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.
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
DIY-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.
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
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.
Luxury 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)
Malte, Cap 36