Transcontinental Video From Charge Bikes

The video is finally here…

A mixture of footage and photos we took from our adventure and some studio filming with Alex Rankin at Charge Bikes HQ. Have a watch.

Teaser…

 

Main Video…

 

We are so happy seeing these. Brings back so many good memories of a a very tiring but life changing 12 days spent together travelling across Europe.

You can find more details on The Transcontinental website.

Advertisements

Transcontinental post race – Rehab


Two weeks focused on one thing …. the road ahead. Its sounds slightly mundane staring at a road but your mind has to stay sharp the whole time; pot holes, debris blowing in the wind and huge lorries skimming the hard shoulder. Over the 12 days we spent riding we were on main roads, dirt tracks, climbing mountain passes and ducking in and out of dark tunnels always with one main goal – keep going, don’t stop for too long and get to Istanbul.

Having never done an ultra distance event before, Ben and I didn’t know what to expect, what were we getting ourselves into? How do you train for something like this, how would the race go and what are the after effects ?

We are now currently in the post race stage on this epic event and again it’s another completely new experience and nothing like how we had anticipated feeling.

Arriving at the finish like in Istanbul was a huge relief – stopping, sitting and for the first time in almost two weeks not rushing. Beer – we had been so excited about having some beers, but two each and then it was like we were hit by a massive wave of exhaustion. Struggling to keep our eyes open we caught a cab to our hotel and headed straight to bed. This was at midnight, we set no alarms and expected to be out for about 15 hours. 6am came round and we were wide awake and starving. We headed up to breakfast which thankfully for us was a buffet, 6 plates later and back to bed for another couple of hours sleep then same again, round two at the buffet and 6 more plates.

During Transcon we had slipped into a weird time zone, living without day, night or routine. We cycled until we couldn’t do anymore would stop where ever, when ever then sleep normally for about 2 hours. We would eat continuously with disregard for meal times. Washing and anything else became a luxury instead of normally. So how do you go from this alien adrenaline style of living back to ordinary life. Its more difficult than it sounds its not like jet lag where you might have to set an extra alarm and have a couple of meals at odd times, your whole body is in a state of confusion both mentally and physically. Over the 12 days our bodies felt strong, we felt mentally sharp but we were being fuelled and stimulated but adrenaline, as soon as we relaxed and there adrenaline levels reduced weakness set in.

Numb, weak hands, seized up muscles, tiredness but maybe the strangest of all our brains felt exhausted to the extent that even the thought of having to make a decision was enough to make you want to have a nap.

We spent a week in Istanbul trying to relax, rest and recover as much as possible. Trying to cope with all the symptoms as best as possible and coax ourselves back to our former selves. Its now been a week of post Transcon rehab and we are back home in the UK. Still not quite there mentally, but feeling more human.

Today I went for a sports massage at a rehabilitaion clinic, after starting to get pain in my neck and headaches. Just for the reassurance it was worth it. The physio worked on my neck trying to release some of the built up stress and tension highlighting that it was actually my sternocleido – mastoid muscles in my neck giving me problems. She also explained to me why I was having so much difficult using my hands its not just the peripheral nervous system which is fatigued and effected its also the central system – your brain. Big tasks for example picking up a football are fine and manageable its all the smaller more intricate task which cause difficulty. Arm, hand and finger movement need to be fast, strong and precise and for these you brain is the control center. Picking up a pen, writing, doing up a zip, unlocking a door all of these things seem near to impossible with a fatigued central nervous system. With rest and nutrition the nervous system should repair its self and bring the body back from being in an over trained state.

So at the moment its going to a bit more rest before slowly introducing exercise back into our routines. Its been recommended to start with some swimming or jogging to avoid putting your body straight back into the cycling position. But if you cant stay off the bike to try and ride a different one from the one used for transcon again to put you in a slightly different position.

