02 Transiberica – Equipment & Packing List

[You are at post 02 about my Transiberica Race. If you first want to know what it is all about, check my post 01]

Yeeees, I know, kiddies… you want to know all about the gear and what kind of things I’ll bring on the Transiberica Bike Race. So here we go… First I’ll give you a quick text summary. Then point out a few items that I (ex)changed or added to my setup; further down you find a complete packing list. Plus some pics on the way…

This Year’s Bike and Setup

Of course: My Rose Pro DX Cross from 2015, but I just call her lovingly „Rose“ <3. Rose runs on Sram Force22 (disc) and has an alloy frame and carbon fork. Her custom compiled gearing of 46/33 (front) and 12-36 (rear) will hopefully get me up allll the climbs while still allowing me to pick just the right cadence/force at any point (no large gear jumps). For comfort, Rose is equipped with Continental GP5000 tubeless tires in 32mm, a Redshift ShockStop suspension stemProfile Design T4 aero bars, a Specialized Power saddle and gel pads under the bar tape. I decorated Rose with tons of reflective tape, but my favourite accessories are still: a little rear mirror and my beloved bell that is modestly hidden under Rose’s elbow pads. Sometimes it goes off accidentally and then it’s as if Rose and were having a vivid conversation; yes, that’s how lonely it can get on the road sometimes.

Rose Pro DX Cross

WEIGHT:
– bike only: 10,8kg (without bags and rack, but including all adjustments like aero bars, dynamo, light/electronics, pedals etc…)
– bike with empty bags: 12,4kg (incl. Tailfin rack)
bike with luggage: 16,5kg (excl. food & water)

And some more kit…

This season’s kit colours are turquoise/orange for the summery Miamy look that I think will fit the Spanish heat. Additionally, I’ll bring a light pink merino Buff for that extra bit of quirky but homey living room flair and for its versatility (remove sweat from my eyes & warm my ears at night).

Morvelo summer jersey, LaPassione Duo Gloves Orange, Suomy Gun Wind helmet

My bedroom consists of a bivy, light mat & silk liner + boxers & shirt dedicated to clean sleeping. My Wahoo Elemnt (+ phone backup) in combination with a SON dynamo hub and Edelux II light will show me the way while an Igaro D2 USB-charger and a 13000mAh powerbank will make sure I never run out of juice. A carefully curated bike-mech/spare-parts compartment (incl. rear derailleur hanger & spokes) and babywipes/chamois cream/ointment will rule out most show-stopping technological or biological malfunctions.

The bags are arranged to reduce the frontal area (aero) and optimize accessibility: 2 food pouches in-line between the aerobars, a fuel tank and phone sleeve behind them, small frame triangle to still make 2x 1L bottles fit, and my newest acquisition: a Tailfin rack & trunkbag.

very small frontal area

What’s new? (gear-wise)

If you’re interested in my gear (well… you’re here), you can also check my post on my Transcontinental Race preparation in 2018 where I go through the reasoning regarding many of my gear choices. Here’s some more…

Tailfin luggage system

Like so many riders recently, I exchanged my standard-style seatpack (great working Specialized Burra, 10L) for a Tailfin setup (alloy, quick release trunk bag).

The advantages:
a) even more rigid construction than the Specialized Burra
b) much easier access (namely from top) and handling (quick release)
c) larger volume
d) slightly lower center of mass

This allows me to store all luggage incl. sleeping gear in the back and therefore do without a drybag strapped under my aero-bars = less weight on the handle bars.

Tailfin Alloy trunkbag & rack http://www.tailfin.cc

Position of food pouches

Now with the aerobars free, I moved my 2 food-pouches (Revelate Designs) in-line between the aerobars. Previously they were mounted left and right behind the handle bar under the elbow pads.

The advantages now:
a) easier access
b) a smaller frontal area (more aerodynamic; yes, it does matter)
c) simply a much tidier cockpit (matter of aesthetics)

Cockpit with two Revelate Designs Feed Bags between the aero bars

SPD shoes/pedals:

I switched from SPD-sl (road system) to SPD (MTB system). This was because I needed new shoes anyway (got numb toes in my otherwise excellent Shimano S-Phyre) and to be more flexible and worry less about my shoes in case I have to walk small gravel/rubble sections. At the same time it also makes the shoes more practical in any situation off the bike.

Even though they are the most expensive option, I opted for Shimano XTR pedals because the have the lowest stack height and I hope it will get closest to the feel of a road-system. Even if the effect is rather psychological than mechanical: I wouldn’t want to put pressure on the pedal and have the feeling my foot wants to rotate around the pedal axis because it is (or feels) too high above it.

For shoes I got the Shimano XC7 as I really liked my previous Shimano shoes (S-Phyre), and they have a “wide” (larger volume) version. They are very stiff (didn’t want to risk feeling the smaller contact surface of SPD) and have a moderate bottom profile and are overall rather clean looking and “racey”. To allow for better air ventilation in the hot Spanish summer, I added some larger holes with a pair of hole punch pliers (Danke, Rainer Zeller für Idee und Zange!); the result looks good, but I didn’t test it; fingers crossed.

Shimano XC7 shoes

USB dynamo charger igaro d2

After a lot of disappointment with the Plug5 Plus by Cinq (very cumbersome installation and failed immediately in the rain) I needed a new device. After consultation of other riders in the scene, I opted for the UK-made Igaro D2. Admittedly there were some issues with the batch of units at first; but Igaro customer support is phenomenal, and ultimately they managed to sort everything out and now I have a well working device.

I mounted it on top of my Redshift Rockstop stem. I made sure to let the cables enter/exit without making the sockets vulnerable to the elements and fixed everything with cable ties. Now I have a USB outlet going straight into my fuel tank bag; perfect.

