Christoph Strasser’s Transcontinental Race No.9 bikepacking kit list

A closer look at Christoph Strasser’s race-winning bikepacking kit for TCRNo9.

Reading time: 3 min

 

On August 1st 2023, Christoph Strasser arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece, winning this year’s Transcontinental Race in a time of 8 Days 16 hours 30 minutes.

Well-known in the ultra-distance community already for his record-breaking supported long-distance races, Christoph only dipped his toes into the world of unsupported racing last year at TCRNo8, which he won after a hard-fought battle to finish – delivering a masterclass in pacing. Finishing first two years back-to-back now establishes him firmly as a key figure in the unsupported, ultra-distance scene.

This year, despite a shorter course compared to last, the route delivered more elevation and more gravel – something that Christoph sought to avoid as much as possible, often choosing to take longer road sections instead of shorter off-road options. His closest competitor, Robin Gemperle, is an experienced mountain biker who would undoubtedly be quicker on the rough stuff, but Christoph’s strategy paid off, sticking to a route that played to his strengths and allowed him to go fast when he needed to.

Here we explore Christoph’s setup for his second Transcontinental Race, using a 9L Expedition Saddle Pack, 4L Racing Frame Pack and 2L Racing Long Top Tube Pack. While others may have chosen to refine their kit after their first unsupported race, Christoph’s packing list remained almost identical to last year’s – a testament to his attention to detail and considered choices.

Bikepacking Kit List

Packs

Apidura Expedition Saddle Pack (9L)
Apidura Racing Frame Pack (4L)
Apidura Racing Long Top Tube Pack (2L)

Hygiene

Chamois cream
Wet Wipes
Water Disinfection Tablets
Antibiotic Tablets
Salt Tablets
Caffeine Tablets
Plasters
Sun Cream
Travel toothpaste

Miscellaneous

Passport
Cards
Cash
Erima Whistle
Lock

Electronics

Cellular Line 3000 Battery Bank
SRAM Battery and charger
NC-17 Connect +
Headphones

Tools and Spares

Spare Cleats x2
CO2 Adapter
Tire Piece and Repair Patch
Specialized Tire Lever
Specialized Multitool
Spokes x4
Rear Hanger Mech
Chain Links
Spare Brake Pads
Spare Inner Tube X 2
Spare Dynamo Cables
Dry Fluid Chain Wax
Pump
Knife

Clothes

Rain Jacket
Thermal Winter Jersey
Winter Gloves
Leg Warmers
Socks
Bib Shorts
Swimming Shorts
Base Layer
Latex Gloves
Reflective Ankle Strips
Visibility Vest
Sleeping Bag
Bivvy Bag

Significant Choices

Just enough – but not too much

Compared to other racers, Christoph’s setup could be considered to be more on the thorough side of minimal, carrying a total of 15L of bag space compared to Robin’s 8L. It’s clear from this year’s race that Christoph likes to minimise risk as much as possible – from choosing to take the longer way on road to avoid time-consuming mechanicals, to packing a few more spares that means he’ll be able to fix any unavoidable problems himself rather than take time out to find a bike shop. How many other riders do you think are carrying spare spokes?

Layers of success

One striking omission from Christoph’s kit list is something like a down jacket or insulated gilet – instead opting for just a long sleeve thermal winter jersey and a rain jacket. For someone who likes to minimise risk, this is certainly an interesting choice – but as an experienced cyclist, Christoph clearly knows what he can tolerate in terms of temperature, even on chilly mountain descents.

Fast food and caffeine hits 

When you’re riding for the win, being efficient with your time is one of the most important things you can do. Riders often report feeling overwhelmed in supermarkets and gas stations, faced with making decisions about what they need in a timely manner. For this reason, Christoph has said that he prefers stopping at smaller resupply points, limiting the time he has to spend wondering around large supermarkets looking for what he wants and eliminating the dreaded “faff time”. To give himself a head start at the beginning of the race in Geraardsbergen, Christoph packed multiple sachets of electrolytes, bars and gels so that he could fuel on the bike for longer before stopping.

The difference a year makes

While Christoph’s kit list remains basically unchanged from last year, his mindset would have shifted significantly. Talking to race organisers on The Transcontinental Race podcast before the start, Christoph mentioned feeling like he had nothing to lose last year, whereas this year there was a big expectation that he would do well. While it might have been easy to let the pressure get to him, Christoph pulled off a perfectly executed race, leaning into his strengths and sticking to a plan.