Keep up-to-date with what’s new at VAARU Cycles from magazine reviews to events that we will be attending. Launching new products and showcasing some stunning builds.

  • Silver and Tan Vaaru MPA Alex’s journey from Time Trials to Paris Brest Paris 2019

    One of our riders has recently changed tack from a successful TT racing career to the new world of Audaxing. His journey is to ride Paris Brest Paris in 2019. Alex has been training on his Vaaru MPA in preparation for next year’s event and has been kind enough to tell us about his journey so far.

    “I used to love time trialling, I could think of nothing better than spending hours throwing myself up and down a dual carriage just to hit “those times”, I did OK at it, not the best but OK. Two fractured clavicles, 12 months apart , insertion of fancy metal work, and my inability to go on the first family skiing holiday lead to  an angry wife and a frustrated cyclist!

     

    10 Mile Time Trial P901/10 open 2nd 19.35

     

     

    Time to look for something different, less racy, more riding than racing, more time for coffee and cake, Audaxing! Long distance leisurely rides, culminating in the 2019 Paris-Brest-paris 1200km Audax, was where I was heading, easy! Wrong!

    I used to ride a Trek Madone 5.2, stiff, fast, light weight. The first Audax I did was Tour of the Surrey Hills, fabled for its good food. Lovely, I was going to stuff my face and have a leisurely ride. Lining up to start I was surprised about how edgy riders were and how fast the first few groups shot off. After being in the saddle for 8 hours (riding to the event, then, back to the south coast) left me with a sore back and bum. This Audaxing lark wasn’t that easy! I only had my own competitive self to blame , I could have ridden easy but when there`s riders in front, I`ve just got to catch them up. Madness but that`s how I`m built. Coming to terms with this and feeling I deserved a new bike upgrade , I started looking for something different, something comfy but fast, not too flash, tasteful!

     

    After researching the pros and cons of the various frame materials I decided on a titanium frame. Comfy, a bit more forgiving than carbon, and it looked great. I wanted a UK brand, preferably local to me on the South Coast. I whittled it down to Enigma, Reilly or Vaaru. After test riding I settled on a Vaaru MPA.  Comfy , solid feel, rolled super sweet and took the buzz out of the awful west sussex road surfaces and looked better that the other brands. I wanted a particular look to the bike, minimal black, as much brushed titanium as possible complemented by a brown leather saddle and bar tape. James, at Vaaru, couldn’t have been more helpful and efficient , I had the bike on the road within 2 weeks of ordering (this was including having the forks resprayed to my specification). I coupled this with a set of EDCO wheels with polished DT Swiss hubs from Strada wheels. Beautiful. A happy cyclist.

     

    Alex’s Vaaru MPA ready for action!

     

    I did a few hundred milers and found the bike performed very well. What struck me was how little back and shoulder ache I had compared to riding my carbon bike. It also felt sharp and stable  when taking downhill corners at speed and nimble on the climbs. My first proper test was the 600km Fenland Friends Audax. I started in the first wave and rolled comfortably through the Fens and on into Lincolnshire. Then the heavens opened, delivering rain drops that felt like bullets smashing into my face. Probably the worst rain I ever cycled in. Throughout this unpleasantness the relaxed geometry of the bike and excellent wheel set made it an almost enjoyable rolling experience. Stops at Costa, McDonalds (4 quarter pounders in 24 hours!), various garages and café stops soon passed and we were on our return leg from Goole. Passing down the harsh, insanely steep unforgiving medieval cobbles of Lincoln at midnight , I felt in control with sharp Ultegra disc brakes and most of all still comfortable. Next was Boston then back into the Fens and finish in time for breakfast. A  good 24 hours of hard but very enjoyable riding.

     

    Burger time!

    Burger time!

     

     

    I definitely made the correct bike choice. Buying from a local independent bike designer and builder made after sales much easier. James at Vaaru responded to any questions I had immediately and provided excellent, prompt after sales service.  Next stop Paris , well via a few tasty looking long distance rides!” Alex

     

  • Follow Kenny on his 50 day cycle around the U.K. for MS Trust

    Kenny Smith is busy training for his fundraising challenge which he starts on 12 June 2019 at 9.00am at Chichester Gate. Armed with his Vaaru MPA we believe he will be in good hands on this adventure. Kenny will cycle, unsupported, for 50 days around the U.K.

    Kenny’s challenge is in memory of his sister Kathleen Painter who would have celebrated her 50th birthday this year. Kathleen was diagnosed with MS in 1990 but in 2014 lost her battle the debilitating disease and since then Kenny has undertaken numerous challenges from trekking, running and cycling all over the world to raise funds and awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. Kenny has raised an astonishing £250,000 for the trust to date and on this challenge he aims to raise £50,000.

    We are delighted to be a part of this challenge and hope that Kenny enjoys training on his new titanium endurance bike. If you would like to support Kenny’s challenge you can donate here.

    What’s Kenny riding?