Igaro D2 USB charger for charging devices from the dynamo.

Lighting: son edelux ii

I had made this adjustment already 1,5 years back, right after my Busch&Müller IQ-X lamp failed again in the rain on my Three Peaks Bike Race 2019. The IQ-X’s beam is absolutely perfect and incredibly powerful. But its housing and general build is disappointingly flimsy. So instead I went for the crème de la crème: SON Edelux II (and rear-light), i.e. the same manufacturer as my high-end SON dynamo hub. The beam is fantastic (just not as great as IQ-X), but especially: it’s super robust and water tight. Additionally I installed everything with sturdy SON coax cables and properly soldered in some plugs. To allow myself to fix the rearlight to the Tailfin rack, I added an extension cable at the back and also built simple fixtures to attach the rearlight to either the tailfin or the frame directly. In the whole coax cable routing I also included a little split-box to neatly plug in the power-chord for the Igaro D2 USB charger. I’m incredibly satisfied with this lighting setup.

SON Edelux II connected to SON dynamo hub

Cockpit bags: Fuel Tank & phone sleeve

I really liked my Blackburn Fueltank bag; but after so many years and heavy use, the zipper failed. Decided to go for something slightly more compact, and with the zipper positioned in a way that I guess makes it less prone to failure: The Revelate Designs ‘Gas Tank’. Really like it; it’s very stable on the top tube, and access is perfect.

Additionally I got a separate Tatonka phone pouch that I velcro-tied to the side of the stem. Admittedly it doesn’t look great, but it’s super functional, aero, and good use of that space in the cockpit. Now I can more easily access the phone for quick photos etc.

Revelate Designs Gas Tank & Tatonka phone sleeve

smaller chainring: 33T

Changed the smaller chainring from 34 to 33 teeth (by TA Specialties), i.e. even slightly lighter gearing than I had already. So my geating is: 46/33 in the front and 12-36 in the back (custom cassette). Probably that 3% difference will not be so significant. But it’s the smallest I can go on my crank, and the surprising side effect: shifting is much smoother now. My 46T chainring (Sram) is designed to work best together with 36. My former 34 chainring consequently didn’t shift so smoothly. But the combination with that 33 ring does a perfect job for some reason.

Wheels: DTSwiss custom build

Nothing fancy, but works very well: I got these wheels built already 1 year ago. Simply because the rims of my old set were done. They were built by Reinald of Komponentix in Berlin; had to be custom built because I wanted my SON dynamo in stable rims. Overall really sturdy wheels and very affordable (620€ excl. SON hub). Removed all labels, and they look fantastic.

The components are:
– rims: DT Swiss RR521 db. Aluminium, deeper section, affordable
– front hub: SON dynamo (had this one already)
– rear hub: DT Swiss 350 Road db CL. It’s heavenly quiet ❤

Hiplok Security Tie (“lock”)

Previously I used an Otto Lock.Now I felt it is too bulky in comparison with how much it protects the bike (namely: hardly). Instead I got a Hiplok Z Lok Combo, as it gives equally little protection, but packs smaller.

Packing List

Documents

  • ID card
  • hardcopies of documents (incl. Corona stuff)
  • health insurance card
  • contact details
  • pay cards
  • some cash

Electronics

  • iPhone SE
  • Wahoo Elemnt (updated & with routes)
  • headphones Sennheiser bluetooth
  • USB charging cables: 2 micro, 1 C
  • Anker USB charger (4 ports)
  • Anker power bank 1300mAh
  • iPhone cables, 1 short & 1 long

Bike maintenance

  • mini leatherman (no name)
  • multi tool (Lezyne)
  • air pump (Lezyne, with digital pressure gauge)
  • extensive puncture set (incl. tubeless plugs etc.)
  • 2 tire levers
  • piece of old tire
  • cable ties (many!!)
  • shoe lave & thin thread
  • Sram chain link
  • rear derailleur hanger
  • gear inner cable
  • chain lube (Squirt dry lube)
  • replacement spokes & nipples
  • 2 pairs of brake pads
  • schrader valve adapter (to use gas station pumps)

(Spare) clothes

  • Buff merino multipurpose head scarf
  • spare socks (Assos summer socks)
  • spare bib-short (Rapha basic)
  • spare base layer (LaPassione summer)
  • merino arm warmers (Mavic)
  • white UV protection arm sleeves 50+ (Castelli)
  • down vest (Endura)
  • rain jacket (Endura)
  • high visibility vest
  • boxershorts (for sleeping)
  • T-shirt (for sleeping)

Hygiene

  • toothbrush (cut off, obviously ; ) ), toothpaste, shampoo
  • Ibuprofen
  • wound healing cream (Bepanthene)
  • baby wipes
  • tissues
  • chewing gums
  • chamois cream
  • sunscreen 50+ (for babies, like me)
  • micro fibre cloth (for glasses)

Sleeping gear

  • silk liner
  • sleeping mat (Thermarest ultralight)
  • bivy bag (MSR AC bivy)

Miscellaneous

  • 2x 1L-bottles
  • Hiplok (small cable tie lock, number lock)
  • spork
  • mini backpack (Decathlon)
  • light plastic bag (to separate clothes, sleeping gear etc.)

Wearing

  • helmet (Suomy Gun Wind)
  • Glasses: Adidas Proshift with photochromic prescription lenses
  • short gloves (LaPassione Duo Gloves; light padding)
  • bib-short (Rapha basic)
  • short jersey (Morvelo summer)
  • base layer (LaPassione summer)

01 Transiberica Bike Race 2021 – Live Tracking (Cap33) & About the Race

[You are at post 01 about my Transiberica Race. If you want to check out my equipment, here is post 02]

Yaaay, something new is coming up! After The Transcontinental Race got postponed one more time to 2022, I managed to get a late placement in the Transiberica Bike Race. Start is on Sat. 14th of August 21.:00h in Bilbao, Spain, and of course it’s with live tracking and followed on social media.

