cycling adventures and beyond

Category: Gear

Packing for the Silk Road Mountain Race No. 1

It’s that time again, time to put everything on the bike, lay it all out on the floor, put everything on the scale, do spreadsheets and fret about grams here and there.

Without much further ado I present to you my packing list for this year’s grand adventure: the Silk Road Mountain Race.
It reads a little longer than the one I posted for the Transcontinental…


TarpTent Double Rainbow
Exped SynMat UL S
Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt
Exped air pillow


MSR PocketRocket 2 gas stove
Alpkit 650ml Titanium pot
MSR Insulated Cup
Snow Peak Titanium Spork
Small piece of washcloth
Matches and Piezo lighter


2x bib shorts (Gore Bike Wear, with zippers for peeing)
1x sleeveless base layer (Ahrberg)
1x Merino T-Shirt (Kaipara)
1x long sleeved base layer (Ahrberg)
2x socks (Falke)
1x Merino leggings
Puffy jacket (Patagonia NanoAir Hoodie)
Rain jacket (Gore C5 Active Trail)
Rain pants, 3/4 length (Montura, untested)

Clothing Accessories 

Gloves (Specialized BG Gel; Dissent 133 waterproof over gloves)
Knee warmers (Gore Bike Wear)
Buff/Scarf/Headband thing (Ahrberg)

Hygiene and Medical Care

Small bottle of Bronner’s Soap
Toothbrush and -paste
Tampons (lucky me!)
small pack of wet wipes
Toilet paper
Extra hair ties

Sawyer Mini water filter
Care Plus water purification drops

Chamois Cream (Assos)
After-ride cream (Assos Skin Repair)
Neosporin cream
Iruxol N (for saddle sores/pimples that are getting bad)

Band-Aids in different sizes
a course of Antibiotics
Buscopan Plus
a couple strips of KT Tape
Alcohol wipes
LeukoStrips (wound closure)

Tools and Spares 

2x spare tube (Schwalbe, Maxxis)
Patch kit (Park Tool) with glue
Wolf Tooth Master Link Combo Pliers
Leatherman Sidekick (with pliers, knife etc.)
Topeak Super Chain Tool
single allen keys (4 and 5)
Torx key
1x brake cable
1x gear cable
4x brake pads
Derailleur hanger (in my case, a rear dropout with an integrated hanger)
2x KMC chain locks
Tire levers
Chain oil
Zip ties
Pump (cheap but excellent one I bought in Korea)
Small cable and padlock


SPOT Generation 3 tracker
Garmin eTrex 30x
iPhone SE
Zendure Powerbank 26.800mAh
Charging cables
Wall plug
Headphones (Bose)
Batteries (AA for Garmin, AAA for tracker, both Li-Ion)
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II with extra battery
Headlamp (Black Diamond Ion)


90 SaltStick capsules (6 per day), half of them with caffeine
60 BCAA capsules (4 per day)


6x freeze-dried dinners (Expedition Foods, Travellunch, Real Turmat)
1kg Peanut Butter M&Ms (really!)
8x Clif Bar
2x 400g Milupa baby porridge
6x beef broth cubes
16x coffee sticks (Starbucks VIA)
15x small packet of Haribo as gifts for kids

Let me explain the baby food. The stuff I’m taking is calorie-dense (420kcal/100g), it is best with hot water (so, warms you up on a cold morning), easy to digest, contains a ton of vitamins and – hello! – it’s delicious. Ellie wasn’t the biggest fan of anything porridge-y so I usually ended up eating most of what I’d make for her and I didn’t mind too much.

The Peanut Butter M&Ms are easily explained: that 1kg bag has over 5000kcal. And they go down easy.






Packing for the TCR No 4

In a month, I will set off to Belgium for the start of the Transcontinental Race. It will be my biggest race to date, and I won’t stand a chance against my female competitors, but since I don’t have any explicit time restrictions this time the goal is just to finish and have a grand adventure.

However, I’m still packing as light as I can to get as many kilometres in per day as possible. The last few trips have helped me determine what I really need and what’s nice to have.
I am planning to almost exclusively sleep in hotels during the TCR. Even though it takes up a little more time than crashing behind a hedge, it’s been great for my motivation, and frequent showers help keep saddle sores at bay, too. Saves a lot of weight and space in my bags.
In any case I plan on enjoying the heck out of this!


