We present to you, the inaugural edition of The Accursed Race: Lost Dot’s no-fly, fixed route, off-road race exploring the Balkans — the heartlands of the Transcontinental Race.
The first edition of The Accursed Race will take riders on a journey along the roof of the Balkans, exploring arduous terrain but spectacular, constantly evolving landscapes that transform over every summit. The 1600 km fixed route will start in Shkodër, Albania, then taking in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, before returning for the finishing stretch in Albania, and returning to Shkodër. The route will take in a mix of rocky doubletrack, gravel roads, tarmac, a little single-track, and minimal hike-a-bike.
No-fly: riders must travel overland to attend the Race
Fixed route: 1600 km with 37,000 m elevation, with two staffed Control Points on route
Off-road: a mountain bike is our recommended choice, but a gravel bike may suffice
Location: Starting and finishing in Shkoder, Albania
Registration: 13th May 10:00-16:00 CEST
Race start: 14th May 9:00 CEST, 2024
Finish party: 24th May 19:00-23:59 CEST
Finish cut-off: 24th May 23:59 CEST
Applications: open now until full
Open to: solo entrants or pairs
Cost: £375 per rider + refundable £130 tracker deposit
About the Race
The Accursed Race is Lost Dot’s first fixed route, no-fly, off-road race. Exploring the Balkans — the heartlands of the Transcontinental Race — the Race will take riders through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. In the works since 2017, The Accursed Race is the result of years of knowledge built up by Lost Dot in this breathtaking corner of Europe.
Key to our mission is that our Races are sustainable, and that they continue to set the benchmark for unsupported ultra-racing. Switching from aviation to overland travel is the most impactful thing we can do to to minimise the environmental impact of our Races. We hope that The Accursed can be a catalyst for change, and to show the community that this is what sustainable ultra-racing can look like.
Breaking the mould from our free-route events, The Accursed Race takes a fixed route format, allowing us to shape the narrative of this route in minute detail. Rather than racing from A to B via the line of least resistance, a fixed route will take riders on the route less travelled.
An off-road format for The Accursed Race will take riders straight to the heart of some of the most magnificent scenery in the Balkans. Meandering over diverse terrain, the route will take riders along some of Europe's last wild rivers, down sweeping gravel tracks, tracing contours of mountain ridgelines, and over karst plateaus.
Standing on the shoulders of Mike Hall, The Accursed Race is Lost Dot's first Race to be conceptualised since he tragically passed in 2017. Still led and inspired by his spirit, The Accursed rings true to the values that have been woven through the fabric of the Transcontinental Race and the Trans Pyrenees Race:
Courage // Respect // Humility // Inclusivity // Integrity // Equality // Sustainability // Ethical // Ecological
The Accursed Race was inspired by Mike’s idea that the more competent and confident you feel on a bike, the bigger your map grows and the greater your desire to fill in the spaces between. With enough experience, knowledge and preparation, you can take yourself anywhere you want.
It was on the Tour Divide, an annual off-road race that traverses the length of the Rocky Mountains, that Mike Hall cut his racing teeth. The Tour Divide is annually beset by conditions that test a racer’s problem solving capabilities and endurance to persevere under challenging conditions. This, combined with the remote landscapes and spectacular views, make the route all the more rewarding.
Speaking of the Tour Divide as the inspiration behind The Accursed, Anna Haslock, Managing Director of Lost Dot, said “I wanted to bring some of that to Europe, giving riders the opportunity to experience some of the more unique and exotic locations Europe has to offer.”
Apply to ride
The entry cost for TARNo1 is £375 + a refundable deposit for your tracker. Entries for TARNo1 are on a first-come first-served basis. Your deposit payment will secure your entry in the race.
Deposit (£175) payment deadline: 29th February 2024
Remaining balance payment (£200): 31st March 2024
Refundable tracker deposit payment (£130) and media licence payment (optional, £100 per sponsor) deadline: 14th April 2024
Put simply, yes. However, we'd encourage you to take public transport, such as trains, buses and ferries instead, as this has significantly lower emissions. For those opting to drive to the race, we're looking to implement a system to enable participants to find carpooling partners.
If you need to divert off-route, for example, to access a bike shop or resupply point, you would need to return to the point at which you left the route before continuing. If you take a wrong turn during the Race and fail to correct it, but rejoin the route at a later point, we may apply time adjustments to your finish time to reflect how much time we deem the diversion to have saved. If you miss a substantial part of the route, but continue to the finish location, you may fail to achieve an official Race finish. Decisions will be made at the Race Director's discretion, but will be open to consultation with the rider.
Riders will be asked to submit documentation of their journey following the Race. This could be in the form of travel receipts, gps files (if they’ve cycled there), location tracking info (e.g. Google Maps timeline info), photos with time and location stamps, or however else you can think to document your journey.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’d be happy to discuss your situation and whether it aligns with the no-fly ethos.
