Meet Martin Cox, an MBA student, cyclist and tech enthusiast who’s about to take on what is arguably the world’s toughest cycling race. Martin got in touch a few weeks ago to talk about the race and we were so impressed by the scale of what he’s doing that we fitted him out with an Xperia Z2 and a SmartBand so that he could document this epic journey. We’ll be catching up with Martin after he returns to talk about the journey and how he used his shiny new kit, but in the mean time, let’s meet the man himself.
1. So, Martin, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
Right now I’m a student at Nottingham Trent University’s Business School. I’m writing the first draft of my MBA dissertation before I leave on the Transcontinental race, and editing it upon my return. I’ve got three wonderful little boys and one amazing wife – she’s an absolute superstar and without her I wouldn’t be able to go out and do daft things like race across Europe. I keep a blog at themartincox.co.uk, which I try to keep up when I’m not riding, reading, writing or playing.
2. Tell us a bit more about the Transcontinental challenge?
Depending on what time you want to finish it in, it’s either the best challenge on two wheels or the world’s toughest bike race! It’s from London to Istanbul, without any support at all. 2,000 miles with just three checkpoints, so you are free to choose your own route across Europe. My route takes in eleven countries, so that’s nine languages and seven currencies, and I’m aiming to complete in about eight days. Last year’s winner did it in seven and a half days! There are so many challenges involved with the race, from where to sleep, to how to ask for water, all the way to riding for 20 hours by yourself. It’s not the longest race out there, but because of its nature it means that riders have to deal with more challenges en-route, so for that alone I think it’s the toughest race out there.
3. What got you in to long distance bike races?
My wife said I was getting ‘fat’ so I should take up running. It turns out that running 12 miles the first week wasn’t a good move! So I took up cycling after a 15 year gap. Six months later I rode from Lands End to John O’Groats and back down again in 10 days and I discovered that I was pretty good at it, and my body coped. A year later I rode 1,000 miles, across Northern Europe to the far side of Poland in three days, and this year I wanted to make sure I did this race as I missed it last year.
4. I imagine you must be having to do A LOT of training and preparation for this race. What does that involve?
There’s a big mix. First off it’s making sure that you ride as often as possible, just building up the stamina to ride the distances needed. So, I might ride my Wahoo Kickr trainer out in the garden early mornings or go out and ride at 4am. There’s a mix of steady, long, riding and going out and blasting up and down hills all day. I live 90 minutes’ ride from the Peak District so that’s perfect. Other than that it’s stretching and core exercises for stability and strength. And eating. Lots of eating! On the logistics side of things, I’ve got to ensure my route is sorted, my kit is suitable, my wife is calm and I am mentally prepared for the trip.
6. What part of the race are you most/least looking forward to?
Most? Paris at dawn at the end of the first day, and hopefully climbing the Stelvio Pass in Italy at dawn in clear weather! Least? The weather can be a challenge, but I’ve got a great kit supplier in Assos so I should be covered. The great thing about the ride is that every mile is a new adventure and everything’s exciting!
7. What time are you hoping for?
Around eight days would be great, a day longer would still be awesome. I want to capture memories and create stories to be able to talk to my boys about it in years to come, rather than have my head down the whole time. 250 miles a day allows me a few minutes to have my head up a little!
Martin’s race starts at Westminster bridge in London on the 9th August so we’ll be posting his thoughts on how our SmartBand and Lifelog duo stand up to the challenge a couple of weeks later. Stay tuned!