2x (bib) shorts (Gore Xenon and Assos)
1x Jersey (Ahrberg Monkey)
1x base layer (Ahrberg)
1x merino T-Shirt (Kaipara)
2x socks (Falke)
1x running shorts (Brooks)
Down vest (RAB)
Rain jacket (Auguste 86)

Clothing Accessories

Knee warmers
Sun sleeves (double as arm warmers)
Loop (Ahrberg, like a Buff but better)
Short-finger gloves (Specialized)
Overgloves (Roeckl Malvas)
Shoe covers (Gore)


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)
Spare lights, battery powered


SPOT tracker Gen3
Garmin 800
iPhone 5
5000mAh PowerBank
Headphones (Bose)
Wall plug
Cables (Lightning, Micro USB, Mini USB)

Hygiene and meds

Small bottle of Bronner’s Soap
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


SaltSticks with caffeine
Bivy bag (TiGoat Ptarmigan)


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


So, what’s to know about my list? Right, everyone wants to know the weight. Well, everything with the bike including my two Specialized Purist water bottles, filled (700ml each), weighs 15kg. That’s good enough in my books.

Clothes that are not worn and the bivy bag (for emergencies and very warm nights where I find a great spot, you never know!) go in the saddle bag along with the small bag with cosmetics and meds. It’s a waterproof drybag, so there is no risk of getting my warm layers and waterproofs wet.

Clothing accessories go into the handlebar bag for easy access, along with the wallet, pump, chain oil (these two items are too big for the tool bag) and snacks/food. It’s actually mostly empty so there will be a lot of space for storing food (important!!!).

Tools go in the top tube bag, except for the spokes which go inside the seat post.

The bottles are in normal bottle cages. Alas, the Feedbags are open for electronics (in Ziploc bags, iPhone will mostly be mounted on the stem, Garmin between the aerobars), sunscreen and more snacks or drinks. Could stash a can of coke in one of them or use it to hold a coffee cup in the morning!

The SPOT tracker is mounted on top of the saddle bag as I’ve always done it. That way it’s far away from the other items using GPS and has a clear view of the sky.

In terms of lights, I’m running a B&M Luxos IQ2 off an SP dyno hub. Rear lights are two B&M IXXI on the seat stays (USB rechargeable, they last around 15 hours) and one Supernova LED light (sold by Road ID) on the seat bag. I’m carrying a second Supernova LED light as a back-up, it is very light (20g) and small but powerful. Also it’s powered by standard CR2032 batteries which last about 250 hours in flashing mode.







How to: Gear List


Now that people have paid their entry fee for the Transcontinental Race, the forums are abuzz with gear lists, questions about bike choices etc. again. Everyone is preparing for “the season” (though cycling season is clearly all year round).
I, too, re-read my own posts on packing lists and gear choices, and realised that I’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking about what to take. It feels like I spent more time thinking about what to take than actually using it.

Instead of providing you with yet another gear list right away, I’d like to talk about how to come up with your own list in a structured way without spending ages thinking about it and fine-tuning it.

1) Think about what makes you miserable.

Do your spirits wane when you’re cold and wet? Are you the type of person who loses confidence when they’re hungry? Are you not good at coping with heat and sunshine?
Think about those situations that make you miserable.

You want to chose gear that keeps you from getting too miserable. You want to know where you can make compromises that don’t hurt you.

2) Think about what you need, not what you want. 

In a multi-day race or tour you need to eat, sleep and cycle (and then repeat). You need to not freeze to death, not overheat, not starve and not suffer any debilitating disease.

You want to chose gear that is essential over gear that is a nice-to-have.
What is essential is defined by what makes you miserable.

These are, in my opinion, the two most important steps to making smart choices. After that, you need to go and find out whether you chose right. The right time to find that out is NOT the event itself, it’s several months prior to the race or tour.
One might argue that you could simply try every which way possible and narrow things down to where they work well for you, and I agree, if you have infinite time and money (to keep buying different things) then that’s probably the nicest approach. However, most people have to carefully think about which sleeping bag to buy (holy moly these things are expensive!) and can’t buy new aerobars three times in a row.

I get a lot of inspiration and advice from ultra runners and “ultra-hikers” like Andrew Skurka, who wrote “The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide” – a lot of these things are very applicable to bike packing, as are his gear choices.

Okay, so here’s what I’m planning for the Transcontinental Race right now, based on my experiences in the Trans Am Bike Race (x2) and the Tuscany Trail (and hiking adventures, travelling around the world, shorter bike trips etc.)


  • TiGoat Ptarmigan Bivy Bag – 200g
  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt – 600g

This is just a back-up, hence no mat – I don’t actually plan on camping much or sleeping rough. I plan on getting hotel rooms whenever feasible. I perform much better when I sleep in hotels.
The down quilt can do double-duty as a blanket to wrap myself in during breaks in the mountains in case it gets really cold.


