Rob Britton and Griffin Easter on grinding out the Transcordilleras.

With Rob Britton and Griffin Easter


Clocking in at eight stages (or one extremely looong stage for the likes of Rob Britton), a total distance of 600+ miles, and over 70,000 (seventy thousand) feet of climbing through the Colombian Andes, the Transcordilleras is an unforgiving mega epic wherein each rider is wholly responsible for themselves. 

If you think that sounds like the kind of thing Griffin Easter would do, and do well, and that Rob Britton would do in the hardest, most punishing way possible, well, you’d be right. Griffin won the eight-stage option, and Rob took second in the nonstop edition. In our books, not DNF’ing either version is a win, so first and second? Dream stuff.

Here’s how they did it, leaving a trail of dead brain cells and banana leaves across the Andean landscape.


The Transcordilleras Colombia is arguably (or arguably not arguable in the least) THE most challenging mixed-surface stage race on the planet. That said, having chosen to undertake the 2024 edition, it begs a couple of questions from each of you:

A. Which of the 10 officially classified personality disorders on the DSM have you been diagnosed with? 
B. Has the disorder(s) abated or worsened since completing the event?

Ok, we kid, we kid... sorta.

Rob Britton: I don’t know. I was told there were free beers at the finish. Probably should have looked closer at the course before accepting.

Griffin Easter: Maybe the, “obsessed with Colombian cycling” diagnosis. It has definitely worsened for me.


Give us an idea of what all you were carrying each day on your bike, your pack and in your pockets.

Rob: I did the “nonstop,” though I did stop a total of 20+ hours in the race itself, including two solid nights. Kit-wise, I had clothes to cover everything from low-30s and rain to 100+ degrees. I packed tools to fix most things on my bike, a spare battery to charge those things, lights (front and rear), and space for LOTS of food. Because of the general availability of water along the way, I actually traveled with two days worth of EFS-PRO High Carb mix. That was a first and very nice to have on the second super-hot day.

Griffin: I started with more stuff than I needed, because for the 10 days before the race, I was training near Medellin, where it rained almost everyday and was somewhat chilly. Paipa, the race start, sits at a higher altitude and reported similar weather. Here is what I had:

[Editor’s note: In his response, Griffin basically detailed the contents of a two-car garage, a bike shop, and a convenience store, so we’ve bumped his full list of kit to the bottom of this article – a little treat (or for a Rob, a finish line beer) waiting for you at the end of this Q&A.]

As a follow-up to that last question: What do you wish you would have brought, but didn't, and was there anything you did haul around Colombia that you wish you had left behind?

Rob: I packed for the worst possible conditions you could get on the route. Fortunately the weather for the nonstop was more or less perfect, so with the exception of swapping out my spare shorts after the second day, I didn’t use any of the extra clothes in my saddle bag. But just like insurance, it’s nice to have something like that and not need it rather than need one and not have it.

Griffin: I wish I’d brought way less. Almost all the other competitors had next to nothing. That’s a gamble, but there were bike shops a-plenty, and you could probably always find a solution in a pinch. After stage 3, we shipped some of our items in the Colombian post to Medellin, where I had been staying before the race and where I would eventually get back to. That included a puffy, leg and arm warmers, a heavy duty rain jacket, and other items not needed with the extreme heat we were racing through.


Okay, you knew this was coming, but here's the obligatory tire and gearing question: What'd you run? Anything you'd change for the next go round?

Rob: For tires, I ran a 50c Schwalbe Overland on the front and 45c in the rear. There were two major changes to my usual setup. I ran a FOX 32 Taper-Cast gravel fork with 40mm of travel and a 52/34 double WITH my Classified Powershift, giving me (most likely) the widest range of gears of anyone in the race.

Griffin: Absolutely loved the set up. No issues for the entire eight stages:

  • Schwalbe G-One Overland size 45 (Stans NoTubes sealant and no inserts)
  • Shimano GRX Di2 50/34 chainrings with 11-40 cassette
  • Spinergy GXX Wheelset
  • Canyon Grail CF SLX 8

Speaking of equipment, did you face any mechanical challenges out there and was there any "MacGyver-ing" involved to get rolling again?

Rob: Well…my main headlight died on night one. I’m pretty handy with fixing these things, but after a good 30-minutes on the side of the road, I was resigned to using my headlamp for the remainder of the event. I did get the headlight to work again for about 40-minutes on the final night.

Griffin: I was very lucky. (Knock on wood.) I had zero tire issues – shout out to Schwalbe – and no mechanical problems – shout out to Canyon Bicycles, Shimano, and Spinergy.


Was there a particular song that got stuck in your head while you were out there? Will you ever listen to it again?

Rob: Probably. But those brain cells are dead now.

Griffin: No particular song – my brain was busy getting rattled around from the eight days of brutal ruggedness.

Speaking of music, does the event allow riders to wear headphones? If so, give us a rundown of your Transcordilleras playlist.

Rob: When you ride for the better part of three days straight, you listen to everything – country, rap, classical, rock ‘n’ roll… You name it.

Except podcasts. I don’t really do those.

Griffin: Yes, you could run headphones. I did some stages, but it was just another thing I’d need to manage during the day, so it wasn’t my focus. I would choose from downloaded playlists on my phone. A go-to was “All out ‘80s” – big fan of ‘80s music.


Describe your on-the-bike nutrition regimen. Would you make any adjustments to it for the next time? (Oh, sorry… too soon?) What about post race, off -the-bike nutrition?

