Questions for Jo Post TAW19 - Kinesis Bikes
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Questions for Jo Post TAW19

Questions for Jo Post TAW19



Stats: Distance traveled / Total finishing time / Elevation gained.



The TransAtlanticWay is 2,343 kms long with 22,725 metres of climbing. My total finishing time was 9 days 10 hours give or take. I think, I wasn’t making notes.



Photos from Jo's Insta. @vecchiojo

Kinesis TAW Stores




Describe the feeling of finishing TAW19



Glad it was over I think. The last 100km took for bloody ever and was just a succession of what felt like pointless hill after pointless hill. Which suggests all the previous ones weren’t. There was a race party in a pub near the finish which was too noisy and crowded for me after the glorious emptiness of the ride so I found an old-man’s pub to hide and have a beer in, where I promptly fell asleep. It felt like an anti-climax but it’s not the sort of event that has a bike-over-the-head fanfare have-a-medal ending anyway, it takes time to process all that you’ve experienced. It’s hard to even remember what’s happened day-on-day as it all rolls into one so the whole TransAtlanticWay will require a level of digesting and reflection before any conclusions can be made, although some had already been arrived at on the road.



Kinesis TAW Crates




Describe the solo bike packing experience (your first)



Previous attempts at this sort of ride have always been with someone else so it was a bit scary to start off with; no metaphorical hand to hold with a ride partner, no reassuring joint decisions to be made, no motivation and support always there, but then again none of the annoyances that can come from riding with someone else; the differences of speed or the thousand little time delays as one or the other is just doing something. As soon as the first pedal stroke went round and it was only me it felt incredibly liberating, I thought I might miss the camaraderie, the comfort of the buddy safety net, and the closeness that can come from the shared experience of riding with someone else but that didn’t really happen. I was afraid I might struggle but I really enjoyed being by myself, going my own speed, going too fast and then paying for it, making quick decisions, getting them wrong sometimes, and working out how to unwrong them without discussion and dithering. You definitely experience an event differently on your own compared to being with someone else, and with a partner you waste a lot of low-level background energy thinking about and dealing with them. Solo riding is a beautiful little bubble of self-reliance moving through the landscape that can feel quite glorious, if guiltily selfish.



Kinesis TAW Poles Road




(How) Has the experience changed you as a cyclist/person?



You put yourself through a lot on an event like this, physically, mentally and emotionally as you deal with the terrain, the weather and the steady increase in fatigue and you rollercoaster through every range of feeling. You’re going to find yourself in testing situations, you’re going to have times of great joy, you’re going to have to keep going when you want to stop, you’re going to get pissed off in the rain and swear at another hill and then laugh on the descent the other side. You discover much about yourself, and even if you’ve done a lot of this sort of thing you find something new to improve upon every time. I learnt a whole bunch; I have come out more confident about myself and my abilities, and am more aware of my fallings too, both of these in a quiet and humble way though. I am a better person within myself, which I hope will radiate out.



Kinesis TAW Snack Square




Are you happy with your time/performance?



Yes and no. I’m very disappointed with my time, I wanted to do better as I finished very much the back of the field, even if it wasn’t a race. But I’m happy that I made it round, didn’t have any DNF injuries or make any major errors and for the most part was riding pretty confidently and as fast as I could, or that I felt sustainable for the duration. I made mistakes but I know what and where they are, they mostly involve spending too much time not on the bike moving forwards, and I know how to rectify that.



Kinesis TAW Notes




Did everything go to plan?



The only real plan was to get round, and to do it without messing about or breaking myself. This was partially successful… Day 1 went badly as I got cold and damp (rookie error) and my body shut down which took some time to bounce back from, and then I spent a day and half in the company of other riders which while nice socially really sucked time thanks to group faff, and no matter what I tried I couldn’t get out of the gravity of their orbits until a bit of a gurgly tummy on Day 4 saw me slow down just enough to slip free. Something on my dynamo went wrong which meant I wasn’t able to ride with safety at night on just the spare front light I had which really affected my available cycling hours, so that had a huge negative impact on my time. But the positives of getting round, on my own, uninjured vastly outweigh all the negatives. The “on my own” bit, that’s massive for me.



Kinesis TAW Cloudburst




Any niggling injuries or pains and how did you manage them?