Transiberica facts & figures:

Transiberica is a (attention please…) self-supported free-route roundtrip ‘ultra’-endurance single-stage bike-packing time-trial in the spirit of Mike Hall†. That means…

  • Start & Finish: Bilbao, Spain
  • Start time: Saturday, 14th of August 2021, 21:00h
  • 9 Checkpoints (CPs) all over northern Spain (to be approached in ascending order). Starting in Bilbao the course goes clock-wise.
  • free route choice, except for compulsory parcours at 5 of the CPs
  • ca. 2.900km and 38.000m cumulative climbing
  • self-supported (i.e. carry your own luggage, no outside assistance, no supply pre-arranged)
  • single-stage (i.e. the clock never stops; there are no fixed stages or stops, neither for sleeping)
  • 65 participants (3 riding as pairs), all genders competing in the same category
  • more detailed rules: see here

>>Here’s a link to a map to check the CPs in detail.<<

How to follow the event and me (realtime)…

Despite the geographical spread of events, endurance bicycle racing is a spectator sport. Each rider has their own GPS-tracker:

Additionally it is vividly accompanied on social-media

I’m always happy to hear from you. Encouraging messages, cheering, etc. are highly motivating (also to the other riders!). I may not always be able to reply immediately, but be sure I read messages and mentions with great pleasure!

03 TPBR – Race Summary

Here’s a very late summary of my 2019 Three Peaks Bike Race (TPBR); rather for the sake of completeness. And who knows, maybe there’s someone out there – a future TPBR rider or the like – who has some use for it. If you’re new to this blog and are looking for some more exciting and complete representation of my riding and racing, you may e.g. wish to check out my visual Transcontinental Race report.
In this current post I’ll simply provide you and myself with some facts and figures of my 2019 race. I also added my short Strava descriptions of each ride, but obviously they don’t do justice in any way to the richness of my TPBR experience and the hundreds of situations and encounters I had, good and bad.

If you first want to find out what the race is all about, better start here:
01 TPBR – This year: Three Peaks Bike Race
If you want to find out about my preparation, check this: 02 TPBR – What I changed: Equipment & Racing Approach/Behaviour

Below you find some data and visual impressions on a daily basis. At the end you find a few overall stats. I should mention that during the 8 weeks leading up to the race I couldn’t do any sports due to a broken finger that I didn’t want to risk; I’m very content with my race performance given these circumstances, but hope to perform better next time with more preparation.

Here you find a map of my recorded GPS tracks. For better usability, follow this link.

Day 1, Vienna – Linz

Start: Sat. 20. July 2019, 16:00h, Vienna, Austria
185 km, 1.110 m
Moving time: 7:10 h
Elapsed time: 8:45 h
Stopping time: 18%
Average speed: 26 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2019, 00:45 h, Hörsching shortly behind Linz (Austria)
Sleep (end of stage): front roof of commercial building

Went quite smoothly. Had to stop once to sort out issues with my Wahoo Elemnt map display. Around 1:00 am at night a thunderstorm came up. Good timing to try to get some rest under the front roof of some commercial building. Surrounded by a raging storm. Didn’t really sleep. But was no other option really.

Thunderstorm while sleeping in Hörsching after Day 1, ca. 1 am at night.

Day 2, Linz – Haiming

Start: Sun. 21. July 2019, 05:37 h, Hörsching, shortly behind Linz (Austria)
313 km, 2.396m
Moving time: 13:10 h
Elapsed time: 18:10 h
Stopping time: 27%
Average speed: 24 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2019, 23:50 h, Haiming (behind Innsbruck, Austria)
Sleep (end of stage): Hotel

Dear diary, 

I had deliberately set my GPS track to a destination far beyond what I deemed realistic; just to give myself something to push towards. Surprisingly I managed to get there – despite the first 100km in the rain. 

I fell behind the field because I was one of the few who decided to have some sleep in the first night (yes, I learned from my TCR mistakes). But today I fought myself back to the front of the midfield. Surprising. 

Not surprisingly I‘m getting tendon issues due to that sudden spike of activity (there was rediculously little training) – I will set my cleats back to the middle of the foot before climbing stelvio tmrw, to relieve my Achilles’ tendons. 

Wonder where I will end up tomorrow; I.e. if I have to pay the bill for todays effort or if my legs are just getting started…

Strava entry, day 2

Day 3, Haiming – Lago di Como

Start: Mon. 22. July 2019, 07:17 h, Haiming (behind Innsbruck, Austria)
269 km, 3.377 m
Moving time: 13:10 h
Elapsed time: 18:45 h
Stopping time: 30%
Average speed: 20,5 kph
Finish: Mon. 22. July 2019, 23:50 h, North-Western shore of Lago di Como (IT)
Sleep (end of stage): park bench

I‘m exhausted.

Strava entry, day 3
Descending from Reschenpass
Climbing Stelvio with Music (Art Farmer – Modern Art)
Descending from Stelvio (westbound)

Day 4, Lago di Como – Torino

Start: Tue. 23. July 2019, 08:43 h, North-Western shore of Lago di Como (IT)
235 km, 973 m
Moving time: 10:30 h
Elapsed time: 14:50 h
Stopping time: 29%
Average speed: 22,5 kph
Finish: Tue. 23. July 2019, 23:33 h, shortly behind Torino (IT)
Sleep (end of stage): campsite

Heavy heavy… especially with over 40 degrees in the Italian flatlands. 

Big climb tomorrow..

