My bike for the Transcontinental Race is the Mason Definition - a perfect balance between comfort and agility - with a few individual twists.
The approach while finding the right setup was to aim for a build that would bring as much riding pleasure as possible - a bike on which you would hardly ever feel the urge to stop.
Certainly that should always be the first thought when planning bikes anyway, but it can mean very different things for each rider.
I opted for mechanical Growtac Equal brakes, which are lightweight, deliver superbe braking power and are easier to handle in case of mechanical problems than hydraulic systems. I also love them because they allow me to use my mechanical Ultegra STI levers, providing better ergonomics for small hands than hydraulic ones.
There's a nice anecdote around the Ultegra brifters: I got these from a small bike shop in Barcelona, after my old ones gave up only one day after I arrived at the finish of the Three Peaks Bike Race 2021. Back then, components like these were extremely hard to get your hands on due to the Covid Pandemic. It took several phone calls until we sourced this set from a gentlemen in a very oldschool bike shop - they were quite certainly the only set left in Barcelona at this point.
The drivetrain consists mostly of Ultegra components, combined with a Sram 11-36 cassette and a Power2max/Rotor crank with 48/31 chainrings and a powermeter.
This should allow me to pedal smoothly, even when the steep gravel kicks in - because although the TCR is labeled a road race, it's quite infamous for sprinkling in a few gnarly bits over the course to challenge participants and their equipment.
This year's edition will be one of the shortest, but to make it not too easy, the elevation ratio is one of the highest ever. This led to my decision against aero clip-on bars. I did most of my long distance races without them and prefer to use the whole variety of positions on my very comfortable Zipp bars, which are already aero enough. ;)
It will be my first time running a dynamo to be more independent and worry-free, relying on a mix of dynamo and battery lights.
Since my dynamo light initially couldn't be switched off at night due to a light sensor, I added a little toggle switch so I can choose between charging my devices with the Igaroo D2 + battery-light or using the dynamo light to have the best of both worlds.
To add a bit of aero vibes to my setup, I combined my custom HUNT 30 carbon dynamo front wheel with a 50 Aero Carbon in the back. Additional comfort comes with the Rene Herse Barlow Pass Endurance tire (38mm) and the Bon Jon Pass Endurance (35mm), both tubeless, for maximum comfort and safety.
Various little details make this bike my absolute dream build - apart from the obvious : the outstanding craftsmanship and expertise of Mason, who designed the Definition for fast and far rides over various terrain, making it THE bike for the definite long distance bikepacking race across Europe - the Transcontinental Race.
But additionally there are all these little details which make this bike my bike.
There's the stem cap with 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa' to remind me that nature is uncontrollable and much more powerful than we could ever dare to dream. We as human beings are not in control, out there we are no more than tiny dots, afloat in an open sea. Nonetheless, we are part of it, we can surf the waves of euphoria and frustration and we can find strength in movement.
There's the custom framebag by Jakob, who crafts beautiful bikepacking gear with his small individual label 'Von Berg Bags'. It was worth every penny to finally have a bag that fits my small frame size perfectly. And on top of that, it also matches the colour scheme. ;)
There are the stickers I applied to be seen at night and to cheer me up when times get rough.
There's the water pistol to scare off stray dogs - because I don't want to maze them (and probably myself) or throw stones (which, in my experience, is useless anyway, but maybe I met the wrong dogs).
There are the SPD pedal adapters to have flat pedals on one side, to not having to cut open my shoes at some point again, like I did during the Three Peaks Bike Race, when the pain in my toes became unbearable.
And then there's the Madonna del Ghisallo, which I got from a fellow rider, who sent it to me with the words:
'She has accompanied and kept me safe for many thousands of kilometers. And now it's time for her to do the same for you. For the times when you have to dig deep, may you find the strength.
All the best, come home safe!
When you come across another rider that is in need, maybe you will pass her on.
What else do I need?