Sunday, 4 November 2018

Munga - Shaved Legs and Wobble Bags

With a little over 3 weeks left before the start of the race it's too late to get your training into high gear but you can certainly use the taper period to think carefully about your gear. 

Have you observed how readily people become clansmen? I've seen guys get themselves a road bike and before you know it they are sporting shiny hairless legs. Some guys are bold enough to admit they like the idea of shaved legs and buying a bike was the price of an excuse. Others justify the move for the benefits of having hairless legs—easier for massages, easier wound care and they can ride faster. It would save so much time if they just admitted that it's nothing more than the outward sign of having joined the road clan. 

In the same vein mountain bikers are quick to add a Camelbak to their weekend rides. Endurance riders know that a backpack is no longer a good enough differentiator so a wobble bag is now the all important symbol of belonging. 

Endurance racing, which is distinct from bike packing, is a relatively new race discipline and the range of equipment available is developing all the time. We have aero bars, wobble bags, feed bags, frame bags and an array of fixtures and fittings that allow us to carry more water bottles particularly on full suspension bikes which don't have many hard points for attaching extras. 

While it's cool to have all the extras my problem is that too often people bling their bikes and then decide what they are going to put where. 

A better starting point is to ask, "What do I need for this event?"

When you race the Freedom Challenge or the Munga you have a list of mandatory equipment that you have to take. While you might not use it all it is there to keep you alive should you get caught in the worst possible weather. The Freedom Challenge is in the middle of winter and the duration of the race is beyond the reach of reliable long term forecasts. You take a lot because you need to deal with a lot. 

The Munga is in the middle of summer and 5 day forecasts are easy to come by. It's a given that it's going to be hellishly hot which makes the requirement to carry a minimum of 2.5 litres a sensible option. It's worth noting that the average temperature on any day of the Munga is sufficient to cancel a stage of the Cape Epic. But it might also get cold—Sutherland is an interesting place. 

For the last few years I've had a look at the weather forecast and chosen clothing and equipment to suit. I choose not to have anything on my back as it'll make me too hot and managing heat is paramount. Once I've taken care of the compulsory equipment I just need to take care of extras. For the last 2 years my extras, apart from charging equipment, aero bars and basic bike spares, has been a windshell. With that I can tolerate temperatures down to single digits. As I don't plan on stopping anywhere long enough to change riding kit I have all the clothes I need on my body in the start chute. 

I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to take such a minimalistic approach but do have a critical look at your equipment—bike bling, clothing and spares—and ask yourself if you need to personally  courier that unneeded piece of equipment all the way to the Cape. I've seen guys with an array of cool things on their bikes but just because you have a fancy gadget it doesn't mean it needs to go along for the ride. 

I like to keep it all very simple—the less you have the less there is to think about. 


Muendo said...

Thanks Mike, very interesting thoughts... I have bought a 'wobble bag' but I cannot think of anything to put in there, so I've now scrapped the idea of putting it on my bike. A question: according to Alex's packing list, there is a "a medical kit (supplied by ER24 at race registration)" as compulsory equipment as well, which was not on your list. Would you know what would be in there and how big it is? Cheers and thanks again for your motivational blogs.... Jurjen

Mike said...

Hi J├╝rgen. The medical kit is about the size of my fist and I don’t have big hands. Last year there was a bandage, a gauze dressing, some headache tablets and I think there were throat lozenges. There might have been a few other small odds and ends. Alex is pragmatic and realises that most of us carry a buff which could be used as a basic bandage and most of us take pain tablets as part of our standard kit, so we don’t have to duplicate kit. He allowed us to take a few things out. Even if he doesn’t allow that this year you can do as I did 2 years ago and pop it in a zip-lock bag or two and simply tape it to your bike frame with insulation tape. It’s small enough that it’s easy enough to find space for it. Certainly doesn’t require bag space.

Muendo said...

Cheers Mike, thanks a lot!

parafanaylya said...

Hi Mike

So, all nicely packaged, but portaging?

I told you about the Peak-Rider portaging device - I have bought 2 dozen units and have them available at a lower price (R1350) including door2door courier charges as importing direct. When importing direct, you are also charged VAT + admin (±R200), by the SAPO and wait 2 months for delivery.

You can view how it works on the link below

All the best
Patrick Green