Most bike-packing adventures start with a long checklist. Food? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Toolkit? Check.
For Eoghan McHugh, though, there’s one item he packs by the fistful. Derailleur hangers.
“I’m notorious for breaking hangers,” he says. “There’s not a ride that I’ve gone on where I haven’t broken a hanger.”
The endurance cyclist’s latest challenge sees him set out today from Lublin, Poland, on a 4,000km route heading west across Europe to Dublin, Ireland.
The 38-year-old has put aside six weeks to complete the ride, during which he hopes to raise awareness of climate change and raise funds for environmental charity Protect Earth.
What made McHugh choose this route? “It rhymes,” he says, speaking to Cycling Weekly from a farm in southwest Wales.
“I mean, there’s the funny aspect that it does happen to rhyme, Lublin-Dublin, but there’s the other aspect that it’s almost as far east Europe to as far west Europe as you can go.
“I think it’s a cool distance to do. Regardless of how quickly anybody would do it, they would see differences in the landscapes, and so being able to see those differences will start to tease out some elements around climate change.”
This summer, Europe witnessed a record-breaking heatwave, with temperatures surpassing 40 degrees centigrade across the continent. McHugh hopes that his ride, planned to coincide with the shift in the season to autumn, will allow him to observe the impact of the climate crisis and record it on his Instagram.
Having ridden across Morocco and completed an Everesting challenge in the South Downs, this challenge is McHugh’s longest yet. Each day, he plans to cycle an average of 120km, with some legs stretching over 200km.
To prepare for such a ride, McHugh has taken his training away from the bike, choosing to play football regularly. “Which I’m useless at,” he quickly clarifies. “I’m actually quite bad. It seems to be the running joke with the team.
“It was more sort of general fitness, just being active and doing something different off the bike, so I didn’t lose any interest in the bike.”
McHugh will be completing the transcontinental route on his titanium-frame Ribble CGR, keeping comfort his top priority. He’ll be riding light, too, carrying just two sets of clothes and picking up spare changes that he’s already shipped out.
In previous endurance challenges, McHugh has camped by the roadside, on one occasion taking shelter under a picnic bench. This time, though, he’s affording himself the luxury of hostels and rental homes, stopping off to see friends along the way.