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  • Edgar S.

UltraCycling: what is?

Updated: Mar 1

(photo credits @huntingpedals at theGOATS offroad ultracycling 2023)

It’s a cycling Spectrum…

After all, what defines or classifies ultracycling? Probably distance, right? As human beings, we've always had the need to classify things, to identify them, to put them on the right shelves or in the right drawers. However, the question of what is ultracycling is something that often comes up in casual conversation between cyclists.

Some state that any route over 200km is considered ultra-distance, while others say it must be over 500 miles, 750km... Actually, I don't think it really matters. Perhaps it's because it doesn't have a clear definition corresponding to the elements that characterize it, that makes it so interesting.

Would it be more appealing to delve deeper into what "Ultracycling" involves? The elements that make it up and that each of us, when we talk about it, immediately knows what is at stake?

Nowadays, ultracycling events are called races and until a while ago that didn't make much sense to me. Today it does! It makes the sense that I myself gave it and which, in fact, I believe is similar to what many people might think too. It may sound cliché, but these events are real races against ourselves, against something we don’t know the outcome, and also against time, because there is a limit to finish them.

In these moments of the race, we quickly realize that we have to be practical or pragmatic.

We have to be organized within the disorganized and never take anything for granted. That coffee or that food that we want and think might be there at km X might not happen.

(photo credits @huntingpedals at theGOATS offroad ultracycling 2023)

Finishing, having no bike breakdowns or accidents, may just be a wish. Again, we should never take anything for granted. We have to accept the term "Scratch". And just keeping going is the only remedy we have.

What I mean is that we have to accept the possibility of not being able to finish. We are exposed to a multitude of counteracting factors, but we must always be diligent, astute and calm when making decisions, because often when there seems to be no answer to the problem, by cooling our heads, there is the solution. Making decisions when we are in those "pretty shitty dark places" is not a good strategy. That's when you have to prove that you're rational in this dark moments, that you’re beyond the limits of resilience.

Is it hype?

I'm sure it's not. I think it's more like the medicine that many of us need. For me, ultra-distance is a theater for which we have to rehearse and then reproduce and extract every possible aspect from it, which will certainly have an impact on every layer of our lives. That's what's so rich about experiencing an ultra-distance race: it's so intense on every level that you only realize what you've just done a long time later. After your feet and legs have deflated.

You can replace ultra-distance with long distance, ultra endurance or bikepacking race. I think it's all the same.

From km zero to the end, be mindful and live in the moment, absorb everything you can. It won't do your body any good, but on a psychological level it will help you become a better "you". It will give you useful tools.

It's a type of race that you have to respect and prepare carefully and methodically. You have to put a lot of yourself into it. It's a race that starts long before the start line, but ends right at the finish line, because after that you've already started another one...

It´s a romantic thing…

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