  • Ahrberg Monkey Jersey – 155g
  • 2x cycling shorts (either Gore bib shorts or Assos shorts) – 200g each
  • Ahrberg Baselayer TE – 165g
  • Ahrberg Loop – 73g
  • 2x Smartwool socks – 40g
  • Specialized BG Gel gloves – 25g
  • Roeckl Malvas overgloves (wind- and waterproof) – 26g
  • Auguste 86 custom-tailored rain jacket – 380g
  • RAB Microlight vest – 255g
  • Brooks running shorts – 100g
  • Sports Bra – 50g
  • sun sleeves (Pearl Izumi) – 40g

In terms of extra clothes (i.e. clothes not worn all the time), that’s a spare pair of shorts, a longsleeve (for cold mornings and the mountains, fits nicely underneath the jersey), a spare pair of socks and a pair of running shorts.
I like having something other than bike shorts to wear when I wash my clothes and for sleeping. Last year on the Trans Am my bike shorts actually ripped at the seam in a VERY inconvenient place and I needed the extra shorts.
Overgloves are great for rain and cold days.
The rain jacket is heavier than the very light ones from cycling apparel companies, but it is custom tailored, keeps me dry and comfortable and serves as a warm layer on cold days, too – in combination with the long sleeve and the down vest I’m all set for mountain weather.
The Loop (like a Buff, just better) can be worn as a hat for cold descents.


  • Multitool (including chain tool) crank brothers – 170g
  • Lezyne pump – 100g
  • 2x spare tube – 200g
  • duct tape, cable ties, spare bolts, chain link – 50g
  • tire levers – 20g
  • patch kit – 20g
  • chain oil – 20g
  • small bike lock – 125g
  • spare spokes – 10g

I don’t carry a lot of tools. One set of brake pads (SwissStop) lasted me all of the Trans Am, three months of working as a bike messenger and I’m still on the same set. I still might carry a spare set since it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
The things that are most likely to happen that need immediate repair are punctures and a broken chain. I can fix both.
Anything else – i.e. a broken spoke – would take me ages to repair on the road so I’ll have to find a bike shop, but I carry three spare spokes which makes the process quicker.

Electronics & Others

  • iPhone – 130g
  • Garmin 800 or eTrex 30x – 110g
  • SPOT Gen 3 – 115g
  • headphones – 10g
  • charging cables and wall plug – 20g
  • GoPro – 136g
  • Powerbank 5000mAh – 150g
  • passport – 50g
  • wallet/money – 100g

Hygiene & Medical

  • toothbrush and paste – 40g
  • Bronner’s soap – 50g
  • small brush – 25g
  • sunscreen – 100g
  • band-aids – 6g
  • anti-cramps, anti-diarrhoea, pain meds – 30g
  • tweezers – 10g
  • bandana (“towel”) – 51g

I don’t carry deodorant anymore. Simply doesn’t make a difference and creates residue on the jersey. I do, however, carry sunscreen, I burn too easily.
A little bit of soap goes a long way, with Bronner’s I can wash my face, my clothes and anything else that needs a good rinse.

Food & Drink 

  • Water, 1,4l in two Specialized Purist bottles, 100g each – 1600g
  • Platypus 500ml soft bottle – 22g
  • SaltStick Plus capsules – 100g
  • Emergency Rehydration powder (Skratch) – 50g

There’s a lot of variability in food and drink. One day I may be packing a 400g Pizza or two large sandwiches, other times there might only be a back-up Clif bar in my pack. But the two water bottles – plus a back-up which folds up small and fits in my jersey pocket when full – and electrolytes are a given.

Now for the bags. I use mostly Revelate Designs bags which I bought in 2013 and are still great.

  • Terrapin holster & dry bag – 500g
  • two Feedbags – 200g
  • half frame bag – 255g
  • top tube bag – 200g

I’ll be adding a small bar bag for the food and electrolytes which I’ve ordered from my friend Michael at SpoK Werks. I don’t know how much it’ll weigh exactly. Let’s assume it’s about the weight of my frame bag (which is generous).

This brings my total pack weight, including two full water bottles and all the bags, to ~7000g – assuming I’m wearing one pair of shorts, the jersey, the bra, one pair of socks, the gloves and the sun sleeves.

It could be 6000g when I’ve had most of my water. It could be 8000g when I’m carrying a lot of extra food.

This is a “base line list”. Once you’ve got that dialled, it is easy to modify for different trips without starting over.
For my trip from San Francisco to Seattle in Spring I’ll be riding a different bike with panniers (two front rollers), taking more casual clothes and adding a tent and sleeping pad. If I ride the Tuscany Trail again, I’ll leave the sleeping gear at home completely, take rain pants and waterproof socks, no soap and a synthetic jacket instead of the down vest.



