By its nature, bikepacking requires riders to travel light and Fiona has championed this with her packing choices. With the notable absence of many comforts cyclists may be used to, Fiona’s kit list is ultralight – even compared to other Transcontinental Race competitors.
An often overlooked, but essential, aspect of ultra-racing is staying healthy. With the riders’ bodies under stress day-after-day, the chance of getting sick increases. TCRNo7’s unpredictable weather saw a significant number of riders suffering with ailments ranging from nuisance colds to race-ending saddle sores. Fiona’s inclusion of basic hygiene essentials including babywipes and chamois cream helped her avoid falling victim to similar problems.
While packing spare inner tubes is the norm, packing a section of tire is a real contingency for a worst-case-scenario. With TCRNo7’s adventurous parcours, this was a sensible insurance policy. A new tube will be of little help if the tire has a sizable slash in it, but a section of tire used as a patch can prevent the [new] tube from bulging out.
Riding with patched tubes wrapped around her shoulders, in the style of Tour de France riders of old, clearly helped Fiona minimise time spent off the bike during the day and focus on riding instead of maintenance and repacking unwieldy tubes.
Fiona rode with metronomic efficiency, resting consistently and maintaining a daily routine that was both fast and sustainable. Kit choices such as an ultralightweight sleeping bag rather than a bivy bag meant she had the flexibility to stick to her routine regardless of the overnight temperatures or the availability of suitable accommodation.
Putting it all Together for a Winning Ride
No single element of Fiona’s kit or strategy won her the race on its own but each had a significant role to play. It is exceptionally rare for a newcomer to manage to perfect so many different complex challenges, however, with most riders improving as they gain a deeper understanding of the race and its demands. Fiona herself has suggested she could have ridden harder – and we believe her! We can’t wait to see what she’s capable of as she gains more experience.