Rob: If I had done the stage race, I think I would pack a decent amount of actual race food – Liquid Shots, etc., but for the nonstop, I think it’s best to eat real food when possible and high-sugar stuff elsewhere.

I ate a lot of empanadas, that’s for sure, and Coke always hits the spot on long, hard rides. I lost count of how many of those I had. Generally speaking, I just kind of bought whatever I was hungry for at the time. I do recall one night sitting at Colombia‘s version of KFC smashing fried chicken and french fries. Pretty sure that doesn’t fall under any nutritional guidelines, but it was delicious and satisfying at the time.

Griffin: The first two days, I was very happy to be running the EFS-PRO High Carb mix. It quite literally got me through some of the hottest conditions I’ve ridden in. On day one, we descended the Chicamocha Canyon and had to climb back out. It was an inferno. I lost a bottle on the way down, had already drank a bottle earlier, and had half left in my final bottle. The climb back out was two-or-so hours and very steep. I nursed that half bottle until the finish and it kept me in contention for the GC. Don’t think another mix out there would have done the same. All hail the First Endurance geniuses!

Once I was through all my FE, it was bocadillos almost all day during the race and Manzana Postobon soda when I could get it. My teeth started hurting by the end of the race lol.

Post race, I wouldn’t change a thing. Anything with salt! Other than that, I kept it as simple as I could. Rice and protein. I definitely craved more variety, but with non potable water around, sickness was a big factor in a race like that. The simpler the better.


What's the one memory you'll take away from the 2024 Transcordilleras that you'll never forget?

Rob: Riding up a 40km climb with the equivalent of a pen light (90-lumen Bontrager front blinker) hoping it would last the whole way so my headlamp had enough time to charge for a descent that was SO technical that they actually took it out of the stage race. I did it in the dark with only a headlamp. Probably won’t forget that for a while.

And the sunset the first night. That was one for the ages. 😍

Griffin: The people.

From the other racers to the people outside of the race, that’s what makes the impossible-ness of the event not so impossible. You may question why you are taking on such a tough event, but the laughs and connections soften the pain and make you feel a little less uncomfortable. The cycling passion is everywhere, and you really feel that love. It’s an amazing place to ride the bike.

Do you plan to go back? And if so, what lessons did you learn from this year's edition that you'll take into your next edition?

Rob: I think I will. Honestly, I would love to do the stage race. I think you get to experience SO much more and get to meet so many other people. I really love Colombia so I’ll be back at some point!

But if it's going to be a really similar experience to what we did, I think I'm good to do one and done. The race itself was just how fast you're surviving each stage. As if that's not hard enough, there was finding accommodations and the chores between stages, and then the general rural and foreign nature of it being in backwoods Colombia – it just seems harder than it has to be for the racing style we enjoy.

Griffin: At this point I think I will go back. I love Colombia and I already miss the amazing people I got to meet while down there. I will thin down what I bring, big time – that’s probably the biggest lesson I learned. You don’t need as much as you think.

What question didn't we ask that we should have (and what's the answer?)

Rob: How hot did it get? Too hot…

Griffin: Will you do the Ultra Category next? Possibly :)


As promised, here’s the full list of Griffin’s kit, itemized and presented without further commentary. Bottom’s up!

HMPL Bar Bag:

  • 2 x 2oz Stans NoTubes 
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, Carmex, chamois butter, pepto bismol, ibuprofen, floss, mini soap, bandaids, Hypafix, and rubbing alcohol
  • Passport, copy of passport, brevet card
  • Spare tube, medical gloves, zip ties, super glue
  • EFS-PRO High Carb mix (enough for the first two stages)
  • Charging cables ( iPhone, Garmin, Di2 Charger, multi-cable wall block)
  • Alba Optics lens cloth

HMPL Snack Bag: 

  • 8 x FE Liquid Shots (used in first and second stage)
  • 10-15 x bocadillas (dried Guava wrapped in dried leaves)
  • Trolli candies

HMPL Frame Pack:

  • All the tools! (Probably too many to be honest, but because it was a completely self-supported race, I erred on the side of “too much” rather than “shit it of luck.”)
  • 2 x tubes, multi-tool, Grax chain lube, 2 x CO2, small rag, chain links, extra derailleur hanger, Spinergy spoke tool, Stans NoTubes valve cores and stems, Stans NoTubes Dart Tool, Extra Darts, 2x CO2 heads 

HMPL Seat Pack:

  • Eddie Bauer Puffy, soccer shorts, Garmin t-shirt
  • 2 x Castelli socks, 2 x Castelli bib shorts, 2 x Castelli jerseys, Castelli baselayer, Castelli Rain Jacket
  • Leg warmers, arm warmers, cycling cap, buff, long- and short-finger gloves
  • Green sandals attached with Voler straps 

Castelli Jersey Pockets (I looked like an old TDF rider whose pockets were so full you couldn’t see their butt!):

  • iPhone
  • 2 x Electrolits (I kept losing bottles from my bottle cages, so I’d start with sometimes two Electolits in the center pocket)
  • Wallet (which I lost. Don’t carry your wallet in your jersey at this race.)
  • PBJs and bananas
  • Liquid Shots
  • CO2 and dart tool
  • Cash for buying supplies during the stage

On my person:

  • Giro Aries Spherical Helmet
  • Alba Optics Mantra Sunglasses
  • Shimano RX801 Gravel Shoes
March 14, 2024 — First Endurance

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