To pack or not to pack, that is the question

Every bikepacker with limited space encounters the same problem: what to take and what to leave at home?

I recently posted my current packing list, right before I took off for the Tuscany Trail adventure.
Most of it I packed based on my experiences in last year’s Trans Am as this is my only major bikepacking experience. As always, after a ride there comes the phase where you start to re-evaluate your list based on what worked and what didn’t. To aid others who are doing the same I’ve decided to make my re-evaluations on this blog.

After the Tuscany Trail, I categorized my gear into sub-categories: Things I use every day, Things I use – but not daily, Things I almost never use and Things I never use but have to carry anyway.

1. Things I use every day

  • cycling attire – pants, jersey, socks, bra, gloves, helmet, sun glasses
  • chamois cream
  • sunscreen
  • tooth brush & paste
  • iPhone & headphones
  • Garmin
  • SPOT tracker
  • SaltStick capsules
  • water bottles
  • small bike lock
  • wet wipes

2. Things I use, but not daily

  • bivy bag and liner & sleeping mat & inflatable pillow
  • warm hat/Buff
  • merino leggings
  • long sleeve shirt
  • sun sleeves
  • rain jacket
  • warm jacket
  • waterproof socks
  • soap
  • deodorant (doesn’t really make a difference unless you’ve had a shower, too)
  • bandana (as towel)
  • pain meds
  • chain lube

3. Things I (almost) never use

  • pedal wrench
  • chain link
  • spare bolts
  • spare spokes
  • anti-diarrhea, anti-cramps etc. meds

4. Things I never use but have to carry anyway

  • spare inner tubes
  • patches & glue
  • passport
  • pump
  • multitool
  • band-aids
  • tweezers

The question is: how often are you going to use it and is it possible to obtain it on the spot if you need it?

Some things do fall firmly in the “can’t get rid of” category, such as a spare tube or patches. It would be foolish not to pack these things as they don’t add a significant amount of weight and can save the day when you need them. I’ve seen many people tie a spare tube directly to the bike, not a bad idea if you’ve run out of space in your bags.
The same goes for the pump, mine is just 100g anyway. Tweezers are good for two things: pulling wires out of your tires and pulling crap out of your skin.
Plus a *little* maintenance on your eyebrows doesn’t hurt. 😉

In the case of the Tuscany Trail, I needn’t have carried the bivy and sleeping pad as I ended up staying in hotels all the way. For the Trans Am this isn’t an option so I can’t scratch these things based on the experience on the TT. As suggested by one person on Facebook I’ll be adding a lightweight sleeping bag liner to the setup. Not just because it adds warmth but because it’s really nice to have something to wrap around you to sleep. The liner will live permanently in the bivy bag and thus not take up too much space.

You’ll notice right away that the most weight falls into the category “don’t use it daily” – the biggest offenders (apart from the sleeping setup) are a rain jacket, a warm jacket, leggings, waterproof socks, soap and deodorant.
Unfortunately, I’m not yet willing to compromise on many of those – a rain jacket is essential and as seen last year when temperatures in the Rocky Mountains dropped to the freezing point, a warm jacket can save the day or even your life. Get caught out in the snow without something warm and something to protect you from the elements? Nope.
Past Pueblo, a warm jacket will likely not be necessary and I might mail it forward from there. Until then, I’m holding on to it.

The leggings are up for debate, I’m still unsure whether to take the leggings OR the leg warmers. The merino leggings can be worn under my cycling shorts on really cold days and keep me warm even if they get wet, plus they are good for sleeping. Leg warmers are easier to put on and take off, i.e. put them on before a long descent and take them off quickly right after. Mine have zippers at the ankles so they fit over my shoes.
However, they are less comfortable to sleep in. Hum. Well. We’ll see.
The long sleeve shirt is up for debate, too, I haven’t received it yet so I’ll have to weigh it first and see where it fits into my setup.

Waterproof socks are a luxury. I absolutely loved not having wet feet on a rainy day on the Tuscany Trail. I could even ford small streams without worrying about wet, cold feet.
Remembering a few soggy days last year where I dreamed about waterproof socks, I’m stoked to have these on board this year.

Soap and deodorant.  I’ll probably mostly shower when I’m at a hotel and all hotels provide some sort of shower gel and/or shampoo. You don’t necessarily need soap to wash you face either.
So I’m ditching the Bronner’s. I didn’t even empty my small bottle last year.
Deodorant doesn’t really change the overall fact that one stinks after riding many hours every day, and I didn’t use deodorant every day last year I’m afraid. So I’m ditching that, too. If I feel like I really really want some, I can always pick up a travel sized one at a gas station. I saw travel sized SpeedSticks often last year.