Strava entry, day 4

Day 5, Torino – Sault

Start: Wed. 24. July 2019, 07:26 h, shortly behind Torino (IT)
281 km, 4.350 m
Moving time: 15 h
Elapsed time: 29:30 h
Stopping time: 49%
Average speed: 19 kph
Finish: Thu. 25. July 2019, 13:01 h, Sault (Provence, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): launderette

I extended the ride through the night. Very ineffectively. But felt extremely uncomfortable in my dirty kit. And needed to change to my better bibs. Destination was Sault where there was a Laundromat. 

Tired.. we’ll see how the rest of the day goes.

Oh and… It’s my birthday.

Strava entry, day 5
Climbing the Colle delle Finestre with music
Approaching the Lac Serre Poncon around sunset
Pedaling…

Day 6, Sault – Sète

Start: Thu. 25. July 2019, 13:43 h, Sault (Provence, FR)
197 km, 397 m
Moving time: 8:45 h
Elapsed time: 10:50 h
Stopping time: 19%
Average speed: 22,5 kph
Finish: Fri. 26. July 2019, 00:35 h, Sète (Mediterranean Sea, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): hostel

Got my legs and my brain back. My very long but necessary break in Sault (eating, washing clothes, spending time deliberately aimlessly) took until ca. 14:30h. Considering that I’m quite content with these 196km even though it is far below what I want as a daily average. 

I cycled with very few stops and continuous pace. And even the land bridge before Sete was open and worked out great. 

Listened to the Podcast “Zeit Verbrechen”… kann ich sehr empfehlen!!

Strava entry, day 6
First time Mediterranean water

Day 7, Sète – Ax Les Thermes

Start: Fri. 26. July 2019, 08:18 h, Sète (Mediterranean Sea, FR)
223 km, 2.497 m
Moving time: 11:30 h
Elapsed time: 14 h
Stopping time: 18%
Average speed: 19,5 kph
Finish: Fri. 26. July 2019, 22:20 h, Ax Les Thermes (Pyrenees, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): hotel

Rain & Achilles pain

Strava entry, day 7
Approaching the Pyrenees with the occasional heavy rain shower

Day 8, Ax Les Thermes – Spain

Start: Sat. 27. July 2019, 09:17 h, Ax Les Thermes (Pyrenees, FR)
150 km, 3.315 m
Moving time: 8:45 h
Elapsed time: 12:30 h
Stopping time: 27%
Average speed: 17 kph
Finish: Sat. 27. July 2019, 21:53 h, shortly behind Spanish border (Pyrenees, SP)
Sleep (end of stage): hotel

Rough day for me. 

First overslept, cause I forgot to set an alarm. 

Then pouring rain almost constantly. Lots of climbing (two big passes) and obviously colder with every gained meter of altitude. Then after 1h of climbing realized I forgot my wallet in the hotel. Back down and back up in the rain. – while being soaked. and even colder when in that state you descend: further cooling wind and no work to keep you warm. 🥶 after the descend from arcalis Ordina I kept shivering for 30min in some café. 

Checkpoint 3 (last one) done. 

But a great conclusion: Found a fabulous little hotel just behind the border in Spain. 

Dialogues you never hear: „Where shall I put my bike?“ – „I suggest you just take it on the room.“. Here that actually happened ❤️

Strava entry, day 8
Singing in the Rain – On Arcalis Ordina

Day 9, Andorra – Barcelona

Start: Sun. 28. July 2019, 06:42 h, shortly behind the Spanish border (Pyrenees, SP)
220 km, 3.369 m
Moving time: 10 h
Elapsed time: 11 h
Average speed: 22 kph
Stopping time: 9%
Finish: Sun. 28. July 2019, 17:41 h, Barcelona (SP)

Finished Three Peaks Bike Race on Sunday, 17:40h after 2100km/22000m/8days. 

Wow… today I was on fire. Started at 7 and basically went through without a break. I took over 3 other racers who got up much earlier and had a headstart of at least 50km. Very satisfied. Also overall: with this trip I doubled my yearly mileage 😂 – involuntarily there was hardly any training. So, i‘m quite astonished I managed to finish at all. 

At the finish line I was sprayed by Rainer with sparkling wine and treated with a cold beer. Thanks SO much! 

Thank also to YOU followers for your interest and messages of encouragement. It was highly motivating to know I was not alone on the road.

Strava entry, day 9
Cycling through a canyon
Approaching Montserrat on the final parcours

Overall…

Total distance: 2073 km
Total elevation: 21784 m
Total time: 8 days, 1 hour, 45 min
Stopping time (weighted): 27%
Daily mileage: 260 km
Daily elevation: 2723 m
Sleeping: 4x Hotel/Hostel, 4x bivy/other/none

Lessons learned…

A) I should reduce the stopping time (27%) by a lot. E.g. bringing it down to 10% could increase my daily mileage by 40 km to 300 km/day
B) a ride/sleep rhythm by day/night works. I should even more fight the impulses to ride on at night.

05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map

#TCRNo06 #TCR06cap36
You are now at post 05c of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order and/or first want to find out what this is all about.., voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map


CLICK HERE to get straight to the Interactive Map.

A few words on how to use the map

The interactive map lets you dive into alllll the details of my Transcontinental Race in 2018 (edition 06). Additionally it’s of course possible to copy-paste GPS coordinates of specific spots/pictures/momories/etc. from my map into GoogleMaps to check them on Streetview. In case you’d really want to go all the way (which I doubt) you could even use multiple browser tabs simultaneously, e.g.: Timeline, MyMap-Racemap, GoogleMaps.

