cycling adventures and beyond

Category: Allgemein

Update: How I packed for TCR #4

Now that everyone is preparing for the 5th edition of the Transcontinental Race, interest in kit lists and packing strategies is rising again.
Against all odds, I was extremely happy with what I packed and how I packed it. There wasn’t anything I took that I didn’t need at some point – except for some of the spare parts, which wouldn’t keep me from taking them again. The setup ended up being efficient and I didn’t lose time packing and unpacking. I always found space for food and usually carried around 2000kcal, sometimes more, sometimes less.

That said, my race did only last ten days, so there’s no way of knowing whether everything would’ve held up for the whole distance.

I’ve posted a kit list before, but here’s the list of what actually ended up in my bags and what it looked like. I’ve added some annotations.


2x (bib) shorts (Gore Xenon and Assos) – LOVE the Gore, will take two of those in the future. Once I got to a hotel, I would take them off, turn them inside out, run hot water in the sink and soak them with a little bit of soap while I took a shower. Rinse, wrap in a towel, squeeze, stand on it, then hang up to dry. 

1x Jersey (Ahrberg Monkey)

1x base layer, sleeveless (Ahrberg) – amazing piece of clothing, I washed it out every night (see above) and it was dry in no time. Super comfortable. 

1x merino T-Shirt (Kaipara) – by far my favourite shirt to ride in. I washed it once in 10 days and it did not stink! I was most comfortable in this, a lot more comfy than in a jersey. Didn’t get too hot in it in the sun and it kept me warm in the Alps. 

1x socks (Falke) – to be honest I simply forgot to pack my second pair. I’d take a second pair next time. My socks were NASTY no matter if I washed them or not. 

1x board shorts (cheap Decathlon) – saved the day when I ate at hotel restaurants. Very small and light, and so cheap that I could’ve thrown them away if I ended up not using them. 

Down vest (RAB) – some form of insulation is a no-brainer and I’ve used this one for years. Love it. 

Rain jacket (Auguste 86) – custom-tailored rain jacket, it didn’t give up in the Alps! 

Clothing Accessories

Knee warmers (Gore) – loved those, essential on cold mornings to protect the knees 

Sun sleeves (double as arm warmers) – never again will I ride without sun sleeves after the sunburn I got on the Tuscany Trail! 

Headband – excellent, cheap Decathlon one, I prefer this over a full hat 

Short-finger gloves (Specialized BG Gel) – happy with these as always

Overgloves (Roeckl Malvas) – those actually didn’t last too long when I rode in the rain all day

Shoe covers (Gore) – …but these did! Plus they are high-vis yellow with reflective decals

High-Vis vest (Endura Lumigilet) – this was great, unfortunately I lost it in Switzerland along with the knee warmers 🙁 Will probably re-buy.


1x spare tube (Schwalbe)
Patch kit with tire boot (Lezyne)
Tire lever (crankbrothers)
Pump (Lezyne)
1x brake cable
1x gear cable
1x SRAM PowerLock 11sp
1x Shimano 11sp pin
4x spare spokes (2 of each length)
derailleur hanger
Multitool (crankbrothers), includes chain tool and spoke key
Single allen key no. 5
Chain oil
Zip ties
Nail scissors
Bike lock (BBB MicroLoop) – have used this one for years, simple and quick 
Spare lights, battery powered, with helmet mount


SPOT tracker Gen3
Garmin eTrex 30x
Garmin EDGE 800 (as backup)
two Micro SD-Cards with my route
spare batteries for the eTrex, spare batteries for the SPOT (4 each)
iPhone 5
5000mAh PowerBank
2600mAh PowerBank for pass-through charging from the dynamo to the Garmin
Headphones (Bose)
Wall plug with two USB outlets
Cables (Lightning, Micro USB, Mini USB)

Hygiene and meds

Small bottle of Bronner’s Soap – used for everything except my hair. Whenever the hotel had shampoo and soap, I used that for showering. I used the Bronner’s for washing my clothes, face and nether regions. I use this at home too. 

Toothbrush & paste
Small amount of moisturiser (Eucerin, SPF20)
Sunscreen (Neutrogena)

Buscopan Plus
Aspirin Effect
Neosporin cream
Iruxol N cream
a couple of small and large band-aids
Pristine water purification tablets


Wallet (Lezyne CaddySack provided at race registration)
SaltSticks with caffeine (see text below)
BCAA capsules (see text below) 
Bivy bag (TiGoat Ptarmigan, 200g) – only really used it once, but I was happy I had it. It’s so small and light that I don’t mind carrying it. 


Revelate Designs Terrapin & dry bag
SpoK Werks top tube bag
SpoK Werks handlebar bag “Quickie”
2x Revelate Designs Feedbags



This is everything laid out on the table. The caddy sack is not the one I took. We got a new one at race registration and that’s the one I used – bigger and black.