    Vaaru MPA titanium endurance frame

    Vaaru F:140 custom painted carbon forks

    Vaaru custom painted carbon bottle cages

    Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset

    3T aluminium wheels and Continental tyres

    3T handlebars

    3T seat post

    Fabric saddle

  • Dream Bikes at Rouleur Classic 2018

    We’re feeling truly charmed; we’re back at Rouleur Classic for the second year with two showstopper titanium bikes. We’re hanging out with FatCreations  in the bespoke area of this fantastic event so please come and say hi if you’re visiting. If you can’t make it this year then watch out for more information on the bikes when we’re back. Here are some teasers..

     

     

  • Going once…going twice…and SOLD!

    We had a fantastic time at The Velodrome Challenge at the London Olympic velodrome, Lee Valley VeloPark in London. During the day we enjoyed talking to cyclists about our range of titanium bikes and showing the auction prize that was up for grabs that evening. The cycling on the track was great and the teams enjoyed expert coaching from World medalists Dean Downing and Russell Downing.  The Q&A sessions with CNN anchor Amanda Davies were entertaining and enlightening with well respected riders –

    Paris Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt

    Olympic Gold Medalist Callum Skinner

    Olympic Gold Medalist Dani Rowe MBE

    Paralympic World and Olympic Medalist Jody Cundy OBE

    After everyone had a chance to freshen up the drinks reception began and we were thrilled to have our bikes on display next to the centre stage for the evening’s entertainment with the MPA the centre of attention.

    We listened to the heartfelt account of a Philly’s experience of the Sight and Sound facilities at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital,  a parent whose son Ollie has been under the services of GOSH for the last 10 years, since he was 16 months old. We learned how truly wonderful this hospital has been for the family and what a huge difference the new facilities would make for countless families who find themselves needing them.

    Finally, we were treated to the TV auctioneer Charlie Ross and the excitement for us began. After months of planning for this day we were feeling a little nervous about how the auction would go, having never auctioned a Vaaru bike before! We had been placed as the final lot and after much anticipation we were overjoyed when the bike raised £8000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

    As a small company, we couldn’t have created such a valuable auction prize without the help of our friends in the bike industry. Special thanks go to –

    Upgrade Bikes – Reynolds carbon wheels and Challenge Tires

    Saddleback Ltd – Enve Bars, Seatpost and Stem

    Sigma Sports – Shimano Dura-ace groupset

    Fabric – Saddle and bar tape

    We are in regular contact with the new owner and will be working with them on design concepts and will post the final bike in due course.

     

  • Vaaru MPA auction prize Vaaru MPA donated for auction in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital

    THE EVENT

    The Velodrome Challenge 2018 takes place at Lee Valley VeloPark on 10th October 2018. Lee Valley VeloPark was built to hold the Olympic cycling events in 2012 and last year’s guests were able to enjoy track side coaching from Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. The Velodrome Challenge is a fundraising event in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital which relies on donations to improve the lives of the 618 children that arrive at GOSH each day.

    The money raised from The Velodrome Challenge will be funding a brand new consultation room in the Sight and Sound Centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The room will be used as a private, relaxed space where speech and language therapists can meet with patients and help to make huge improvements in their communicative abilities.

    This year, to celebrate our 5th year of trading, we are supporting the children’s charity Great Ormond Street Hospital by donating a custom painted Vaaru MPA titanium road bike worth £8000 to the prestigious charity auction which is being held at the Velodrome Challenge 2018.

     

    ABOUT THE BIKE

    The Vaaru MPA is our endurance titanium road frame which BikesEtc magazine awarded 10/10 in May 2017. The MPA (Miles Per Annum) frame is engineered from double-butted 3AL2.5V titanium tubing and features a tapered head tube and fully-formed stays for maximum comfort. The MPA is fully compatible with both internal Di2 or mechanical cable options and utilises the latest thru-axle and Flat Mount braking system. Tyre clearance is up to 32c or 28c with a full mudguard. Rear pannier rack mounting points come as standard. All Vaaru frames are hand-finished to your specification. Paintwork is carried out by Vaaru at the Fat Creations HQ, a world leading paint studio creating some of the finest paintwork for World class and Olympic riders.

    The frame, groupset and finishing kit will all be supplied to fit the winning bidder after the auction has taken place. Please visit the Vaaru Cycles stand to see the bike and talk through the options with James Beresford, the bike and paintwork examples will be on display.

    The velodrome challenge is sold out but there are a limited number of tickets available for the Gordon Ramsay luxury three course dinner and auction by Charlie Ross. Tickets cost £150 and can be purchased from Emma Burridge at Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity.

    Pre-bids can be made by emailing Emma Burridge at Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity.