Layers of the map (switch on/off)

The geo-points are divided into layers that can be displayed or hidden on the left. You can click on each item in one layer to get to the respective point. Check the map-legend below. There’s occasionally a bit of text to read behind each point:

  • Legend to the map.pngGPS-track:
    In order to show where I cycled in daylight and at night, the track is coloured yellow from 06:00-22:00h (day) and dark blue from 22:00-06:00h. It very roughly matches sunrise and sunset.
  • Midnights & Mountains:
    In order to really see what section I rode on what calendar day, I created markers for all the spots where passed at exactly midnight, and also numbered them by the race day that would begin with it. As landmarks I also included mountains. However because they obscure some of the day/night-colour coding, I put those into a separate layer to allow you and me to switch them off, too. So you can switch off everything except for the route to get the most basic overview.
  • Sleep:
    Here you find in black all the spots where I had what I’d call a proper night rest, i.e. where I pulled out my sleeping mat to try to really sleep, or where I booked a bed somewhere (which happened twice). In light grey you find those spots where I closed my eyes for a bit. Sometimes some of that was sleep, but mostly it was just lying down on my back and relaxing. So next to going from midnight to midnight to see calendar days, you can alternatively go from black tent to black tent to see the beginnings and ends of separate stages (“stage” defined as the part of the way between two proper night rests).
  • Memories:
    These are random memories. They may address anything: detailed stories about my mood & things I experienced, struggles I had, people I met, etc. If you’re going for the story-telling part, this is where to look. Usually they also contain a text description of the situation.
  • 2 Photo-Layers:
    They are sorted chronologically in the list. (There is no functional, just a technical reason for having two layers)
  • Refueling:
    Those are all stops that I identified as stops where I bought food or drinks. These are by far not complete: There must have been many more. But the displayed amount already gives you an impression how central eating is to the race.
  • Adversities:
    These include multiple crashes, their stories, reasons and impact. Furthermore routing problems and health issues.

Method: Reconstructing memories after 1,5 years?

First of all: Yes, it was all long ago, but it also was such an intense and memorable experience that many moments, places, etc. are still burnt into my memory. Still: I got myself some help in the form of bits and bytes: downloaded and organized my GPX-files, i.e. the GPS-tracks that I recorded with my Wahoo Elemnt GPS unit. It plotted one GPS point per second of riding. Additionally, I had set it to auto-pause during TCR, so anytime I did not move for longer than 5 seconds, there is a gap in the record.

I followed essentially these 6 steps:

  1. Downloading the GPX files
  2. cutting up and converting the files in several ways (e.g. by calendar day and stage)
  3. creating excel functions to better find the gaps in the record and thereby tracing every single time I stopped
  4. check the respective GPS coordinates of each break longer than 30 seconds on GoogleMaps incl. StreetView and thereby remember what exactly was going on.
  5. Create a note in my interactive map, choose an icon, picture and some text
  6. Sort all points chronologically in the layer-list, per layer

Yes, it was a lot of work. In the process of that I also began to recall many more moments and memories in the context of those breaks so that in the end I had a VERY detailed account of all the stuff that happened to me during those 14,5 days. Of course that way I also figured out how long I rode each day in terms of time and km/elevation, and how long and where I stopped to get some night rest (when I did); i.e. the beginnings and ends of the separate stages

Below you find the map, but I highly recommend to open it in a new tab with this link.
-> INTERACTIVE MAP (link)

05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview

#TCRNo06 #TCR06cap36
You are now at post 05b of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order and/or first want to find out what this is all about.., voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map


Below you can scroll through a timeline of my race: it matches my stages in relation with the 24h-calendar-days. It provides information about:

  • When each stage started and stopped
  • Where each stop was and for how long I was stationary (does not mean I slept that long. Usually just a fraction of it due to faffing around).
  • How long each stage was in terms of time, distance and climbing
  • Where I rode into or through the night
  • The ratio of moving time vs. stopped time during a stage which indicates the efficiency of that stage. I realized the numbers here might not be very accurate; e.g. on the first stage I certainly stopped longer. But it gives an indication. I might look into this again and update it.

What you will see is, e.g. that

  • I did lots of riding until late at night or through the night (first and last two nights)
  • I had a couple of very weak days: with short stage distance and a lot of relative stopping time. I was simply very exhausted.
  • there was one long final stretch after Bjelasnica (last 830km) where I just wanted to finish the race (to 1 see my family at the finish line, to escape Albania and my condition, to overtake a few riders and have a shorter finish time). There were a couple of short semi-naps involved, but no real sleeping. See the map for details.

To zoom in and out you could also download the below picture of the timeline. Otherwise just scroll on this page

And if you want to check the interactive map with all the details and stories to my ride check this post: 05c TCR No.06 – Race Record – Interactive Map

Enjoy!

Some stats:

  • Distance: 4029km
  • Climbing: 32030m
  • Duration: 14d:19h:18min
  • Ranking: 60 [out of 231 starters (top26%) and 134 finishers (top45%)]

Zeitübersicht.png

05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction

#TCRNo06 #TCR06cap36
You are now at post 05a of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order or jump to what you find most interesting… voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map


Now, 1,5 years after my Transcontinental Race (No.06, 2018, cap36), I still owed myself (and those of you who are interested) some kind of recap or writeup of my experiences during the race. And certainly wanted to do that before riding the next TCR edition this year for a second time (No.08, 2020). Now is the time, but I chose a different strategy…

I had postponed it time and time again simply because it seemed a tooo intimidatingly huge task. And equally importantly: There are already so many great text-based blog reports by other TCR-riders, so I did not feel there is a niche left. But I still wanted to do something: to relive it again, and also to make sure to refresh my memory – because it was an experience I would not want to forget.

