Even the most minimalist racers have been known to concede a bit of weight and pack space for guilty pleasures that won’t necessarily make them faster, yet make their time on the road easier. Here, Apidura ambassadors and riders share their racing luxuries with us.
In an ultra-distance race, the goal is to pack minimally and carry only the absolute essentials for your time on the road. What’s deemed essential will vary from rider to rider, but it’s rare to find a rider that hasn’t agonised over whether they really need that extra pair of socks or if they can get away with a long sleeve base layer that scrunches up slightly smaller but doesn’t offer as much warmth. Riders have been known to saw off the handle of their toothbrush just to save a couple of grams and a bit of space.
The one place where this rule sometimes gets put to the test is the Top Tube Pack. Generally, the Top Tube Pack is the closest to hand, the easiest to access and the most obvious place to store valuables. It’s typically where you’ll find a battery pack and a smartphone. Perhaps a passport and some race notes. It’s one of the few places on the bike that the personality of a rider can really be found.
Packs for keeping kit close at hand
It’s not uncommon to find eccentric “essential” items in a racer’s Top Tube Pack that have no practical purpose but inspire the rider and keep them going through tough times. We asked our ambassadors and friends to share with us what ‘luxuries’ they carry in their Top Tube Packs when they race, and why:
Apidura Ambassador & Round the World Record Holder
There ain’t much room for luxuries!
I REALLY love having a lip balm with me. I don’t need it but it’s a wee bit of lush in a grim headwind!
Apidura Ambassador & Human-Powered Adventurer
My luxury item is usually my tuque (Canadian word for bobble hat). It takes up way more space than a skullcap wool thing and doesn’t fit under a helmet, but it makes me so damn happy to pull it on at the end of the day.
Otherwise, it’s my headphones. I think music is great for manipulating your mood, whether you need to cheer up, move faster, feel positive, stay awake whatever. Music is a definite crutch for me in a long-distance ride. Same goes for podcasts when I need some stimulation, or I’ve been in the wilderness for so long that I forget how conversations work.
Apidura Rider & Transcontinental Race Veteran
My one luxury item has to be my mobile phone. Having a link back to the rest of the world, social media and the various WhatsApp groups and text messages makes a huge difference to me when I’m in the race. Kind of makes it feel like everyone is with you, no matter how far or remote a place might be, or how lost I’ve found myself.
Funnily enough, I’ve also always taken headphones and a stack of podcasts with me, but never use them until the trip home, which until this year has been a long bus ride and flight.
Community and Support, Apidura & Round the World Tourer
Although I wish I didn’t need it, as someone who suffers from asthma it’s quite important that I keep my inhaler close at hand!
It’s rarely a major issue when I’m out riding, but if I’m exposed to smoke or high levels of pollen it can get quite bad. I can’t imagine I’ll be smoking many cigarettes during the TCR, but crossing Europe at this time of year may well trigger my hayfever. If that happens – my lungs will be grateful for having the pump nearby.
Creative Content Lead, Apidura & Long Brevet Rider
I’m pretty ruthless with my kit choices and everything needs to perform as many functions as possible. My luxury is an inspirational message from my partner on a Road iD Sidekick. In an emergency, the Road iD helps ensure my next of kin are kept informed and every time I need a mental boost I can look down and see an inspirational message and a reminder that my loved ones are watching and cheering me on.