Just 4 weeks before the start of the 4000km Transcontinental race from Geraardsbergen (BE) to Canakkle (TR). During preparations and training rides, people often asked what I have in my bags or what I will take with me during my journey to Turkey. For me this list will be my packing checklist, so let me know in the comments if I’m missing something 🙂
To start with, I needed a bike: I’ll be riding my Mason Resolution (read my blog about getting the bike from the makers in Brighton UK). A truly brilliant bike built for trips like the TCR. Some upgrades I did:
The Hunt wheels are great but I needed a dynamo hub based front wheel so I ordered a complete new wheel set. lifetime guarantee policy so I’m not bringing any spare parts. The handmade wheels are built with: Pacenti SL25 rims, a mix of 32 Sapim Race & D-light spokes with a DT Swiss 240S back hub. The front hub: a SON28 CL Disc dynamo hub. This generates enough power to charge my Garmin GPS unit and phones via the USB outlet of my front light as long as I ride faster than 15 km/h. That does mean no charging during the big climbs since I’ll be climbing at speeds between 6-12 km /h looking to the height profiles.
Tyres: I tried tubeless tyres but they’re just to tight causing nervous break downs during mounting and I don’t want to risk getting a serious issue with one of the tyres and not be able to get it back on the rim while being exhausted and having no power in my arms and hands. Fast and proven quality for my tyre choice: 28mm Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II Race tyres will get me across Europe as they have brought millions of others to their destination too. Probably the most sold tyre in the past three years. I used to ride 23mm width tyres, but 28mm gives me much more control and comfort with a loaded bike as I experienced after buying the Mason Resolution. I’ll use a 950, 750 and 550 milliliter Elite bidon and Paron Carbon bottle cages.
I changed the saddle to my old Specialized Toupe. Due to my saddle position (extra setback), I needed a different seatpost too: 3T Ionic 25 Team Setback Carbon. I’m still testing a bit with the most comfortable position to avoid recurring knee problems but I’ll have plenty of time during the race for it 🙂
Syntace C3 Aerobars: first of all I bought them to create a riding position without any pressure on my hands. Secondary improvement is the fact it makes me riding 3-4km / hour faster with the same effort. I’ve tried Shimano MTB pedals but they performed bad, so bought a new pair of Look Keo pedals as I’ve been using on my other bikes. For gearing I’ll change my casette to a 11-32 so I have 32-34 available for all the >12% climbs. Since I’m not a talented climber at all I was struggling getting to the top on a 28 during my last week in the mountains. And last but not least the most unuseful upgrade (but good for the moral): a Black / Red KMC X11SL chain. It works great but it is mainly because of the looks!
For lighting and USB power outlet I use the Busch & Müller’s Lumotect IQ2 USB. It has a great reputation besides some issues with USB connector defects due to water corrosion but I’ll make sure I don’t get any water near the connectors. As you can see in the below image, the light is performing really well. During test rides last weekend I had numerous cars signing to me to turn of my main light and I wasn’t even in the 100% mode.
Since I have a dynamo powered USB outlet I can charge my powerbanks or directly to my Garmin unit. Complete list of electronics:
- GPS unit: Garmin Edge 810 – Had no problems with it until last week but I’ll just deal with it and if it crashes, I’ll have a backup.
- Garmin heart rate strap: I love data and I need to know how hard I can push at every stage in the race
- Garmin speed and cadence sensors: just for data collection
- Phone: Oneplus Two & a set of in-ear headphones
- Backup phone: Sony Experia Z5 which also has offline maps via GPSies as a backup for the Garmin or in case my primary phone breaks or has no reception
- Powerbanks: two 10400mAh powerbanks which is enough for 2/3 days without any electricity in case my dynamo breaks down.
- Cables: one Garmin cable, Two USB to mini USB cables and two USB wall chargers in case I sleep in a hotel
- To attach the headlight to my aerobars, I’ve combined a Profile Design UCM Universal Computer Mount with a Minoura SGS-400 Light Holder on which the Busch + Müller Handlebar Mounting Bracket is attached. During the race itself, the front Apidura handlebar bag will support this construction but this should be enough for riding without the front bag.
I’ll already broke the series of mounts connected to hold my headlight but there is not much tie wraps can’t fix, which I tested across rough roads last Sunday. Also note the water proofing of my Luxos, pure quality duct tape solution. This all results in the following cockpit layout which will be my “home” for at least two weeks:
Clothing & Accessoires
- Morvelo base layer shirts: just does the job. Dries quick once wet.
- Pearl Izumi cycling shorts, 3D chamois has never caused any issues and has been my all time favorite. To bad I crashed with it two weeks ago, hopefully I get enough hours to make the new one as comfortable as the old one.
- Custom made Castelli shirt (check Fourteenzeronine)
- 2 Pairs of Pearl Izumi black socks
- Castelli Nanoflex Water Resistant Leg Warmers
- Morvelo Sun arm sleeves for the long days in the sun to prevent sunburns
- Castelli Unavolta wool as third layer when cold. Still not sure about taking an additional jacket for extra warmth. I’ve been riding in 6 degrees celsius with short sleeves and normal shorts, in the rain and still not getting anywhere cold. Maybe do some +24 hour ride testing during some cold nights.
