Earlier this week we introduced the Transcontinental Race and Alain Rumpf’s intent to take the adventure head on. In Alain’s last article before he heads off towards Turkey tomorrow, he takes us through his bike and equipment set-up and the unique features need in order to take on this epic journey.
The last few days have been hectic. Since my last big training adventure (a 2 day, 500km ride across Switzerland), I have spent countless hours finishing things up for work, completing an assignment for my MBA and sorting out zillions of details ahead of the Transcontinental Race. All of this while trying to get enough sleep, which will be badly needed once the race starts.
Needless to say, I am impatient to be at the starting line on Friday at midnight in Geraardsbergen. We’ll climb the cobbled Muur made famous by the Tour of Flanders before disappearing into the night for our mad dash across Europe, and the adventure of a lifetime. Bring it on!
In the meantime, here is a look at my bike and what I am taking with me. Disclaimers:
1. I am not a techie. I love beautiful bikes, but I love to ride even more. So, I feel a bit like a fish out of water writing on this topic.
2. I have a guru. If you think that I have a badass setup and I am using some very clever technical solutions, kudos should go to my friend Chris. He did the TCR last year and works as a bike mechanic. This guy is the real deal. And if something goes wrong on my way to Istanbul, I’ll blame him. Just sayin’.
That being said, I am really excited by my set up. And we had a lot of fun taking pictures of it with my pregnant wife Lillie.
I usually ride a Scott Addict, which is the perfect bike for the Swiss Alps where I live. For the TCR, I have chosen a Solace 20, Scott’s endurance bike, to handle back to back 280km+ rides for two weeks. Coming from a racing background, I was a bit skeptical at first. Would I enjoy this ‘comfort’ bike? I was not disappointed. While the Solace has a more relaxed geometry, it feels fast and I was able to get the exact same position as on the Addict. But the great thing about the Solace is that it is comfortable and super easy to handle. I love climbing, but I am not a great descender. The Solace does not turn me into a Nibali or a Sagan when going downhill, but I enjoy this part much more with it!
I also get extra comfort with the Continental Grand Prix 4000SII tyres. I’ve used them for several seasons and was never disappointed. I’m a big believer in 25mm tyres and I will even use 28mm on the back for the TCR. This will not only get me through the 40km gravel section of the Strada dell’Assietta above Sestrières (Italy), but also the potentially rough roads through the Balkans.
Gearing: the Solace comes with 50/34 in front and 11/32 behind. A 34×32 will be just what I need to climb the Mont Ventoux, which may happen at the end of a 300km day on day 3.
At first I excluded using aero bars because, again, I was quite skeptical: the last time I used them was when I was racing elite in 1993 and I sucked in time trials in a way you cannot even imagine. I worried about their comfort and necessity. However, aerodynamism is a factor on a long race like the TCR: overall, the TCR is not very hilly (except for some big mountains such as the Mont Ventoux) and the watts spared when riding low quickly add up.
Aero bars are also a good choice for the TCR because they provide an additional position on the bike, which is welcome when you spend 15 hours (or more a day) in the saddle. Another advantage: they are a great place to strap a small sleeping bag I will use if for some reason I can’t find a hotel one night. So I got back into using them pretty quickly and am now totally looking forward to the 500km of dead flat roads across Italy between Torino and the Slovenian border. Well… maybe not.
Like many TCR riders, I will use Apidura bags. This brand is doing a lot to make ultralight bike touring more mainstream with its reliable, innovative and cool looking products. The saddle pack is simply strapped to the saddle and the seat post. No need for a rack, and the bag is stable enough to climb out of the saddle without being bothered. The Apidura customer service also gave me great advice to choose the right models for my frame geometry and the volume I was going to carry.
OK, now for the even more geeky stuff (read: where I would have been lost without my guru Chris). I will use a SON Delux dynamo hub on the front with a Flo 30 aluminium rim. For a mere 5 watts, this will power my Busch & Müller lights (the front is a Luxos U and the rear a Secula), as well as charge my Garmin and my iPhone on the go via a USB cable. How cool is that? I feel like I am riding a mini power plant.
That’s it for the bike. What am I carrying with me? Look at the picture: not much. A set of warm bike clothes, lightweight shorts and T-shirt for the rare time I will spend off the bike, tools, bike lock, sunscreen, passport… My luxury will be my electronics: a Sony RX100 camera and an iPad to process pictures and post them on CyclingTips’ Instagram.
In total, my bike and my gear will be 13.5kg. I may not get Strava KOMs on my way to Istanbul with this setup, but this is scarily light for a 4200km ride. I guess that’s why it’s called ultralight bike touring.
Finally, what will I wear? The Scott RC Pro Tec jersey and shorts – I hope that I will not need to test their unique anti-abrasive qualities but they are very comfortable. A strategic choice inspired by Chris is the MTB shoes. When you spend 15 hours a day in lycra, you ride a lot, but you stop a lot as well: moving more than 80% of the time is considered a good ratio. MTB shoes are more comfortable when walking around during the day, and I can also wear them in the morning and the evening. I may get some odd looks for that, but who cares when you save the space and weight of an extra pair of shoes?
That’s it. Did I say that I did not like to write about tech stuff? But now, bring on the race. It starts at midnight in Geraardsbergen, and you can follow it on http://trackleaders.com/transconrace15. I’ll be posting on Cyclingtips’ Instagram and also on my social accounts:
Let the fun begin!