Best-laid plans of cycling giants

Tom Allen, of Tom’s Bike Trip fame and currently leading a bikepacking tour of the Transcaucasian Trail in Armenia, has suffered a mechanical midway through the tour. And oh, what a mechanical!

Muddy bike wheel with broken derailleur
Rear derailleur is not supposed to look like that

That’s one derailleur that’s not going a single kilometer further. And proof that it’s not just newbies who get done in by a derailleur failure. (Although I’m sure in the case of Tom — with his more than 20,000km of riding over more than 50 countries — the damage wasn’t exacerbated by a totally amateur mid-ride readjustment.)

With the help of a fellow rider, it looks like Tom will be back on the road, albeit with a single-speed bike until he’s able to get a replacement derailleur. (He’s removed the derailleur completely and cut the chain down to fit on a single front chainring and rear sprocket combo.)

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#BikepackingArmenia Day 4: The tough mudder • My co-guide Pete, who amongst other things has cycled from England to New Zealand and completed the Silk Road Mountain Bike Race, said today that he'd never seen so much mud in his life. It certainly has been a sticky, squelchy day, like few I can remember, with most of the group ending up sprawled in the mud at various points throughout the day. But then we have entered Tavush province at the turn of autumn. Mud is absolutely to be expected! • One upshot of all the mud is that my rear derailleur got caught in my spokes and snapped clean in half (see my story for more on this). It could have been worse – I could have lost several spokes in the process – but it did mean I had to rise single speed for most of the day. A quick look at the elevation profile of today's ride will hopefully indicate how practical this was! • Tomorrow we hope to reach Dilijan, where a new derailleur should hopefully be waiting. Because I've realised I do quite like having gears… • #BikepackingArmenia 🇦🇲 From September 7–22 I'm leading a group of intrepid bikepackers on the first attempt to ride the Transcaucasian Trail across Armenia. On the way, we're attempting to raise $10,000 USD to complete the blazing and marking of the trail. This ride is a life ambition and the cause is extremely dear to my heart, so please give generously! Link in Instagram bio, or visit the campaign page here: • https://pages.donately.com/transcaucasiantrail/campaign/blazing-the-transcaucasian-trail-across-armenia • • • • • #TranscaucasianTrail #Caucasus #SouthCaucasus #Armenia #bikepacking #cycling #adventure #cycletouring #bike #mtb #travel #biketouring #bicycletouring #adventurecycling #trailblazing #fundraiser #hikearmenia #livelovearmenia #visitarmenia #tw

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So come now: how many of us carry a spare derailleur, even on the most adventurous of rides? For Lejog the only spares I carried were inner tubes, and following that experience the only addition I’m likely to make to that list is the inclusion of small bottles of chain degreaser and lube.

I’m sure Fearless Leader Joe (and Koga Ambassador Alee Dunham) will point out this is all just advertising for Rohloff hubs

Assault on women’s Lejog record

Christina Mackenzie is attempting to break the women’s Lands End to John O’Groats record even as we speak (well, even as I write this post).

The current women’s record was set in 2001 by Lynne Taylor at 52h 45m. Much depends in this record on the weather, and it looks like it’s been favorable for Christina so far.

As if to prove how much weather and timing play a part, just a week ago a portion of the route was under water. Christina has gone a bit to the west of this particular road, which FLJ and I followed on our own (less-than-record breaking) attempt in the second half of June.

FLJ:
I noticed she gave Westhoughton a swerve!
Guy Jean:
Maybe she just read my description of Westhoughton.

I remember this climb vividly!

And it looks as if she may have gotten a few hours of sleep in the same hotel where we spent the night following that climb:

Follow Christina Mackenzie (for a few more hours) here.

Follow Christina Mackenzie on Twitter.

Catching up with all the sempai

Vedangi in Canada

Updates from this crew are few and far between, so it’s a rare day in … September … when I hear from all of them within 24 hours!

Jenny Graham, attempting the women’s unsupported around-the-world record, checks in from bear-infested Alberta with more than her share of mechanicals — but a good 60% done towards her goal!

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Current location: Valleyview, Canada Miles covered so far: 12,810 Estimated miles to go: 5,190 This week has brought a raft of mechanicals for @jennygrahamis_ … what with holey shoes, broken cleats, snapped gear cables and worst of all a smashed up bottom bracket!!! But shes managed to get it all bodged together with ducktape and grease and hot-footing it to Edmonton for a bigger bike shop!!! Bears are still possible here but the chances of a really close encounter are shrinking with every pedal stroke… thank goodness! A big thank you to sponsors @leighdaycycling @unitasglobal @shandcycles @enduraofficial @komoot @huntbikewheels @ritcheylogic @johnhampshirecoaching @wearecyclinguk @insta360 You can follow Jen's adventure here http://theadventuresyndicate.com/round-the-world/ and use the hashtag #eastboundRTW … 🚴‍♀️🌏🌍🌎 #cyclinglife #cycletheplanet #cyclenation #biketravel #wanderlust #goexplore #worldadventure

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Vedangi, on a similar round-the-world quest, has reached the halfway mark while suffering a broken toe and some sort of abdominal injury requiring stitches (details have not been forthcoming) — all a different sort of “mechanical.” She still faces visa challenges for the second half.

Next, not chasing records of any sort, but still making the most of life, Dave has completed lejog in 8.5 days at the ripe young age of 60. He’ll be an inspiration to me and Joe Lejog as we make our own assault next year!

Last but in no wise least, Ian To — coming off an astounding third (?) victory in Hard Cro — is hinting at a fresh challenge on the lejog record (set just weeks ago by Michael Broadwith at 43 hours 25 minutes 13 seconds).

It’s all inspiration to me as I prepare for the Tour de Tohoko this week. And the same goes for these fantastic manga characters commemorating the tour!

