Tactic Team Take On Cat 700

The Cat 700 is a self-supported off-road bike packing race which traverses the Catalan region from north to south, the route covers 680km with a huge 17,500m of elevation. Friends and Tactic colleagues, Production manager, Berna, and David from the customer services team embarked on the challenge together in October.

Both Berna and David are strong cyclists on and off road and are regular culprits at putting down the hurt on the Tactic lunch ride. Physically, the two were more than prepared for the task, however ultra distance cycling is more than just a physical game. For two weeks before the race, the pair put multiple different bits of gear through rigorous tests to make sure they were right for the job. “The most important part is having the right kit” said Berna.

Upon arrival at the start area on Friday evening, all competitors’ kit had to undergo a check by the organisers to ensure that they were carrying all of the obligatory items such as a sleeping bag, lights, waterproof jacket, chargers for GPS, phone and lights. “The key is to take just the right amount, not too many things, but to have everything you need,” Berna added.




Once their kit had been approved by the organisers it was time to get some rest before the start the following day. All 43 participants were ready to go for the 7am start in Les, on the border with France at around 600m altitude. Because of a forecast of rain, the route was changed to circumvent the first climb, which would have risen to 2,000m altitude, as the organisers feared there might be snow. David and Berna remembered that the day started out gloomy and foggy and that there was rain forecast throughout the day. Because of the predicted weather, they reserved a hostel at km180 so they knew they would have shelter for the night.

However, after a few hours of riding, the fog dispersed and they found themselves riding in bright sunshine - perfect conditions. As a result, at 9pm, when they reached 180km and the hostel they decided not to stop for the night and instead keep riding to the next town, Organyà, at 240km. By their predictions, this would take around two more hours, but in the first of a series of lessons on that day they discovered that there was a lot more elevation than they realised and it instead took them 3 hours.

When they finally arrived in Organyà it was midnight, and their thoughts turned immediately to food. In search of dinner they went into the only open bar but were told that the kitchen was closed. As they describe it, however, upon seeing their hungry, disappointed faces the owner made them something to eat anyway as an exception. Fed and watered, with 240km and 6,480m under their belts, David had the audacity to ask if they should continue riding, to which Berna promptly said “no”.

The next immediate need was to find a place to sleep. After much searching around with the help of the friendly bar owner, who even offered to let them sleep in his van, they realised that their best option was to set up their bivvies in the door of a bank, and so it was there they slept.

Day One Stats: 241km 6,480m 17h




After just three hours of sleep they awoke at 4am and were ready to get back on the bike by 4:30. Looking around, it became apparent that it would be difficult to locate some breakfast at 4am in a remote Pyrenean town. Armed with just a few energy bars and carbohydrate drink mix they rode onwards, hoping to come across a town with an open restaurant to get some food. It wasn’t until after 100 dark, cold and hard kilometres at 11am, that in the town of Ponts they finally encountered a bar and what was surely the best sandwich of their lives.

After another 40km they stopped for lunch, having learned by now that they couldn’t assume they would come across many towns with bars and restaurants open. Once they had eaten they set off again until they reached the town of Prades at 8:30pm. David and Berna had learned by this point that their first priority should always be food so their first stop was dinner, not only that, however, but having made the mistake the night before of not preparing for breakfast they also made sure to order a sandwich for the following morning for breakfast.

Finding somewhere to sleep, however, was as much of a challenge as the night before, and after looking around for hostels they discovered that everywhere was full. Eventually, David and Berna had to sleep in a square adjacent to a cemetery, luckily for them, they only spent a few hours there - waking up at 2am to get ready to set off again by 3.

Day Two Stats: 192 km, 3,810 m 16.5h (leave 4:30 arrive 20:15)



Day Three

The pair woke up at 3am with 253km lying ahead of them. By this point, the toll of the ride was showing and a confused David, mistaking the sunrise for sunset kept wishing everybody a ‘good evening’ along the way. At 10am they found somewhere to have breakfast, but it was a double helping as they already had the bocadillo they had cleverly bought the night before. This was one of the toughest days yet, at one point the route features a three-hour long climb followed by a 40km descent.

David and Berna has decided to use mountain bikes for this race, and it was at this point that it paid off for them. They knew that in front were the two second and third placed riders who were on gravel bikes. They were not racing them but when they began to descent the rocky 40km drop they passed the two, who were struggling on their gravel and cyclo cross bikes. The Tactic two were now in second and third place overall.

After the descent, they thought that there wasn’t much further to go. Berna, who was deciding between chagrin his light or charging his GPS unit decided to charge the GPS thinking that they would finish the race at around 6pm, before dark. In reality, however, the final few hours were arduous and rolling and the pair were growing increasingly tired. When they finally reached the finish line it was 8:30pm, luckily, David had charged his light…

Day Three Stats: 253 km, 4,760m, 17.5h  



What they took:

Tactic Rain jacket
Tactic Hard Day long jersey.
Tactic Pure bib shorts
A prototype Tactic Soft Shell Jacket to put it through its paces for the R&D team!
In the front bag: the sleeping bag, normal shoes (although they didn’t use them - they went 3 days without changing their shoes) On the top tube: the things that you need most to hand like inner tubes, jackets, short and long gloves.
A Solar powered power bank to charge the lights and the GPS and phone.
A light that tells you how long it has left of battery and you can adjust how much light you use to save battery - this was chosen after lot of testing A bag on the handlebars for food and phone David also had a bottle at the front.
Down jackets for when they stopped and it was cold.
In the rear bag on top they had the softshell jacket easily accessible.