Welcome back ladies and gents! This week we will look at some of the gear I have accumulated over the past couple years as well as the gear that I’m going to ‘need’ for the race in France.
First, lets think about this for a second: What do you really need for a race? Like really really need? Well, I think it depends on the type of race, the duration and truly how fit you are. I have raced almost strictly enduro races in the mountains, so when it comes to setups, I have seen it all. You start to question what you have to carry when you see a rider on single speed hardtail with 1 water bottle and a few energy chews clean the floor with the backpacks-and-kneepads crowd.
Gear is deceiving. I have also seen people with $10,000 bikes and the nicest packs and accessories that money can buy gather like a herd in the last-place rankings. The reason gear can give you false impressions is that ultimately, performance comes down to the rider, not the gear they use. Really, your needs depend on lots of factors, the biggest ones being fitness and experience. There’s also a difference between the gear you need to train for a race and the gear that you carry during a race.
That being said, the right gear for the job makes a big difference. You don’t want to take a knife to a gun fight, and that’s why you don’t see Worldcup Downhill riders on hardtails. As I wrote previously, I recently upgraded from a mid-level trail bike to an EWS slaying machine that has carried some of the top riders to the podium. There’s no doubt in my mind that a more capable machine has improved some of my times, especially in super rough sections of trail.
Ok, enough opinions. Let’s talk specifics about what I’m thinking through as far as gear for training and for the race.
Throughout my training program I will definitely go through standard stuff like tires, tubeless fluid, spare tubes, brake pads and cleats—the things you have to replace when you are riding a lot in general. The more you ride, the more you need. Tires wear down faster, rims get out of true faster, brake pads wear down faster and your bike just needs more attention to stay ship-shape.
The other need for training is fuel—gels, bars and recovery drinks that will help your body get the most out of the work you are requiring of it. (My brother wrote about his approach to fueling for a stage race last year, which has been helpful for me.)
I’d also really love to get a hold of a Garmin or Suunto watch so I can keep track of my progression moving towards the race. Knowing where you’re at helps you know where you need to go, and having a watch for training would be a huge help.
The big question for me is how I’m going to be able to combat the never-ending reality of wear on equipment and need to fuel my body over the next 6 months…and buy a plane ticket after the entry fee alone drained my savings. Lets face it, I am not a professional rider and I am not sponsored…this brings up some potential challenges in the near future as well as for the race in general.
The answer? Hopefully I can get some people and brands behind me who see what I am all about, want to share my stoke for the sport, promote their products, and help me along the way!
I have a bike that’s up to the task, so what else will I need for the Trans-Provence race? After researching and looking into the race for a little while now, it seems like going over-prepared is going to be key. You don’t want to get stranded in the middle of French Alps, especially if that means not making a liaison or getting DNF on a stage. That means I’ll face the tricky challenge of carrying supplies and backup parts, but having to be weight-conscious at the same time. Here’s a list of what I’m currently thinking about having with me on the trail as far as equipment and parts go:
- Equipment and parts
- 2 extra tubes (and maybe some tubeless plugs)
- An extra stem
- Extra derailleur hanger (and maybe a spare derailleur??)
- A master-link and a few extra chainlinks
- Spare cleats and cleat bolts
- Spare brake pads
- Some strips of duct-tape, just in case
- First-aid kit
- An emergency beer 🍺
One of the big items I need to purchase is a good full-face helmet. In general, though, I’m also going to need several kits. I’m thinking about taking an extra pair of shoes, as well. Maybe that’s a little overkill, but maybe not. I have been on some pretty big adventures in my life and one of the most important things that I have learned is to not go unprepared. It’s a very fine line between weight and material you need to accomplish the goals ahead. Mountain biking is a bit different in my opinion than some other sports. No matter what you bring into the back country, something could go wrong on your bike that is unrepairable, unfortunately. I hope I do not run into any major problems in the race, but reality comes at you in the most undesirable times as I have experienced.
Help along the way
So, with all of that said, I’m going to try my best to pinch my pennies and put together the supplies I need, but I’m also going to network as hard as I can and try to get some great people and companies on my side to help me make the most of this amazing opportunity. Last year there were only a few riders from the United States who were invited, and I want to represent our scene as well as I can.