    “VAARU has succeeded in creating a bike that’s almost flawless. The attention to detail and the thought that’s gone into the bike is fantastic and perfect for the type of riders it’s targeted at. Supremely comfortable and incredibly confident descending ability make it a buzz to ride”

    BikesEtc Magazine May 2017

    Watch a Short Video About The MPA Auction Prize

    VAARU MPA TITANIUM FRAME

    Vaaru MPA titanium endurance road frame to fit winning bidder. 54/ 56/ 57/ 59/ 60cm

    Features 

    • Double-butted 3AL/2.5V titanium tubing
    • Tapered head tube
    • 3D formed chainstays and seatstays
    • CNC engraved logos
    • English threaded bottom bracket
    • Compatible with internal Di2 or mechanical cables
    • Thru axle
    • Shimano Flatmount brake technology

    FORKS

    Vaaru F:140 full carbon forks with custom paint.

    PAINTWORK

    FatCreations Custom paint to winning bidder’s choice up to 40 hours

    GROUPSET

    Full Shimano Dura Ace 9120, Hydraulic Dura-Ace Disc brakes and Rotors

    REYNOLDS WHEELS

    Reynolds Strike DB 60mm Carbon Wheels

     

     

     

     

    CHALLENGE HANDMADE TYRES

    Challenge Paris-Roubaix SC 27mm, Black/White Tires

     

     

    ENVE BAR, STEM & SEATPOST

    ENVE Full Carbon bar, width to suit rider

    ENVE Full Carbon stem, length to suit rider

    ENVE Full Carbon seatpost, 31.6

     

     

    FABRIC SADDLE & BAR TAPE

    Fabric Scoop with titanium rails saddle

    Fabric bar tape

    With Special Thanks To 

    Reynolds Cycling & Upgrade Bikes // Challenge Handmade Tires & Upgrade Bikes // Paint & FatCreations with Vaaru // Enve & Saddleback // Shimano & Sigma Sports // Cycling Sports Group & Fabric

  • TransAm Bike Race Vaaru Cycles3 Alaina Beacall: The Trans America Bike Race Report

    Pre-Race

     

    Carefully enveloping the smooth, plush titanium tubing in bubblewrap and polystyrene; gently covering the American States painted amongst the bold and playful colours of my custom MPA design; I felt a bit lost. Packaging my partner up for our journey to the USA was sadly an experience surrounded by dark clouds: even bending to unscrew and tape items gave me pain and stiffness in my knee. What am I doing? This is a total waste of time, and more money I don’t have. I’m never going to be able to make it.

    I was flying 4 weeks before the start of the longest self-supported race in the world, and had only just managed to straighten and walk on my right knee, due to a torn meniscus.

    The Trans America Bike Race is a 4,200 mile self-supported event, with a set route through ten states: it starts in Oregon on the East Coast, then goes over the Coastal Range and the Cascade Mountains before taking you down the spine of the Rockies, finally it goes west again via many more ‘lumps’ to the Virginia coast. This central section is known for its fierce humidity, winds, and heat which doesn’t let up as you traverse the draining rolling mountains in the east. Riders are not allowed outside assistance, and must source their own water, food, accommodation and mechanical help. There are no checkpoints, but the goal for most is a sub 30 day completion (140 miles per day), although only 50% of people even finish.

    Quitting my last medical job, I had 4 months to do serious miles, research and perfect kit and set up, and of course, get the perfect bike for the job! Still quite a cycling newbie at 18 months of experience, I had already done a solo 5000 mile ride, so had some idea of the mammoth preparation required. My Trans Am stead of choice was the MPA (Miles Per Annum) by Vaaru Cycles. The combined durability and weight of titanium made it a winner in my eyes, and after meeting Vaaru creators James and Stephanie, I fell in love with the down-to-earth caring nature of the brand, and the appeal of customising the bike specifications and even the paintwork!

    My MPA and set up:

    • Frame: 3Al/2.5V titanium, with custom paintwork from Fat Bike Creations
      • My name, British flag, the 10 US States & a motivational quote were painted on
      • Frame colours were to match my Assos kit, which never reached me. Thanks US post
    • Fork: Vaaru F:140 carbon
    • Wheels: Hunt SuperDura Dynamo Disc with Son Delux Dynamo
    • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra R8000 mechanical (11-32t Cassette)
    • Brakes: Shimano Dura Ace 9120 hydraulic
    • Chainrings: Absolute Black oval
    • Bottom Bracket: C-Bear ceramic bearings, BSA
    • Handlebars: Syncros Creston 1.5 compact
    • Stem: Syncros FL 1.5
    • Seatpost: Syncros FL 1.0 carbon
    • Aero Bars: Syntace C3
    • Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17 (vegan)
    • Tyres: Schwalbe Durano 28in
    • Lights: Luxos U dynamo-powered headlight & BM rear dynamo light
    • 3 bottle cages: rear fork, top tube, & frame

    On 2nd June 2018, I stood with 5 other women and 110 men in Astoria, Oregon, about to set off on an exceedingly long journey. Yes, my MPA and I had made it. It turns out pig-headed persistence (plus a bit of luck), pays. I still, however, remained apprehensive that things could end abruptly, and I may struggle after 7 weeks of little bike-time.

