Finally, I am back writing. Please excuse my extensive silence.
Well this year begins quite early with a beautiful journey into the heights of Morocco. Nelson followed some recommendations and decided to set up a race into the vastness of morocco. There it is, the inaugural version of the Atlas Mountain Race (AMR). The route of the race is fixed which means all riders will travel on the „exact“ same track that was provided by the race committee.
As I already wanted to join each of the two previous versions of the SRMR, it really is time to make the step into the Atlas mountains now. Usually Transcimbrica is the very first cycling event in the year, in late winter.
This races gives me the opportunity to really changes my mode of preparation as well as the was of cycling and the selection of the required equipment.
My simple plan is to ride way more independent than ever before. This requires one more bag compared to my usual concept of equipping the bike. This time the handlebar will hold a bag. Two to three additional water bottles will be stored on the frame. Let us see if this way of transporting water will prevail or if this will be adjusted in the future.
I am expecting a breathtaking experience, breathtaking in more than one way. I am so keen to meet the people outside the big melting pots. Outside where strangers like us are rare. Outside where no lights disturb the view into the night. Outside where the elements are at its purest! I am looking forward to writing into this blog again and trying to transport and express my impressions, sufferings and feelings.
But let us start with the bike itself. For the long journeys made I do strongly love the C5 from Cervelo as it provides me with an amazing comfort on the road. The only limitation of this bike is the tire clearance, officially 32mm tires can be used in that frame. So is was time to find something different. Originally I was considering a mountain bike for remote travels like this, but I truly love the opportunity of big wheels and going faster, if the circumstances allow me to. I am not considering a new MTB setup, as my existing options for it are 26“ I am saying the huge wheels of another „new“ bike are attracting me.
Already back in early 2019 I discussed a rough setup of two OPEN bikes with Micha from Fahrstil clubhouse. But as the bicycle was not really needed last year, the idea caught some dust, over time. At the end of 2019 I decided to go for one new bike as AMR was calling.
OPEN delivered an RTP (ready to paint) version of their frame and I only had to decide on the paint job. Keep it smart and simple, let us go for British Racing Green and let the frame smile when the sun kisses it. So we added some golden flakes into the finishing layer. I decided to add this color also to the enve stem and navigation mount.
Part wise I tried to keep it simple and wanted to continue the running system of my technical endurance cycling history.
Wheels are set up on Duke rims, combined with a son dynamo hub in front and a smooth ChrisKing hub in the rear. Sapim CX spokes connect both of it.
Especially for AMR, the rear hub is equipped with a 11-speed cassette, 11:40.
ChrisKing also provides the bottom bracket and the Headtube bearings. To my knowledge ChrisKing is the only manufacturer who does not define its bottom bracket as a ware part, as long as you maintain it according to the requirements.
The disc rotors are delivered by Trickstuff, called Dächle, 160mm for the front as well as for the rear. The nice thing about the rotors is that the outside edge is carved so that a reinstallation of wheel is quite simple and smooth the rotor finds its way between the two brake pads very easy.
Rotor 3D+ is the crankset the I decided on. I definitely want to stick on two chainrings in front. Compact, 50:34. This offers a ratio of 40:34, a comfort that I never had in my life. It feels like flying up the ascents.
Shifting and breaking is both executed under the responsibility of Sram HRD-Etap, the classic 11-speed version. It was not easy to find all parts of it, as it was officially replaced by the all-new and not compatible 12-speed AXS edition. I am relying on the original version as I totally fell in love with it, in February of 2016. The brake pads are also delivered by Trickstuff, goes perfectly along with their disc rotors.
The handlebar was a thing. I do love the enve ses aero bar as it comes with an aero/ flat top tube. This helps a lot with my carpal and ulnar nerves issues in both of my hands, on that particular handlebar my hand do not get numb. I felt even a 46 cm version was too narrow and in addition the clip-on tt bars are hard to get and incredibly expensive. Curve published their crazy wide drop bars with flare, looking at them in theory, it just appeared a bit too much. So a Salsa Cowchipper 46cm came into action. It is an amazing piece of art and until now I do start to love it. I wrapped a soft base layer of bar tape, then some silicon cushion underneath the final layer of bar tape, a natural nomad leather from Gusti leather, Rostock.
