August was a big month for Ultracycling in Europe, with James Hayden taking the win in the 6th Transcontinental Race and Ian Walker reaching Nordkapp first in the 4,300km North Cape 4000 race. Staring from Lake Garda the North Cape tackles the Alps first as it heads ever Northwards towards the very end of the continent.
It's a different kind of race to the TCR in that it has a proscribed route rather than just checkpoints, so it's a bit easier to see who's in the lead at any one time. And for the last 1,500km or so, that was sometime road.cc contributor Dr Ian Walker, who works in the Psychology department at the University of Bath, just up the hill from road.cc towers. We popped up to have a word with him about his ride and his bike, which after the travails of a 4,300km race is back in service as his day-to-day commuting bike.
Ian's bike is a Whyte Wessex One. Save for some posh wheels, a different saddle and the addition of aero bars and luggage, it's the stock bike that we reviewed on road.cc earlier in the year. At £2,199 it's certainly not in the superbike category; Dave Arthur called it a "Fast and comfortable 1x11 all-season road bike at a competitive price" and it shows that you don't need bottomless pockets to be properly competitive in the ultracycling sphere.
Probably the most interesting point, tech-wise, is that the bike uses a single ring transmission; Ian used a 42-tooth chainring and a 10-42 cassette. The pay-off for getting a wide gear range out of a 1x system is bigger gaps between the gears, but Ian never found that an issue in the race: you can find out what he thought about the gearing, and learn more about his winning ride, by watching the video.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.