The Spirit of Self-Support: Repairing Competitors’ Packs at the TCR
The Transcontinental Race is more than just the highlight of the dotwatching calendar and a chance for our staff to practice what we preach by competing. It’s also a testing ground for our prototypes and an opportunity to get valuable feedback and insight on our packs and the changing needs of self-supported athletes.
First-hand research and our experience as cyclists are integral to our design and development process. Every year our ambassadors, friends and staff take prototypes into the field to test how well they work under real-world conditions so we can improve them before they reach market. By being present at the Transcontinental Race, through both riding and staffing control points, we get to gather real-world feedback from riders on what works, what doesn’t and the things that matter most to them. This rigorous testing and feedback allows us to evaluate progress constantly.
This year, Chris and Jonathan completed the race in 12 days, 17 hours and 13 days, 8 hours respectively. In that time they both tested their own kit choices and learnt more about how our packs behave on long, fast rides. They also spoke to the riders around them to understand different kit choices and see the different ways riders use their packs (which can be surprisingly different from the way intended!).
For the first time, we also hosted a repair station at the finish line. At Apidura, we make 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 go on as many adventures as possible together. However, some particularly long-serving packs can show the scars of their years of service. Rather than replace them and encourage throw away culture, we believe in repairing and making good.
By encouraging riders to bring us kit that has been ridden to failure, we also gained another chance to learn and improve – understanding where and why failures occurred and feeding back to our design and development team so they can roll out continuous improvements across our ranges in response to real-world usage and wear and tear. George also took the opportunity to talk to riders about their kit choices more broadly and to discuss what had worked better or worse than expected.
The good news for us was that we weren’t as busy as we expected. We had four of our packs in need of repair from split seams and wear to contact points – the kinds of damage you would expect to see after extended use. We also reinforced a saddle pack that was too large for the bike it was mounted to, helping keep it away from the wheel so that the rider could continue using the pack she had, instead of buying another, smaller pack.
This gave us time to offer repairs to packs and equipment from other manufacturers, gaining further insight on how other manufacturers are addressing the same challenges and where their packs fail. Pedal rub on full frame packs was a theme amongst these repairs, alongside split seams. We also repaired some overshoes, a jacket and a split seam on a pair of shorts to keep some well-love items in service for years to come instead of being consigned to the rubbish bin.
The repair station was also a valuable opportunity to repurpose some old development samples and create something useful from no-longer-used prototypes. The resulting card holders were in hot demand and we also created a custom brevet card sling and a laptop sleeve to showcase the possibilities of repurposing, rather than disposing of ‘rubbish’.
We were surprised at the card holders’ popularity, but proud to see the self-support, repair-and-make-do attitude on full display at the finish line. While we will never make a product for the sake of it, finding ways to repurpose ‘waste’ and reimagining what we can do with development samples that are no longer needed is something we prioritise and encourage. Expect to see more examples at future events!