    The strategy seemed simple, cautious consistency should see me through, hopefully in <30 days:

    1. Aim for 150 miles minimum per day
      1. This would be ‘sensible’ considering the knee; to prevent a new injury; but also keeping extra miles in the bank in case of problems
    2. Aim for 6 hours sleep per day
    3. Eat enough calories and protein, but stay vegan:
      1. Take supplements for micronutrients & get protein via tins of beans (in most gas stations!), nuts & make peanut butter sandwiches

    Easy!

     

    What actually happened

     

    The stunning Pacific Coast was merely a distraction to the adrenalin-fuelled riders all storming south. Suffering from the overenthusiastic downing of peanut butter sarnies and acidic energy drinks (‘I’m an endurance racer now, every second counts!’), even water would singe my chest, but I thankfully managed the first major mountain, Mackenzie Pass, at mile 300. After a brief pause to observe the summit’s calm and desolate lava fields, I retired to my bivvy bag. Thus far, my MPA’s smooth handling and relatively light weight, had rendered me proud to be using it. Sadly, day 3 brought problems: I possess a curse of snapping gear cables within shifters (5x on my other road bike, in under 12 months of ownership, and a shifter change); and I had also allowed components to be tampered with a few days pre-race in an effort to fit a larger cassette to protect my knee. The gearing gradually went awry and a gear cable snapped (within the shifter, of course). Through hitch-hiking, the kindness of strangers, and more money, I returned to the route 32 hours later with a whole new shifter, derailleur and cassette (back to the 11-32t!). I have a nasty habit of cross-chaining: I’d need to obsessively bite this in the butt to stop a recurrence!

    The town of Prineville hosted a few other strandees, who had to scratch from the race: a poor chap who had broken his collar bone after his wheel clipped a raised bit of cycle path, and his friend who continued on, just to be hit by a deer!

    Keeping my strategy up, but never pushing too much, I surprisingly caught a large bulk of riders a few days later; awesome! It seemed as everyone around me was tiring and cutting daily miles, I was getting stronger and increasing mine. The knee was also holding out.

    Poorer night’s sleep bivvying outside and in places like roadside loos, would affect me on the bike: particularly one Idaho day with 3 hot summits, a pot-holed vehicle-heavy downhill against a headwind which jarred my stabbing saddle wounds relentlessly, then into a lightning and hailstorm before a final major climb which took hours. The feeling of being in the ‘hunger games’, and ability to cope with constant pain and discomfort can be unbearable if you are also sleep-deprived.

    In the West every so often you are treated to some incredible larger-than-life vista: this shatters negative emotions, would remind me of how insanely lucky I am, and possibly allow my eyes to weep a little instead of my saddle sores for once!

    From Oregon, to Idaho, Montana and then Wyoming, long climbs and mountain storms alternated with stretches of some poorly surfaced roads. A night at 2000m of altitude surrounded by bear warning signs, shaking in all my layers and some morning snow forced me to reconsider regular bivvying. Passing comfortably over Hoosier Pass at 3,500m in Colorado, led us to all naively believe the utterance ‘its all downhill from here!’.

    Eastern Colorado introduced the punishing miles lying ahead: hot, flat, and mentally numbing with nothing to distract you. There were some astonishing storm-patterns: quickly building before you, tumbleweed and winds would aggressively hit the bike and blow you around, lightning would strike the fields alongside, and a tipping of water bullets for 30 minutes would block your vision before the angry dark lady would move to the next helpless area. Crazy! Finishing a long day in the night, my headlight picked up two bright dots in the distance. Moving closer revealed their large cat-eye characteristics and the rising water vapour from exhalations passing before them. Tensely, I kept some distance & tightly gripped my pepper-spray; trying to forget the recent news of a cyclist who was hunted and killed by a cougar.

    Kansas was, well, Kansas. The head-shake of despair from anyone you mentioned it to, gave it all away. Gusting southerly cross-winds blew me off my bike, and recurrently into traffic. Fighting this in humidity and unbearable heat gives most their biggest struggles of the race. Sadly, the mental battle of flat desolation also leads to driving carelessness: two racers were hit by vehicles here. One has lost his life (RIP John Egber, you are an inspiration to so many); the other is thankfully recovering after a spell in critical care, although his accident hit me immensely. I had seen him a lot the preceding days, was in awe of his tenacity, and had been with him just an hour before the incident.

    My natural optimism and hyperactive mind helped me through most days and nights, and I found entertainment in writing cycling ‘parodies’ to famous songs! Recordings are on YouTube if you need inspiration for your TABR attempt (‘Alaina Beacall’).

    Finally entering Missouri returned joy to most, until we found the ‘rollers’! Quite incredible: smooth tarmac traverses three, sometimes four hills in quick succession, the next one steeper and taller than the last. This leads to a rollercoaster of visual illusions where someone in front looks to be defying gravity. The unforgiving rolling continued, via a few more mountain ranges, until the final 100 miles. Geez! ‘Make up the miles in the east’ indeed.

