30th July 2017
Markku's TCR-spec. Resolution
We checked-in with Markku Leppala and his Resolution Ultegra Di2 Hydro at the TCRNo5 start.
From the modest 'Transatlantic Way' sticker on the facetted top tube to the unique tech mods. like Markku's 3D-Printed Garmin mount, there are so many features on his Resolution shouting that this MASON is #madeformiles.
We built up this Resolution in early 2016. It has now toured across Finland, raced the Trans-Am, raced the Trans-atlantic Way and now is covering distance in the Transcontintal Race. Although it's clearly modified as per de rigueur for #fastfar riding many of the core components on this bicycle are original from when we built it.
Shimano's Di2 Electronic shifting is now the most popular gear-shifting system for ultra-distance events. Its durability is proven and the benefits of its ease of use when fatigued and minimal maintenance makes it a very suitable drivetrain system for these tough rides.
Markku's rear mech has had a brutal life of bad weather, many thousands of shifts and heavy hits but still maintains a precise chainline and reliaby shifts every time.
He's using an 11-28T cassette and 50/34T chain rings. Other than routine replacement of the chain and cassette, Markku has only replaced his chainset with the updated R8000 series unit (which we now spec on all Ultegra bikes) as his original chain-rings had worn out just before this race.
The BBR60B is still the original unit and Markku's gone for a DuraAce chain to save some grams.
Pedal choice at the TCR was hugely varied and there isn;t s system for everybody. Markku uses Speedplay - as did Josh Ibbett for his win.
All riders were supplied with TCRNo5 bidons.
Our friends at Hunt Bike Wheels have nailed down this durable + high performance wheelset thing and we were stoked to see so many riders using them for TCRNo5.
Many riders adapt themselves in a tri/aero position for ultra-distance cycling which has physiological and aerodynamic benefits for these events. So, it makes perfect sense for Markku to also change his wheels to the HUNT 50 Carbon Aero Disc wheelset, further increasing his mile-eating capability.
The front wheel bearings were worn-out after his 2 previous ultra-distance events so a local bike shop replaced the cartridge units on a walk-in basis. This sort of convienient maintenance sets HUNT apart from certain 'big' brands.
DRAG THE ACCOMPANYING IMAGE SLIDER FOR RELEVANT IMAGES
The familiar sight of insulation tape re-purposed for securing insulation mats. Markku told us that Josh's tape method looks messy but is ideal for keeping sleeping mats held securely between the bars. However, the genius additions here are the two elastic cords that create versatile luggage space for quick and easy holstering of jackets, food, etc.
There are downsides to adding materials to the cockpit. Space for trackers, computers and phones is compromised so riders must be creative with their organisation. GPS computers were presentd on nearly every bike at this event, with many riders choosing the AA-battery powered Garmin eTrex unit which is reliable but fairly bulky. To get around this, Markku uses a custom 3D-Printed mount for this that positions it on his stem with clearance for the steerer, so it's still in perfect vision and keeps his aer-bars in the position that he prefers.
Carrying capacity for most riders is dictated by number of bags and the size of bicycle frame. The speed that the rider wants to complete the race at i.e. how little they sleep will also affect total carrying capacity. Markku carries less luggage than the 'average' TCR rider, he has experience from previous ultra/hardcore events so he understands what he needs.
For the TCR, Markku sticks to the bulk of his kit in his frame pack and food/fuel carried on his handlebars. We took a look in the frame pack and it was mostly wet weather kit and a bivvy bag in there.
Throughout these pictures you will have noticed that Apidura was present on pretty much every single bike.
Some riders clearly had more luggage than others, with the full range of saddle, frame, and handlebar packs being visible across the bikes being used for the race.
In professional cycle racing, equipment is kept pristine and often races begin with box-fresh kit. Not here.
Bicycles begin this race pre-worn, with used - and most importantly - trusted equipment. Every rider knows exactly how much life is left in each component, how well it's all working and what might need replacing and where they might find it. For crossing continents, intimately knowing your equipment is better than the 'best' equipment.