A friend of mine convinced me it was a good idea to enter the TransAtlanticWayRace 2017 in Ireland. In a moment of utter madness between meetings at work, he managed to explain how much fun endurance cycling was, having ridden across America and Japan - and I decided to sign up. Perhaps not the wisest considering that I had only ever ridden 100 miles in one day on a bike.
Not quite the entire route as you need to nav from Dublin to Derry before joining the TransAtlanticWay.
Anyway, what was done could not be undone. Not knowing where to start, I got advice from my 'friend' at work but also took to reading as many articles, blogs and reviews from the likes of Sarah Hammond, Jesse Carlsson, Mike Hall etc and their kit, bikes, training and feeding. There is a whole heap stuff to read and sadly, I have to admit, get excited about.
Cube Attain SL Disc with Restrap Frame Bag, Saddle Bag and Holster
I would love a titanium bike but couldn't justify the price tag and, knowing aluminium is robust enough, I went with the Cube Attain SL Disc for £762 on offer from ChainReactionCycles. This also allowed me more money for components and equipment.
I used to be in the Army so know a bit about the importance of good, robust and reliable kit. Having been to bike shows, borrowed friends kit and read reviews, I decided to go with Restrap. Out of all the options it felt that they produced the most robust product (much like my army field kit) and it fitted my bike well. I have had it for a few months now and it still looks new. I know from experience that kit will only last if you look after it but I am very pleased with how it has gone so far.
For the rest of my kit I am using an Alpkit 400 sleeping bag, Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag, Exposure Revo front light and Exposure Blaze rear light. I got my Son Dynamo Hub built by the amazingly helpful guys at JustRidingAlong
Son Delux Dynamo Hub, Pacenti Forza Disk hub and CX-Ray spokes. A 3 week build time, but fantastic quality
Not having any real idea of what I needed they gave me all the advice I could imagine and I am very happy with the result. I will also be using a Garmin 820.
My training has had plenty of learning points so far. My Garmin has given up twice rendering me pretty stuck as I was relying on it completely for route guidance (I now carry a route card/mini map of the route in case of failure).
Garmin issues, what to do now!??!
My advice to those who want to train for long distance bike racing? Get your kit sorted early and test it out. I haven't raced anything really long yet, but getting out on the bike, feeling the weight, learning where to pack everything, what you have forgotten or what you don't need, is vital. I have ridden 300 km and 260 km on consecutive days to get the feel and have stayed out a couple of nights. Not going to say it is easy but it is an amazing feeling once you have done something like it and I can't wait for June and the race. #bemoremike