All my electronics. I would probably not carry the second Garmin next time. As I am from Germany and have data for all of Europe included, I was able to use Google Maps or RideWithGPS whenever I felt like my planned route was sub-par. I had quadruple backups of my route – they were installed on both Garmins, on RideWithGPS on the iPhone, and I carried two additional SD cards (as the Garmins needed different formatting).
I think the batteries were a bit too many as well, though I bet I would have appreciated them if I had been able to keep going!


I used: chain oil, lock, multitool, latex gloves, zip ties (not pictured), single allen key, torx key. Everything else remained unused, including all the tube repair stuff. However, I would take exactly the same setup next time.


I didn’t use all of my medication (luckily), but it’s a tiny package with everything I needed. I did use strong pain killers one night. The creams I used religiously: Neosporin after showering for the entire seat area and Iruxol N for single spots that I always develop. I still have scars down there from the Trans Am Bike Race and a few pimple-like sores always develop, no matter what I do. This keeps them at bay.
I also really liked both the SaltSticks (which I had used before and tested the amount I need during training) and the BCAA capsules. The latter gave me energy even when I hadn’t eaten properly. I took 4 per day (and carried that exact amount calculated to my estimated time). I took around 6 SaltStick capsules per day. Thus the packages got smaller fairly quickly.


I had 1,7l of water between those two water bottles. Rarely did I feel the need for more. Sometimes I’d stick a can of coke or another soft drink in one of my Feedbags for a while.


I love my cockpit! I admit that I do tinker around with my iPhone while riding if I’m going up a long climb. It was also a great spot for the phone to listen to Audiobooks while in France. This was especially helpful during the night when I felt a little lonely on country roads. I ended up not using my headphones much at all, even when I was allowed to. The audio was usually loud enough.
I use a QuadLock mount for the phone, to make it fit ever so slightly above my aerobars I put one of these stickers that you use underneath chairs and other furniture to not scratch the floors on the stem before securing the mount. There’s a cover for the phone that I carried as well, when it was raining really hard I stuck it into one of the feedbags, inside a Zip-Loc bag.
The cockpit was also a good place to temporarily store food like a banana or a sandwich.


Three lights in the rear seemed enough. Two mounted on the seat stays, one on the bag. I was able to turn on the seat stay lights while riding.

If you have any questions, let me know!

Now, for the bike, because I know some people want to know…
Well, the bike itself is the same BMC GranFondo GF02 since 2013 and I don’t intend on changing that (once this one’s retired, I’m buying it again), but I stripped it a few months before the race and re-built it with slightly altered and updated parts.


(still in the process of getting ripped apart, old handlebars are still on)

11sp drivetrain – Ultegra except for the crank, Ultegra brifters

Salsa Woodchipper bars – I love these on my Fargo and they give you a ton of hand positions AND a lot of space to mount stuff, so I decided to give them a try on the BMC. I am VERY happy with the change!

Syntace C3 Aerobars – decided to finally spend a chunk of money on decent aerobars. These are great and they come in different sizes/lengths. They don’t take up a lot of space on the bars either.

Ergon SR3, size L – I’ve ridden this saddle since 2013 and I absolutely love it. I’ve tried a few others and always come back to this one. This is not an update, just sharing my love for Ergon.

I also hand-built my own wheels.


Front Wheel – SP PV-8 dynamo hub, Mavic CXP 33 rim, DT Swiss Competition spokes (32)
Back Wheel – Ultegra hub, Mavic CXP 33 rim, DT Swiss Competition spokes (32)

I rode Continental Grand Prix 4-Season tires in 28mm on both wheels.

I consider it vital to really know your bike and know how to fix your bike. I gives you a lot of confidence. When you know that there isn’t much that can happen that you can’t fix, you stop worrying about it so much. It also means you know what to carry to fix it, so you end up actually taking less stuff. Plus you won’t need to spend much time at bike shops when something happens – and you’ll know when to head to a shop and when to do it yourself.

I’m sure the wheels I built aren’t the best wheels ever, but so far they have run true and nice and I now know how to change a spoke if the need ever arises during a race. I tape a few spare spokes to the frame.
I chose these rims for two reasons: I used them during the Trans Am and have ridden them ever since, they have never given me trouble. I trust them. And secondly, the tires I use are very easy to get on and off on these rims. That’s a huge plus when you’re tired and your hands don’t work well anymore.
I have a pair of awesome road wheels for my Fargo where I shiver with fear just thinking about changing the tire. They ride great and are light and everything, but they are a pain in the ass! I don’t want to worry about something like that during a race. That said I have had one puncture on this bike since 2014. There, I jinxed it!

