bad weather. I went through the night with a sleep stop that ended up being longer than expected because of the heavy rain. When I started the next day, I quickly took 2nd place and kept going in the pouring rain.
As the race progressed, I found myself in a strange position: too far from the first runner to hope to catch up with him, but also too far ahead of the third runner for him to catch up with me. So I continued my race without pressure, allowing myself to stop more than I normally would during a race (for example, I took a short nap with less than 5 km to go...). I finished the race about ten hours behind a very strong Adam Bialek (currently in the lead group of the TCR) and about ten hours behind the third place finisher.
My feelings about this race are rather mixed. From a sporting point of view I am happy with the result, but on the other hand, from a human point of view, it is the only race where I had so few exchanges with other runners, both during and after the race (nothing organized by the organizers at the finish). What I will remember most of all is the beauty of the Pyrenees and the emotion that seeing someone you love on the side of the road can arouse."