What to Bring When You Ride Across America

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We had a lot of people write to us asking what Brad took when he rode across the country last month. It turns out that a lot of our riders are serious long distance randonneurs and bike-packers, two groups who are constantly scrutinizing every bit of food, clothing and equipment they haul on their adventures. So we asked Brad to give us the scoop on what he took, when he raced the Trans-Am Bike Race.

He said:

For a ride like this that takes in so many climate zones over such a long period of time, it is almost impossible to prepare correctly. I think the eternal question is what to bring. What do you need and what can you leave behind.  I went with what I felt comfortable with having and knowing that, if something went wrong, I could fix it, or take care of it. There was the question of how often I would use the things I brought. If I didn’t foresee using them in the space of 24 hours did I really need them? I thought about that and decided having some little extra things would go a long way.

Looking at it now, with 4400 miles behind me, I can see what I could have done without, but I am totally happy with what I went with, too.

I didn’t bring much cold weather gear and got through two mornings 30s by layering up and riding until the sun warmed me. Cold nights I would do the same for sleeping. There were a lot of hot and sunny days, so sun coverage became more important overall than warmth, lots of sun screen and sun sleeves. I knew trying to ride with a killer sunburn would just be miserable.

I worked off a Garmin GPS, but having the maps to cross reference was great. Being able to see what is ahead of you for services gave me nice peace of mind, except when that one store was closed or, even worse, not there anymore.

IMG_2543Getting back to the question of what to bring though, here is the detail on what I packed:

2- Sea-to-Summit 5 liter dry bags.

1- Revelate Designs Viscacha saddle bag

1- Ortlieb handlebar bag

In one of the Sea-to-Summit bags I packed sleeping gear: Nimo bivy, Nimo Astro Insulated Lite Pad, Sea-to-Summit pillow, merino wool sleeping liner.

IMG_2534In the other Sea-to-Summit, I packed odd bits: two spare tubes, patch kit, brake pads, chain quick links, wire connectors, shrink tubing, small first aid kit, soap, baby oil, tent spikes and repair kit, cables for charging, spare batteries, and zip ties.

IMG_2532In the Viscacha Saddle Bag I packed clothing: 3 pair socks from the Athletic and Rapha, two kits, Rapha rain jacket, Rapha brevet vest, Rapha long sleeve brevet jersey, Ibex long sleeve merino wool base layer, Ibex wool cap, Drifters bandana, 1 t-shirt, 1 pair running shorts, 1 cap, 1 pack towel, 1 tube, 1 toe strap, a spare tire that i gave away,  and my Spot tracker.

IMG_2528In the Ortlieb handlebar bag, I packed the stuff I wanted instant access to: snacks! maps, sun screen, sun sleeves, camera and charger, multi tool, chain breaker, chain lube, knife, spork, full finger gloves that I lost trying to dry them off from the humidity in Missouri, tooth paste and tooth brush, a tube, a pen, a notebook, matches, external battery charger and wires, and some pennies I found.

Of course, the bike is worth mentioning. I rode a Seven Cycles Evergreen SL with a SRAM Red 22 group, Velocity Aileron rims, Son 28 generator hub front and Velocity hub rear, 700×28 Ruffy Tuffy tires, Super Nova E3 front and rear lights, Brooks Cambium saddle, Thomson stem and post, FSA bars, Garmin 1000, Time ATAC pedals, 3 King Cages and water bottles.

bRad Across America – FINISHED

18718024464_bf9bacd64c_kToday, we are very proud to say that Brad (bRad) finished the Trans Am Bike Race in 25 days 10 hours 31 minutes. 4406 miles. Astoria Oregon to Yorktown Virginia. Average miles, 176 per day. See previous reports on his progress here, here, here and here.

This is/was the ride of a lifetime, and Brad managed it with zero mechanicals and not one flat. He pushed through all the fatigue, kept his daily mileage up, and crushed it.

We’ll follow up with a full trip report and some insight from Brad into what it takes to race across the continent, but for today we’ll just say that we are so, so proud and happy for him.

bRad Across America – Almost Home

When last we visited our young hero, he was barreling through the Mid-West, spinning ever closer to the end of the Trans Am Bike Race.

Kentucky offered up climb after climb after climb. And dogs. Lots of chasing dogs. But that’s America, right? On into Virginia he rode, until today, in sight of Yorktown, and the finish. Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion, and in the meantime, enjoy some photos from the road.19005435270_69660e7bb2_h19077456410_2262dad92c_h19106011230_ef6824843b_h19078916629_de2961192f_h19268920481_2085e4097c_h

Where Does Performance Really Come From?

bxs_CDThere is this idea that, to perform really well, a bike has to be hyper-stiff, and/or the rider has to get into a maximally aerodynamic position, as if either of these characteristics, alone, yields speed.

In the last few weeks we’ve received dozens of photos of Seven riders taking on challenges like the Trans Am Bike Race, 600k brevets, the Green Mountain Double Century and Dirty Kanza. As a percentage, Seven is disproportionately represented at these events, which is to say, you see a lot more of our bikes at events that require maximum performance from racers and riders. And why is that?

Torsional rigidty, drivetrain stiffness and aerodynamics can all be good things, but in our experience they have to be balanced against fit and comfort. If the rider isn’t comfortable in his or her “aero” position, it won’t be possible to generate big power. If a rider isn’t comfortable on the bike, it will be exponentially more difficult to cover big distance.

When the chips are down and things like fit and comfort come to the fore, a custom Seven shines, because we seek those balances in all our designs. Peak performance, and peak fun, too, don’t come from shorthand answers to design questions. They come from thoughtful design, carefully chosen materials and a rider-specific approach.

bRad Across America – Through the Mid West

When last we checked Brad’s progress in the Trans Am Bike Race, he was cruising through the Rockies. Over the last few days, he’s really put the pedal down (pun intended) and crossed off all of Kansas and most of Missouri. He’ll cross the southern tip of Illinois and then head into Kentucky over the next few days. If he didn’t still have so far to go, we’d say he’s on the run in to the finish. And while he’s confessed to being tired, he’s still covering 150-200 miles a day, sometimes riding at after dark to avoid the mid-day heat.

As always, he sends back great photos, especially for a guy literally racing across the country. Follow him the rest of the way here19027082025_38ba609209_h18971113611_5ab98f8ee1_h18897279200_458e51e05a_h19058766416_d84ee686de_h18839421658_2d9b050de8_h.