Bikes of Race around Rwanda 2023

Bikes of Race around Rwanda 2023

4 February, 2023

A 1,000km route around the Land of a Thousand Hills demands a minimal kit list that's equipped enough to face any of the Rwandan mechanical mishaps. The gravel roads have claimed many sets of brake pads over the years, and no doubt will claim more in the third edition, however, the riders shy of the rough stuff will be pleased to know a handful of the off-road sections have been improved, and even tarmaced.

A very real challenge in Rwanda is the lack of availability of wild camping spots; this densely populated nation has made good use of the fertile land which leaves very little opportunity to throw down a bivvy. Fortunately, hotels and other accommodation is easy to come by, if not harder to leave than a bivvy! Hamlets and villages can be found at regular intervals so that finding food and water doesn’t pose too much of a challenge.

Follow along with veterans Rob Gardiner and Niel Copeland who will be adding some context to the dots and plenty of route and racing knowledge. Racers will be hoping for dry weather, but we won't be! Let the dotwatching commence.

Juliana Veterano

Name: Juliana Veterano

Age: 47

Location: Dubai

Bike: Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0, Farsport carbon wheels, Pirelli M 40m tires and Rotor spider power meter.

Key items of kit: I'm going super minimalistic with a Restrap Race saddle bag, top tube bag and snack bag. Plastic bottle with all the tools. All clothing is Albion (2 jerseys, 2 bibs w pockets, 2 sockets, rain and insulated jacket).

Ulrich "uba" Bartholmoes

Name: Ulrich "uba" Bartholmoes

Age: 36

Location: Munich (Germany) and Girona (Spain)

Bike: I´m racing on a BMC URS01 – a custom build 2022 setup with Lightweight Pfadfinder EVO Rims powered by Rotor Inspider Aldhu Carbon Crank with Powermeter and 38 + 52-10 SRAM RED eTap AXS / Eagle groupset. Everything runs on ceramic bearings by Kogel – the bottom bracket as well as the wheels. For this race I will go with some Hutchinson Touareg 40mm tubeless tires. To light up the night I swear on Supernova Lights. Without luggage my bike has less than 7kg – it helps me to love climbing a lot 😊

Key items of kit: The bike and the setup for the race are a great work of art and the highlight par excellence. My focus is on the lowest possible weight, good durability and, above all, reliability. All components have been tested for many thousands of kilometers and will for sure serve me well. I use a minimalistic and also super lightweight Apidura Racing Series kit for my luggage with clothes by Velocio in the saddle bag, food and spareparts in the Top-Tube- and Framepack.

Lisa Pfeiffer

Name: Lisa Pfeiffer

Age: 34

Cap number: 87

Location: Germany

Bike: Mason Bokeh with HUNT 30 Carbon All-Road Disc Wheelset, Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass Endurance or Hurricane Ridge Endurance tires (depending on the weather forecast). 11-36t SRAM cassette + 48/34 Praxis Works chainrings combined with Shimano Ultegra parts

Key items of kit: BBB cycling Strike Duo 2000 front light + Signal Pro rear light to illuminate the nights, ultralight VAP saddlebag, Asssaver's win wing to keep at least the most important part dry in case of apocalyptic rain, TPU tubes and Rene Herse Nuda ultralight carbon minipump. Mosquito spray and Wahoo Elemnt Roam + Bolt 2.0 backup. Last but not least, cool shades.

Dave Bell

Name: Dave Bell

Age: 54

Cap number: 61

Location: Centurion, South Africa

Bike: 2019 Silverback Superspeed Hardtail MTB, SRAM Eagle Groupset and Son Dynamo Hub.

Key items of kit: Garmin eTrex 32x GPS, Ortlieb saddle Bag, Ride Farr Frame Bag Extreme Endurance Light and Olight Seeker 2 Pro and Acepac Feedbags.