The no-fly rule is to prevent racers from travelling to and from the race via aviation-based travel/aeroplane. We won’t be preventing applications from international participants, but would expect their travel to and from the race to be via flight-free travel.
Based on our experience developing the route, either a hardtail or a full-suspension mountain bike would be most appropriate for the terrain. Our route recce trips have been done on everything from endurance road bikes with wide tyres, to gravel bikes, hardtail mountain bikes, and full-sus trail bikes. You could certainly take on the route with a gravel bike, but it would be far less comfortable, and we’d recommend opting for wide tyres and low gearing to make it more suitable for the route.
Due to the remote locations, high altitudes, and potentially mixed weather conditions that riders may face during the Race, we have specified a mandatory kit list for the event for rider safety. We will be checking for the following kit at registration:
- Insulated jacket (down, or high-quality synthetic)
- Waterproof jacket (10,000mm hydrostatic head, or more)
- Insulated sleeping bag (5 degree comfort level)
- Bivvy bag (not emergency blanket)
- Emergency blanket
Although The Accursed takes place primarily off-road and on smaller roads, vehicles and drivers are still likely to be the biggest danger to riders. At Lost Dot we know that road safety is often in the hands of the driver, rather than the rider, but we must take a pragmatic approach to rider safety. As such, we will also be checking for the following mandatory safety equipment at registration:
- A helmet that conforms to current regulations, is the correct size, and is securely fastened and worn at all times.
- Two independent* white front lights available for use (i.e. attached to the bicycle or carried) at all times. The light must conform to current EC regulations.
- Two independent* red rear lights available for use (i.e. attached to the bicycle or carried) at all times. The light must conform to current EC regulations.
- One of each front and rear light must be fixed to the bicycle or to a secure accessory (e.g. a rack or saddle bag).
- At low light, in poor visibility, and at night at least one front light and one rear light must be illuminated.
- A red rear reflector
- We also recommend, but do not enforce, having lights on while riding on road during daytime.
- A fluorescent and retroreflective upper-body garment (most commonly a vest) must be worn at low light, in poor visibility and at night. The reflective garment must be worn over the top of all garments (and musette if the musette is not reflective). The retroreflective component should be significant and placed across the front and back of the garment. Reflective piping alone is not considered sufficient.
We acknowledge that this is a difficult undertaking, and are committed to doing what we can to make this easier, more affordable, and less daunting for those involved. As such, we are doing the following:
- Providing 15 Low-Carbon Travel Fund (LCTF) grants of £250 to riders who might not otherwise be able to afford the travel
- Providing detailed information on how to travel to and from the race
- Arranging a coach service which we expect to run from Zagreb to Shkoder on 12th May, tickets for which will be available to riders at cost price
We have also planned the race so that the majority of riders will be able to travel, take part, attend the party, and travel back within two weeks of leave.
In 2022 we analysed our carbon footprint, and found that 70% of emissions are a result of rider travel to and from races, with the vast majority being a result of air travel. Therefore with the launch of our newest race, The Accursed, we have committed to limiting its carbon emissions by making it ‘no-fly’. This means that only riders who commit to travelling flight-free to and from the race will be able to take part.
A Control is a mandatory key location which racers must navigate to in order to validate their participation in the race. It is also where the race records their timings for race reporting. Controls are chosen for their dramatic terrain, natural beauty and often include icons of cycling or adventure. Their locations also shape the race as a whole and the terrain and route dilemmas which may occur in-between. A Control usually consists of ‘Control Point’ and ‘Control Parcours’
The Control Point is a fixed station, often a local business such as a hotel, where race staff validate the arrival of the racers by recording their arrival and time stamping their Brevet Card. The control point is often a place where food, accommodation and communications services are available. The control points are established by the production and media team who will arrive in one or more of the control vehicles. They are then manned by volunteers in shifts until the control closure time. Some controls provide a round the clock reception whilst others may temporarily close overnight and have an automated check in feature. Failure to report in at any of the control points will mean that the rider is no longer qualified for inclusion in the finishers classification. Control Points are open from the time of arrival of the first rider, to the date specified in the Rider Manual. After this time the control will be closed and no longer be manned. Riders who arrive after closure of the control are excluded from the General Classifications but remain within the race.
Applications to race open with plenty of notice through our social media accounts, at dedicated times throughout the year for our three races. The application forms become available once the application window opens, and as soon as the applicant has registered and created a profile at lostdot.cc. Applications are open for 2 weeks for TCR and TPR to allow plenty of time for riders to get their application in without favouring any particular nationalities. Applications for TAR are on a first-come first-served basis. The application process consists of completing the registration stage, downloading and reading the Race Manual (available after registration and a few legal questions) and completing the application form - which will give us an idea of your knowledge regarding methods of route planning, an understanding of the the basic requirements of the race and an idea of your experience to date.
There are no qualification requirements however we expect applicants to have gained relevant, multi-day, long distance expedition experience either alone or as part of a small group.