Ben Edwards

Long miles are always challenging, put them in a foreign land and the unknown gets added to the list of challenges. With a few foreign fondos under our belt, at the invitation of Eddy Merckx Bicycles we headed to Italy to ride the 2014 Granfondo Eddy Merckx, and began to put together our goods for the big day – 139km with almost 10,000’ of climbing in the Veneto region near Lake Garda.

1. Eddy Merckx 525 with Campagnolo Athena EPS. This is a bike we know and love after reviewing it and riding it at both the Gent Wevelgem Sportive and the Flanders Sportive. Merckx was kind enough to loan us the bike for the day, so packing a bike was a major headache we avoided.

2. Lazer Genesis Lifebeam and Oakley Radarlock Sunglasses. The Lazer Genesis Lifebeam features an integrated heartrate monitor meaning one less thing to pack or forget. Oakley Radarlock, TdF Special Editions, are a trusted, bulletproof set of glasses, ‘nuff said.

3. Custom peloton Castelli Climber’s Jersey. With high temps forecast and plenty of climbing this is our go to jersey, even if it didn’t say peloton. Dry’s faster, keeps you cooler and weighs less than almost anything on the market.

4. Mavic Helium Jacket. 90degree temps? Zero chance of rain? We’re still bringing the Helium, it packs so small and light in a jersey pocket that it is a major insurance policy with no down side. Whether it’s protection from unexpected rain or just a way to stay warm when your ride is late and the sun sets, the Helium jacket is indispensable.

5. Assos T.Campionissimo Bibs. Best shorts ever made, period. Yes, they are ridiculously expensive but the beautiful fit, fantastic fabrics and amazing chamois with all its technology, mean your legs may suffer on a long ride, but your soft tissue never will. When you travel 11,000 miles to ride, that is nice to know.

6. SIDI Wire Shoes. Sure the power transfer is ungodly good, but when riding a fondo max watts aren’t important, comfort is. After thousands of miles in every shoe under the sun, we always go back to SIDI. Sublime fit and no hot foot. We match them our custom peloton Rosso Corsa Team socks. Nice and thin, but still feature a sturdy weave for long life that is also antibacterial.

7. Boy Scout Kit. There are follow cars and motos with spare wheels, but we always carry our own fix it kit. No C02 on planes so a mini pump is a must. Of all the mini tools the Crankbrothers Pixl is our favorite. Features an 8mm for pedals, rare in the mini tool world, plus two torx heads as more and more bar and stems use the standard – all in a tiny, light weight package.

8. Insurance Policy. Most big fondos have route guidance you can download, so any map capable Garmin is always a good idea. Add to that a smart phone, business card, a few euros and a credit card, all in a sweat proof bag and you are self sufficient no matter what happens. We’ll never be lost and caught without train fare again. Yes, it happened.

9. Water Bottles. An obvious one here, but critical. Not always easy to get on the day if you don’t bring your own. You’ll notice a total lack of nutrition. Since most fondos supply copious food and drink stops you will be well supplied, but if you have a delicate stomach, bring your own. Many of the euro mixes are flat out terrible… more on that in a future story.