Just thought I’d run through my bike setup, the kit I took and the reasoning behind it. Some things worked, some didn’t, from my experience with these races its simply a process of evolvement, no two races ever seem to be the same so things change all the time. In the end I was reasonably happy with how I was set up.
This is how I went this year, with a route more suited to climbers (which I’m not) I needed to go as light as possible so reduced the bags to the absolute minimum…
Bowman Pilgrims frame set. Aluminium with carbon forks.
Middleburn super compact chain set – 46/30 with an 11/28 cassette.
All components Ultegra.
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
TT bars adapted to accommodate Garmin 1000, tracker and android phone.
Saddle – Cobb Randee, a very comfortable saddle. I did have some minor irritation which passed pretty quickly once in the mountains. Can’t complain really with the amount of time spent on the T bars, I expect most people suffered with sores at some stage during the race.
Wheel set – Velocity Aileron, 32 spokes, SP PD8 front wheel dynamo hub.
Tyres – Schwalbe S-One Tubeless 30mm.
Lights – Front Supernova E3 Pro dynamo light, Rear – Supernova Dynamo E3 Tail light, Backup Rear – 2 x Cateye rapid X TL-700 (mini USB chargeable and last ages). Front backup – Exposure Joystick Mk 10 (mounted under handle bar, can also be mounted on the helmet when night riding).
Power – Sinewave Revolution USB wired in with lighting linked to dynamo mounted on the side of the stem.
Worth pointing out, after thorough maintenance by bike mechanic Ollie in the workshop at ‘Spokes of Bagshot’ I didn’t have a single puncture or mechanical the whole journey. Just a frequent light lube of the chain kept the bike rolling day after day. If you had problems you know where to go next time!!
Contents – Zendure A2 battery 6700mAh with pass through charging. Anker PowerCore+mini lipstick 3200mAh battery. Not the best but the pair along with the dynamo just about got me through it. Lens cleaning cloth for my glasses. Small tube of sun cream. USB cable for charging both the Garmin 1000 and android phone. Toothbrush and tooth paste which eventually ended up in the pocket. Selection of tablets including vitamins, salt, electrolyte and caffeine. Laminated track profiles. The rest of the space, and there wasn’t much, was taken up with food.
All my favourite nibbles to chomp on throughout the day. Generally an Haribo mix, Mentos and anything else that took my fancy. In the outside mesh and around the remaining bags and pockets I stashed as many High5 Energy Source Sachets as I could.
The top section contained a 2 liter hydration reservoir with the hose mounted on the T-bars. I wrapped the hose in insulation. This worked fine, I found as it was inside the bag it kept the fluid much cooler than last year. It wasn’t ideal for long climbs but managed to make it work. Most of the time I just carried around I liter which gave me some additional storage space for carrying food. When riding into more remote areas I just carried it full. Underneath the reservoir I carried my Gore-Tex Jacket. The Castelli Idro which is super light and takes up very little space.
The bottom section contained the following…a 2nd merino base layer (I was wearing the first, the 2nd was worm mainly on mountain descents and sometimes when riding through the night), double buff (worn on descents), arm warmers (Descents and night riding), knee warmers (mainly night riding), summer mitts (didn’t wear them), winter overmits (worn on long descents), Gortex shorts (worn once during a rain spell in Italy). I secured the shorts to the seat post with velcro to allow more food carrying capacity in the frame bag. In hindsight I should have taken my down jacket which would have allowed me to ride longer in the mountains. I just didn’t have space so left it behind which sort of restricted what I could do.
I didn’t take any sleeping kit, the thinking was that a Gortex rain jacket and Gortex shorts was as good as any bivy bag setup. This setup was sufficient for me with little very little faff and worked either side of the Alps and Dolomites. In the mountains my preference was to ride normal days and sleep indoors in hotels. Once out of the mountains, in general, the evening temperatures were upwards of 20 degrees which made for good overnight riding conditions and pleasant bus stop sleeping, without having to wear any additional clothing. I carried a spare pair of socks which I didn’t get round to wearing.
In the zipped section on the other side of the bag I carried a small bike lock (not used), a packet of wet wipes, tube of Blistex relief cream, tube of Garnier Sun Protection Lip Care, Ibrufen tablets, more caffeine tablets, more salt tablets, Imodium tablets and a few electrolyte tablets (didn’t use, hate the taste of them!).
This contained everything to deal with any mechanicals. As I didn’t have any the contents were pretty much passengers. My thinking is, albeit a little risky, that I could cut quite a bit of this next time.
Inside I carried, one spare inner tube, two plastic tyre levers, one tyre boot, some tube patches, tube of super glue, selection of cable ties, spoke key, Fibre Fix Spoke Replacement, Multi tool, mini chain tool, spare speed link and chain links, spare mech hanger. Selection of spare USB charging cables, small container of chamois cream, 3 way Euro USB charger and 2 mini tubes of dry lube along with a small chain cleaning cloth. I also had a selection of spare USB cables. Attached to the frame I mounted a Topeak Pocket Rocket DX11 mini pump. Wrapped around its shaft was a good length of black insulation tape.
The first week of the race I carried last years TCR musette, slung over the shoulder it worked great for carrying food. It meant I could carry a large quanity of food to keep me going, lack of eating in last years race in the main was my downfall. Eventually the stitching on the sling gave way and sadly it was lost forever. I really missed it the second week. I’ll be keeping an eye out for a better quality one.
The initial plan was to use my Garmin 1000 for navigation. I’d use my Sony Experia Compact Z3 with the OsmAnd plus app as back up navigation. I loaded 19 x 200kms GPX tracks plus a couple of alternative tracks onto each. Route mapping on the Android was downloaded off line alongside hill shading. This gave a good picture of terrain relief. This app allows real quick scrolling through the mapping with a huge amount of detail. Unfortunately I wasn’t as familiar with its operation as I should have been. Over the next few months I hope to get a little closer with it as its a fantastic navigation tool. After day two my Garmin started playing up, funny that as for the last few months I’ve had no problems with it. Maybe it wasn’t happy with the number of tracks, which I’d find surprising. Again that’s another thing I’ll look into over the coming weeks. So in the end navigation was by android and the app. I got through it after some faffing and in the future I’m sure you’ll be seeing me using it more and more.
In summary, built around the Bowman frameset this is one fine bike more than suited to this type of racing. Set up right it really does take on anything that’s thrown at it and clearly demonstrates its versatility for taking on adventurous riding. Fully loaded weight was around 13kgs.
That’s it, my setup. Any questions…fire away!
All the best