Sun sleeves are something I’m going to use religiously this year as I’ve just burned my arms very painfully. They are just starting to peel now.
On my legs, I don’t really need sunscreen, on my arms I’ll use the sleeves and in my face it mostly runs off anyway (plus my face is not directly in the sun most of the time), so I’m going to just take a SunStick for nose, cheeks, forehead and lips. It is much smaller and lighter than a bottle of sunscreen.
Chamois cream is essential, but I didn’t use the whole tube last year and I was sharing the tube with Tobi, too. So I’ll put a smaller amount in a contact lenses case and re-stock at bike shops along the way when I need to.

When it comes to tools and spares, it’s a difficult thing. Most of the things you’ll take you’ll never use, but when you need them, it’s great to have them. As long as all my tools and spares fit into the Jerrycan (except for pump and spokes, obviously), I’m happy with it. In addition to a few spokes and a chain link/SRAM chain lock I will carry a set of brake pads.
I don’t need to carry spare bolts since I’ve got plenty of bolts in the bottle cage bosses that I’m not using. Chain lube is overused a lot, I’ll only carry 1-2 applications worth in a tiny bottle, I plan to have the bike serviced once or twice and the chain changed in Newton, so it shouldn’t be an issue. If I feel like I really need some, it’s not hard to find something useable at gas stations.

1. Things I use every day

  • cycling attire – pants, jersey, socks, bra, gloves, helmet, sun glasses
  • tube of chamois cream – changed to a smaller amount
  • sunscreen small sun stick
  • tooth brush & paste
  • iPhone & headphones
  • Garmin
  • SPOT tracker
  • SaltStick capsules
  • water bottles
  • small bike lock
  • wet wipes

2. Things I use, but not daily

  • bivy bag and liner & sleeping mat & inflatable pillow
  • warm hat/Buff – my warm jacket has a hood for sleeping, Buff can be used as cap for cold descents
  • merino leggings
  • long sleeve shirt
  • sun sleeves
  • rain jacket
  • warm jacket
  • waterproof socks
  • soap
  • deodorant (doesn’t really make a difference unless you’ve had a shower, too)
  • bandana (as towel)
  • pain meds
  • chain lube  changed to a tiny bottle for 1-2 applications

3. Things I (almost) never use

  • pedal wrench
  • chain link
  • spare bolts
  • spare spokes
  • anti-diarrhea, anti-cramps etc. meds

4. Things I never use but have to carry anyway

  • spare inner tubes
  • patches & glue
  • passport
  • pump
  • multitool
  • band-aids
  • tweezers

These small changes will open up some space for more food of which I usually don’t carry enough.
I’ve ordered two Salsa Anything cages to put on the fork and I’m going to try out a packing setup with them – not to add more stuff, but to distribute stuff better.
I want the seat bag to only contain my sleeping setup so that I have no reason to access it during the day.

In other news, I also ordered a new helmet, a Giro Aeon. I’m hoping the lighter weight and better ventilation system will make the thing a little less annoying. My Uvex helmet is black and last year I thought it would be neat to have a white one in the sun.
I’ve already switched the fork and wheels and today I’m completing the transition by putting my aero bars on.
Then tomorrow when my younger brother comes around I’ll put the MTB wheels back in for a ride 😉

I packed my bag and I put in…

Gear posts are always interesting for some people – pondering what to take and what to leave at home is a big part of preparation for a bikepacking race.
To be honest, I both enjoy and loathe the process. On the one hand, it’s fun to think about what you’ll need and to buy awesome stuff, on the other hand there’s always the risk of a wrong choice and as the bank account is slowly drained it can hurt.
One thing to keep in mind when looking at other people’s packing lists is that everyone has their own preferences. Some people get away without using a sleeping mat, some don’t plan on camping anyway, some like to take a lot of tools and some don’t know how to use those tools and leave them at home. In the end, it’s a personal choice, but I too take inspiration from other people’s gear and ask them for advice.

I’m participating in the “Tuscany Trail” bikepacking event this weekend, so I had to assemble everything and do a trial packing. I looked at my packing list for the Trans Am Bike Race and it turns out they aren’t very different.
After the Tuscany Trail, I’m going to turn the Fargo into a road warrior – different fork and wheels, plus my aero bars from last year. I can’t wait!
Now, to the packing list.