- Montane Minimus ultra lightweight rain jacket, basically weighs nothing (230g) and can be packed really small. First rain jacket that I find breathable. Still getting wet from the sweat but it kept me dry enough during a couple days of rain in the Alps
- Sportful Reflex wind vest
- A simple, France legal, fluorescent hi viz vest for night riding
- PEARL iZUMi Thermal Lite gloves – I’ve done a couple descents in cold weather a few weeks ago and could keep my self warm enough without any gloves so this will do in the situations where I have low energy levels.
- Grib Grab Aero Waterproof shoe covers: extra speed and dry feet!
- Prescription Oakley Flak glasses
- Giro Atmos helmet
- Shoes: my three year old Sidi Genuis shoes. Tried new shoes, tried MTB version because those shoes are more easy to walk on but all perform worse than my good old road Sidi’s so going for the save option.
The most asked question during my chats about the journey: how and where are you going to sleep. Let’s call it camping, which is closest to what I’ll be doing. For me the key characteristic was packaging volume. I have a small bike and ride with my knees pointing to the inside so I can’t put anything in my frame. So space is spare but I found some great products that fit into the available space:
- Sleeping bag: Sea to Summit Spark I – it is incredibly light, compressible and warm. I’ve tested it in some cold Alp and Dolomites nights and it keeps me warm enough. I never knew sleeping bags could be so small:
- Sleeping mat: Thermarest Neoair XLite – weighing just 350 grams makes it a perfect bikepacking matress. Previous racers didn’t bother taking an air matress but it is not only for comfort reason: it is an great insulator meaning I can also sleep on a concrete floor without the floor extracting all my body heat.
- Pillow: I’m a difficult sleeper in terms of requiring enough neck support so I’ll take an Exped Air-Pillow UL. Only weighs 45 grams and packs at the size of a small wallet. My luxury item for the trip!
- Bivy bag: since I’m not going to take a complete tent with me, I’ll use a waterproof Alpkit Hunka bivy bag to ensure I keep dry at night and can basically sleep everywhere.
Technical tools and material
Just to fill my bags or save my ass when I get into (mechanical) trouble:
- A Lezyne CRV 12 multi-tool, only weighing 115 grams and has all the needed tools I can imagine I’ll need
- Park Tool Emergency Tire Boot in case I rip my tyres seriously
- A lightweight Lezyne pump a few tyre patches and tyre levers
- Two spare inner tubes from Continental, nothing special but have used them since I started cycling so why change a winning team.
- Two KMC chain links to fix my chain when it brakes
- Presta Valve adapter
- Spare derailleur hanger: they are frame specific so not possible to buy them in a random shop
- 4 Disposable Plastic Gloves – when I get mechanical issues, my hands will not be covered in oil and dirt
- Ductape: no explanation needed. Tie wraps: same story
- Chain lube. A good performing drivetrain is crucial for fast riding. I’ll lube my chain every day, possibly saving me a few hours.
- Bungees and velco straps: I need to be able to strap and attach as many bottles and food to my bike and bags as possible for the epic mountain stages
Random useful stuff
Taking all these items make sense, right?
- Sun protection factor 50 and some lip balm
- Assos Skin Repair Gel
- Multivitamines, living on McDonalds and KFC can probably be complemented with some vitamines
- Anti-histamine for my hay-fever or other allergies
- An Heat Reflective Emergency Blanket in case I get cold (would be the first time in 28 years). It’s small, weighs 32 grams and gives me the feeling I’m well prepared for a race that is probably the craziest thing I’ll ever do in life.
- Science in Sports Go Hydro tablets to get enough salts & electrolytes. Sweating is my biggest enemy: during sunny hours it get’s me dehydrated, during night hours and mountain descents it gets me cold so it is crucial to have a regulated fluid balance.
- Passport, Insurance card & papers, Visa debitcard, AMEX & Visa creditcard, Euro’s, Franc’s, Kuna’s, Donar’s, Lev’s, Lira’s & my Turkish Visa. I’ve collected quite some foreign currencies during the past years so I’ll probably have some notes of each currency available.
- Toothbrush & paste, toilet paper
- Sea to Summit pocket hand / cloth washing soap so I can clean my clothes every stop I have water available. I sweat a lot so need to make sure I get rid of all the salts building up in my shorts at least every day before it rubs my skins off. It contain 50 leaves of pure, dry soap so there’s no risk of leakage while compressing it in my bags.
- ABUS Special Lock Combiloop 205 – There will be a few moments I’ll have to leave my bike to do some quick shopping, so a small lightweight lock should prevent someone running away with a wheel or two. If you track down my position via GPS tracker while I’m sleeping to steal my beautiful Mason, I’ll hunt you down!
Packaging & Bike packing bags
This all will be packed into three Apidura bags. Apidura has been the preferred brand for many ultra cyclists since a couple of years and they have proven to perform well over longer periods of time. A regular saddle bag (17 liter capacity) which will be filled for 70%, one front hanging compact handlebar bag of 9 liter and a extended top tube pack for my electronics and some food storage. Not sure yet, but I’ll probably add two food pouches too, so I have plenty of room to store extra food and water. To be sure everything stays dry I have a set of 4 to 13 liter Alpkit Drybags to put all my gear in.
In the beginning of getting all the stuff together I was worried I had not enough space but now everything has been tested in the real world and has been packed multiples times I’m quite happy with the balance between leaving stuff at home and going on a 4000km adventure. Not sure if it was worth all the money but I’m feeling comfortable about my preparations. Once everything is packed, you’ll end up with:
Am I missing something or do you wonder why I am not taking certain objects? Let me know in the comments!