Tech­nique

The record-hold­ing rider on trav­el­ling light for long dis­tances

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Steve Thomas

Record-hold­ing Jonas De­ich­mann on trav­el­ling light for long dis­tances

Ger­man ad­ven­ture cy­clist Jonas De­ich­mann has set un­sup­ported long-dis­tance records, such as rid­ing from the Arc­tic Ocean in Alaska to the south­ern point of South Amer­ica in 97 days in 2018. This past Novem­ber, he com­pleted a ride from Cape North in Nor­way to Cape Town in South Africa. That trek of 18,000 km took 75 days. Sev­eral of De­ich­mann’s records have been un­der­taken bikepack­ing style. Here are his thoughts on the fine art of min­i­mal­ism for long trips.

How do you de­fine the dif­fer­ence be­tween bikepack­ing and tour­ing?

Both are sim­i­lar with the main goal of ex­plor­ing and see­ing the world by bike. The dif­fer­ence is that tour­ing isn’t about speed. On the con­trary, it is of­ten about trav­el­ling slow. Bikepack­ing has an ath­letic part: you want to be fast and, hence, be min­i­mal­is­tic with gear.

Do you make any al­ter­ations to your bike for bikepack­ing, such as gear­ing or wider tires?

Com­fort and dura­bil­ity are much more im­por­tant for my bikepack­ing setup than my nor­mal road bike. I use slightly wider tires (28c or 32c), use aero bars and also try to en­sure that ev­ery­thing on the bike is stan­dard. Find­ing spare parts along the road can be a big is­sue.

I spend the most time in my aero bars, so I put the sad­dle a bit more to the front and get into a more up­right po­si­tion. I al­ways ride in Shi­mano moun­tain bike shoes. You never know when you’ll have to walk.

How do you like to con­fig­ure your bag setup?

My usual con­fig­u­ra­tion is a han­dle­bar bag, a frame bag and seat bag. For long rides in re­mote re­gions, I also carry a dry bag, which I can strap un­der my aero bars for ad­di­tional cargo space.

What are the key things to look for in bikepack­ing bags?

Nat­u­rally, they have to be ab­so­lutely wa­ter­proof, and should be easy to mount. There are big dif­fer­ences in seat bags, es­pe­cially. Some shake a lot when you’re climb­ing. You re­ally want one that is ab­so­lutely firm and doesn’t move around.

How do you deal with a seat bag that does swing?

It’s im­por­tant to pack it lightly and very com­pressed. I push my clothes in, so that there is as lit­tle air left in the bag as pos­si­ble.

How do you man­age to keep things min­i­mal? What are es­sen­tials you al­ways have and what gets cut?

It’s al­ways a con­flict be­tween com­fort and speed. Dur­ing record at­tempts, I go down to the absolute min­i­mum. I cut my tooth­brush in half to drop weight. Even my mat­tress gets cut down some­times. What I al­ways have is a sleep­ing bag, tools, a good por­ta­ble charger, a tent and cook­ing stuff.

How do you pack the bags and dis­trib­ute weight?

The key thing is to put the heavy stuff in the front, as the seat bag will shake if it’s too heavy. Also, you want to have things you might need dur­ing the day within easy reach.

In the han­dle­bar bag, I put sleep­ing and cook­ing stuff that I won’t need dur­ing the day. In the frame bag go elec­tron­ics, maps, en­ergy bars, spares and sun­screen. The sad­dle bag gets my clothes for the day and also larger food items, such as a sand­wich.

What do you do dif­fer­ently when bikepack­ing on road, gravel or off-road?

For gravel and off-road, I dis­trib­ute the weight far­ther to the back as I want more con­trol on the han­dle­bars.

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