Closing in on Krasnoyarsk

Jenny having a puncture fixed

Jenny Graham is more than halfway across Asia and closing in on 4,000 miles (currently 6,400km), as well as Krasnoyarsk. She’s suffered 8 punctures to date, but is still smiling.

Jenny set out on 16 June to attempt to set a women’s record of 110 days around the world, unsupported. She’s crossed five time zones already, and is in the process of conquering her eighth country, probably seeing more of Russia in the process then I’m ever likely to. Next on the list is Mongolia, after a swing around the southern horn of Lake Baikal.

Follow Jenny’s astounding progress on Track Leaders.

Also-rans

Vedangi, who hopes to one-up Jenny with an around-the-world effort of 100 days, is having visa trouble with (of all places) Canada. We wish her the best as we really want to see her make this effort! Plus we can’t wait to see photos of that ISEN All Seasons Bike in action!

Meanwhile meanwhile, Jasmijn Muller, Duracell Bunny on a Bike, has accepted the inexorable and put off her attempt on the women’s lejog record until more favorable weather, probably in September.

Duracell Bunny vs Lejog record

Jasmijn Muller

Jasmijn Muller, the 2017 UK & World 24-hour TT Champion, is the next rider to step up to the challenge of the world record for Land’s End to John o’ Groats. Jasmijn will set out in July on her attempt to break the record of 52 hours 45 minutes, set in 2002 by Lynne Biddulph.

In addition to support from various sponsors, Jasmijn has attracted the notice of Find It Film, dedicated to recording and promoting women in sports and adventure.

In addition to taking on a world record, Jasmijn is raising money for Cancer Research UK. Surplus funds from her goods shop will go to the benefit of the cancer charity.

On her site Duracell Bunny on a Bike, Jasmijn explains the origin of her mantra, Be The Egg:

“The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances”. This is the quote that my ‘be the egg’ mantra refers to. A mantra that helps me when the going gets tough and will hopefully help to set new LEJOG & 1,000 miles records this year.

Jasmijn Muller

Broadwith’s record lejog run on Strava

Mike Broadwith has posted the GPS files for his record-breaking lejog ride on Strava. The results show that in addition to the new Land’s End to John o’ Groats record, Mike also posted a 24-hour record and took several Kings of the Mountain titles along the way.

Mike Broadwith's record lejog ride
Mike Broadwith’s record lejog ride

I’m wondering if we can avoid some of those climbs in exchange for a slightly longer way round.

See Mike’s ride here on Strava: The one with the legendary wife.

Three in a row on Hard Cro

Ian To on the podium at Hard Cro

The other thing that slipped under my radar last week was Ian To’s third consecutive win in Hard Cro, the self-supported ultra race around the four corners of Croatia. Ian finished the c. 1,400km* ride in 65 hours 37 minutes (2 days, 17 hours and 37 minutes).

The win follows Ian’s first-place finishes of 67 hours 5 minutes in 2016 and a stunning 60 hours 20 minutes (after a 30-minute penalty for using a non-permitted road) in 2017.

Hard Cro was run in a new direction for 2018, from East to South, starting in Ilok on June 18 and continuing to Checkpoint 1 at Sveti Martin, Checkpoint 2 at Savudrija and then finishing at Molunat.

Hard Cro 2018 Route
Hard Cro 2018 Route (from hardcro.com)

* As riders are free to select their own route (with some restrictions) so long as they pass the checkpoints, there is no official race distance.

Roads and sea

Highlights 4 /// #HC2018

Iločki podrumi / Hvarlife – Triathlon • Bike • Adventure / Rusjan / GIANT HRVATSKA / Uniline Croatia / LifeClass Terme Sveti Martin / Zagrebački holding / Malvasija Wine bar / BK Mura Avantura / Melpomene Video Productions

Posted by HARD CRO – Ultra Race on Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hard Cro’s Facebook page has race videos, podium photos and interviews with the racers.

2,000km in a week

I’m falling behind on my updates, but honestly so much has happened in cycling in the past week that it’s difficult to keep up.

Jenny Graham is well on her way for her challenge to set the women’s unsupported around-the-world record. In the first week she’s passed through Germany, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, and is currently near Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, racking up more than 2,000km along the way.

A brief profile of Jenny, including a podcast, on Adventure Syndicate: Yeah, but I wonder how far I could actually go…

43 hours 25 minutes and 13 seconds

Mike Broadwith has broken the record for Land’s End to John o’Groats, set in 2001.

In addition to the usual challenges facing any world record contender, Mike had to overcome torrential rains and freezing temperatures. The result was the a neck that was totally non-functional.

I hope you’ll join me in wishing @24HourMaths congratulations and well-deserved rest!

Where are they today?

Yesterday I wrote about a number of record cycling attempts in progress or in the making. In our first update, Mark Beaumont has captured the 127-year-old British hour penny farthing record, coming in at 21.92 miles (35.28km). He was just 290 yards short of the world record of 22 miles and 150 yards (35.54km) set in 1886 by William Rowe.

Mark Beaumont with his 56-inch penny farthing
Mark Beaumont with his 56-inch penny farthing

Mike Broadwith, meanwhile, has entered Scotland on his quest to beat the record of 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds for Land’s End to John o’Groats. He’s currently encountering torrential downpours.

You can track Mike’s progress via Free Route.

Jenny Graham has just set out from Berlin on her quest to set the women’s unsupported round the world record at 110 days. Follow Jenny here on Track Leaders.

Finally, Ian To has arrived in Zagreb and is on his way to Ilok for the start of Hard Cro 2018.

Bike separation anxiety over! Next stop, Ilok! #hardcro #hardcro2018 #ultracycling #cycling

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