    Illinois and Kentucky presented the infamous dog-chases I had SO looked forward to (not). Climbing hot, sub-tropical swamplands with moments of bug infestations, and recurrently seeing canines wanting to show you who’s boss, would get a little annoying! One such evening, fellow rider Steve and I also passed countless police cars to find there were two escaped convicted murderers on the loose, brilliant! This pepper-spray may have multiple uses.

    The Schwalbe Durano tyres lasted beautifully: only two punctures. Sadly one tear couldn’t be sorted as the thru axle handle broke, so lead to more hitching and another lost half day.

    Increasing daily miles whilst racking up mountain climbs, meant an average of 3000m ascent on many sequential days: unsurprisingly my Achilles tendon started throbbing. Thankfully other niggles were bearable, such as the small friction/sweat wounds forming on the backs of my legs, and the now thickened saddle skin area. Another racer with less time for self-care due to a top 10 finishing goal, required surgery to drain his saddle abscess: he had to complete the race, standing up.

    My final day through lush green and hilly Virginia, allowed me to reflect on my journey: how it really started with the will of not giving up, despite a diagnosis warning me to think otherwise. Also how my consistent strategy paid off, yet feeling quite fresh, how I figured I could push a lot harder in future.

    As the night veil approached, I reached the Victory Monument at Yorktown to the announcement of ‘Alaina we have salad for you!’. After one month of peanut butter, Cliff bars and cheap fruit pies, this was pretty cool.

    I had completed Trans Am in 27 days: two lost to mechanicals, and 25 full ride days, this meant an average of 167 miles on every day I rode. My goal was also to raise funds for a small charity who offer food, clothes and aid integration of asylum seekers and refugees, Asylum Link Merseyside; so far an incredible £4000 has been raised.

    Considering everything, I would not change any aspect of the bike or kit I used. I probably could have taken a little less, and perhaps let go of using mudguards; this was a rarity amongst other riders. I’m extremely happy with and proud to have finished Trans Am on a Vaaru MPA.
    Bring on the next challenge.

    For further details, blog access, and fundraising information, please visit www.alaina.co.uk

     

     

  • Vaaru bottle cage New Vaaru Carbon Fibre Bottle Cage Available For Pre-Order

    Our brand new Vaaru Carbon Fibre Bottle Cage is now available for pre-order with delivery in early September 2018. This is a U.K. designed carbon fibre bottle cage which is unique to Vaaru having been designed to showcase our logo and grip standard cycling drinks bottles.

    RRP £39.99 | Free U.K. Shipping

  • Arrivee (Audax UK) magazine choose the Vaaru MPA for their cover shot

    Arrivee Magazine Choose Vaaru MPA For Cover Shot

     

    Arrivee Magazine is the members’ magazine of Audax UK. Read about Alaina’s entertaining story ‘From Zero to Hero’ and her journey from commuting to the startline of TransAm Bike Race 2018.

    Rider: Alaina Beacall

    Bike: Custom Painted Vaaru MPA

    Photography: Rod Barrar

    Magazine: Arrivee Spring / Summer 2018

  • TransAtlanticWay 2018 Erik Phalet Vaaru MPA My first ever ultra-cycling race – The TransAtlanticWay 2018

    We are proud to have Erik Phalet as one if our riders. He recently completed his first ever ultra-cycling event, The TransAtlanticWay 2018 on his Vaaru MPA . A huge thank you to Erik for writing and sharing his comprehensive race report with us.

    #TAW2018 – the preparation

    After a life of cycling, in 2015 I bought my first real road bike. 2016 I did my first 200 km ride. 2017 my first overnighter and my first 1000 km audax. And later that year, the final trigger: I went to Geraardsbergen to see the start of TCR05. I decided to do the TransAtlanticWay Race 2018. A 2500 km one stage self-supported road bike race between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way. Finally!

    Between that moment and the start of the race on june 7th 2018, I
    ● Got a beautiful, brand-new bike, a Vaaru MPA. A comfortable and fast long-distance bike. Titanium.
    ● Tried, broke, changed and retried lots of gear.
    ● Commuted over 5000 km. A good way to get used to riding no-matter-what, to test kit in all conditions.
    ● Did 19 +200 km rides, and 12 +300 km rides, and 2 +400 km rides. Solo. I tricked my mind and body into believing that a day with 350 km and 4500 vertical meters is just another day at the office.
    ● Did 4 overnighters, and a 2 day trip in the Ardennes, and a 4 day trip from home to the summit of Mont Ventoux. “Economy riding” for multiple day effort was optimized, and I experimented with (lots of) food and (very little) sleep.
    ● But above all, I had a good time!

