In just a few days time I will be on my way out to Belgium to start this years Transcontinental Race, #TCRNo5 and my second attempt at the race (see how I got on last time here).
The race starts in Geraardsbergen, Belgium and finishes this year in Meteora, Greece. There are no stages, there are no rest days, the first rider to Meteora ‘wins’. My 3,916km route to the four checkpoints is taking me through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy, back into Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria Serbia, Macedonia and finally Greece. I’ve no intentions of winning it, I know fine well what the winners of this race put themselves through to get to the finish in around 8-9 days, I’m in it for the adventure, the challenge, to redeem my previous failed attempt of #TCRNo3 and to just simply reach the finishers party in time, almost 15 days later. This will involve me riding at least 279km per day on average, I’m aiming for 300km days. I like to think that I can break my days up into 100km blocks; 4 hour 100km blocks with an hours rest in between for food and recovery. Three of those blocks per day then allows for a 9 hour recovery in-between days. I know this is a little too theoretical and doesn’t take into account terrain, weather conditions but this is about as organised a schedule as I’m going to manage.
As this is an un-supported, un-routed race, where I will need to carry all of my clothing and equipment, while aiming to ride 300km per day, I’ve tried to really cut down to the bare essentials. Even now I still feel like I’m taking too much but I’m pretty stoked on this year’s #customeverything setup. I’ll be taking the new TORRAGAR out with me designed specifically with this kind of monster randonnée riding in mind so I thought before I depart for the continent I’d put together a wee post about my randonnée-race setup.
Aside from the TORRAGAR itself, my luggage setup, designed and made with my pal Graham (@couby_wan) is probably my proudest achievement. I really needed to get away from the large saddle bag setup that I had the last time around. It could take plenty but the bag swings around with every pedal stroke and you always, always need something at the absolute bottom of the bag. This time around I’ve opted for a few more, smaller bags spread about the TORRAGAR. All bags are black, ‘waterproof’ and reflective.
The #coubyxalba footlong is a development of our #coubyxalba roll n’ black saddle rolls, big enough to fit in all the tools and spares I think I will need for the trip. It also comes with a wee daisy chain on top, just beyond the saddle for attaching the SPOT tracker.
Under the top tube is a perfectly sized, custom built frame bag that will carry my spare on-the-bike clothing; spare bibs, socks, rain jacket, gilet, arm warmers and glove system. Leg warmers will go in with the rest of the sleeping gear as I don’t think these will really ever be used for riding.
The ON-BIKE CLOTHING
Up top of the top tube I have a #coubyxalba tt bag for all my electronics. The Sinewave Revolution will be attached to the stem so that devices can be easily wired up to the USB converter. I’ll have a pair of 5200mAh battery packs, Exposure Trace and TraceR lights, bluetooth earphones (all of these can be charged by the Jaybird X3 charger), iPhone 7, Garmin 810. I’ll also have USB to EURO plug for cafe stops.
Upfront hanging off the handlebars is the #coubyxalba monster sporran. This has been designed specifically to fit to a maximum width to allow full use of the drops and maximum height wise to ensure it wasn’t interfering with the front light, as much cyclindrical volume as possible, it’s perfect for the sleeping kit. Just infront of that hanging off of the tt bars i’ll have the #coubyxalba burger bag, filled to the gunnels with…cheeseburgers.
The SLEEPING GEAR
Unfortunately the Niner RDO Gravel Fork does not come with a front fork crown mounting bolt so I designed a u-shaped mount to allow my Supernova E3 to be bolted from the rear of the fork. Luckily my pal Paul (@fairbairnfabrications) has a milling machine and carved a couple of these guys from solid blocks of aluminium. Similarly there wasn’t an available solution for mounting the rear Supernova E3 Taillight to the rear of the bike. Ideally this would come off of one of the rear rack mount bolts on the frame. Step forward another pal, Ande Murdoch (@mechanical_vandal) for simple wee solution to perfectly mount the light according to the frame geometry.
And lastly and least interestingly here’s the list of potions i’ll also be taking, these will just be snuck away into all the nooks and crannies of the bags across my setup.
The PHARMACEUTICALS & NUTRITION
Well there you have it, fingers crossed this gets me to Meteora in time for my wee mini break in Greece with the lass.
If you want to ‘dot watch’ you can see how we all get on via the tracker. My number is the same as my TCRNo.3 number, 144. My pal and team mate Eachann Gillies is also racing this year, follow him too, number 190.
Also i’ll be using a few hashtags to collate my images from this race the official #TCRno5cap144 as my personal Transcontinental hashtag and one that I will reinstate from TCRNo3, #SRAxTCR.