Sören Schwabbauer

Name: Sören Schwabbauer

Age: 22

Cap number: 49

Location: Innsbruck, Austria

Bike: Giant Defy Adv Pro 1, > an endurance road bike which performs quiet well on gravel though. Just a pink bottle holder as an extra; anything else was over my budget 😉. 35mm tires, since that is the maximum tire width the frame allows (wish me luck for dry roads). Electronic shifting (never going back again).

Key items of kit: 2l top tube pack: spare tube x 1, tube fixing kit, multitool, chainlinks x 2, tire levers x 3, tubeless repair kit and space for anything eatable I can find. 4l frame pack: resuce blankets (x 2 as we don't want to make this a wellness trip), Leatherman knife + pliers, rain jacket, toothbrush + toothpaste, pump, sunscream, medicine + first aid, chargers (way too many). 1l + 0.75l waterbottle. Maybe a hiplock and jersey pockets for anything eatable I can find :D

Marius Schada

Name: Marius Schada

Age: 29

Cap number: 40

Location: Lucerne, Switzerland

Bike: Rondo Ruut ST1, SRAM Rival 1 1x11 group set 42/11-42t, SRAM Firecrest 303 wheelset. Schwalbe G-One R 40mm tyres. Specialized Power Mirror saddle. Roval seat poast and Enve Gravel bars 44 mm.

Key items of kit: Wahoo ELMNT Bolt, Ortlieb frame bag and saddle bag, Supernova Airstream 2 upside down front light, second front light Sigma and 2x Sigma rear light.

Erik Sehnal

Name: Erik Sehnal

Age: 54

Cap number: 53

Location: Baden, Auatria

Bike: Canyon Endurace

Key items of kit: 35mm Conti Terra Speed tyres.


Name: Bastian

Age: 41

Cap number: 50

Location: Cologne, Germany

Bike: Carbonda 696 with Shimano GRX Di2.

Key items of kit: Tailfin

Niels Kuehnemann

Name: Niels Kuehnemann

Age: 28

Cap number: 13

Location: Berlin

Bike: Specialized Diverge Carbon. BEAST Components Gravel bars, 40mm Venture tyres and SRAM Apex groupset.

Key items of kit: Sleeping system: Hotels. Frame bags: Apidura frame bag and top tube bag Seat post bag: Ortlieb 16 liters

Alexandre Gagnaire

Name: Alexandre Gagnaire

Age: 46

Location: Thonon-les-Bains, France

Bike: Allroad by Caminade

Key items of kit: Batsoul bags

Miguel Veterano

Name: Miguel Veterano

Age: 45

Location: Dubai

Bike: Giant Revolt Advance Pro, Shimano Di2 and Farsports wheels with 42mm tyres.

Key items of kit: Restrap Bags.


Name: Mikhail

Age: 33

Cap number: 45

Location: Praha, Czechia

Bike: Canyon Grizl

Key items of kit: It is difficult to say what is the key for this race. The most important thing is that a week and a half before the start, I broke a rib. Perhaps it has more influence than a bicycle. As for the bike itself, I fitted bike with 29" tubeless tires and dynamo wheel, Tailfin aero bag and other stuff.

Katrien De Smet

Name: Katrien De Smet

Age: 36

Cap number: 54

Location: Belgium

Bike: I will be riding a Salsa Warbird with SRAM Force AXS wide, 43/30t in the front and a 10-36t cassette. Hunt gravel X-wide carbon wheels with Pirelli Cinturato gravel-H 45mm tyres. Aerobars are a mix of Profile Design and PRO with SRAM AXS blips, mounted on a Beast Gravelbar.

Key items of kit: Tailfin Aeropack, Apidura Top Tube bag and PRO snack packs. K-Lite front and rear light powered with a SON dynamo hub. Sea to Summit SPARK II sleeping bag.

Elijus Civilis

Name: Elijus Civilis

Age: 41

Cap number: 77

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Bike: Scott Addict Gravel 2022 model with DT Swiss GRC1100 wheels, SRAM RED AXS groupset and Continental Terra Speed 40c tyres.