So I set out to do it in a way that would be a bit different and also do justice to how important I find the spacial element of bike packing and racing. I wanted to create some sort of visual, geographical, chronological and data-driven representation of how my race unfolded. I chose two means, each will be introduced in a separate blog post:

  1. Timeline of my stages: As an overview I plotted a timeline of my stages including some key data. I felt the amount of impulsive night-riding was very characteristic for my race, so I wanted to try a way to visualize how the stages did and did not correspond with 24h-days. This timeline you find in a separate blogpost.
  2. Interactive map of my race: For the spacial/geographical element I thought there would be no better tool than creating a map in Google’s MyMaps and plot the route and spots where I slept, ate, had social moments, problems, crashes or any other kinds of memories. I also wanted to make sure that map somehow intuitively represents my day/night-riding and found a solution for that, too. You will find that map in the second-next blog post.

I also viewed this as a challenge in terms of “user experience design”: How could I get across information in the most intuitive, efficient/effective and visually clean way? Please send me feedback in case you spot something you think could be changed improve user experience/interface.

How & for whom is it relevant?

  1. Diary for myself: First of all I did it for myself. So even if no one else would find it interesting: I would create this as a diary for myself. Furthermore I really liked the design and data-processing challenge behind it and might apply some learnings from it to future projects. I also learned quite something about the technical element of GPX files and how to alter them.
  2. Content-level: Some of you, who have not ridden TCR yet (and maybe want to) might find it interesting to browse through some random details of my race; because here you also find information beyond the “big moments” that most other accounts write about (very interestingly). You will also find-out how often I did food stops (however my account is not complete in that respect). How my sleep patterns were. But also softer things like rider interaction on the road and other social/emotional things. You pick what you like.
  3. Form-level: If you do bike travels or races yourself, maybe you get some inspiration by my race record in terms of how to visualize your experiences or how to use your GPS data to help your memory a little. In case you have questions about that, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

And here you find the two posts all that is about:

05b TCR No.06 – Race Record – TIMELINE

05c TCR No.06 – Race Record – INTERACTIVE MAP

02 TPBR – what I changed: Equipment and racing approach/behaviour

Many of you have read my post on my preparation for last year’s Transcontinental Race No06 in which I provided plenty of information on my equipment but also route planning & “training”. In hindsight i have to say: It mostly worked out really great! My gear was well suited for the situations I encountered. In some instances where I thought beforehand “Malte, now you’re overthinking it” I was really glad I made my choices and did my research. E.g. my gearing, bringing a spare rear-derailleur-hanger, etc… Bags, tires, clothing, electricity… all worked like a charm! The only problems I encountered were induced by myself directly (aka: crashes and being too tired).

That’s why I will ride the Three Peaks Bike race with the essentially same gear setup.

You can recap last year’s setup in that afore-mentioned blogpost and in the “gear” menu.
However I did a couple of adjustments and will split this into:

A) Changes I made to my equipment (incl. things I will NOT bring this time)

B) Planned changes to my racing approach and behaviour

First, a couple of pics I took today…

 

 

A) Changes to my equipment

2019-07-04 01.27.11.jpgDIY-work on my shoes:

My (back then) new Shimano S-Phyre shoes worked great on TCR. I mean: Until shortly before the end of the 4000km I had no foot issues, which is remarkable. However: By the very end of the race I became aware that I had a very swollen ball of my right foot that started impacting my pedal strokes and needed a while after the race to cure. Later I figured out what it was: Where the screws go into the carbon sole of my S-Phyre shoes, there are cavities in the sole. The soft insole didn’t protect my foot from feeling that hole, and hence got pushed in a bit very locally. This year, to bridge the cavities, I cut and glued in some punctured aluminum sheets. My verdict based on the couple of training rides: It works! feels very solid.

2019-07-15 22.51.42-1.jpg
comparison new vs. old sleeping mat

Lighter/smaller sleeping mat

I already had a light mat by Therm-A-Rest, but when I saw one that packs much smaller and is lighter, I immediately envisioned how much more compact that would make the drybag I’ll strap under my aerobars. So I bought it: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLight

Socks

I had never thought about what socks I wear. Always just wore simple H&M cotton sneaker socks. Just a recent hiking day in proper hiking socks made me notice what a difference that can make. Indeed, I often felt my feet were wet and not much air was getting through. So, the simplest thing on earth: I got some proper, simple, thin, short-cut, synthetic cycling socks: Endura CoolMax Race II
Awesome! Feels much better indeed! Not expensive. And it didn’t take me any time to get used to it.

2019-07-16 21.49.20-1.jpgLuxury item: Bluetooth speaker (maybe)

Headphones are often fine and I will bring some; sometimes it’s perfect to escape into that sound bubble. Only when the traffic circumstances allow it of course; on long, monotonous stretches. But at some time that isolation becomes tiring, and climbing up in the heat – sweating, breathing heavily – with plugs in my ears just doesn’t do it for me either. Last year on Vrsic Pass I tried for the first time to listen through my phone speakers. Art Farmer – Modern Art. But obviously those phone speakers sound shitty, esp. when facing surrounding noises.
So, yes, I’m seriously considering bringing a Bluetooth speaker – JBL Clip 3.

Fixing my seat pack even more

I love my Specialized Bubba (10L) seat pack because it is rocksolid: Due to the little aluminum frame that attaches to the seat post it does not sway to the sides at all. That’s why I bought it in the first place. It is held up by a though strap – it works, but still the bag sags down a bit so usually it ends up hanging ca. 5cm below the saddle, which is not a real functional problem. But somehow not aesthetically pleasing and simply not satisfying from a design point of view.