I’d much prefer to take panniers, but I’ve been told over and over again that they are such an aerodynamic disadvantage that I shy away from that personal choice – and truth be told, I’m not sure it would be the best choice anyway. It does put all the weight on the rear wheel which makes it more prone to broken spokes and also changes the handling of the bike. With the weight evenly distributed along the bike it makes for a more stable handling.
Last year, my bike looked like this:

It held a Revelate Designs Viscacha with Sprocket on top, a Tangle frame bag (size S), a Gas Tank on the top tube, a Large Pocket as a handlebar bag and a Mountain Feedbag to hold a water bottle.
This year, I’ve managed to go without the handlebar bag (which I found annoying). I added a second Mountain Feedbag to have two water bottles on the bars and a Jerrycan for tools.
Instead of the Viscacha, I’m taking the Terrapin system, which is a holster and dry bag. I also have a full frame bag now.

So, let’s summarize:

Seat bag: Terrapin holster + Ortlieb 13L drybag – 570g
Frame bag: Ranger Size S – 266g
Top tube bags: Gas Tank – 100g + Jerrycan – 75g
Handlebar bags: 2x Mountain Feedbag – 300g

That’s 1311g for all of the bags with a combined volume (without the Feedbags) of approx. 20L. Compare this to a set of Ortlieb front rollers: 1440g for the bags, add a very lightweight rack (Tubus Fly) at 350g, providing 25L. So the extra 5L would cost you 479g. That isn’t actually that much – but I would still be keeping the top tube bags and feedbags, so in reality it would add 954g. That’s a significant amount of weight.

Now let’s go through the bags one by one, front to back!

1. Mountain Feedbags

These hold two water bottles, Specialized HydroFlo Purist. Love those.
The small pockets on the bags hold my sun sleeves (Specialized UV deflect), sun screen, a Spork, and one or two Clif bars. Also a good place to keep a bag of Sour Patch Kids or M&Ms.

2. Gas Tank 

This usually holds some sort of food, my iPhone and sunglasses if they’re not on my head. Also charging cables to run from the dynamo hub.

3. Frame bag

The frame bag will hold:

  • ACA maps
  • An extra set of clothes – shorts, jersey, socks
  • Toiletries – toothbrush and paste, Bronner’s soap, deodorant and plastic brush
  • Cycling cap (Vaude Warm Cap), waterproof socks (SealSkinz) and waterproof gloves (SealSkinz)
  • Leg warmers (Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Leg Warmers)
  • Scarf (Ahrberg Loop)
  • Tire pump (Lezyne Pressure Drive)
  • Spare tubes (Schwalbe)
  • 10.000mAh PowerBank (backup if the dynamo hub fails or I’m stuck somewhere)

4. Jerrycan 

  • Multitool (Topeak)
  • Separate Torx
  • Tire levers
  • Patches & glue
  • Pedal wrench
  • SRAM chain link
  • Chain lube
  • Duct tape
  • Cable ties
  • Spare brake pads
  • First Aid kit: anti-diarrhea, pain meds, band aids, anti-stomach cramps, skin disinfectant

5. Seat bag 

  • Sleeping pad (Thermarest ProLite)
  • Bivy bag (TitaniumGoat Ptarmigan with full-net hood)
  • Inflatable pillow (Exped Air Pillow UL M)
  • Warm jacket (Patagonia Nano Air Hoody)
  • Warm shirt (Ahrberg baselayer)
  • Merino leggings (Icebreaker Oasis)
  • Rain jacket (Auguste 86 custom tailored)

I managed to attach the Sprocket to the Terrapin despite RD writing that it isn’t possible (ha!):

  • SPOT tracker
  • 500ml collapsible water bottle (Platypus)
  • can only hold another Clif Bar

According to my Excel sheet, all of this comes to 6300g including the weight of the bags and I don’t find it too much.
Depending on how the weather develops this time, I may mail home a couple of the warm layers.

No sleeping bag? 

Nope, no sleeping bag. The warm and light bag I took last year is filled with down which isn’t great to use with a bivy bag that isn’t water proof. I will have plenty of layers for a cool night: merino leggings, a warm top, warm jacket, scarf, hat.
All of this can be worn while riding, so if I bivy somewhere and am told to move on – or encounter a situation where I’d rather move on – I can quickly roll up my mat and bivy and ride away. Plus it means that if it gets as cold as last year on the high passes, I’ll have plenty of warmth this time.
Some people take a sleeping bag but no pad – however, I have a picky back and the sleeping pad provides insulation from the ground, a factor that is often underestimated.

If it gets really cold or wet, I am going to ride on until I find a hotel.

Why all those tools?

