The Transcontinental

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series TCR No8

At 22:00 this evening in Geraardsbergen, the 8th edition of the Transcontinental Race begins. I am cap no. 214:

You can follow the race here:

I was hoping to write a but about how I’ve been preparing and how I’m feeling about the whole thing, but predictably I haven’t had the time.

In a couple of weeks’ time I’ll tell my story retrospectively with some better blog posts, but in the meantime here’s a bit about the kit.

I’ll also post updates on Instagram at @willvousden.

What I’m taking

Similar to what I took with me last year to Norway, but with a lot of refinement and adjustment for the different climate.

To summarise the main differences…

On the bike

  • Removed:
    • Mudguards – time to get serious
  • Replaced:
    • Old saddle bag → Restrap Race saddle bag
    • Old frame bag and top tube bags → Restrap Race equivalents
    • Old pump → Silca Tattico, which I am confident will not ruin my day by breaking the valve core
    • Cockpit mounted raspberry box → proper 3D-printed jobby
  • Added:
    • TyreWiz pressure sensors
  • Changed:
    • Handlebars lowered 10 mm, aero bars jacked up 10 mm to compensate

In the luggage

  • Removed:
    • Spare lycra
    • Cold-weather stuff like leg warmers, winter gloves, or overshoes
  • Replaced:
  • Added:
    • Down jacket – using the space freed up by not having the heavier bag
    • Silk liner – for when even the ultra-ultralight sleeping bag is too warm
All my kit

And that’s all I have time to write today!


A weekend in the Alps

An impromptu ride down to the Italian Alps to experience some of the climbs I’ve been meaning to do ever since moving to Munich: Stelvio, Gavia, and Timmelsjoch. Also to remember how to do multi-day rides in the run-up to the TCR. I realised how hard alpine climbing (on a bike) can be.

In numbers:

  • Kilometres cycled: 714
  • Metres of altitude gained: 11,000
  • Nights: 2
  • Nights with sleep: 1
  • Countries visited: 3
  • Passes ridden: 7 (some bigger than others)
  • Passes planned to be ridden: 8
  • Near-death experiences in tunnels: 1
  • Marmots spotted: 1
  • Train crashes spotted: 1



Around Norway: the kit

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Around Norway

I was going to combine this with a “lessons learned” post, but I know some people are eager to know what I took with me, so without further ado here’s the list.

With three full bottles of water, the bike and luggage weighed in at a shade over 20 kg. I didn’t weigh the bike beforehand, and I have to admit I was a little shocked when I eventually did weigh it at home, after the event. I think by slimming down my kit and choosing some lighter options I could maybe shed a couple of kilos, but I’m not sure I could realistically get it down much further than that without making too many compromises.

So here’s a list of what I took and how I set the bike up. I’ve written things roughly in order of how much I used them. Things that I didn’t use are starred* and things I would not bring again are struck through.



Around Norway, part 2: ferries, mountains, and bus shelters

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Around Norway

Lysebotn and the rest of day 3 were my first real taste of the Norwegian mountains and the day was a taxing one. By mid-afternoon I’d come down off the high ground and into a headwind on the Rv9 toward Haukeli. My energy was leaving me and I was feeling like I wasn’t going to last much longer. Thirsty, exhausted, and craving fresh food, I pulled up to a grocery shop in Valle for a break.

This was the first slump I’d had and I felt pretty rubbish about it. You’re supposed to just keep pedalling, right? And I was stopping just because I couldn’t face it? That’s not a good look. Well, I’m sure it’ll get better, but right now I need that bottle of pear juice in the fridge.



Around Norway, part 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Around Norway

tl;dr: I rode a bike-packing event covering pretty much the whole of sub-arctic Norway. The 3,400 km route took in Norway’s most iconic scenery and demanded payment in kind. I bike-packed my way to the end in 9 days, 8 hours, 43 minutes.

Some highlights:

  • 📈 Lots of climbing
  • ⛴ Inconvenient ferry timetables
  • 😰 A 1,000 m switchback descent, including a 1 km tunnel with a 10% hairpin inside it… that had to be climbed again afterwards
  • ⛽️ Extortionate petrol station food
  • 🚏 Camping in bus shelters
  • 🪦 Camping in graveyards
  • 🥵 Unbearable heat
  • 🥶 Unbearable cold
  • 🎭 Plentiful mood swings
  • 🏔 The most beautiful mountain scenery I’ve ever seen

This was a long ride and this is going to be a long write-up – long enough to merit several instalments. Riding so far is a complex experience and I’m not really sure how to capture the whole thing in a blog post, so we’ll see how this goes.