While cycling alone is undeniably a sustainable method of transport, the carbon footprint of bike races is hugely significant. In events at the highest level of the sport, such as the Tour de France, hundreds of race vehicles follow the peloton and embark on long transfers in between stages – the impact of which huge on the environment. Even at an amateur level, it’s rare that events are carbon neutral, with most people travelling by car or plane to compete. The Lost Dot, organisers of the Transcontinental ultra-events, is on a mission to change this.
They announced today, at Rouleur Live 2023, the launch of a new event, named The Accursed Race, which they describe as a “no-fly event.” This means that riders are required to use a sustainable method of transport to come to the race – something that Lost Dot will assist with in the form of in-depth guidance on sustainable travel options and arranging a bus service from the closest ferry port.
The decision comes after Lost Dot carried out a carbon footprint analysis in 2022 that demonstrated 70% organisation’s annual 487 tonne CO2e footprint was accounted for purely by riders’ travel to and from their races – with the majority of emissions stemming from aviation.
These findings spurred Lost Dot to bring sustainability into the forefront of its agenda, introducing a Low-Carbon Travel Fund to financially support 10 riders to take flight-free travel to and from the Transcontinental Race. Additionally, the Green Leaderboard was introduced as a new race classification at TCR and TPR, to celebrate and reward riders travelling flight-free. The “no-fly” rule surrounding the Accursed Race is the biggest in this series of measures.
Lost Dot claims that they have already seen a positive impact after introducing these sustainability methods, with post-race surveys following TCR showing a jump from around 18% of respondents travelling flight-free in 2022, to 33% this year.
“It shows us that the appetite is there for low-carbon modes of travel, and that hosting a no-fly event is now a viable option,” commented Hannah Larbalestier, Transcontinental Race Coordinator.
The Accursed Race itself will be an off-road, fixed route race that skirts through the Balkan region of Europe. As with the Transcontinental race, the event will be self-supported. It is named after the Accursed Mountains in the southern Dinaric Alps and riders will traverse through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Kosovo. It is scheduled to begin in Shkodër, Albania, on May 14 2024 spanning 1600km in length with 37,000 m of climbing.
Lost Dot said in a press release that they have been working on bringing The Accursed Race to fruition since 2017, with race director Andrew Phillips explaining: “The Balkans are the heartlands of the Transcontinental. This race gives us the opportunity to explore the region in minute detail – taking riders away from the road and into the rugged and hugely diverse landscapes on offer there.”
Phillips also stressed the wider importance of sustainability across all cycling events commenting: “As awareness of the climate crisis grows, more and more riders are going to be looking to partake in events that they can travel to overland. We want to show the community, and the wider industry, that this is what sustainable bike racing can look like.”Applications for The Accursed Race open in November 2023. Visit the race’s Instagram page for regular updates.