Tag Archives: packing

Trans Pyrenees 2016 – The Kit

In one week already, we are doing our first 1st-category climb in the Pyrenees during our self-supported duo-ride from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast (see the route in the previous post). Besides having a good route, with hotels booked for every night and transportation arranged for the first and last day, riding with a carefully assembled kit is the most crucial ingredient to our plan. So what do we need? Mostly clothes on and off the bike, tools and spares to repair a flat or replace a worn component, etc. Since we are going to bike through the Pyrenees (for dummies: a mountain range between France and Spain containing mountain passes over an altitude of 2000 metres, and weather that might change from sunshine to hailstorm over the course of five minutes), we need to be prepared for bad weather too even in June, which again calls for a few extra pieces of gear. Moreover, living in the 21st century, we ‘need’ some electronics, chargers, etc., mainly to recored our epic adventures. And on top of everything, we have to carry everything ourselves, since we don’t have a follow-car, or an organisation transporting all our crap from one stage to another for 9 days. Then come the aesthetics: we are not taking trekking bikes with massive racks filled with a ton of gear, because we want to keep it light and because racing bikes themselves are light, fast, and most importantly, pretty to look at. So we really only take what is absolutely necessary, this way sitting on the bike will still feel like just being out on a normal ride with a race bike. All in all, the following picture contains every piece of gear I will have with me during the ride.


Does not seem so much, right? We are using the regular size saddle pack from Apidura to carry our equipment, which adds an extra 3.6 kg to the bike with all our kit packed inside. We will have one set of normal clothes for going to a restaurant on the evenings, and two sets of cycling kit, so if we wash one after a ride and it does not get dry by the next morning, we still have something to wear (or if we crash and tear one bib, we have a backup…). Here is a full overview of the whole kit (obviously, the bike and the saddle bag is not on the picture):


And a detailed list of everything that we are taking:

– 1 bike (Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 Di2, with fully charged Di2 battery)
– 1 pair of cycling shoes (Sidi Wire)
– 2 pairs of cycling socks (Rapha; one Lightweight one ‘Data Print’)
– 2 bibs (Rapha; one Classic, one Lightweight)
– 2 base layers (Rapha; one Pro Team, one Merino)
– 2 jerseys (Rapha; one Team Sky Training Jersey, one Lightweight)
– 1 pair of gloves (Rapha Pro Team Mitts)
– 1 set of normal clothes (light sweater, shorts, T-shirt, 2 boxers, socks, light shoes)
– cycling cap (Castelli)
– cycling glasses (Oakley Jawbreaker)
– helmet (Giro Ionos)
– HR strap (Garmin)
– arm warmers (Rapha Merino)
– knee warmers (Rapha Merino)
– rain jacket (Rapha)
– gilet (Rapha Brevet)
– waterproof overshoes (GripGrab RaceAqua)
– contact lenses
– chamois creme (Assos, but in a smaller container)
– sunscreen
– 2 bottles (Rapha)
– saddle bag (Apidura)
– small front and rear lights (Bontrager Glo Headlight and Lezyne Led Zecto Drive)
– compact bike lock (BBB Cycling MicroSafe)
– 2 dry bags (Lezyne Caddy Sack; one for phone+IDs in jersey pocket, one for electronics)
– 2 inner tubes (Continental)
– outer tire (Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II 23 mm)
– mini pump (Topeak HybridRocket RX + two CO2 cartridges)
– tube patch kit (Park Tool Super Patch)
– multi tool (Lezyne, with chain tool)
– custom spoke key for my wheels (Mavic)
– 2 quick links (KMC Missing Link)
– spare rear derailleur hanger (specific for my bike)
– 2 spare brake pads (Shimano R55C4)
– spare cleat (Garmin Vector)
– chain oil (Muc-Off Hydrodynamic Lube)
– IDs, insurance cards, VISA
– toothbrush and toothpaste
– Flexium gel + some general pain killers (not on the picture)
– iPhone 6S + charger cable + USB adapter (with data roaming plan)
– Garmin Edge 520 + charger cable (with daily routes, empty memory, map of Pyrenees)
– GoPro HERO4 Silver + K-Edge mount + charger cable + 2 batteries + SD cards (64+32 GB)
– all booking documents and so in an electronic form on my phone

Besides these, we will have with us, but leave it in the car before the start:

– floor pump (nice to start with good pressure)
– a fresh set of clothes to change into for the ride home
– glasses
– bars, gels, and drink powder for the first (or first two) days, then we buy what we need
– shaving equipment (because after 9 days of not shaving, I will look like a hipster/hobo)

We are pretty much ready to go. I have already installed a new chain, a new cassette, cleaned the bike, and before we leave, I will still put in new batteries to everything that needs batteries (power meter, HR strap, speed sensor, front light), charge the Di2, install new cleats, and brake pads. I also need to take some cash out so we can pay at tiny shops along the road. I will sync the clock in the GoPro to the GPS time, so editing videos with metrics overlaid gets a bit easier. And some minor things like, cutting toe nails, putting the map and routes in my Garmin, and not forgetting our train ticket for the transport before the first stage. We will most likely not blog from the Pyrenees, but we will upload our rides to Strava, and most likely at least a few pictures to Instagram too. T-5 days and counting!

