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Neil Phillips on the Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

Here is Neil Philips full kit that he took with him on the 2016 Transcontinental Race. On July 29th, 186 racers set off from the Muur van Geraardsbergen in Belgium and rode 4000km to Canakkale, Turkey in the fourth and toughed instalment of the Transcontinental Race to date.

Last year he rode in the pair-category and won with team-mate Timothy France. Going solo clearly worked out well for Neil finishing the race in nine days, 17 hours, and 35 minutes and in second place or “first after Kristof” as fellow dot watchers have dubbed it.

Here is a full rundown of the kit Neil Phillips took with him on the Transcontinental:

THE BIKE

Last year Tim and I were lucky enough to ride the prototypes for the new Genesis Datum, this year they treated me to one with paint. And not just any paint but a full custom paint job with Kibosh and Cobbles to Kebabs logos. The frameset is full carbon with big clearances for bigger road tyres plus guards (although for the race they were removed) and the geo allows it to cope with pretty much anything my route planning or Mikes parcours throw at it. Hydo discs take care of the breaking, absolutely love them, good modulation and reliable power whatever the weather. For shifting I used Ultegra Di2, a luxury that I didn’t have last year but it allowed for satellite shifters on the end of the aero bars making shifting easier especially when tired, not having to move a hand out of the aero position. Only required a couple quick charges throughout the race, more as a precaution, then ever letting it run down.

Wheels and tyres wise, I’ve done tonnes of miles using Dt Swiss 240 hubs and always been great so one went on the rear with Dt Swiss RR511 rims. The front hub was my SP PD8X dynamo hub that I used last year, was great again keeping the Supernova lights shinning bright. After trying tubeless on a couple bikes and having good but not amazing results, I chickened out and went with a trusty known Conti 4Seasons in 28mm. I’ve run them for several winters and know that they are hard wearing and can cope with the inevitable gravel and rough roads.

Finishing kit was provided by Shimano Pro Vibe, nice narrow 40cm bars, their condor saddle that my derriere seems to like and some profile clip-ons, work lovely but sorry they do spoil the aesthetics..

The Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

TOOLS

Last year I took a couple extra little bits like spare bolts but primarily my ‘support supply’ stayed the same, consisting of a multi tool inc. chain breaker, quick link, 2 inner tubes, tyre boot, puncture repair kit, set of brake pads (should have been ok but wouldn’t like to try and find new flat mount disk pads in the Balkans). Took my leatherman for its knife, Di2 charger, zip ties and some insulating tape wrapped around the body of my pump.

Then we get onto the pump, I am a firm believer in frame pumps. Whether it be for the TCR or on my race bike for a club run. The last thing I want is to be stuck on the side of the road in the pitch black with some little pump, pumping away for ages. The weight difference is negligible but the relief of getting back rolling quickly is great. As a puncture always annoys the best of us.

Other little bits included one spare yellow Shimano cleat just in case one breaks or a knee starts to hurt (normally ride lower float cleats). A head torch as well for doing anything whilst off the bike and a lighter just in case I wanted to burn everything and go home.

The Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

LIGHTING, NAVIGATION, POWER AND GADGETS

We’ve covered the lighting above but navigation I used my Garmin 810, I am used to it and know its features. I did borrow a Garmin 1000 that I’d loaded my route on to for the emergency if mine gave up (thanks Sam). Power I took an 8600mAh battery bank, not too big and would charge my phone and Garmin maybe 4 times, I’d top my phone, Garmin and power pack up when stopping anywhere for a warm meal or in hotels. Sam also lent me an iPod shuffle, this helped so much, I had the good music selection and friendly voice of a friend who hosts a podcast called ‘millions like us’, check it out! Also Mike Creeds open mic, dry cycling humor to keep the mind sane.

My phone is useless but also invaluable, it allows for social media, alarms, tracker checking and also offline navigation. All my routes were loaded on to Maps.me, which allowed me to look ahead at what towns where coming up. For photos, I carried a Fuji XQ2, a luxury but it’s nice to be able to take better photos along the route and easier to use whilst riding. In-built wi-fi allowed them to be transferred straight to my phone as well.

The Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

HYGIENE

The ‘wash bag’ was light, cut down toothbrush, just done because it’s funny and feels like you’re taking it seriously, but completely pointless. Small tube of toothpaste, some wet wipes, small bottle of medicated talc (I’ll choose not to explain..), selection of pills; ibuprofen, concrete pills, Pro Plus and a few plasters. I was lucky enough to pick up loads of individually wrapped electrolyte tablets from trial packs, used one a day to keep electrolytes up and added a little extra salt to my food. Rapha Chamois cream is always important for long days perched on a saddle and it smells like Ventoux 😉 . I had 3 bidons for water, depending where I was/temperature, would depend on if I’d fill all 3 during stoppages.

The Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

LUGGAGE

I am extremely fortunate to be supported by Rapha for all my riding so used their new Rapha x Apidura collaborative saddle pack. It’s a similar size to Apidura’s compact pack, perfect size for what I took. No spare space though. I previously used the largest Apidura pack, but this year cut out a few kit items. Along with this I had an Apidura frame bag and top-tube bag. The frame bag stored tools, electrical bits, hi-vis, sun cream and arm warmers. The bits you like to get your hands on whilst riding. The top tube bag was for additional food that didn’t fit in my jersey pockets.

The Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

ACCOMMODATION

Compared to most racers, especially towards the front of the race my primary location for sleep was in hotels. Yes, it’s an expensive way to race and something that hit the pocket hard, although I tended to look for the cheap ones. It did allow me to wash my bibs and get a couple quality hours in bed. 3-4 hours in a bed seemed to allow me to ride more comfortably and faster. You do however waste money and time doing it this way, checking- in being the biggest waste. I did however carry a bivv, silk liner and super lightweight mat, in case a hotel was not discovered at a convenient time, I wouldn’t waste time looking. It did get used but only a couple times. This is an area I’d need to dial for future races.

The Transcontinental Race

The Transcontinental Race

CLOTHING

With Rapha supporting me I had access to some amazing kit, lots of which the concept and samples were tested by Ultan Coyle during last year’s race. Clothing was kept to a minimum, one pair of Brevet bibs, good chamois for the big distances and nice subtle reflective bands on the legs. The new lightweight Brevet jersey, soon to be released. I tried this in the Dolomites two weeks before the race and fell in love with it. Perfect for a range of temperatures, big pockets and the reflective/contrasting bands for visibility. Along with these I had a mesh merino base layer and merino arm and leg warmers. Due to its lightweight and small packable size, I gave myself the luxury of the Rapha insulated gilet. Ive been wearing it all year during slightly chillier mornings and it’s a good extra layer to sleep in.

For chilly descents and the inevitable rain, I took a Pro Team race cape with the sleeves cut back to above the elbows. It’s summer and even the best waterproofs tend to get quite warm, so the short sleeves are nice, also lighter packing. The last bit of riding kit were the socks, one pair of pro team socks for riding and a ‘luxury’ pair of brevet socks for when stopped in a hotel, colder mornings or if the others got too nasty. The PT socks were instantly binned on arrival to Canakkale.

The last bits were for sleeping, a pair of running shorts, a Rapha merino T-shirt, merino riding hat and a Patagonia super lightweight down jacket. The down jacket packs really small and when worn with other bits of kit is a good alternative to carrying a sleeping bag.

What surprised lots of people was my lack of gloves, never use mitts and luckily have never suffered from numb hands after the race, although it is a common problem for lots. I took out my long fingered gloves in the final kit cull and is the only bit of kit I regret not taking, although it only ever got to borderline needing them.

The last two items are shoes and helmet, to protect the head I’ve been wearing a Kask Protone all season and love it. For shoes I used Rapha climber’s shoes, light and airy. Last year I found I was adjusting my laces lots as the temperature increased throughout the day and my feet started to swell slightly. The velco on the climber shoes is secure, unluckily to break but allowed for quick adjustment on the move.

I’m still fairly new to the bike packing world and refining kit with every trip, it is almost there though. The bikes been superb over the last two races and has had a good thrashing in the time between. Now I just need to accrue more holiday or find a job that allows me to go on more rad adventures.

The Transcontinental Race

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