It doesn’t get easier …

… you just go further

To paraphrase Greg Lemond.

With a bizarre and troubling similarity to TCR No. 8 – as soon as my North Cape 4000 entry was confirmed, I was knocked flat by the dreaded Whooping Cough / 100 Day Cough or whatever the nasty bug sweeping through the UK since December has been. I’d just about shaken enough of it for our family ski holiday, although our son was still battling it and didn’t get to ski as much as he would normally. But, as the New Year rolled around I’d improved enough to get back to some training – indoors mostly, with typical UK January weather plus family commitments.

And it’s been a decent few weeks. In fact, although unimpressive by the standards of many, my January stats are the largest volume of training I’ve done at the start of any year. So for me, coming back from illness, I’m pleased with my early progress. According to, my fitness level is roughly the same as it was heading into TCRNo8 – albeit that level was after 3 weeks of tapering, whereas the current stat is in the middle of active training. So there is plenty of work to do in the months ahead.

Preparation wise, it’s not just been about the training. With bucketloads of free evenings whilst Yoli was away I also spent some quality time obsessing over my kit list. Barring anything unforeseen, I think I have this down now – the main decisions/changes resulting from the process being:

  • Single beefier front light – a Ravemen PR2000. Larger battery, and with less expected night riding, and less pressure than TCR I’m not so obsessed about backups. Handily also USB-C based charging, in common with most of the devices I’ll be taking on this journey. It can act as a backup battery as well which. Over the final 1,000km of remote riding, with long hours of daylight, that makes it a useful fallback since I’ll only be packing a single 10,000mah power pack this time.
  • New EH-500 pedals. Honestly, I wouldn’t touch my pedals if the bearings weren’t shot and replacements of the right size being hard to source. Being somewhat pushed into that corner, I figured a pedal with a flat side could be useful in case of shoe or foot issues.
  • Lightweight Exped sleep bag & existing Alpkit bivvy. I dithered for ages on this one. But having read a ton of blogs, it’s clear that the northern section can and does get very cold even in summer. There’s every chance I may get unlucky and need to sleep in a bus shelter, so some warm gear will go in. I did ponder an existing bag I had, but the pack size was way larger – which became a factor with the next decision.
  • Revelate Polecat fork bags. Another point my thoughts wandered on was bar bag vs fork bags. But the fork bags are just a cleaner and easier fit. I really doubt any difference in wind resistance will have any effect given how un-aero and slow I am anyway. With my current cheapo ones now leaking like seives, a better quality set were needed.
  • A properly waterproof Galibier Tourmalet jacket – hopefully more able to withstand hours of rain (which seems almost certain) than my current lightweight jacket.
  • A couple of Endura high viz jerseys – lovely relaxed fit, and heavily discounted price being last summer’s models. A benefit of these is that, combined with the visibility of the jacket, there’s really no need to bring my high viz chest strap, which was always ungainly and cumbersome.
  • Full length ProViz waterproof leggings in place of the shorts I normally use. Again, the prospect of hours or days of rain drove me this way. Plus the overhang on top of shoe covers should help keep my feet drier too.
  • And one final part that I had no choice over – new DT Swiss Rims, laced onto my existing Hope Pro4 hubs by Gary my local bike mechanic at Ciclo. Back in December, I took the old rear wheel off to search for a tubeless leak and to my dismay, the issue turned out to be a split in the rim around one of the spoke holes, and nearly spanning to the neighbouring spokes. So there was really no choice but a rebuild.

In some ways, as I write this, it seems like a lot of new gear – more perhaps than I expected having done a few tours before. But there are definitely unique aspects to this adventure, and I’m pretty sure the above are a better fit than my existing gear in their respective areas. I guess the sleeping bag and new light were the main extravagances – but comfort and convenience won the day on those debates. With three weeks on the road, I reckon comfort deserves more consideration than it’d perhaps get in a typical bikepacking race like TCR.

2 Replies to “It doesn’t get easier …”

  1. Yeah – took a lot of searching to find this one. On it’s own it’d be a bit flaky, but combined with a lightweight bivi it rocks.

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