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Transcontinental Race 2015: #IshmaelCycles

LEO Learning’s ethos is all about being bold, pioneering and confident in our abilities, both in and outside the workplace. Our people are what help us achieve this, and we fully encourage our team to pursue their interests and share them with the rest of the company.

Following his impressive 9th place finish in last year’s Transcontinental Race, LEO Learning’s resident endurance cyclist Ishmael Burdeau is stepping up to the challenge for a second time in 2015. The Transcontinental Race is an unsupported, non-stop race through around 12 countries, and sees cyclists carrying all their own gear and fending for themselves for up to two weeks on the roads of Europe. This year’s race goes from Belgium to Istanbul, with around 200 riders planning their journeys and covering 4,200km of spectacular European routes for the ultimate ‘bikepacking’ experience.

More than just a bike race

The Transcontinental Race is a true endurance test. We’ve all worked late nights from time to time in order to get the job done, but how many of us can say we’ve put ourselves through intense physical and mental strain for 24 hours straight just to get a little bit closer to our goal? This year’s race is set to be more gruelling than ever before, but Ishmael has been hard at work planning his route and figuring out which equipment will be coming with him. Last year’s highlight was Albania, where he encountered just two traffic lights in the capital of Tirana, and he is looking forward to finding more unexpected gems on this year’s route.

Ishmael's bike and cycling gear for the Transcontinental Race 2015
Last year’s race, which was followed avidly online by Ishmael’s LEO Learning colleagues and his friends and family, was a challenging combination of entire days of rain followed by the blistering heat of the Balkans. Ishmael was chased by dogs in the 40 degree heat of Greece, and tackled three mountain ranges – yet still, he was decided to enter this year’s race just for his love of adventure, and for the incredible sense of achievement after completing the challenge. Waiting for the heavy traffic to die down outside Istanbul at 8pm with his new fellow racer friend from Belgium gave him a chance to reflect on his intense journey. Setting off again at midnight, he rode for four hours down the expressways towards the city lights of Istanbul, physically exhausted but knowing he was mentally ready for more.

The 2015 adventure

In truly bold LEO Learning spirit, Ishmael has accepted a place in 2015’s Transcontinental Race, for which he has been busy planning his route around the often volatile terrain. Often, he said, it is worth cycling an extra 30 miles to avoid travelling over a mountain, making meticulous planning and preparation key to getting the best possible time. This is a challenge which puts multiple survival skills to the test, from finding food and shelter to navigating unfamiliar routes, resilience, powering through intense physical exhaustion, working through language barriers and adapting to the culture in each country the riders pass through.

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Ishmael’s participation in the 2015 Transcontinental Race is exciting for all of us at LEO Learning, as we eagerly await the start date when we can track his progress. As a seasoned cyclist with more than 30 years experience, we are supporting Ishmael all the way in his quest to beat his 9th place finish in 2014’s race. Ishmael will be sporting a LEO Learning cycling jersey, much like those worn by our Capital to Coast cyclists last month, and we are looking forward to cheering him on from afar as he cycles for anywhere between 16 and 24 hours a day. LEO Learning’s people are what make us so pioneering and dynamic, and we wish Ishmael the best of luck as he takes to the roads of Europe.

You will be able to track Ishmael’s progress via Trackleaders from midnight on 25th July, and we will be posting regular updates throughout the race on Twitter at @leolearning using the hashtag #IshmaelCycles. Ishmael will also be phoning through occasional race reports, so be sure to follow us to keep up with him on his amazing journey.