Well all I can say is it's been an 'experience'. I had initially planned to cycle from Munich to Rome to meet my family on holiday in Sardinia but basically nothing went well and everything went tits up.
Easiest to do some positives and negatives
- Munich is nice, had some sausage and a giant pickle. My friends dad who's a cyclist took the morning off work to help me get some new stuff.
- Given some beers from a bike shop after they heard about ordeal
- I checked into a random Austrian hotel at midnight soaked and freezing. They took pity on me and let me in for around 1/4 the normal price.
- Dolomites were very nice
- Arrived in Trento and a whole pile of Italians started buying me beers
- I had a good pizza
- I met some interesting cyclists on the train
- I had a Padina
- 5 minutes after leaving my house I realised I had forgotten my shoes
- Everything stolen subsequently arrived to my accommodation late then got little sleep because I was pissed off.
- Had to wait till the shops opened at 10am.
- The screws for my cleats were wrong that I bought from a second hand shop so they kept loosening. Occasionally twisting my knee
- Only left Munich at 6pm
- Rain started at 8pm just as I was getting to the bottom of the Alps. I got cold and all my lovely sandwiches got soaked.
- Stopped earlier than I had hoped because my back light stopped working. When I got to the hotel I took it apart and some water came out, it started working but decided to break again the next night. The following night the police escorted me off the motorway with a broken back light.
- I wish I'd not done the Brenner pass as my 'big climb'. It's pretty dull and full of motorbikes and fancy cars.
- I arrived in Trento and whilst having my pizza on the outskirts I'd booked a cheap hotel next to the train station. Little did I know this was right in the middle of an annual all night party called Notte Bianca. I put some tissues in my ears but the bass was deep enough for it to reverberate through my entire body. Once I got to sleep I was woken at 4 by some drunk revellers who had opened my stupidly unlocked door to discover me sprawled nude across my bed.
- The whole Italian train fiasco. On the regional train to Bologna I spoke to an Italian and American cyclist who said I couldn't take it on the fast inter-regional trains. But they agreed if I just got on, played ignorant and was generally considerate they may take pity on me. So the first train arrived I was just about to get onto then the conductor came and told me to piss off, he wasn't happy. Luckily one of the station info guys saw this and was super helpful and nice about everything. He took me the main info office where for 2.5 hours they discussed taking the bike onto the train. Eventually he sourced me some big bin bags. At this point I got onto the train but it was a real ball ache to carry around. I really don't understand why they make it so difficult, my dismantled bike took up way more space, was less mobile and it annoyed me.
- I got to Rome to transfer to the port and whilst walking from platform 4 to 25 I must have lost one half of my skewer for my front wheel... No I have to source at skewer in Cagliari at 7am when I arrive.
- On the final train the police came and questioned me for 20 minutes, looking at all my cards, ID, passport, plane tickets, train ticket and ferry ticket. Very odd, told me it was normal but I suspect not.
- Whilst in the taxi from the station to the port my taxi driver got into a road rage fight with another car, I was already late so this wasn't helping.
- All in all its been an interesting experience and I've learnt some important lessons, mainly allow more time for this kind of stuff for disruptions. I'm happy with my set up for the TCR. I guess the final verdict will depend upon what my insurers say otherwise it's gonna be few months of credit card bills.
In terms of a trip report there's not much else so I'll do it in pictorial form:
Day 1 Travel to Munich
I got to Munich with no problem on the plane then when I was buying my train tickets to get to the city centre I left my bag on a trolley and when I got back to it approximately 3 minutes later it had been later. 2 hours searching and with the police I headed into Munich to stay with my friend's Dad who lived there.
Day 2 Munich - Austria 90km
Arthur's dad took the morning off work and showed me around Munich and helped me get back onto my feet. Eventually at 6pm I left. I made it to the foothills of the Alps and into Austria. A broken back light ended play early for the day and I found a hotel. They took pity on me and gave me a fantastic rate
Day 3 Austria - Trento, Italy 200km
Today I cycled to Innsbruck followed by the Brenner pass, which isn't the best cycling road in the world. This was followed by a fairly flat/boring descent into a headwind till Trento going through lots of illegal tunnels/roads by accident. In Trento I searched for a good pizzeria and found one where a group of Italians started buying me beers.
Day 4 Trento - the Sea
Fairly uninteresting day. Just train fiasco then a ferry
Day 5 Cagliari - Hotel 40km
So here is a kit review of the things I differently from last years TCR:
This is a fantastic piece of kit, extremely useful for putting your phone whilst it charges off my Sinewave. Good for putting a coke bottle, tube of Pringles or some insect spray. I'm definitely going to get another for the other side.
This year I've compartmentalised I.e. Electronics in top tube bag, valuables in left of frame bay, tools in water bottle, clothes in right frame bag, toiletries in smaller top tube bag etc. This is saving me tones of faffing time and importantly 90% of what I need is reachable whilst riding.
Got rid of the saddle bag. Last year it was a pain to get something out. It's a good piece of kit say if you've got your entire sleeping set up and you only need to get it out once a day when you're not riding. Last year I'd accidentally put my rain jacket in the bottom and I'd waste 5 minutes retrieving it whilst this year I could get it out and have it on within a minute whilst still riding.
This year I've got 4.7 litres of water which is more than twice last years. Now I'll only need to stop to refill every 5-6 hours.
Space for food
Last year I had no space for food so I ended up really filling up my jersey. This year the bag at the front is empty but will be filled with food. I estimate I can carry 24 hours worth of food at a time.
This I believe is absolutely necessary. Last year during the TCR I felt there were times that I was actively sitting around waiting for things to charge. It also means I've got a really powerful light.
Internet/4G on phone
Having 4G on my phone this weekend made me realise how much time last year I spent sitting around trying to get WiFi. I'll admit I'm pretty bad when it comes to WiFi but at least if I have it on my phone I quench my addiction whilst still cycling in smaller doses. It's also immensely useful for finding food/hotels etc.
Things still that I need to change:
Fit the entire repair kit into the caddy sack. At the moment I've got the odd piece of repair kit floating about in some other bag
Simplify my electronics. Currently I've got a 10000mah battery charger which is probably overkill so will try and get something more compact. I'm also going to get shorter cables, no need for them to be longer than 50cm.
Raise up my tribars so I've got better access to my feed bags and give myself better access to the flats of my handlebars
Get a larger cassette. I thought this during last year, during the Valleycat and during this weekend. Pretty much any time I've been climbing I wish I had a larger cassette. This year I'm going to do it.
Things to do before the race:
Sort out drugs (Paracetomol, Ibuprofen, Caffeine and Immodium)
Get the chammy cream in smaller containers
Fit the cassette and chain
Fit the pump
Spare back light
Send off back light
Sort out cables
Sort out Dynamo cables
So whilst I was cycling I considered what I'd do given a lot more money:
Lightest weight synthetic down jacket
Lighter/more compact leg warmers
Super awesome rain coat
Dynamo back light
Di-2 and tri-bar options
Full frame bag