Key items of kit: Proudly presenting Tarkaco Top Tube for essentials and Frame Bag for food (Tarkaco is a new startup in the cycling world with bikepacking spirit & gravel soul). Saddle bag taken from folding bike to host clothes (arm & knee warmers, spare bibs, rain jacket and night gear). Front light Magicshine and rear Lezyne. Garmin Edge 1030 for navigation. Will use no name powerbank for charging.

Eddie Sigvardsson

Name: Eddie Sigvardsson

Age: 52

Cap number: 5

Location: UAE

Bike: Lauf, True Grit Ultimate, e* thirteen XCX Race Carbon wheels, SRAM Red eTap AXS, Specialized Mirror saddle and Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC 40mm.

Key items of kit: Custom made full frame bag in Dyneema with an Apidura water bladder. The other bags are also from Apidura. Exposure MaXx-D and Joystick lights.

Alexander Ebell

Name: Alexander Ebell

Age: 39

Cap number: 67

Location: Stralsund, Germany

Bike: Cervélo Áspero, Leeze Wheels and Fizik components.

Key items of kit: Apidura Frame Bag, Apidura Long Top Bag and Revelate Designs Mountain Feed Bag.

Tom Hardie

Name: Tom Hardie

Age: 27

Location: London, United Kingdom

Bike: Boardman ADV 9.0, with a 2x Shimano GRX groupset, Prime Primavera 56mm carbon wheels, Prime aero gravel bars, Prime seatpost and stem and Profile Designs T3 (independent adjustment of the arm rests!) with Prime J-bend extensions.

Tyres are Schwalbe G-Ones which will hopefully roll fast and survive the gravel. If it's muddy I'm not sure anything will save us.

The saddle's a Specialized Romin Mimic, Shimano XTR short-axle pedals & Prime comfort bar tape.

Key items of kit: Tailfin carbon rear rack for camera equipment and spare clothes I'll need at night with an Angry Pablo tool roll under the saddle and bar bag up front for spare on-bike clothes.

My favourite item has to be the Albion Zoa Burner Musette. A musette bag (great for big food shops, or just carrying your evening's kit from your bike to bedroom!), that also doubles up as an extra layer of insulation to keep the cold off your chest.

Simon Jones

Name: Simon Jones

Age: 25

Cap number: 48

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Bike: Canyon Grizl CF SL 7, Shimano GRX RX810 GS and DT Swiss C 1850.

Key items of kit: Tailfin Alloy AeroPack, Apidura Expedition Bolt-On Top Tube Pack and AGU Handlebar Bag. Sigma Sport Aura 100 Lights and sleep system: whatever ditch looks comfortable.


Name: Leduc

Age: 37

Cap number: 36

Location: France

Bike: Specialized Crux 10R.

Key items of kit: Apidura Expedition packs.


Name: Plaza

Age: 34

Cap number: 36

Location: France

Bike: Canyon Grizl

Key items of kit: Apidura Expedition packs.

Caroline Buckland

Name: Caroline Buckland

Age: 32

Cap number: 84

Location: London, UK

Bike: Ribble CGR.

Key items of kit: Garmin, Pod Sacs rear bag and Lezyne lights. RAB Ultralight down jacket, Lecol jersey and orange or blue socks. Scott cycling shoes.

Graham Suffield

Name: Graham Suffield

Age: 44

Cap number: 58

Location: Canadian living in Namibia

Bike: Salsa Fargo. Jack of all trades, master of One. But not this one… This is my Tour Divide bike, and my Namibia bike. It’s the one bike I have. Ride it. A steel frame with stock build, 2x10, Son Dynamo and Brooks Imperial saddle.

Key items of kit: 55m Mezcal tyres, it won’t be the fastest, but isn’t it the smile that powers the mind, that turns the legs, that turn the pedals? And honestly, some of the descents in this race are pretty rough… Also, I am carrying an umbrella for thunderstorms.

Enrico Comunello

Name: Enrico Comunello

Age: 57

Location: Italy

Bike: Open Up, SRAM force, Fulcrum Red wheels, Pirelli tires and Fizik saddle.