     

    I did not follow a structured training plan. My actual race preparation consisted of 3 small, plasticized print-outs:
    1. Race planning: I prepared a schedule to finish in 8 days. During the race, I never even once looked at it. But making it proved very useful: it forced me to familiarize myself with the route, and to think about possible (and impossible) strategies.
    2. A list with cities, villages, supply points. Not everything I would encounter on the route, just one for every 30 to 50 km. I used this all the time. It became my step-by-step guide through the race.
    3. A list with all bicycle repair shops on or near the route. I was glad I had it when I needed it. A few weeks before the start of the race, I was happy with a 14.5 kg total weight for the bike and the luggage (without water). Everything tried, tested and approved. I was ready to go.

    The final gearlist:

    Bike

    • Vaaru MPA
    • Profile Designs Airstryke aerobars
    • Custom built front wheel: SON delux 12 centerlock hub & DT RR421 rim
    • Rear wheel: Edco Roche Disc
    • Fabric Line Race Shallow saddle
    • Bridge Street medium saddlebag
    • Top tube bag Acepac fuel L
    • Schmidt Edelux II frontlight
    • B&M Secula rearlights (2)
    • Cateye Omni 5 rearlight
    • 75 cl bottles (2)
    • Lezyne caddysack
    • Ottolock

    Basic clothing

    • Gaerne Hurricane shoes (SPD)
    • Socks
    • Bib short Assos T.CENTO_S7
    • Baselayer Patagonia Capilene Lightweight
    • RH+ Shark Jacket
    • GripGrab pro gloves
    • Helmet

    Extra clothing

    • Rain jacket Vaude
    • Rain cap
    • GripGrab Race
    • Aqua overshoes
    • Maloja Gore-tex short
    • Rivelo Merino long sleeve jersey
    • Merino long johns
    • Ninja Ice gloves
    • Buff
    • Legwarmers Pearl Izumi PI dry

    Hygene

    • Chamois cream Assos
    • Skin repair gel Assos
    • Lip balm
    • Sun cream 30
    • Toothpaste & -brush
    • Wet wipes
    • Sudocrem
    • Ibuprophen, Motilium, Daphalgan

    Electronics & documents

    • Wahoo Bolt
    • Etrex 20
    • Batterypack 10,000 mAh (2)
    • GSM
    • USB charger (UKplug)
    • USB cables (2)
    • Lezyne caddy sack
    • Maestro, Visa, ID, insurance
    • AA Lithium batteries (2)
    • AAA batteries (4)

    Maintenance

    • Conti tube race 28 (2)
    • Conti GP 4 seasons 28
    • Ritchey CPR 12+ multitool
    • Topeak Micro rocket pump
    • CO2 cartouche (2)
    • patches & tire levers
    • KMC 11 sp missing link (2)
    • Breaker pin (2)
    • Schrader-to-Presta
    • Derailler hanger
    • Gear cable
    • Shimano brakepads Ice-Tec (2)
    • Muc Off ceramic wet lube
    • SPD cleats (2)
    • Spokes (2 front, 2 rear)
    • Electrical insulation tape

    Food

    • Powerbar electrolytes tablets (20)
    • Osprey UL Stuff Pack (musette)

    Bivouac

    • SOL escape pro bivvy bag
    • Klymit Inertia X-lite mat
    • Torchlight

     

    #TAW2018 – the race

    I found the great adventure I was looking for, both the experience and the result wildly surpassed all my hopes and expectations!

    Racing
    ● 147 starters
    ● Björn Lenhard won in 5 days 3 hours
    ● I finished 19th (provisional result) in 6 days 15 hours

    ● The lantern rouge took 15 days 8 hours
    ● 31 riders scratched

    Riding
    ● 2256 km with 23200 m climbing
    ● I cycled 122.5 hours, I slept 26 hours and I had 12 hours of other stops
    ● During the day, 85% was actually riding, 15% stops for eating, shopping …
    ● Averaged 325 km per day @ 19.8 km/h riding speed
    ● Zero flats
    ● One mechanical (rear hub)

    Pedaling

    ● No powering, no speeding, just pedaling
    ● Switching back to the inner ring. And again. And again. And again …
    ● Normalized power diminishing by about 20% over the week
    ● No problems with knees, tendons, hands or neck
    ● No saddle sores (!)
    ● Annoyances: little wounds on my tongue from all the bottle drinking, bruises and sore elbows from my aerobar pads

    Sleeping

    ● No overnighters, I stopped every night
    ● Averaged 4 hours of sleep per night
    ● 4 roadside bivouacs (a medieval watchtower in ruins, a bungalow in an abandoned holiday park, a church portal and a school’s playground)
    ● 1 Air B&B, 1 hostel
    ● No (power) napping

    Eating
    ● 5 or 6 meals per day, continuously nibbling in between
    ● Cookies, bars, chocolate, ice cream, nuts, scones, donuts, cupcakes, bananas …
    ● 3 to 5 liters of water with electrolyte tablets per day, plus about the same amount of Coke and a few large coffees