But no more! Luckily I discovered two threads at the very back of my Specialized Power saddle whose position coincides with two eyeletts on the bag. So I built something to fix the bag up, using: two M5 steel screws, two metal stripes that I cut to size, two flat washers and two layers of heat shrink tube to make it look better and smoothen the edges. It will be attached with cable ties that I also additionally wrapped in heat shrink tube. The result:

 

 

Extensive use of reflective tape

This is for two reasons:
a) I was a fan of reflective tape already and had quite some of it applied to my fork and seat stays anyway.
b) The race organizer of TPBR requires this, which I very much agree with. So I added tape to my rims, the crank, my helmet and my shoes. Originally the organizers also asked us to wear reflective ankle straps at all times; however, after quite some discussions they thankfully agreed that this should not be necessary. (I appreciate Michael’s flexibility on this).

Things I will NOT(!) bring on this year’s trip

A couple of items I never or hardly used last year on TCR06. I will leave those at home this year and it’ll save me quite some room and weight, too.

  • Sunscreen. Against all advice. I never used it last year and was fine. Also I hate the feeling of sticky, oily skin. I will bring a lip stick though.
  • Sebum. Brought some last year cause I wanted to make sure I have all the options to keep my behind healthy. But since I found out that the strategy of Assos-cream + wet-wipes + Bepanthen worked really well: No need for sebum any more.
  • Nylon grippers for overshoes. The idea was to use those to prevent rain from entering the overshoes from the ankle. But: I think a) it will not rain enough for it to be worth carrying them and b) my feet will first get wet form below. Those grippers were quite bulky and I hadn’t used them once.
  • Long-sleeve merino top. I only used it once: at 2:00am on 2300m altitude on Mangart Sedlo. I will not get myself into such a situation again. So, no need for it. My arm warmers (plus rain jacket) will be sufficient
  • Long rain-gloves. Didn’t use them once. And really: If it rains my hands will just get wet, and I hope it will not get too cold.
  • 2nd multi purpose bandana. I brought half a bandana additionally to my main one. Will just carry one this year.
  • Toothbrush for chain cleaning. No use for it. If I really need one I’ll buy it.
  • Spare cleats. I will just start with new cleats.
  • Passport. Won’t need it in Western Europe/EU

 

B) Planned changes to my racing approach/behaviour

There are many lessons I learned last year. I will at some point finalize my report on the TCR where you’ll find out more about what I learned. But briefly, these are the things I will change, mostly related to my sleep pattern:

Sleep more and in a more regular rhythm. Specifically I will make sure to stop riding at night. I think by 12h I should lie down somewhere and sleep for 5 hours.

Have fewer (no) crashes. This is linked to the previous point. During TCR I mainly crashed because I fell asleep. I want to avoid that this year.

Get up early and ride more in the early morning hours. It will be good for my motivation because by noon I will already have quite some mileage behind me.

Not viewing the Checkpoints as “landmarks” or places to rest or intermediate milestones. That way I will not be tempted to push too far to reach the CPs in the current stretch. Instead I will just reach them and move on – make my breaks depend on my reasonable riding/sleep rhythm and not on these artificial landmarks. This is easier in TPBR because a) all CPs are on mountain passes which are – due to their altitude, few facilities and low temperature – not really suitable for relaxed stays. And b) the CPs are not even manned; so they are purely virtual and there will not be anything to keep me busy there.

More continuity, fewer breaks. I should avoid faffing around and giving in to too many inviting stops (gas stations etc.). I should refuel plentifully instead to keep going for longer. Also I should pedal maybe even a bit more lightly.

Eating also salty stuff. Last year I started the race eating a LOT of sweet stuff and only noticed after the first two days that I completely forgot to get some salt. Got to keep that in check a bit.

I might think of other things to change and will possibly update this post accordingly.

I’m looking forward to the ride, and also to being in touch with you all.
(For information on how to follow me, check my previous post)
Your’s
Malte, Cap 36

 

01 TPBR – This year: Three Peaks Bike Race

Dear friends and followers,Ready for the race!

last year on the Transcontinental Race I made such great experiences, on the road, off the road, and with/through you online. So I couldn’t resist doing another bike race across Europe this year:

The 3 Peaks Bike Race – Vienna to Barcelona
starting coming Saturday (20.7.19)
16:00h in Vienna
(some facts/figures below!)

I’m very excited to participate… to meet the riders and roam our continent. A word of expectations management though:

This year I started my cycling season very late and “moderately”. And on one of the first couple of rides I had a (self-caused) crash in which I broke my right pinky. Curing it meant 7 weeks off the bike, which just ended last week = 2 weeks before the race start. So: Of course I have some plans as to what I want to achieve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I couldn’t put out all the daily kms I wished. But who knows… another element of surprise! As if there weren’t already enough of those in this kind of cycle touring/racing, haha.

I’m very much looking forward to hearing from you while I’m on the road! It is incredibly encouraging!

Happy dot-watching!

Some facts and figures about TPBR:

  • Start: Sat. 20th of July, 16:00h
  • Vienna to Barcelona
  • via 3 peaks (checkpoints):
    • Passo Dello Stelvio (IT)
    • Colle delle Finestre (IT)
    • Arcalis Ordina (Andorra, Pyrennees)
  • no fixed route (each rider/racer has to plan their own)
  • self-supported (no support cars, no outside assistance)
  • non-stop (clock keeps ticking day and night)
  • ca. 2000km and >20000m accumulated elevation gain
  • ca. 100 participants (mostly solo, some pairs)
  • More information (incl. all riders): www.adventurebikeracing.com/threepeaksbikerace

04 TCR06 – Finished!

You are now at post 04 of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order and/or first want to find out what this is all about.., voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map


A somewhat belated newsflash! For more little and random posts from throughout the race, check my, Instagram, Facebook or Strava.

This past Monday (13th of Aug 2018) around 17.30h CET I finished my Transcontinental Race #TCRNo6 in Meteora/Greece, after 14d19h18min, 16 countries passed over 4029km and 32030m of altitude gained. (I will probably be listed around Position 65 out of ca. 280 starters)

A BIG shoutout and thank you to all of YOU who watched my GPS dot, sent me messages and comments of encouragement and interest. You can‘t imagine what an incredibly important force you were to me – who knows how/if/when I would have arrived without you..?