First days at the Observatorio del Teide

After finishing the internal version (ready to be sent to the co-authors) of my first paper on Wednesday evening after weeks of hard work (even on weekends) and iteration with my supervisors, I had to pack in for a full moth, as I was getting ready to leave for two observing runs and for some holidays to the Canary Islands. As always, packing took ages, so I had no sleep at all before my taxi arrived at 5 on the morning. The most difficult part was packing my racing bike to its bike box, because everything had to be placed very carefully, to avoid any possible damage during the flights. (The wheels were placed on top of the whole stuff in separate wheel-bags, but still into the bike box).


At the end (after I had to reopen the box – at which point I was swearing a bit – because I forgot to put the big pump inside…), I had 60 kg of luggage (and I even had to leave my tripod at home, because it really did not fit in anywhere): 32 kg in the bike box (as the box itself weights 12 kg, plus the bike is 8 kg, plus I put in some other stuff too to save space in my normal bag), 22 kg as normal check-in luggage, and 6 kg in my hand luggage. (And I had to pay only 75 € for the bike box, and nothing else. Luckily.) I took the Iberia flight to Madrid at 8 AM, then another from the same company to Tenerife after waiting two and a half hours at the airport. (I still love airports like this one.)


Luckily, as the original plan was only one and a half hour, and I was a bit afraid, that the bike box will not make it in time from one plane to another… A managed to get some sleep during the flights, but I was still extremely tired upon arriving to the Canaries. (And then it came to my mind that I will have to do the same endless packing three times again in the coming month… But OK, I stop complaining.) After collecting my normal luggage, I had to go down one floor to pick up my bike box, but that floor was completely deserted – with only a few lights turned on, endless baggage claim areas with no people around at all, and then, at the very end of the area, my bike box rolled out on its own, alone. With no personnel or anyone around. It was a bit scary… Then as I stepped outside, I was shocked by the 28°C air temperature, so I took off some clothes (:P) and headed to the taxi area as fast as I could. There, the taxi drivers were the ones under a slight shock, as they realized, that all this luggage was mine, and there was no other person traveling with me :D But no worries, everything fit in perfectly (with the rear seats leaned forward), and we were on our long way up to the observatory in no time. It was still early afternoon when I arrived and checked in at the Residencia of the Observatorio del Teide. (I might consider learning Spanish instead of Dutch, if I want to get a job after my PhD as a support astronomer somewhere…) I even met two Hungarians, which was a nice surprise! As I was extremely tired, I had not done anything later that day, except that I assembled my bike, and unpacked all my bags. Yesterday I woke up at around midday, and after a nice lunch, I went for a relatively short acclimatization ride on the afternoon. (GPS details here.) My policy is the following: as I am on a work trip here, I only go cycling on those days, when I have no observing duties on the following night (because I might be in a good shape, but staying up all night and working with expensive equipment is not something you want to do tired).


First I went down to 2000 meter towards the NE (passing the famous colorful curves of the TF-24 road – see picture above), than I turned back, and climbed up almost to the point where I started, but as I felt still quite strong and I had still a lot of water in my bottles, I decided to ride a bit to the other direction on TF-21 towards the Teide volcano. It was really nice, with slopes between 4 % and 12 % (with 7-8 % most of the time).


I made two short videos about the roads and the scenery from the bike, which are not the best quality (as I had only my compact camera with me), but they can be seen here and here. It is worth checking them anyway, as you can see how my new cycling glasses fit me :) I think they are extremely cool ;D The road quality is not the best everywhere, but it is generally OK. There are silk-smooth parts, and there are places, where one have to be a bit more careful… After 50 km and 1000 meter of elevation gain, I arrived back well before lunch, so I had time to take a shower and check my mail before I joined the others at the table. Later that night I tried to stay up as late as possible (watching TV series on my MacBook) to shift my rhythm from day to nigh-time, but I had to go to bed already at 3 AM. Still I think it is OK, as I managed to sleep till midday today, so by the end of the forthcoming night, the shift will be complete. Now I am praying for good weather, because the last nights were a complete disaster for the previous observers, and we need data badly…