The FRENCH DIVIDE is an ultra-long-distance offroad event born in 2015 and invites cyclist, for 2016, to race acrosss France from the city of Bray-Dunes to the city of Mendionde in complete independance mainly following the mythic trail of the "route de saint jacques de compostelle". The distance is about 2100kms for 39000D+ using 70% of path and 30% of road, meaning that racers rides either MTB than gravel bikes in bikepacking mode or traditionnal rack. The global distance has to be covered in 15 days, starting the 6 of August and ending at maximum in the 20 of August.
To establish intermediar ranking, riders have to check on definites checkpoints. Riders are also equiped with a trackers, a model from Captur with an autonomy of 1month, to be sure everybody is following the same path.
Philippe Trochon, a french riders part of the team velochannel.com is right now riding the first kilometers of the French divide started on the 6th of August. Before leaving, he has taken the time to describe the bike he is using, a SOBRE VERSATILE especially thinked and equipped for the event. In order to take part to the FRENCH DIVIDE, Philippe has searched for partners, as set up an e-kitty to purchase all the requested materials and also a website to present its goal riding the FRENCH DIVIDE.
- Maxxis for the tires
- SOBRE for the frame and fork
- CHULLANKA for the freeze-dried food branded MX3
- Topwheels for...the set of wheels !
- Velo4U for a set of cycling short with chamois.
- VELOCOOP : tent, cycling bags...and more.
- BONTRAGER for cycling jersey, gloves, windshell...
- EATBRENNOS for food dedicated to sport activities.
- 9Bar for energenic cereals bar
THE BIKE, THE RACE
I am racing at the French Divide, a bikepacking race in self-sufficiency along 2100km of trails across France.
While most the racers have chosen to ride an MTB, i have done the choice to ride a gravel bike (Cyclocross bike with larger tires) SObre Versatile provided by my partners the welknown French brand SOBRE.
This is a fact that most of trails of the French Divide are pretty steep, and i could have opt for an MTB for security reason, especially for a first experience on this kind of long distance event. However, the French Divide stretch during 2 weeks maximum depending on the physical capacities of each riders, and i think that regarding my technical skills from my MTB experience, using the versatile in such rocky trail will be ok, also while path becomes more flat and regular i have an advantage with a such bike : better recovery, velocity and speed.
Here is why i have chosen this type of bike :
For the model, it was pretty easy, i wanted to ride on a French brand proposing steel frame as i am a lover of this material. Also in a soon future...summer 2017, i plan to travel abroad and steel frame are really suitable for this type of adventure. SOBRE is a dynamic and reactive company and i already had the pleasure to work with them and they have been really enthusiastic about my project.
About the set up, thanks to the helps of my partners Velocoop, Topwheels, AbsoluteBlack and Maxxis, i managed to end the mount of the bike.
I have chosen a drivetrain that is mostly identical to the one set up on my MTB : crankset SRAM X01 Carbon GXP with an AbsoluteBlack 32T ring coupled to a SRAM XX1 10-42 rear cassette. THe rear derailleur is a SRAM RIVAL CX1 with SRAM CX1 Shifters with hydraulic disc brakes - 180mm rotor. A simple and reliable 1x11 transmission.
About Wheels, i only moutn wheelset from TOPWHEELS, i recieved from them a pair or wheels set up with ZTR Grail rims, Hope Pro 4 rear hub and Sapim spokes. For the FRENCH DIVIDE, the front wheel is specificly set up with a SON Dynamo hub with a ZTR Crest 29" rim to powerised the GPS in the day and the light by night. The dynamo hub i connected to Supernova USA plug that fit on the top of the stem.
Tires is a difficult chapter, the SObre Versatile is a gravel/CX frameset and does not have a huge tire clearance with a maximum for 42mm tires. As the trails of the FRENCH DIVIDE are sharps and technically difficult, i have to use the biggest tires possible. I finally chose Maxxis Rambler 700x40 Tubeless Ready EXO tires.
THe GPS i use is a Garmin eTrex Touch 35 that works with AA battery easy to replace in case of. Bags are from Miss Grape, personalized bikes bags made in Italy.
The bike is versatile and i have trained riding in on every kind of path : road, trail, technical trail, rocky path... i have quickly found the right position on the bike, the frame is reactive but stay comfortable. The fork is tight, a bit heavy but i am sure i'll not broke. The SOBRE VERSATILE is an ideal frame for who wish to build from scratch a reliable and performing machine for a fair price.