When you strip your bike to the bare frame, you have the chance to grease important parts (i.e. everything that’s supposed to move or that’s supposed to be able to move, like most screws), you learn how your shifting and brakes really work and how the cables run (plus you can choose higher quality cables than the bike came with), you learn how to put on a chain, adjust your gears, adjust the brakes.
Really, I find this fascinating. I don’t always get it on the first try. I’ve had to throw away brake cables that I cut too short, I watched YouTube videos to figure out how to insert the gear cables into my Ultegra shifters (and how to get them out when you did it wrong and they are stuck), and I sometimes need to undo what I did.
I’ve built a bike from scratch and that helped a lot, but re-building a bike can be even easier: just take good pictures of every detail that you are not sure you’ll be able to remember (like how your cables were organised on the bars etc.) and if you’re lost, look at them.
Have someone help you if you’re too nervous, but don’t just watch, do it yourself. 🙂




I’m doing something right this time

I never thought that I would feel the need to write a blog post about my weight. Well here it goes.

I have always had a complicated relationship with my weight, and while I was always thin and athletic as a child, I was quite chubby in High School (a direct result from two things: emotional overeating after my mother’s death and a year abroad in the USA), until Senior Year when I was actually pretty slim. Of course back then I thought I was still chubby. I always think I’m chubby, no, fat. Why? Because my body image is fucked up. Years of comparing myself to other, slimmer women and images of what I should look like have led me to believe that I can never look that like, but worse, never feel like that – and that I’ll never be adequately thin anyway.

Over the past 10 years, I have tried pretty much every diet and lifestyle change you can imagine. I’ve done Atkins, the 5-Factor diet, low-carb, low-fat, low-everything, vegan, juicing,… A few years ago I decided that I was done with eating so many animal products, and that’s the one thing that really stuck. I went mostly vegan for a while, then vegetarian, and gradually introduced organic meat and fish back into my diet – in much smaller quantities.

My weight goes up and down within a 10kg-range, but it hasn’t been at the lower end of that range since 2009 (I’ve also never been very overweight). Back then, I lived in Southern France for the summer, it was ridiculously hot, I had a boyfriend who was into a slim figure and I had it. I also had weird eating habits and still ate a lot of sugar.
I have been continually at the high end of a healthy weight for my height for the past three years and I am not happy with it.

During the Trans Am 2014, I lost a few kg and looked much trimmer. Here’s a comparison:

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It wasn’t much weight though. The food I ate during the race was mostly fried stuff, sugar, sugar, and some more sugar. Disgusting really. To think that I ate a Clif Bar for breakfast on more than one occasion.. washed down with OJ or chocolate milk and usually followed by a bag of Sour Patch Kids. A few weeks after the race I started working as a bike messenger which helped with the weight but I was still munching on candy and cookies to survive the day.

Then came Maggie. Our first dog. I’ve wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, and here I sit with two on my couch.
When Maggie came along, I stopped cycling for a long time. You can’t leave a dog at home alone right away, and once she was ready to be home alone, a proper Bavarian winter rolled in and we spent our days walking in the snow for hours or horseback riding.
Once the snow had cleared and it was time to get back on the road bike, Moritz entered our life. He wasn’t planned for and I definitely never wanted a dog like him (a “challenge”), and he didn’t stay alone for 5 minutes. No chance to go for a bike ride.

So for all intents and purposes I stopped exercising (except for the daily long walks). But I didn’t stop eating like I was still riding my bike all day.

Fast-forward to a few months ago. I pick up a book about tidying. My husband likes to make fun of the fact that I can become completely fascinated with something I’ve read. I’ll talk about nothing else for a good while. If it’s about something I want to do it usually doesn’t stick for very long. Well, this one struck a chord. It’s called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and it’s not exactly new, so I’m sure you’ve already heard about it.
After reading it once, I started tidying our house methodically. I must have thrown about about 40% of our possession – at least. I radically reduced the books and clothes I own, put the workshop in order, even threw a lot of memorabilia away.
It took weeks of running around the house for 8 hours a day. I drove to the recycling place eight times with a full car.

It was a revelation. I always knew we had too much stuff, but I never really knew what to do about it and how to change that permanently and methodically.
Now I actually cringe when I think about acquiring new stuff. I can go without cleaning up for a week and the house still doesn’t look bad, simply because there isn’t too much left to create a proper mess.

What does this have to do with weight loss? 