Finishing Kit List for Transcontinental 2014 – What worked and what didn’t | Part I – Bike

The feeling in our hands and feet is slowly coming back and the thought of getting back on a bike is looking more appealing, so a review of the kit that got us through Europe to Istanbul seems appropriate…

BIKE

Charge Bikes – Plug 5

1600999_10152311836368099_771024815632830230_n

First things first, it got there. That surely has to be the biggest compliment to it. Many other riders and racers had to abandon as their kit failed around them and they were plagued with mundane, avoidable mechanical issues which really should not have occurred, as well as some rather spectacular mechanical failures.

The bike was run as it would straight out of the factory or shop with only a few small changes to allow us to ride further and longer. The stock bike retails for £1599.00

The front hub was swopped out to an Exposure Revo Dynamo system to power the lights and Supernova Plug III usb charger.

IMG_6322

The original rim from the Plug was used and built into a 32h wheel. The only downside to this was that the rim was quite heavy. It did however, make a very strong wheel which was faultless for the entire trip, no need to retrue or tighten any spokes.

IMG_6321The lighting system was incredible and one of the highlights of the kit that we used. 1000 Lumins out front meant that we could see everything we needed with no issues. It projected a wide beam that was powerful enough to see any holes or glass on the road even when descending at around 50km/h.

An Exposure Joystick was used as a headlight for rummaging around in bags at night, once again, brilliant and once charged, lasted for the whole trip.

Strange to say, but we looked forward to night riding, as the temperatures were cooler and the dawn and dusk views were breathtaking. The only downsides were many shops were closed so it was difficult to get food and water if we ran out and the dogs in Eastern Europe were a little more ‘lively’ at night!

The rear ‘red eye‘ light provided enough to be seen and still functioned, albeit dimmed, after 2 hours of inactivity. This meant that we sometimes would sleep and wake up with the lights still on.

The Alpkit luggage worked very well. The frame bag behind the headtube held spare innertubes (2), zip ties, electrical tape, multitool, chain links, spare brake and gear cable and 1 set of brake pads. Of all the kit that we took, this bag was opened the least, thankfully.

The bag above the top tube held essentials, such as chargers, maps, sweets and painkillers, all easily accessible whilst riding. It also held a iPhone well, even when unzipped, so we could listen to music when riding. A great boost when tired or hungry to get to the next target town.

The rear saddle bag held all the bulk of clothing and spares that we needed to access daily. The bag did have a tendency to swing around when very full but it never rubbed on legs or alter the balance of the bike so was no real issue. It wasn’t as waterproof as you may expect, so clothes did get wet inside if riding in the wet. A different material, similar to the front bag would make a big difference. Some reflective trim or more visible material around it would also help be seen by drivers at night.

The front dry bag held our sleeping kit, although after Italy, we ended up binning this as we wanted to shed some weight from the bikes and this was the easiest way. The position of the dry bags also meant that the only hand position available was on the hoods. Not an issue on the first day, but after the aches and pains started, being able to change hand positions would have made a big difference.

IMG_6324

The Supernova PLUG III could be wired into the Exposure hub to charge any usb units. It worked well, although could not be used in conjunction with the lights and would only charge above 15km/h which meant that you had to be on the flat or descending.

One downside to this unit was the Garmin Touring Plus that was used would automatically power down if the item was charging, then power removed. I.e. if the speed dropped below 15km/h. This became very frustrating as even at corners or junctions the unit would power off and sometimes take a long time to power back up and find our route again.

One solution that we found to this was to use a small power pack to charge the Garmin and leave the dynamo to solely charge the lights.

IMG_6307

This did work well and provided around 4 full chargers until the battery was empty. This could only be charged from a power supply though and after day 4 both our wall chargers broke leaving us without any way of topping up battery levels at restaurants or hotels.

The rear wheel was also changed to an Easton EA90 Cyclocross disc wheel. This was far lighter than the stock wheel and was totally faultless during the whole race. Fewer spokes, but they all stayed tight and true, a sign of quality.

