I am very grateful for my sponsors to have prepared me so well with high-quality and reliable products that I had barely any problems cycling for 3300km for 21 stages in all kind of terrain and weather conditions.
Bike. Braking. Shifting.
I rode the Stevens Ventoux carbon bike which is very comfortable for long distance. It had Shimano Ultegra disc brakes and Di2 shifting. I am a huge fan of the disc brakes, especially when dealing with such a variety of terrain and weather. I had to ride in pouring rain and it felt good to know that the bike stops when I want it to stop despite the conditions. But in the situation where the disc brakes became a life saver were on the descents of the incredible steep climbs in the North – 23% uphill is not exactly fun but going down was even worse, especially with a lot of people and cars around that were getting ready to watch the race. I needed strong braking power and the Shimano disc brakes gave me exactly that. For the 3300km I didn’t have to swap the brake pads either.
The Di2 shifting is also comfortable and something I got used to it that it would be weird now to get back on manual shifting. I did make the mistake of not watching the battery levels and during one of the stages (Basque country heading up Oiz), my battery ran out. BUT! Here was the cool part. My friend, Maya lend me her bike for one hour while she jumped in the car and we charged the battery of my bike in the van during that time. After that, I was able to complete the stage on my bike. That is literally problem-solving on the run…or ride.
Gear choice. Tires.
I used the same gearing for the entire Vuelta (50-34/ 11-30). It was the right choice as I never got any knee or back problems which would have indicated too big gearing for me.
All other components were Shimano and Pro.
I also used the same tires for the entire 3300km: the Vittoria Corsa and only three flats. Two of them were a slow leak over night so an easy fix in the morning. What I really liked about these tires is that they are easy to put on and I actually don’t need a lever. Especially at 6am in the morning, barely awake, fixing a flat is not exactly high on my wish list so being able to swap them fast saved a lot of energy. I used the same tires for the entire 3300km and was happy with them in the 40 degree heat as much as in the pouring rain or in the descents.
Helmet. Clothing. Food.
I used a Lazer helmet Z1 Mips for the ride. The strap can be easily adjusted at the top of the head. It is a super light helmet so I never felt “burdened” by it, especially having it on my head for 6 to 9 hours every day for 21 stages.
I rode with Gobik cycling wear for the entire 129 hours in three weeks. Not getting into too much detail but shaving of any sort or saddle soreness never became an issue. In fact, I don’t use chamois cream or similar. The padding of the shorts was just perfect. Of course, after every ride, I made sure to get out of the clothes immediately.
Although I usually ate “normal” food for the entire Vuelta, there were moments I needed a caffeine boost and I had the energy shots from Named Sport. And I can tell you, they got me AWAKE and ENERGIZED that the Duracell bunny would be jealous!
I like to know what is ahead – no matter how steep or long the stages or climbs are. To prepare myself mentally, I studied the gradients, lengths of the climbs on the website of Cycling Friendly which gave me a very good picture of what was lying ahead.
And my favorite video of the challenge (thanks to Macario and Juan Angel Triguero for producing it)…
….the interview is recorded while we were driving a steep, gravely road down from Oiz. My face tells the story of what I was thinking about this drive down!