My arrival was extremely overwhelming to me as I flew down the mind blowing descent of the final parcours to then fall into the arms of my parents and brother who came all the way to the finish line (by plane though 😜). That was after a final stretch from close to Sarajevo to the finish line in Meteora/Greece: ca. 60 hours (303+520km) with just 3h of sleep including a feverish nightmare trip through the Albanian heat and night, chased by stray-dogs and starting hallucinations. I just wanted to finish this.

I am incredibly happy and a bit proud – it was a crazy journey that will accompany me for all of my life. Many ups, downs, beauty, ugliness, happiness, comfort, love, anger, fear, ecstasy, physical pain…

I will certainly publish various notes/articles on this blog some point. If you wish, you can enter your email address (see column on the right) to find out when I posted something (no spamming of course).

Yours, Malte / Cap36

#TCRNo6cap36 @Meteora

Here are some visual impressions as I had also shared them on my social media channels for this “finished” post:

Family reunion at the finish line
Family reunion at the finish line

Summing up my stages. With a slight tremor in my hand..

Summing up my stages. With a slight tremor in my hand..

Tan lines...

Tan lines…

Leg comparison (and showing of the ATPS logo on my bib shorts)

Leg comparison (and showing of the ATPS logo on my bib shorts)

Amy and Anton - a rider pair that lifted my spirits in a moment I very much needed it

Amy and Anton – on the last morning before my finish they approached me from behind in the flatlands of Albania. I was mentally not in a good place so their unexpected company meant the world to me

Selfie attempt on the final parcours down to Meteora

Selfie attempt on the final parcours down to Meteora

03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)

You are now at post 03 of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order and/or first want to find out what this is all about.., voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map


shooting-star_1f320.pngMy hopes & goals…

There are many ways to approach this endeavour. Here’s what each of them would mean to me.
In order of importance and intensity to me:

  • survive. That would be nice!
  • finish in any time. I would have had a fantastic adventure that surpassed any cycling I’ve ever done. I’d be incredibly happy and thankful!
  • finish for the party. Oh Lord (or whoever), this would be unspeakably overwhelming to me and make me very very proud (I’d have to admit). I would be able to share an evening with many heroes. And some days with my parents and brother who will be there for me!
  • finish a few days before the party. Wow, I think it would take me some time to process how this could have been possible. I will check my agenda a couple of times to be sure I didn’t make a mistake and mixed up the dates. I would also consider that I was unknowingly involved in some time travel experiment by some alien civilization. Also a ripped time-space continuum or a glitch in the matrix would be options to consider.

As you can see, none of those points involves my placement among the riders. What other riders do affects me in the sense that it can be inspirational benchmarks. They will show me what could be possible and will certainly keep me sharp and make sure that I won’t be hanging around. But primarily I will experience my trip just by my own standards.

flexed-biceps_1f4aa.pngWhat motivates me…

(In no particular order)

  • My parents and brother are waiting for me at the finish line in Greece. If  I manage to arrive (let’s assume I do), that will be one of the best things.
  • That drive to make it! Would take too long to explain in detail; it has to do with independce, agency, learning, achievement. You can also check my “approach” section in the “about” menu
  • The sense of community among riders. We will all go through the same and will understand each other. That is very new to me, since in the past I was an almost exclusively lonely rider (apart from many friends following/encouraging me online! And one great duo trip with Jon through Japan)
  • Stunning scenery. Especially looking forward to the parcours! I have the feeling the organizers of TCR really have a good feeling for dramaturgy! (independent from that strange excursion to Poland : D )
  • Arriving on top of the pass. And then descending for ages.
  • Insight & connection. Into myself and how I cope with adversity. And into the world because I will again very tangibly have experienced a part of our blue marble. (Attention, seeming corniness ahead! But I mean it) I think an important part of my/our kind of cycling is that it allows us to bridge some of that very natural and archaic gap/detachment between our inner and our outer world.
  • International exchange. Among the colourful bunch of riders but also across the nations of Europe.
  • “You have nothing else to do than cycle. So you’ll automatically move ahead” That’s a paraphrased quote by Ultan Coyle; a crazy, very successful and also very kind and humble Irish TCR veteran. I had the chance to have a chat with him after a short presentation of his in Berlin. I found that actually very eye-opening!

fearful-face_1f628.pngWhat I fear…

(in that particular order)

  • Stray dogs. I’m really not a “dog person” – as long as they’re not on a leash, they terrify me! (ah, btw. is there a linguistic link between “terrier” and “terrifying”?). I have no idea how to interact with those beasts.
  • A sore arse. No need for explanation.
  • Crashes. Not so much from traffic (strangely), but rather from slipping in a curve or from falling asleep, or because of:
  • The heat. In particular its effect on my circulation. I know I can get headaches from heat
  • that my body wont keep the food down. I’ll need tons of calories and I know the feeling when the body can hardly take any more. In contrast I also fear the almost inevitable moments of “hitting the wall” due to under-fueling
  • Sweat in my eyes. I burns so bad.
  • That the route might not work out. Despite my confidence in the research I’ve done… you never know.

green-heart_1f49a.pngAll that’s left to say…

I wish all my fellow riders a lot of fun success, health and a great adventure. – I wish dotwatchers and friends and families a lot of fun watching and supporting their loved ones and that they will have a lot of good sleep at night because it’ll all be fine. – I’m thankful to the  organizers of the TCR and wish them a smooth event and as much time as possible to enjoy it together on the road, too!

Lastly, once more:

All the best,

Malte, Cap 36, Cyclingtourist