Built to Last: Michal Plech’s Frame Pack
Part of the ‘Built to Last’ series, in which we take a look at the stories behind long-serving Apidura Packs. Here, we profile Michal Plech‘s customised Frame Pack, which has accompanied him through thousands of audax kilometres, bikepacking trips, and ultra-distance races.
Every Scratch Tells a Story
Every time we go out on our bikes, we’re creating experiences and making memories. Every scratch to a Pack provides traces of another story earned, and we cherish these scuffs as a homage to all of the experiences we’ve had on two wheels.
At Apidura, we pride ourselves in making products that are built to last. Not just because of the benefits that high quality, long-lasting gear offers, but because it means we can be sure both Pack and rider have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and gain as many scratches as possible together.
Here, we celebrate the experiences of Michal Plech, a veteran of two Transcontinental Races, and experienced audax rider, and his unique solar-panelled Frame Pack.
I bought the Pack about three years ago, with a plan to race the Transcontinental Race [Michal finished the race, TCRno4, in just over 14 days]. The idea of attaching a solar panel was from past experiences: I had used solar panels instead of a dynamo while touring for a few years, and I never had any problems with getting enough power.
Hub dynamos only produce power if you ride faster than 10 kmh, which can be difficult in mountainous terrain, so solar was an obvious choice. I am an engineer by profession, did my research, and found these flexible panels. It is something like 7V 1A – I don’t remember exactly now – but powerful enough to charge a GPS unit or lights. The two wires inside were connected to a current stabiliser and had a USB output.
I built the unit a few months before doing TCRno4, and to test it I was using it for loads of audaxes around the UK, every weekend from April until June. I’ve toured around Valencia in Spain for a week, cycled from Geneva to Munich, done the Diagonale Royal (an audax across France from Menton to Brest), and two Transcontinental Races with this Pack.
In it, I store things which have to be easily accessible. In the smaller pocket I keep a first aid kit and electrolytes; the bigger one is for food and a waterproof jacket or gilet. During the Transcontinental Race, I carried about 2kg of Haribo loose in there, so I didn’t have to stop and worry about the packaging. I could just put my hand in and grab as much as I could fit in my mouth!
You build up a lot of memories from all the riding and events you end up doing. Every time you get to the top of the mountain pass and see the view at the top, you know you’ve earned it. It’s a great feeling.
What makes you get attached to a watch? It’s the same attachment I have with my Pack: It’s there when I need it. Close by, handy, and always there. When you go for a bikepacking trip or race, the Packs become your home. And just like home, everything has its place. You get used to them, and rely on them.