Key items of kit: Thomson accessories and Miss Grape bags.

Manu Cattrysse

Name: Manu Cattrysse

Age: 34

Cap number: 54

Location: Belgium

Bike: I will be riding my 2018 Salsa Cutthroat. Groupset is a mix of Sram AXS force,GX and XX1 with a 36/10-52. Wheels are HUNT gravel X-wide with 45 wide Pirelli cinturato gravel-H tubeless tyres.

Key items of kit: Tailfin Aeropack as my main storage and revelatie design/apidura cockpit bags. Profile design aerobars with wireless blips. Navigation are Garmin etrex 32x and edge1030. Light is a Lupine Wilma with 2 battery packs that I can use for both lights and recharging stuff. Sleep system is a short neo air X-lite and emergency bivy. My lucky 'item' is my race partner Katrien De Smet.

Cleo Jensen

Name: Cleo Jensen

Age: 26

Cap number: 37

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Bike: Giant Revolt - my aluminium adventure bike! This bike has been put through its paces travelling to lots of cool places with me so I trust it will take me through the race in one piece.

Key items of kit: Tailfin Aeropack containing all my layers and spare kit. Apidura Racing Top Tube Bag with some tools and snacks for easy access. A tool box with all my essentials under the bottom tube. 2 bottles and a hydration pack allowing me a total of 2.8L of water and more pockets for snacks.

Jeff Strachan

Name: Jeff Strachan

Age: 50

Location: Dubai

Bike: Fara Gravel, Andiz wheels DT Swiss hubs with Vitoria Mezcal 44c tyres.

Key items of kit: Restrap top tube bag, Restrap stem bag and Ortlieb saddle bag (borrowed).

Robert Loveless

Name: Robert Loveless

Age: 25

Cap number: 88

Location: London

Bike: Standert Stichsage, rolling on Hunt CGR 40s and 40mm Schwalbe G-One Rs. Unnecessarily shiny bits from Hope to keep the stoke high.

Key items of kit: Emergency Kendal Mint Cake, courtesy of dear Josh Murphy, who also incredibly kindly lent me his quiver of Apidura bags for this trip. Check out the legend himself here:

Mona Stockhecke

Name: Mona Stockhecke

Age: 39

Cap number: 3

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Bike: Salsa Warbird.

Key items of kit: Revelate Designs bags.

Daniel Meyes aka Dan

Name: Daniel Meyes aka Dan

Age: 45

Cap number: 3

Location: Switzerland

Bike: Salsa Warbird with Shimano GRX 2x12.

Key items of kit: Revelate Designs bag.

Fritz Paessens

Name: Fritz Paessens

Age: 30

Location: Kevelaer, Germany

Bike: Specialised Epic Expert hardtail with Schwalbe G-One R Tires 45mm front and back, Roval Control MTB Carbon Rims.

Key items of kit: Aero Bars with Supernova Front Light.

Aled Goddard

Name: Aled Goddard

Age: 25

Cap number: 57

Location: Bristol, UK

Bike: Cannondale Topstone Carbon

Key items of kit: Handmade framebag, Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Hutchinson Touareg tyres, Rockstrap straps and a Gold Chain 😎

Guto Davies

Name: Guto Davies

Age: 26

Cap number: 4

Location: Wrexham, North Wales.

Bike: Giant Revolt 2 bought second hand from a strange man in a dimly lit car park, so far she hasn’t let me down but this event might change things.

Key items of kit: Has to be the three water bottles and the air in my tires.

Jai Arumugam

Name: Jai Arumugam

Age: 41

Cap number: 19

Location: Rwanda

Bike: Scott Addict Gravel (custom built)

Key items of kit: Stealth electrolytes, Snickers and Haribo. Clothes are Mektrax and Monton sports.