    But most of all… The first-day-at-school jitters at the start; the incredible sunrise at Malin Head; the neverending beauty of the road; the other riders; the full-speed descent of Mamore Gap; off-roading in Glenveagh National Park; the plains of Connemara, the beauty of Dingle, the mountains of Kerry, the wildness of Beara; the ever-present ocean; eating lots of pancakes in Sneem; being dotwatched; the bleak beauty at dawn of the Gap of Dunloe and the Black Valley; the pandemonium of 15 people not-having-a-clue but trying to help anyway; the climb to Conor Pass; sunset-cruising around Slea Head; visiting Tom Crean’s South Pole Inn in Anascaul; the sun, the rain, the headwinds and the tailwinds; Monk’s Bar in Ballyvaughan reopening its kitchen at midnight to serve me a seafood chowder; enjoying the highs and dealing with the lows; the same rider passing me 5 times in one day; climbing Ballaghbeama Gap; the guy in the Caherciveen bike shop who repaired my rear hub; being blown up a 10.4% hill without pedaling; riding Lambs Head, Sheep’s Head, Mizen Head and Old Head in the raging storm Hector; the adrenaline at the finish; the emptiness at the finish; organizer Adrian and his team; and so much more…

    Singing
    Look for the bare necessities
    The simple bare necessities
    Forget about your worries and your strife
    I mean the bare necessities
    Old Mother Nature’s recipes
    That brings the bare necessities of life

    The bare necessities of life
    They’ll come to you
    They have come to you
    (Baloo, Jungle Book)

    #TAW2018 – the aftermath

    Bike, components, accessories
    The bike was great. Loved it. Still do!
    ● Choosing my Fabric Line ‘handlebar-saddle’ over my ISM PN ‘aerobar-saddle’ was one of the more difficult decisions, but proved oh-so-right.
    ● Pleased with the Conti GP 4 season 28 mm tyres
    ● The Shimano 105 group is rock-solid, and I was glad for the hydraulic discs.
    ● The comfort of electronic shifting with secondary shifters on the aerobars would have been well worth the extra cost and hassle.
    ● 50/34 with 11/32 gearing was ok, but I wouldn’t say no to an extra granny gear and some smaller mid-range steps (maybe something like 13-15-16-17-18-20-22-25-28-32-36, instead of 11-12-13-14-16-18-20-22-25-28-32, if such a cassette is even possible?).
    ● Edco wheels are not very common. There is little information available, and very few mechanics have any experience with them. My Optima Roche rear wheel uses their “Multisys cassette rotor”: both the freehub body and the locknut ring are Edco specific, incompatible with Shimano or Campa. It only has 24 spokes. It is a good wheel but it caused me trouble. It wasn’t a good choice for this race.
    ● Glad I had good mudguards
    ● The armrests on my aerobars couldn’t be moved backwards far enough. Resulting in bruises on my forearms and painful elbows.
    ● Very pleased with the SON hub dynamo and the Edelux II front light.
    ● My rear lights (one for day-flashing, two for night-steady) used AAA batteries: no worries.
    ● My battery pack has fast-charge, charge-through & 2 USB outs. This made for a fully charged GPS, smartphone and battery pack with 1 charger, in one go. In 3 to 4 hours. After 1 full and 1 partial recharge, I finished with almost 50% charge capacity remaining.

    ● After a few days, my Bridge Street saddlebag started to sag a little and came to rest on my rear mudguard. First I heard something, then I started feeling the oh-so-little drag. But it still took me a few hours to find out what was going on. Easily fixed.
    Other gear
    Most of my gear performed well. Only a few details didn’t work out as planned.
    ● I had no light cycling shirt for the warm weather we got during the first days.
    ● I never used my merino long-sleeve cycling jersey for cycling, the ZR+ Shark was just too good! It was only used as pajamas.
    ● My stuff pack (basically an ultra-light-and-minimalist backpack) was very comfortable to wear, even with quite a lot of food and drink in it. But it’s not so easy to eat from it while riding. For this, a more classic draw-string bag/musette might have been handier. Or maybe I should overcome my dislike for a food pouch on the handlebars.
    There was nothing that I absolutely needed but didn’t bring.
    There were a few things I brought but didn’t use:
    ● Most maintenance and repair stuff. But you need to bring those anyway.
    ● Rain overshoes and warmer/rain gloves. But Ireland without full rain gear? No…
    ● Etrex 20. I only used my Bolt. But a backup GPS is never a bad idea.
    ● Torchlight. Only about 3 hours of real darkness per night, and those were the hours that I slept. Superfluous.
    ● Second battery pack. Not needed, I was too cautious there.
    ● Sudocreme. I only used the Assos chamois crème.
    ● Daphalgan and Motilium.