The tyres were changed to Continental GP 4 Seasons (25c on front and 28c on back) from the stock Kenda tread. These were faster rolling and lighter. They both had around 1000km of training rides in them before we set off and still have loads of life left. Brilliant tyres and very strongly recommend for this style of event. We were confident in their puncture resistance even when we did stray off the roads at times…

IMG_4311

In Switzerland we ended up on trails and cycle paths like these for around 60km. At the time, these were a nightmare as we felt they weren’t fast enough for us, but looking back, they were a welcome brake from the traffic.

The disc brakes, in my humble opinion, were a necessity on this race and they performed superbly. Descending the Stelvio, at 7am, in -7degrees with cold hands and loaded bikes was no major issue with discs. A real plus point for the bike.

IMG_6323The Fabric Scoop saddle was far more comfortable than it’s racy image would let you believe. Day 4/5 were pretty uncomfortable as we had spent close to 70 hours on the bikes so far, but either my bum start to fit the saddle more or the shape finally ‘broke’ in, but it was totally pain free after than for the following 2000km. Very strongly recommended. There are three shapes available; flat, shallow and radius. I was using the shallow.

My one gripe about the bike was that when tired, the Sram gears felt very heavy to shift due to the doubletap action, especially on the front. A huge effort was often required to change gear and some serious thought was put in if it was necessary. This may have had something to do with achilles tendon issues as I was frequently standing up on the pedals to climb to avoid changing gear.

Two punctures and a worn out bottom bracket. That is all that went wrong on a 12 day, 3600km adventure. Not worrying about the bike is such a huge relief when there are so many other things that need thinking about; navigating, eating, sleeping, drinking, riding, enjoying ourselves….

A brilliant, versatile, reliable, efficient bike…I would happily use it again for this style of event.

Le Tour de Mont Blanc

ben mb

This summer on top of all the one day races and events that we are competing in and some heavy training getting ready for the Trans Continental 2014 race, I have signed up to compete in the Tour de Mont Blanc.

I have never ridden anywhere near as far as this, or done anywhere close to the amount of climbing that is needed to complete this event, but I thought it would be a fantastic chance to see how much I could achieve on a bike. After all, if I was going to try it any summer, then it would be this one after hopefully having come off the back of a good winter season of cycling, xc skiing and running and loads of events to aim for.

The race it’s self will take in 7 Hor Category Climbs and over 8000m verticle of climbing over 330km. This is going to be one hell of a ride and one that I will be looking to complete rather than compete in.

Gaby and I will be completing this course as a recky some time before the event in 2 days to practise camping and touring with as lightweight kit as possible and to gauge where the toughest climbs of the course will be. Also to experience a great ride through 3 countries and climb some cols that we haven’t experienced yet.

If I can compete this event and feel relatively ‘comfortable’ at the end of it, then I feel I will be in a good position to attack the TCR.

“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it, It’s the hard that makes it great”

The Transcontinental

Europelatemaedited

This summer we have taken on the challenge of the 2014 Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul (3200km in 14 days just to finish). It’s going to be very physically but also with a huge mental aspect; pushing on through fatigue, steep climbs, navigation and battling through what the weather decides to bring our way. Not to mention where to bivy for the night, what to eat and where to wash?

One thing we have on our side is being lucky enough to be bases in the French alps with iconic climbs on our doorstep and accessible on our lunch breaks. We have been slightly limited recently due to the snow that comes with living in a valley surrounded by some of the largest ski resorts in the world, but we have been using the time to get in some flatter longer rides out towards Annecy and Chambery.

To keep up momentum and to give us achievable goals to work towards we have also entered the following events throughout the spring and summer:

Le Bisou
6/4/14             (141km and flat ish around Bourg en Bresse)

Gran Fondo Ventoux
31/5/14           (170km with 3500m of climbing)

Time Megeve
8/6/13             (145km with 3850m of climbing)

Morzine – Haute Chablais
22/6/14          (160km with 3600m of climbing)

Here is a video from last years Transcon from the guys over at AWOL which gives a small taster of whats to come….