Somewhere along the way I picked up two other books, about weight loss (again.. I’ve read my fair share of those). One of them talked about the mental aspect of weight loss. Picturing yourself with the figure you want to have. Acting like you’re already at your target weight. Speaking about your journey as something you’re going to do, not something you’re trying to do. Losing weight methodically and with a plan. It was quite similar to the mental aspects of the tidying approach.
That, too, really spoke to me, and I went on to implement some of the “habits” the book talks about.
Between Christmas and today I’ve lost 4,5kg. I don’t exercise that much right now and I eat great meals. I also don’t count calories.
It has never worked this well for me, so effortlessly, and with such a positive outlook – so why not share my journey with you? !
But what am I doing different this time? I have always cooked fresh food, I very rarely eat processed foods and don’t have a “chocolate problem”. Something must have changed.

Changing habits

In the end, any lifestyle change is about changing habits. In the case of weight loss, most of those habits relate to food and exercise.

I started planning my meals. I’m in the privileged position of eating all my meals at home and having time and money to cook all of them if I want to. I make a spreadsheet and plan my meals for a few days in advance.
You could start with just planning dinners (or lunches, or breakfasts), but I decided to go all the way.

This enabled me to go shopping for food less often. I now go to the supermarkets two, maybe three times a week (fresh produce and meat wants to be purchased fresh).
When I have a plan, I have all the ingredients at home that I need for a healthy meal.
Why is that important? Because once I have a half-empty fridge, I make bad decisions. If I’m hungry and trying to come up with something to eat I don’t choose right. So I make sure I don’t have to choose.

Of course this doesn’t always work out – I don’t follow the plan to a T. Yet I usually only change three of four meals per week which is pretty good.

When I plan my meals, I strive for a balance of sorts. At least one meal a day is veggie-heavy, sometimes two.

Then, I changed two more habits.
I started drinking my coffee black. Now, this doesn’t seem important – but it is. I went from drinking 2 to 4 Latte Macchiato a day to drinking drip coffee with milk to drip coffee, black. Speaking about weekly calories, that’s a change from 1512kcal to 672kcal to 0kcal.

So, compared to using my Nespresso machine every day, I’m saving 1512kcal every week – that’s 7000kcal (~1kg of fat) every 4.5 weeks. It also means that just with this change, I’ve already got a huge chunk of my caloric deficit in the bag.

The second habit is alcohol. I like alcohol! I love beer and wine and we have (had?) a habit of drinking a beer almost every night. It goes great with dinner and hey, we’re in Germany!
Well, an average 330ml-beer has about 140kcal, so two beers every night (which is realistic) comes to almost 2000kcal extra per week.
I’d say I usually had on average only one beer per night (maybe more on the weekend), and realistically save 1000kcal by NOT having alcohol during the week.
I still drink alcohol on the weekend, but usually much less. Yes, occasionally we still share a bottle of wine (and empty it). I won’t stop having a few cold ones with friends, but the rest of the week.. nope. If I do have a hankering for a cold one, I drink alcohol-free beer (which, once you find a brand you like, tastes quite good really).

In the end, my days may look like this…

Breakfast: Coffee, a slice of Banana Bread [no added sugar, coconut flour, almond butter]
Lunch: Broccoli-Tofu-Stir fry [500g broccoli, 100g smoked tofu, onion, herbs, a sprinkle of cheese]
Snack: Coffee
Dinner: Chicken pad thai [rice noodles, chicken breast, sprouts, spring onions, dressing, cilantro]

Or like this…

Breakfast: Coffee, baked sweet potato with black beans and an egg [baked in the oven]
Lunch: Beets with feta cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Snack: two clementines
Dinner: Chana Masala [chickpea curry] with coconut yoghurt and a fried egg

I have a few staples that I like to come back to (like the broccoli scramble, cooked beets, dishes with beans and chickpeas, tuna, organic chicken), but I always plan something “special”, too. This week, it’s Chicken Wings (surprisingly diet-friendly if you leave all the other stuff out and bake them in the oven) and a Grilled Cheese with avocado and sun-dried tomatoes.

During the same period that I lost the weight, I’ve gone to McDonald’s twice (not proud of it, just stating facts). I had a couple of dinners out, including pizza and three-course meals. My weight doesn’t go back up, it goes steadily down.
Not just my weight – measurements, too. Pants fit me better. I’m actually able to wear pants that were too tight before.

I’m not trying to lose 10kgs. I’m doing it.

Why all this?

Not just because I look better with less weight, but because I really don’t have the ideal figure for climbing mountain passes on a bike, and I want to perform well at this year’s events. I don’t want to be hindered by my weight anymore, even though it is a healthy weight for my height and body shape. Instead of shaving off gram by gram trying to optimise my gear, it makes sense to take 10-15kgs off me.
I fully believe that I’ll have 8kgs done by the time I fly to the US for my cycling trip there. This time, I’ll have time to eat well and won’t have to shove every piece of candy in my mouth.

What’s your journey? Did you try out a lot of diets? Have you found your way yet?



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