Get a brother in law with a camper van and a yen to do something similar is a must; brilliant support and makes the whole experience more comfortable and enjoyable than sleeping in bus stops and living on petrol station food.

I don’t see myself entering the transcontinental any time soon I am afraid! A big thanks to David for his help and support.

Distance

Give careful consideration about what you want from the journey, though 110 miles a day is achievable if you put enough effort into your training, it will not be like setting out from home and doing it. Don’t underestimate the amount of faffing about time either end of the day that will eat into cycling time. Plan some breaks in the schedule to replenish. If you want a more relaxing schedule plan shorter days, on reflection 65 to 75 miles a day would have been better. I had a vision meeting for lunch and then rolling into the camp site at 3 o’clock every day having a bit of a wind down a bit of a tinker with the bike and a bit of R&R, this only really happened on day 2, 67 miles and from day 12 at the end when we had to re-plan around open camp sites. The rest of the time it was an endurance event, though not on transcontinental standards.

Only when driving back do you appreciate that 1350 miles and 75000ft of ascent is actually quite a long way, so I am please I managed it I think my next trip will be shorter.

Equipment

I rode a BMC Team Machine SLR; really a road race bike, so light but a bit bumpy at times. I had it set up with compact gearing, so 50/34 up front and 11/32 (new cassette and chain at the start) at the rear (Fred Whitton Gearing) was actually really good, it was fast and with the Selle Italia Gel Flow saddle was quite comfortable, though doing 100 miles a day I can’t say it was comfortable all day every day. A good pair of shorts with a comfortable seat pad and chamois cream applied every morning before departure. I had a bar top bag and a hanging bar bag to either take stuff off if it got hot or put it on if it got cold. I was running an old version of Di2 with an external battery holder. This was good as I could carry a spare battery and swap it if needed, which I did on one day. I set up a new set of Schwalbe Pro One tubeless road tyres, these worked well, despite abusing them on several occasions on gravel sections or on some less than perfect Italian road surfaces. I had 3 punctures none of which required me to stop or to pump up the tyres during the day. I did check the rear tyre daily and after picking up a cut in the tyre on day 5 it did loose pressure overnight but maintained enough to run through the day, if I was diligent I would have patched it on the inside.

Navigation

This is critical, every day setting out to a new destination without knowledge of the route. I used a Garmin 1000 combined with routes planned in ridewithgps to give turn by turn directions. I spend a lot of time looking at the routes within ridewithgps drop the google man on the map take a look at the roads and surroundings though I still ended up on some gravel. Be careful with trying to move the route by dragging once its planned, often the route might double up on itself or put a strange turn off to the side, your GPS will follow this to the letter and tell you are off course or to turn around, if you slavishly follow it you can find yourself going around in circles. Before the trip plan a number of routes around roads that you already know get used to the device and the planning tool so that you can make some objective judgements about where it’s telling you to go. Given the way we were travelling with David rocking up in the van every day I had the luxury of having a laptop and usually a reasonable WiFi connection so in the event of a need to re-plan I just popped the laptop out and looked at options. 

Garmin

My Garmin 1000 seemed to run out of power after about 7hrs 30mins, I carried a backup USB boost battery, and ran a cable from my bar bag to the Garmin if it ran out. This works OK in the dry but for the 1000 wouldn’t work in the rain, you would have to stop and charge. It also seemed to last longer if the map isn’t displayed all the time, so using a numbers screen but showing the distance to next junction on this screen but selecting that it shows details of the junction when you get within 0.1m so it pops up with the map at this point. When navigating through a town or city then switch to map all the time as you may have traffic distractions that put you off course and if you can see the map you can hopefully understand when you will next need to turn. For a large variation on a route I didn’t manage to find an easy on the fly variation (e.g. when I had started cycling a route) other than looking at a map and working it out for yourself; if you have data enabled on your phone use google maps for this. After passing a junction, check the Garmin, if it’s saying off route you have probably gone wrong, but not necessarily as sometimes a lost signal for a short time can cause this. At this point take a look at the map and see where the purple line is going. This page on the ridewithgps had some useful advice on the settings to make the Garmin work well, I had recalculation prompted set, this is useful as it keeps asking you if you are off route if you want to re-calculate, then you can choose, take a look at its suggestion and decide if you like it, the route will come up as pink, it will not work in the same way as your set route and will not give you turn by turn so keep the map up. It will try to take back to the route by the shortest possible route which sometimes is back the way you came.

Training

Well I started the year early in Feb/March with a couple of sessions a week indoors on a trainer and then a weekend ride, possibly road or if the weather was frosty on my mountain bike. I had enetered the Fred Whitton so when the weather cheered up a bit at the end of March and in April I stepped up the road millage with a focus on doing some hills building up to about 120 to 150 miles a week. By the end of April I would be doing an 80 or 90 miler on Sunday focussing on doing 5000 to 6000ft of climbing, plus a weekend visit to the Peak district with 8000ft of climbing. After this I had entered a number of the Friday Night Summer Series mountain bike races so short fast races, not really anything like the endurance event. Having sorted the nature of the event out route out by the end of June I then cribbed a training schedule from an LJOG site and adapated it to my event. So I was then doing morning rides 3 times a week plus a big weekend ride building the numbers up to nearly 300miles per week, so in August I had done about 1100 miles. I didn't do many back to back big days out though, this may of helped but it just eats up a lot of time, and I started getting bored with doing the same routes. At the end I think I was pretty well prepared, I did the first 8 days without a break and they were quite intense. On the event itself I can thank Jack and Andy for sound advice; don't go too hard its not a Gorrilla ride, if you are moving forwards whats to worry about the speed. If you have a power meter keep an average of about 150w. So average speed 13 to 14mph is OK especailly for hilly days.