The only problem I had was with my Achilles’ tendons, both of them. This is not an uncommon issue for me (or many long-distance riders) and they can twinge on any long ride. It did become incredibly painful at times, not so much riding but getting on and off the bike and walking was a wincing and hobbling affair, but there are stretches and techniques I know to mitigate this. Very little saddle pain, and nothing that couldn’t be eased with a subtle bum shuffle, and the tiniest bit of cyclist’s palsy tingly-finger that wasn’t unpleasant. No knee problems at all, thank you 20 years of singlespeed mountainbiking. The TransAtlanticWay is infamous for munching riders body parts so I’m very happy that I was constantly systems checking, tapping the gauges, pulling and pushing all the necessary buttons and levers, and emerged relatively unscathed.



Any equipment niggles or mechanicals?



One puncture on the off-road section (right at the end, gah!), relatively minor. Somewhere on Day 3 though my dynamo went on the fritz only running one LED on low power which severely inhibited my night running. Pretty major. That lost me a lot of traveling time, although doing a big 300km day trying to get to Checkpoint 2 around midnight on just the dim beam of my emergency light was exciting. And my inflatable camping-mat had a slow puncture. Annoying. Looking for it in the bath right now. There are two.



Kinesis TAW Chips




Three most interesting Sleeping Locations?



I did pretty well with the sleeping arrangements with only one night actually in the open, in 5 degree temperatures, that was nippy. Two barns (one open, one fully enclosed), two houses being renovated, a small chapel porch and inside a large church. The last one was definitely the winner, indoors, away from the midges, warm and overseen by an ambiently lit Jesus and Mary. I put some money in the collection box as thanks.



A Top Three ‘Eateries’ (Read service stations)?



The petrol station just outside Tralee was a highlight. I’d bonked really hard about a kilometre away from it and had to sit on a wall jamming a maple and pecan swirl into my face watching crumbs and dribble shower onto my lap. Classy. Ate my body-weight in food in there and carried on. The petrol stations and supermarkets around Ireland are amazing; always a coffee machine and always a boiling water tap so you can make a Pot Whatever meal. Oh, the Centra in Falcarragh where the manager told us to bring our bikes in and made some chairs out of crates with cardboard cushions, and told us we could use the toilet, which was brave, that was the best. Followed by the chats with the ladies in the Centra in Waterville which was humourously special.



Kinesis TAW Church Bivvy




Top Three Sights?



Too many, too many. The amount of times I rounded a corner or crested a hill to be met by an incredible view was far too frequent to mention, just too many. It was a painfully beautiful place to ride a bike, you had to frequently remind yourself to look up for the reason why.



Best Moment?



Again, too many to mention really, loads of loads of “this is bloody brilliant” moments. Razzing down a switchback road, tanking it along in the aero-bars with a punchy tailwind, doing a climb that felt just right. Even struggling up a climb that was steep and near on impossible but having the grunty determination to get up it on a fully-laden bike was a perverse joy in itself.



Worst Moment?



Sitting on that wall just outside Tralee, being on top of a pass in the cold and rain finding it impossible to flap my freezing hand into a sodden glove, having a small anxiety attack in Galway unable to deal with people and noise after days of quiet and solitude, and the endless shitty bumpy tarmac traffic heavy side-headwind road into the town, realizing that I probably fell asleep going round that downhill corner, falling asleep climbing a hill….



Kinesis TAW Road Sky Sign




Best person/people you met?



As the TransAtlanticWay follows a set route you’re always bumping into other riders, either on the road or more likely at a petrol station/café stop. You would also meet ‘ordinary’ people who would wonder what the hell you were doing. To a person they were all lovely and each rider had a story about a generous or wonderful being they met. I met lots of really nice people but my best would have to be Vilas who introduced himself at the start, we bumped into each other a few times over the ride, shared stories and then he made me the biggest bowl of muesli for breakfast after the finish, a beautiful, calm, charming man.




Mark out of 10 for the whole experience?



Ten is too small a number because the whole event is beyond anything, from the deepest crushing lows to the most euphoric of highs, sometimes within minutes of each other. Knowing that any feeling, good or bad, will pass comes in handy. It will stay with me for a long time, for ever, because it has shaped me.



Kinesis TAW Guiness




Would you do it again? …. Or what is your next Solo bike packing event (too early to say?)



Yes, but not just yet. I’ve already booked in to do the Further off-road event (frthr.co) for the late summer, then the TransContinental is penciled in next year, and the Tour Divide the year after that but don’t tell anyone. I’d like to do longer rides in the UK visiting friends along the way, air-fares and petrol-station snacks suck a lot of money.



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