Ultra-endurance / bike packing adventures are so on trend right now. But many of these event’s aren’t that accessible or many (like myself) lull themselves into a false sense of security thinking they’re ready to take on such a challenge when maybe they’re not.
That was the case for me with the Transcontinental Race 2015 – Heck, I had a fantastic time, I had some utterly bottom of the barrel moments, some of which I don’t want to put myself through ever again but I also had some of the most euphoric moments of my life too. Having managed two checkpoints and 2,400km in 13 days before scratching, I soon realised I wasn’t half as prepared as I’d thought. Not only that, a lot of the amazing parts of the trip had been and gone within seconds as there was never any time to stop and take it all in.
This for me was the worst part of the experience. Only getting a glance at some of the incredible parts of the Transcontinental Race route and not having the time to really take it all in. The Trans Continental is after all a race and not a tour. Something I new at the start but subconsciously wasn’t as prepared for as I’d thought!
There are so many factors that can benefit your speed and comfort during the race, fitness probably being one of the main aspects, but second would be kit. This takes experience though and having done a fair bit of bike packing prior to the TCR I finally perfected the kit list for the next adventure.
So here’s where the Torino Nice Rally comes in – Everyone meets in Torino at 9 AM, they have the route provided with a heap of alternative routes to make the rally shorter or longer, there are recommendations of shelters in and amongst the mountains and a facebook group filled with questions, answers and anything else in-between.
The best bit for me was that it also covered my favourite part of the TCR 2015, Col de Finestre, but there were many many more cols along the way to enjoy.
A few folk have asked for a run through of my setup, I must emphasise that this setup is perfect for me in light of the trip and the experience I’ve had. It’s different for everyone in terms of what works best for you so if you see something you like, try it out on a shorter tour before taking it to something more challenging.
The Torino Nice Rally boasts some pretty tricky climbs, one of which was practically unrideable, particularly for those without suspension or fat tyres.
There were all sorts of bikes on this trip, full sus, hardtail, classic tourer, gravel bike, steel, carbon, alu etc.
What’s the best setup?
There isn’t one, it’s whatever best suits you, whilst the MTB’s took some of the more challenging climbs/descents faster the gravel bikes made up for in climbing/descending the roads and more gravel tracks then rocky roads.
I decided on my trusty steel Woodrup. It was built as an all-rounder, with large clearances and disc brakes it’s a totally adaptable bike fit for any job! Albeit I did have to treat myself to some new front forks as they wouldn’t quite fit 42mm tyes.
The Woodrup is made from Columbus Max Tubing and is a combination of lugs and fillet brazed. I managed to get some Whisky No.7 forks second hand off eBay which allowed up to 50mm tyre clearance.
I’ve given a wee * for those items that for this particular trip were absolutely essential and worked so well for the conditions/climate.
Full list of bike components and kit below:
Frame – Columbus Max Custom Woodrup
Wheels – 700c Pacenti SL25 / Chris King rear Disc Hubs / Exposure Dynamo front Hub /DT Spokes
*Tyres – WTB Resolute
Stem – 3T Ergo 10+
Bars – Deda Zero Compact
Seat post – Easton EC70
*Seat – Fabric Scoop Pro Radius
Pedals – Time Atac
Group Set – Sram CX1 (absolute black chainring)
The Restrap Bar bag held the majority of my sleeping stuff which also included my Therma Rest Sleeping matt on the underside of the bag.
Starting from the Top Left:
*Rab Neutrino 200 Sleeping bag
Alpkit Hukka Bivy
Thermarest neoair xlite
Whistle and Ear Plugs
*Mucoff Travel Towel
Small Unit 1 Restrap pouch – Tooth Bruss, Head Torch, Whisky.
*Rapha Merino Wool long sleeve top
*Alpikit Merino Wool long johns
Alpkit inflatable pillow
*Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV/HVG Pump
Small cable lock
*Muc-Off Chamois cream
*Gore Shake Dry Jacket
Small notebook/Muji pen
Fabric rear light
Restrap Sticker bomb pack
*Rapha Pro Team Gloves
Huez Waterproof phone pouch
20,000mAH Battery Pack
Sinewave Revolution Cycles
Rear saddle bag contents Packed
Various small dry bags
(In case of emergency) 2 x tissues
*Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket
Go Pro Frame Mount
*Sling Shot (just for fun on the top of mountains!)
*5oz Hip Flask (wasn’t big enough!)
*Rapha Brevet Shorts
Casteli Leg Warmers/Arms warmers
Restrap 10 LTR Dry Bag
Space tube x2
Lezyne patch kit/bumper
Rapha lightweight Brevet Jersey
*Rapha Insulated Jacket
Rapha Pro Team Base Layer
The two absolute musts for this trip had to be the Rapha Insulated Jacket and GORE Shake Dry Jacket. Both proved to be absolutely vital during this adventure, keeping me warm at the tops of mountains, descending or when caught out in bad weather. I kept the Brevet jacket attached to the back of my saddle bag when I wasn’t using it as temperatures could drop pretty fast during the climbs so it was easier to have it to hand. The Gore Shake dry is super packable and so I this in my frame bag which made it simple to grab when the weather turned for the worst.