Race Around Rwanda Kit List
With Race around Rwanda being my first ultra-distance event, I’m sure I was no different to many first-timers in scouring the web for information on what more experienced racers carry with them for such races. So, with the wisdom that comes from a single solitary finish, it’s time to reciprocate …
In keeping with trying to do things on the cheap, I used a set of Planet X bike packing bags: A seat pack, frame bag, and top tube bag, paying less than £35 for the lot when they were on sale (I think they’re always on sale).
- In the seat pack I kept anything I didn’t think I’d need while riding, unless things took a proper turn for the worse.
- The frame bag was used for waterproof jacket and gilet, arm warmers, pump, multi tool, powerbank—the items I was more likely to need between checkpoints or stops.
- The toptube bag was used for food and phone.
The bags functioned well and I certainly don’t think I could have justified splashing out on the near obligatory Apidura. I’d previously tested the bags with full bike-packing camping kit—so a handlebar barrel bag up front too—on a two day trip in the Scottish Highlands so knew they’d be ok. I did learn the hard way during that trip to put some tape anywhere that the bags might rub the frame though. For #RaR01, I ‘heli-taped’ most the frame.
The seat pack is perhaps the most impressive of the bags, with plenty of compression straps to keep it tightened to the bike, and rolled as compactly as contents allow. The bungee on top is great for quickly/temporarily stuffing a waterproof jacket, a packet of biscuits, or a bottle of say mango juice, although a bottle can work its way loose over bumpier ground. There’s also slots for clipping a light to. This puts a light up high and nicely visible. The roll-top and a fully sealed lining make this the most weatherproof of the bags too. (I’ve not tested for full true waterproofness, but have never found anything to be wet inside, whatever the conditions).
The frame bag is pretty basic, being just a main compartment with a hidden zipped pocket inside. The hidden pocket is tricky to get to when the bag is full, but handy for stowing cash away out of sight. It’s easy to secure in place with velcro fixing straps, but these are fixed in position to the bag. I had to shorten the seat tube and downtube straps a little to ensure the velcro was secure—I guess it’s designed for fatter tubed bikes. The main zip closes towards the front of the bike, so its easy to run a cable from there up to your GPS should you need to charge from a powerbank. In heavy and prolonged rain, things did get damp inside this bag. I believe most water ingress was from the seam that butts up against the downtube. I had used zip-lock plastic bags to waterpoof anything that needed to be kept dry so this wasn’t an issue for me. In speaking to those who had more expensive bags, they claimed that theirs were no more waterproof than mine were, and ‘double-bagged’ things too.
The toptube bag is also pretty basic: It’s a single compartment with a removable foam tray that acts as a divider. I found that phone and wallet slotted neatly down either side of this tray, and used the main section for energy bars and the like. The fixing straps on this bag are removable, and I was able to loop through one of the framebag’s fixing straps to keep things neater. Despite having a zip running the length of the top, contents stayed relatively dry even in heavy rain: Damp but not wet.
One petty grievance I had with the bags was that the frame bag is made from a glossy fabric, whereas the other two are matt: Cuffs and collar and all that …
I fitted two side access Zefal bottle cages, with the seat tube mount shifted down using a King Cage Universal Support Bolt. This set up meant I could squeeze in a 600 and a 700ml bottle beneath the frame bag.
- GPS: A Wahoo Elemnt chosen as an upgrade on a Garmin Edge 520 based on LBS advice to offer turn-by-turn navigation features, a nice big screen, and great battery life. The navigation was usually spot-on although did seem to lag a little in some more built up areas.
- HRM (Wahoo Tickr, which only connected to GPS on one of four days for some reason)
- Cadence sensor
- Speed/Distance sensor
- Lights: Busch & Muller Lumotec Premium Cyo IQ 80 N+ front and Busch & Muller Secula rear, wired to a Jtek dynamo hub. I used these for commuting on unlit country lanes for years and knew they’d suffice. I stuck an additional Nite Rider Cherry Bomb rear on top of the seat pack, and carried a Petzl e+LITE as an emergency back-up.
- Powerbank: Anker PowerCore 2010. I had to use this once to charge my phone, but managed to find mains power to top up the GPS and phone the rest of the time.
- Phone: iPhone 7+ to use primarily as camera but also back up GPS, with maps downloaded for offline use.
- Back-up phone: Basic ‘non-smart’ Nokia phone with local sim for making emergency calls.
- USB charger Anker 17W 2-Port PowerPort 2 Lite with euro plug. Perhaps a bit chunky but quick to charge things up.
- Cables: Lightning and micro USB cables for charging.
- Multitool: A Unior Multitool EURO13 Good quality with tools to cover all components. The chain tool is a little rattly when folded though, so needed to wrap an elastic band round it.
- Leatherman: An original PST model. Would have taken a smaller version, but misplaced it. Fills the gaps in the multitool’s features (Pliers, cutters, and knife blade).
- Pump: A Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HP. Having the pressure gauge gave the local kids who ‘helped’ fix any flat something to look at and monitor.
- Cassette breaker/Spoke Key: If I needed to replace a drive side rear spoke then I’d need to have removed the cassette. The Unior 2 in 1 pocket spoke and cassette lockring tool takes up no space and doubles as spoke wrench.
- Gear cables
- Spokes and nipples (x4)
- Kevlar emergency spoke (probably didn’t need this and actual spokes)
- Tubeless repair kit
- Sealant (60ml)
- Tubes (x2)
- Puncture repair kit
- Self-adhesive patches
- Tyre boot
- Chain links
- Chain missing link
- Gaffa tape (wrapped around pump)
- Insulation tape (wrapped around pump)
- Zip ties
- Emergency mech hanger
- Latex gloves
- Lock (Hiplok Z Lok)
- First aid kit
- Anti-bacterial hand wash
- Anti-malarial tablets
- Water purification tablets
- Mosquito head net
- Micro travel towel
- Sleeping bag liner
- Emergency bivvy
- Reading glasses
- Loo paper
Including what I wore at any time:
- Short sleeved jersey
- Long sleeved jersey
- Bib shorts (x2) (Endura Pro SL and Castelli Nano-flex)
- Arm warmers Castelli nano-flex
- Leg warmers Castelli nano-flex
- Cap Race issued #10
- Rain cape (Endura FS260 Pro)
- Over shoes (SealSkinz)
- Gilet (with additonal reflective trim affixed)
- Sunglasses (Old school Oakley Jawbones)
- Shoes: (Specialised Recon Mixed Terrain)
- Soreen (malt lunchbox loaves) (x15)
- VOOM (Pocket Rocket Electo Energy bars) (x16)
- Bear (Super Sour Strawberry & Apple YoYo) (x12)
- Nuun (Wild Berry and Caffeine)