Canadian Cycling Magazine

Technique

The record-holding rider on travelling light for long distances

- 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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