I’ve gotten smirks for carrying a pedal wrench. It is very small and light. Pedals tend to start squeaking after a while in harsh conditions unless you re-grease ’em and I hate that sound, so I take them off once in a while and put some grease on. Also it just makes packing up for the flight in the end easier and faster.
I carry a Multitool with all relevant Allen keys and screwdrivers, a Torx key (for the brakes), an extra chain link (using a link instead of pins makes fixing the chain easier), patches (I didn’t use any last year),… in the end, everything fits into that small bag and it enables me to make most repairs roadside. Bike shops are far apart on the Trans Am route. I’ve learned that being able to repair your bike is really key.
Spare brake pads are never a bad idea and weigh next to nothing, however, the Avid BB7 brakes I have are commonplace in the US and I shouldn’t have problems finding new pads in bike shops.
I’ll be sticking some spare spokes inside the seat tube. The CX-Ray spokes I have aren’t that common because they are very expensive so if against all odds I have a failure it’s a good idea to carry spares.

Is that enough water?

The two bottles in front hold 700ml each, the collapsible bottle (which fits into a jersey pocket) holds 500ml. Last year, I carried 1.7l and most of time it was enough. For the most part it wasn’t hard to find water, gas stations are an excellent place to get water as they usually have soda fountains with chilled water and ice cubes which we always got for free. Restaurants also always filled up our bottles on request (some offered right away).
Since the Fargo has another set of bottle cage bosses on the downside of the downtube I will probably put a bottle cage there and carry another 500ml Nalgene bottle. This brings my total capacity to 2.4l which is plenty.

I now know the areas where water is hard to find and have marked them on my map. I have enough space in my bags and jersey pockets to add a couple of small water bottles if absolutely needed.

Can you still stand over the top tube? 

Yes. Barely. My crotch hits the Jerrycan, but it is soft enough not to matter. 😀

How much does your bike weigh? 

I don’t know. I haven’t weighed it yet. After I’ve converted it into the road warrior I’ll step on the scale with it, promise. Judging from it’s heft now I’m estimating that everything together will not weigh more than 16kgs. That’s pretty equal to last year – I’m carrying less stuff but the bike is heavier.

For the Tuscany Trail, there are some obvious changes: no ACA maps for example. Also, a few of my sponsored clothes haven’t arrived yet, so I’m carrying my Mammut rain jacket. I’ll also take rain pants since the forecast says rain for Friday. I was going to take my sleeping bag, but have decided to test out my Trans Am setup instead. The route has plenty of villages and again, if it gets really cold and wet, I’ll find a hotel.
I’m also not carrying extra clothes except for very light running shorts for the evening.

On the Trans Am, I’m planning to mail a couple of things to the Newton Bike Shop: new shorts and socks, new tires, chain and cassette. Last time I bought new shorts in Pueblo and while they were super comfy, they wore through at the seams really quickly. I was very disappointed at the quality so I’ve decided to stick with what my butt knows and send a replacement out. I use Gore shorts.

If you have any questions – ask me! Lots of the things I’m taking this year have been tried and tested last year, so I’m fairly confident in my choices. There will always be some unknowns and not everything will go to plan. That’s normal. I’m always open to inspiration and suggestion!

…and the countdown begins

22 days. Let me repeat that: 22 days. Until I set off from London. 
This seems unrealistic (that’s what I always say to my personal trainer when he shows me some new exercise). 

I stopped blogging when I took the news over to my Facebook page, … I felt that more people were interested in short news clips than in my ramblings. Nevertheless, some people asked why there aren’t any new blog posts, so here you are, folks. 

Since September, when I decided to enter in the World Cycle Race, a lot of things have changed. I bought a ton of stuff, the apartment has turned into a bike storing facility, or at least it feels like it. My bike lives in the living room. I constantly stare at it, trying to imagine spending 5 months on it. I wiggle parts around, practice changing tires and tubes – I hardly get any punctures, so I don’t have a lot of routine – or just think about what I could optimize about the bags and stuff. 
I work out twice a weak usually, gaining strength, building up muscle mass. By now I actually have a pretty strong core and am starting to complain when I don’t work out. Abs exercises have started being fun. Fun, I say! 
When it comes to nutrition, I have adopted the system of “eat more”. I’ve lost barely any weight (6kgs since August) but probably a bit of body fat since my measurements have gone down. During the past months I picked up eating meat again (I barely ate any meat for many months), but noticed that my joints really don’t like it, so it is back to tons of veggies and beans. 
On top of all the normal food, I also forced myself to learn how to like sugar. I don’t usually eat sugar, I find most sweets quite disgusting. When I was training with Juliana she basically forced Torrone down my throat after training and it really does make a difference to have some quick carbs for recovery. A hit of sugar, combined with something more long-lasting (like protein, hence chocolate milk for a recovery drink) makes the phase right after exertion a lot more enjoyable and eliminates the after-workout bonk that I used to get quite often – when you hang over the sink shoveling orange slices into your mouth, it is a sign of not having eaten enough. 
With the help of an excellent doctor, I’m now almost through all of my immunizations and have a great set of medication for the road. One more shot to go and then I can barely fall victim to fatal diseases. Rabies was the most important one, Cholera (which, as some studies suggest, also prevents a large portion of travel-related diarrhea) and Influenza are also quite valuable additions. 