    Body
    I didn’t know my body could stand up to something like this. What a nice surprise☺!
    No injuries or physical harm.
    Very tired. Couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t think. On the second evening after I finished, I walked into a bar to have dinner, and they refused to serve me because “you already had a few to many, son”. I got lost on the 250 meter walk back to my hotel (I was dead sober ☺). From the first 36 hours after my finish, I slept about 24. Those acute symptoms only lasted for 2 or maybe 3 days. But my energy levels
    stayed low for a long time. Replenishing the reserve tank took weeks. And craving for food! I lost only 1.5 kilos during the race and I regained those within 2 days. But it took my body a few more days to realize that it was no longer necessary to eat everything in sight. After about a week of eating double breakfasts, double dinners and snacking like hell, things slowly returned to normal.

    Mind
    TAW2018 was my first ever ultra-cycling race. And it proved a “life-event”: an experience to help shape my coming years; an adventure that made me a little more complete as a person.

    I am not good enough with words to describe what exactly happened or how this all works. So let’s try with a quote that I like very much (from Katie Ives, in Alpinist Magazine):

    “Perhaps, amid the scores of practical guides, we need a few more maps for wandering, formed of hints and riddles, of stories and images that expand, rather than shrink, our vision of the
    wild. During the most focused moments of any climb, all prior knowledge vanishes. We re-create a world for ourselves, at once ephemeral and eternal. Its cartography might be like (an) incomplete, ungraspable, shifting and radiant map of the real.”

    There is the dreaded post-race-blues. But it feels similar to a mild post-expedition-blues. And that’s something I have dealt with in the past. Resetting your cartography to a practical “map of the real”, usable for day-to-day life takes time. And effort.

    Erik Phalet, TransAtlanticWay Race 2018

  • Flash Reports On Racing His Octane 6-4 in Portugal

    Here we are, race season again….. and still loving my Vaaru Octane 6-4.  Over 16000km on it so far and just added new ceramic bearing bottom bracket, chain and cassette, usual stuff.

    In March I did my first Duathlon and managed 3rd in age group, although struggled a bit as my fitness levels were a bit low.  The Vaaru Octane 6-4 went well.  I put some clip on bars on and some Zipp’s and flew.  It was great training.

    The first big event for me was the Lisbon Granfondo 143km with 1,935m of climbing and I had a feeling it was going to be a fast one!  I was feeling stronger and fitter since the duathlon and the bike was looking as sweet as ever!!

    This was the first ever Granfondo in Lisbon, so I was very excited to be taking part as I would be the only one on a Vaaru out of 1200 riders, so I’d get a lot of interest!!

    The race started with the beautiful Jeronimos Monastery behind us.  I was at the front of the race, about 70 riders back.  The race would be controlled for the first 20k or so, taking us through the centre of Lisbon.  What a great feeling!  Crowds along the route cheering us on.  Tourist stopped in their tracks as a never ending line of cyclist flew past.

    After around 20km, we left the city behind us.  As we turned off a main road we hit a 6km climb with around 10% gradient.  Now we were free to ride.  The front group accelerated, attacking the climb.  Straight away I was going anaerobic, trying to catch my breath!  I decided to back off, as it just seemed a bit too quick a pace.  Looking back, maybe I should have hung on!!

    As the front group disappeared I jumped to a group of about 6 riders and we climbed together to the top, recovering.

    The terrain was up and down, never backing off, descending at a very fast pace, catching more riders as we increased the pace who had been spat out from the front group.

    I felt good, the bike, as always very comfortable and responsive, felt every pedal stroke, producing efficient power through the bike, definitely helped by the AbsoluteBlack chain rings, giving me a lovely smooth cadence.

    I felt confident and in control, taking my turn on the front more than most as no one wanted to help apart from two other Portuguese guys.

    I broke away on my own a few times, Powering away on cobbled section, putting the power down as the Vaaru titanium frame absorbs pounding.

    Just to show how stable the Vaaru Octane 6-4 is one of the last twisty descents, another rider hit my back loosing control.  The Vaaru kept its line and didn’t move – I can’t express enough how stable this bike is.

    My plan was not to stop for the whole 143k.  I had two 800m bottles and some food in my back pocket, eating and drinking regularly through the Granfondo.  This had worked as I was feeling good throughout.

    The final 20k was hugging the coastline into a head wind.  Our group was now at least 30 strong or more.  No one apart from the same two guys as before would  share a turn at the front.  As the end drew nearer and nearer everyone was trying to get to the front for the sprint.  I had been boxed in and had to come from the back.  I saw the move out on the left hand side and went for it, got away with 3 guys, just getting on to the back wheels, I was forced to go wide, as the sprint to the line had a sharp left-hand bend leading to a 100m to the finish.  I managed 4th across the line, a bit of mis calculation on my part, a bit too late, but it was an exciting finish to a great day!!!

    With an average speed of 31.2 km/h with a time of 4.36

    Average heart rate of 146bpm and max 181 bpm

    I managed 40th overall and 2nd in the Masters, very happy the bike was faultless!!!

    More adventures on the Vaaru to come!!!

    Flash