EF Education First’s alternative racing campaign continues as Lachlan Morton heads to the United Kingdom for GBDuro. Taking on a bike-packing event that traverses two thousand kilometers means planning for things that fall well outside the scope of any other race on the team’s calendar so far this year. Way out.
As EF Education First mechanic and alternative racing director Tom Hopper puts it, GBDuro will truly be a “solo mission” for Morton. He’ll need to prepare accordingly.
GBDuro throws a little bit of everything at those bold enough to take on the adventure. The trek from Land’s End in the far southwest of England to John o’ Groats at the northern tip of Scotland features a variety of road surfaces. The terrain ranges from long stretches of flat to sustained periods of up-and-down. To complete the journey in self-supported fashion, Morton and the rest of the participants will be hauling tents, sleeping gear, tools, and more, along with them.
From a technical perspective, that means Morton must balance his goal of finishing the four timed legs of the journey in the lowest aggregate time with gear choices that maximize versatility and carrying capacity.
Cannondale’s new Topstone is just the tool for the job.
“The geometry is going to be a little bit more comfortable for the longer rides,” Hopper says. “There’s going to be a lot more storage capability. You can put a lot of stuff on this bike.”
GBDuro’s route runs the gamut, from singletrack to gravel to paved roads, so Morton will need to pair the do-it-all bike with a do-it-all tire. Vittoria’s Terreno Dry tires served him well in the Flint Hills of Kansas at Dirty Kanza, and he is sticking with them for GBDuro, running tubeless at 38 millimeters wide.
“You want something that still is going to roll on the road when you are on the road, but wide enough that you could run it at a little bit lower pressure and be confident off-road as well,” Hopper says.
Morton will run 50/34 front chainrings and a 11-32 cassette to take on the varied parcours, and he will make use of Vision clip-on aero bars for the longer stretches of pavement.
With so many miles through the wilderness on tap, Morton must also be prepared for navigational challenges unlike any other he might face on the WorldTour road circuit. There won’t be any marshals signaling the way or throngs of fans lining the route. To stay on track, he will need to keep his Garmin 1030 head unit powered throughout the entire course of each very long day on the bike.
To address that challenge, Morton will rely on a Garmin Charge Power Pack that sits underneath the bike computer mount.
“He’ll basically be able to run his Garmin for 24 hours straight without having to charge it, which I think is going to be key on some of these longer, potentially 10-hour days in the middle of nowhere,” Hopper says
Lighting the path ahead is also critical, considering how much time Morton will spend riding at night. Garmin’s Varia UT800 Smart pairs with Morton’s bike computer to adjust its brightness, depending on his speed.
And then there’s the bags. Lots of them, as might be expected for a bike-packing journey crossing through England, Wales, and Scotland. Morton’s Rapha saddlebag will contain the tools he can use to fix potential flats, his Rapha handlebar bag will carry bivvy bags and sleeping gear, and his Rapha frame bag will haul anything else he might need.
Fortunately, his skill set and a wealth of experience with adventure rides complement the broad array of gear he’s taking along for the journey.
“He’s up for this,” Hopper says. “He’s built for this type of stuff. This is going to be perfect for him.”
"It was not a race. It was a journey. You go through such a range…