Pawel Pulawski

Name: Pawel Pulawski

Age: 39

Cap number: 43

Location: Poland

Bike: "Kajak Custom", it's a custom build steel bike, with lots of carbon parts on it and equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 full groupset, geared 34/50T 11-34T. Wheels are custom build, 45mm carbon rims with Son Deluxe hub up front and DT240 on the back. Tires are Pirrelli Gravel Hard 35mm -couldn't fit 40's as originally planned 😛 I also have a Tubolight EVO inserts, for better rim protection, and I'm pretty interested how this one will work. Dynamo light is a must but I also take a head torch, Mactronic Vizo.

Key items of kit: I'll be using an Apidura racing pack series: 5L saddle pack, 4L frame pack and 1L top tube pack (might change this one last minute for a 2L long one).

All the clothing by Assos Switzerland is from a Mille GTO, a long-distance collection.

Apart from food, water, and spare batteries for my Garmin eTrex on my bike, I'll be having lots of small tools and spares, small medic kit, and an insect spray. All these small things I'll be having in my special kit item: Assos spider bag C2 that I just started using!

Thanks for following!

Vadym Tiroshko

Name: Vadym Tiroshko

Age: 29

Cap number: 17

Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Bike: Scott Gravel Speedster 20 (2019). Tyres: Panaracer Gravelking SemiSlick 35-622. Wheelset: Syncros Race 24, 700C.

Key items of kit: Ortlieb saddle bag (17L) but half-empty - for clothing. Blackburn frame (4.5L) and top tube bags (1L) - you know, heavy stuff: tools, electronics, medicals, cosmetics, chamois cream and recovery baby cream. +100 to happy butt 😊.

Alpkit handlebar bag (4L) - for a rain jacket, warmers and snacks. +5 to cold and water resistance. All possible pockets are to be filled with food.

PRO Aerobars with a bridge, even though Rwanda is not the flattest land, but 5 minutes of relief to the neck and back could make a difference. +5 to comfort. Garmin Edge 530 (did the last race with only a Garmin smartwatch, that was a permanent charging disaster). +10 to navigation skills.

XOSS from lights, KNOG rear lights.

No plan to sleep outdoors, but who knows :) Got an emergency blanket.

Got powerful and cheerful socks, +10 to speed.

Jay Cowie

Name: Jay Cowie

Age: 27

Cap number: 56

Location: George, South Africa

Bike: Curve Kevin of Steel III. Shimano Ultegra R8100 2x11 speed. Easton Gravel chain set 47/32 11-36t cassette. Pirelli Gravel H tyres 45mm.

Key items of kit: Pieta Designs custom frame bags, stem bags and top tube mags. Mango Time handlebar bag. Apidura seatpost bag. Extreme Lights Endurance light. Wahoo elemnt Bolt.

Dawn Barnable

Name: Dawn Barnable

Age: 42

Cap number: 6

Location: A Canadian based in Dubai.

Bike: A Curve GXR (Kevin) Titanium Gravel Bike (size L) with the Curve G4T 35mm wheelset, on loan from Edge Cycling in Dubai. Tyres are Panaracer Gravel 40m.

Key items of kit: I'm using the Apidura Racing Series bags with Exposure Lights (Diablo and Joystick) on front with TraceR backlight. Along with all the usual tools/equipment, I'll be carrying a lot of food and I never forget a toothbrush/spare pair of socks as its little things like brushing yoor teeth or dry, warm feet that can boost your mood when you're cycling 1000km.

Wiroth Jean-Baptiste

Name: Wiroth Jean-Baptiste

Age: 49

Cap number: 52

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Bike: Chiru Vagus with Shimano GRX 810 groupset, DT Swiss wheels with Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres.

Key items of kit: Zefal Bags, pump and bottles. Meltonic Nutrition: bars, gels and drink.

Emmanuelle Livet

Name: Emmanuelle Livet

Age: 47

Cap number: 52

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Bike: Chiru Vagus with Shimano GRX 810 groupset, DT Swiss wheels with Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres.

Key items of kit: Zefal Bags, pump and bottles. Meltonic Nutrition: bars, gels and drink.