We took some time this week to chat to YJ ambassador Martin Cox about his up coming endurance race across America.
Can you give us a quick 101 on the TransAM?
Sure, it’s a solo, self-supported, bike race across America – starting on the west coast in Oregon, taking in 6,500km, 10 states, and 3 mountain ranges, finishing up in Yorktown Virginia hopefully 21 days later…
Why have you chosen this race?
Why? See the first answer! It’s an incredible event to be part of, being able to cross a continent by bike is an incredible challenge, and it fits around my childrens’ school holidays better than an August event.
Do you have any particular goals for the race?
For sure! I’m aiming to finish in 21 days, its not going to be in top 3, but I might be able to cling into the top 10!
How do you train for something like this while maintaining a (reasonably) normal life?
You ride your bike a lot! It’s a real mix of longer stuff, going for multi-day, massive rides, and going as hard as possible to build top-end power. I’ve been working on core strength using a TRX system in the back garden to help with comfort over such a long period, and generally trying to keep flexible/keep the joints happy!
How do you motivate yourself to keen riding day and night for such long periods of time?
There’s a line that really resonates with me from the musical Hamilton; “look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now” – and that’s it! A race or an event like this is within everybody’s grasp and capabilities, but the mental part defeats us too easily (we can work on the money, the logistics, the family etc), we are too quick to say that it’s crazy! I just feel incredibly lucky to be able to clip-in and take part in such an event.
Are you able to listen to music while riding?
Yeah, music is a big part of a race for many riders. I personally only use 1 ear-bud at any moment (currently using some really nice Monster buds which allow sound into the ear from outside). I find that by keeping my road-side ear free and open I can still focus on the surroundings etc. Some do race with music, others don’t, it’s entirely down to preference. If you hear what sounds like an asthmatic cat singing Disney songs at 3am, then that’s just me going past!
How does it work, have you already planned where you will stay each night?
Not especially, my plan is around 205-210 miles per day average, with a sleep stop in a motel every 3 nights – I find that 3 days is about all my body can stand between proper washes! I’ll generally take a look at lunchtime, see what is 100+ miles ahead and quickly use booking.com to get a room for later. The aim is to stop for around 4 hours when camping, and maybe 6 hours in an actual bed every 3rd night.
What bike are you riding (and why have you chosen it?)
I’ve got a Specialized Roubaix Expert with Shimano’s Di2 groupset and hydraulic brakes. It’s billed as a comfort/endurance bike, but don’t let that fool you, it’s incredibly comfortable without sacrificing speed – a great bike to ride! The Di2 ensures I can save strength in my fingers over the course of several thousand gear changes, whilst hydraulic disc brakes keep me out of too much trouble. When Specialized announced the bike last year with its Future Shock suspension stem I was hugely interested – it’s part of what makes it such a comfortable ride!
What kit you are taking with you?
The bulk of my clothing is coming from Rapha’s Brevet range, it’s a good mix of comfort, performance, and visibility (which can cope without being washed for days on end!). I’m packing for fast and light, and by trying to keep kit items to a minimum there’s less faff on the bike packing and unpacking! Sleep will be in a silk liner, inside a bivvy bag, whilst wearing my clothes etc – spartan is the word (but that’s through choice, others will camp nicely, or get a motel each day). Lights are by the UK form Exposure, it’s hugely important to be seen and have good visibility on the road – in turn this helps keep my wife happy!
What does that all weigh?
The Roubaix is pretty light, and the wheels (Roval CLX 50) are super light also – you save weight where you can, but other times you may go for comfort etc – it’s not been weight fully yet, but I’m going for an all-up weight below 14kg (without water or food).
What’s the most essential piece of kit you’ll take with you?
Probably the Anker cache battery (Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C) – it keeps me charged and in contact with social media. I’ve decided against a dynamo this year as my sleep strategy means it’s not needed, so the battery really helps to keep me powered! It’s got a 20,000maH capacity which means I can keep my kit charged for 4 days at a time between battery charges – which will be when I sleep!
How can we follow your progress?
I’ll be tweeting a few times each day @themartincox, and will be updating Instagram more frequently @themartincox, and will try to post in a longer form every few days on my blog www.themartincox.co.uk PLUS there will be live tracking available at http://trackleaders.com/ – but be careful, it can be addictive following the dots across the country!