But it is the planning that is really starting to get to me. I am an excellent planner, in fact, my friends and family know me as the organizational nazi (they don’t always mean that in a nice way – I tend to get really upset when things don’t work out as I planned them). But the logistics involved in this race are huge. Have you ever tried doing day-to-day planning for a 29.000km trip including finding out about accommodation, road quality, weather and wind patterns and costs? It is tough, even with the vast world of the Internet at your fingertips and the aid of guidebooks and, finally, people who’ve been there and done it. 

However, all of the planning will mostly accomplish one thing: I feel like I’m prepared and not completely jumping into the unknown. I’m sure lots of my day-to-day plans won’t work out the way I planned them. That doesn’t matter, I’ve grown more tolerant and flexible (yes, really!). 

One of my biggest concerns has been what to bring. After all, it isn’t very nice to realize on the road that you’re missing some important pieces. In my opinion, a race is not a place to try out something completely new, I wanted to be able to test everything beforehand. 
To that end, I’ve been very happy so far with my Revelate Designs bags. I train with the bags on to get used to the handling and dynamics (and the added weight). Small things like repair equipment I’ve been using for a few months now and am familiar with it. I have figured out most of the common ailments my bike may have and am able to fix most of them. I just got new shoes so I have to wear these in over the next weeks, but my butt has conformed to the bibtights I got and my saddle is well worn-in, too. 

More tomorrow! 



One week after arriving by mail, it’s finally back from the shop! Got quite a facelift, but see for yourselves. It sports a new Revelate Designs framebag, the Gas Tank bag (top tube) isn’t in the picture yet. Had to figure out how to put them both on at the same time first.

Fall off, get back on

Four days after hitting the pavement, I feel ready to get back to business. The first two days were spent in a painful stupor, and slightly infected wounds didn’t help. After a trip to the local doctor and much better wound dressings (and powerful pain meds for the night) I improved dramatically. Still, I’ll be seeing an ortho guy next week to make sure I don’t damage anything by racking up my training again.

While I’m practically ready, my bike is still in the shop getting a makeover (after riding it three times!) – new handlebars, bar tape, saddle and straightened wheels. It won’t have the pretty white bar tape anymore, but an even more comfortable compact bar drop, also the new components are quite a bit lighter than the old ones. It is somewhat sad to change a bike I’ve only owned for less than a week, since I fell in love with it right when I unpacked it for the first time. But I’m sure I’ll fall in love with it all over again when I go pick it up.
As a bonus for being a profitable customer, the shop is giving me a free fitting session on my own bike, fine-tuning my position and the contact points for optimum performance.

In the meantime, I’ll dust off the old Alf and take it for a slow and easy spin around the block, 20km of reminding myself that I can still ride. On Sunday, I didn’t get the 80km in that I had planned. But the accident only sidelined me for three whole days. Here’s to getting back in the saddle.

New bike, more fun

My old bike was nice. It is a classic and after only 1000km on it, I signed up for the WCR. But it was too big for me, too heavy and the geometry is all wrong for me, so it wasn’t ever a candidate for going around the world. That honor goes to my new bike, a pretty BMC endurance road bike. I spent about a month reading reviews, looking at bikes, learning about the different types of components (I’m not a bike geek… yet) and finding out what I need and want. I found tons of bikes that would have been nice, but in the end, one recommendation stuck. It being a 2013 model it was a bit cheaper as well, an added bonus.

And it is red. We all know red bikes are the fastest! I read somewhere that when choosing a bike for cycling around the world, it should be one that you have an immediate emotional connection with. Sounds stupid, but I think this is true. You always care more for things that you find awesome, for whatever reasons.
When this bike came in the mail yesterday, I literally jumped up and down out of pure joy. I finished building it, snapped some pictures in its virginal state (it will NEVER be that clean and pretty again), took it for its first ride and grinned from ear to ear the whole time. Today I took it out for 50km and it was Incredible. Such a sweet ride.


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