357 Miles, One Gear
Trans North Georgia Adventure
Ambassador Jakub Jiráček was introduced to "serious" biking late in life when he moved to Alaska.
Jakub, recently completed the Trans North Georgia Route — which consists of a 357 mile journey through the Appalachian Mountains — and this year he set the fastest known time (60 hours) on a Single Speed.
Let's Dive Into the Bikepacking Journey
How were you introduced to bikepacking?
I was introduced to “serious” biking pretty late in my life about 7 years ago when I moved to Alaska. I biked when I was a little boy in the Czech Republic, but that was more of a means of transportation. Then, competitive swimming took over for about 15 years. As I mentioned, I started seriously biking when I was about 33 years old and did mostly local mountain bike races and some triathlons. But, the bike really drew me to explore Alaska. I started doing longer and longer races and started adventuring out on the bikes on the weekends. My last couple years in Alaska I fully immersed into long distance biking and bikepacking. I rode the Denali Highway and Denali park road which was an absolutely stunning adventure and got me hooked on bikepacking. I also did my first bikepacking “race” Kenai 250, which I went into as an adventure rather than a race. Upon moving to North Carolina, I wanted to continue my adventures so I kept doing multi day bikepacking trips such as Palmetto Trail and Greenbriar Trail.
How does bikepacking/camping offer a different experience than traditional primitive camping?
I do enjoy camping as well, but I love bikepacking. I really enjoy the active exercise in the form of biking and that you cover more ground as opposed to hiking. Plus, you have to be much more efficient and considerate as to what you pack as you have less space than when you backpack.
There is nothing better than experiencing flowy singletrack on your loaded bike. Also, I think for most people bikepacking is better from a time perspective. A lot of us have 10-20 days of vacation per year. For example, you can ride the Colorado trail in 5-10 days bikepacking, but it would likely take you twice the time by backpacking. You still see the same amount of beauty in a condensed timeframe.
You participated in the Trans North Georgia Adventure this year. What compelled you to take on this monster event?
The funny thing is that Trans North Georgia Adventure (TNGA) was not even on my radar this year as I really wanted to do the Vista 420 Race in Tennessee, but given the COVID situation it was cancelled.
I saw an article on bikepacking.com about TNGA and I just started researching it... and the more I dug in, the more I wanted to do the race. I like challenges that test your body and mind to the extreme and TNGA seemed like the perfect fit for that.
The average DNF rate was about 60% which I have never seen that high on any other event. My main goal for this event was just to finish, which is hilarious to me as an ex-swimmer whose main goals were just swim as fast as possible. Needless to say I loved it.
Why single speed?
Single speed! I love the simplicity! Well, I’m not a single speed biker per say. I actually did not own a single speed bike until fall of last year. I won a bike frame in a drawing at the Big Ring Challenge bike race and set it up as a single speed.
For TNGA, I decided that a single speed set up was the only functional and reasonable choice for me. You cannot do the TNGA on a gravel bike, full suspension might be overkill, fat bike is too risky to slice the tire and my hardtail had a broken front shock...so, the only option was my Specialized Chisel SS.
How did you decide on your bikepacking setup for this event?
For the equipment, I’m a big fan of local brands. I love Revelate Design bags as they are based from Anchorage AK. I did not go for the full blown front roll but I just went for the waterproof egres pocket. I matched it with two feeder bags on my cockpit. I also had a frame bag and saddle bag.
As for some gear, I wore my trusty Kitsbow Kitchel Lightweight gloves along with socks, 2 Kitsbow Water Bottles and Wind Jacket. All of the Kitsbow gear performed flawlessly and can not imagine the trip without it.
The amount of gear was based on the research, so I did not want to go too light but I did not want to go too heavy either. I ended up with 4 water bottles, emergency bivy, light sleeping bag liner, a couple pairs of socks, extra shirt and liner, tools, two inner tubes (wheels set up tubeless), battery bank and other random stuff.
The total weight of my bike with food and water was about 55 pounds.
What was your biggest takeaway from this challenge?
Keep moving just keep moving. When you think that you are exhausted that means that you still have 2/3 in the tank. The body is strong but the mind can be weak. Slow and steady wins the race - manage your body and you will finish. I left the bridge on the SC/GA border among last riders on Saturday, but persistence with a manageable pace and spending as little time as possible off the bike will bring you success.
JAKUB'S FAVORITE KITSBOW GEAR