My wife borrowed her deda TT-bar, it is in my storage bag on the way to Morocco and it will be mounted to the handlebar, as it already was during the Christmas ride.
The combination of natural brown as second color beside the frames‘ color itself, originated in the existence of a Brooks swallow ‚Select‘ model with copper rivets that was sleeping in my shelf for a really long time. I have one seen it on a bicycle at the inaugural race of Hardcro, back in 2016 on Artur‘s bike. At that time I was riding on a black ti version of the swallow and I immediately fell in love with this „Select“ as it is covered with natural thick nomad leather.
Coming to the tires, I wanted to test René Herse’s products for quite a while already. Now it is time for doing so. Luckily their new endurance+ version matches perfectly to my natural nomad leather setup. The endurance+ tan walls are even darker, so everything works perfectly together, not only but also for the visual foot print.
The big new thing for me is the bag upfront my bike. As I do love the waterproof seat pack from Ortlieb, the handlebar bag is from the same series, relaxing in the shelf for already some years until now.
Inside this bag is a tent a cooker and some food.
Well, this being said I have to start back in 2019 as I started an extensive search on the market of tents for one and two persons. Having several communications with nemo, msr and big agnes designers as I could not understand many of their designs. It was clear from the beginning that if a tent shall be on board, I would have to build my very own sticks for the structure as all existing concepts for „real“ tents are too long for comfortably fitting between the drops of a drop bar, as I want to ride it. By the end of 2019 summer, Big Agnes came up with great news. Not saying that our conversation led to this decision but I was really happy that obviously they heard the shot and put their foot onto the „new“ market of bike packing. They offered some of their models with shortened sticks and some additional gimmicks for riders. After my research of the market, two products from Big Agnes were among my top selection. Generally it was clear that tarps are not what I was looking for, also not tents that cannot be hold in place by their structure only. So these three criteria reduced the options to a minimum.
If I go the next step from water proof bivy to a tent, this shall be a proper tent, without compromise, except for high winter expeditions, so three seasons shall be covered by that tent. I decided to go for a two person tent, it may occur to travel by two and it provides a little more space when traveling alone, the additional weight is still more than acceptable. The tent shall have two shell, so you not immediately touch the outside shell when moving your arms or legs. Some tents offer two entries when the tent is made for two persons. This is a nice feature, but it was not prevailing on my benefit analysis.
The Fly Creek HV UL2 Bike Packing from Big Agnes was my final choice. So far an amazing tent on the internet. But how to get it over to Europe as it is still not available here now. To took from early autumn until the early winter until I finally held this piece inMy hands. Wow. This package was the smallest real tent that I ever had in my hands. I opened it and built it up in less than 5 minutes at my very first test, including the foot print. The biggest pro for me was that I could build up the structure first and fix the rain proof outer structure, secondly I could connect the foot print and at last I could hang up the inner tent. In rough weather, for me this is the one and only sequence for setting up a tent and keeping the inside -more of less- dry. Great compliments for these options. The big minor of a tent, compared to a bivy is that you cannot see. You just cannot see, what is happening, the sky and so on. This is a big difference for me and this was what gave an incredible kind of freedom to myself. Opening your eyes and being able to look at everything. We will see how I can get used to that fact, in my mind it feels like a cage that I do not want to stay in.
The second addition that fits into the handlebar nag is a cooker. What kind of cooker/ boiler shall it be. Gas or fuel fired, only for boiling water or also with an option for cooking. In the last second of decision making I decided for a bigger width of the pot so I can cook on the fire and I can clean the pot afterwards. Until now I am testing a gas fired solution, as it is available in small canisters that can be easily stored inside the pot. This may become a different thing when travels become longer in time and even more remote. Then a multi fuel burner from msr may come into action. By now I made the decision on the micromo from Jetboil. Amazing speed for heating up water and you can regulate the flame, which is not possible for the small boilers. I packed some dried food (6 meals) so I can cook out in nowhere. Of course I packed a cup and some freshly grinded finest Mehari coffee for having unique and breathtaking breakfast somewhere out there.
These items extend my usual equipment check list in a serious manner towards being really self supported and being independent. Of course this setup bring 3.5 additional kilograms to the scale. I am confident this additional weight is worth it!