Why my cycling shoes will always look like this!
Cycling has taken me to places I would otherwise never have discovered. Cycling has released an inner adventurer in me. I have ridden (and carried) my bike in countries and areas I would never have dreamed of.
I have learned to keep my eyes open when I ride, appreciate the simplest things I pass and sometimes this also leads to discovering things others may not notice. Quite often it also requires venturing out in places where others don’t think to come. Off the beaten track.
Madone d’Utelle 2080m, Nice, France w/ Team Charlie – October 2015
When I train on my bike, I work extremely hard. Most often I have a structured plan that involves taking myself to some sort of suffering. It’s not pleasant. And it’s not fun. Of course I thrive on it, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. But it still doesn’t make riding my bike fun or pleasant during those training rides. And I often go solo in order to stick to my personally structured training plan. I am out there fighting against myself, physically and mentally.
Sunset in the desert, Al Qudra Cycle Path, Dubai – Winter 2014
But I never miss the moment to explore something special or beautiful that I pass on my ride. Whatever it takes. I will climb, crawl and carry to absorb just a few moments of life’s simple pleasures. I will break hard and turn around. I will sit and wait for a special moment. I will search for the right colours or the right angle. I will go to places where others don’t go, to see what others don’t see.
When I travel with my bike it is usually a combination of some or all of training, racing, holiday and exploring a new area of the world. And the more adventurous it can get, the better. It has almost turned into a mission for me. What can I find on my travels? Where can I ride to make new discoveries? Sometimes I take the road no one else takes. And sometimes I climb where not many others climb. Eyes peeled. At times I see the most amazing things. Other times there is nothing special to see. But most importantly I am having fun exploring.
Making discoveries, finding a quick escape from the hard work, or simply taking a moment out to rest in complete gratitude, makes any hard training session worthwhile.
Col d’Aubisque 1709m, French Pyrenees w/ Al Salam Club (Saudi Arabia) – June 2015
That’s why my cycling shoes will always be damaged! I go off the beaten track and I can’t be stopped. I expose my carbon shoes to walking and climbing through surfaces like sand, rocks, fields, mud, grass, streams, gravel, dirt, mountains and of course tarmac. I climb obstacles, walls and fences; and I trespass and break rules to go where no one else goes and see what most others don’t see. I even bleed on my shoes.
Behind the Hollywood sign, California – 140K sightseeing ride – April 2016
But I love it!!
I love all parts of exploring; the adventure, the uncertainty, the surprises, the awkwardness, the break, the rest from suffering, the nature, the beauty, the gratitude.
To travel is to live!
Karrebaeksminde, Denmark (AKA home) – June 2015
Before, during and after my first ever (unsupported) ultra cycling race, BikingMan Oman, 1000km with 7,200m elevation meters, I said it countless times; selling it to myself and also attempting to convince others (who just looked at me and laughed… “yeah yeah… you have no idea, just wait and see”), I WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN!
Ultra cycling is one the most ridiculous thing I have ever done in my life.
I’ll tell you why:
- It’s long, it’s stupid long, there is just no need to cycle that long, what for?
- It’s lonely. Yes, the actual event is lonely, from start line to finish line, but that I don’t mind that so much, because something happens when the gun goes off and I know I have to deal with myself and my mission, totally alone. This is actually a unique opportunity to learn about one self. In my opinion, it is more so the demands of the training which is the harder part. Because how can you possibly ask someone or anyone not into ultra “hey, you fancy going on a 8hr slow ride?” Hell no they don’t! Training is ultimately long and lonely. And this is even coming from someone who is very comfortable in her own company and even so often prefer yet. Yet, I still think it is lonely at another level. Do I enjoy the long and lonely training – and the long and lonely drives to training? Not that much.
- It’s painful. Yes, it’s going to be painful. It will probably happen to most riders. We just deal with it. And then we heal. But during the times of dealing with the pain and no way to escape it, again I swear to myself; I will never do it again!
- Wet, cold, tired, even freezing. How about dealing with bad weather? There’s no escape. Fun? No!
- Mechanical issues. Well well, if you are not a bike mechanic, or like myself, don’t have any interest in repairing bikes, well then you might be screwed.
- Organizational stress. Organizing a million small things; some mandatory, some personally selected, some I don’t have a clue if I will need or not. To carry it, or not to carry it? What if? This might be useful, but what if I’m not going to need it? Borrowing from other riders. Asking for help. Getting help. Argh… It’s stressful. Stressful organizing. Stressful packing. I have said twice now (as I head off to my 2nd Ultra Race); I will not do it again!
So this is the reason why I am going back. I can’t stop where I started. I am not satisfied. I need to know for myself if I can do better. If you remember from Oman, I rocked up with ‘all the gear and no idea’. I jumped on the bike and started pedaling into the unknown. I had ups and downs, I has mechanical issues and I had pain. I was on a mission to learn about myself, and I dealt with every situation as it appeared. In the latter part of the course (final 300km), I hit race mode, flicked my psycho switch and will-powered (because there was zero physical power left) through the ridiculous Omani hills, crossing the finish line Top 10 overall and 2nd Woman (53 mins after female winner Jasmijn Muller). I was overwhelmed and surprised, but admittedly pretty chuffed with that result for my first ever ultra. I remember my exact feeling at the finish; Good I did so well, I have now proved to myself that I can do ultra cycling well and there is no need to do it again!
Was I physically strong in Oman? I am not sure. Was I mentally strong? Yes. Was in control of myself and my situation? Absolutely yes. Was it beginners luck? No, I had plenty of problems along the way. Was I efficient? No (not enough). Did I waste more than 53 mins? I would say yes. Do I know where I wasted time? Absolutely yes = unfinished business.
I have to know.
I went to Oman as a beginner. I will now go to Corsica with experience. I am by no means an expert, it takes years and many races to build solid experience. But I have one ultra race under my belt and I know where I should be able to save time (as long as it is within my control). I want to know how I do with my time saving strategies, if I will be able to cover the entire course faster, if I can handle it mentally and physically (there is also risk of breaking down) and if I can be efficient, when there is also the option to take it easy.
BikingMan Corsica – 700km w/ 13,000m elevation.
This is not Oman. This is Corsica. It’s way more hilly, it’s colder, it’s wetter. There may even be encounters with angry stray dogs. I have never been to Corsica, but it also looks absolutely stunning, I hope I will be able to take in the breathtaking views and not miss too many beautiful places while I pass during night time. Once again I will be heading into unknown territory, geographically. But this time, I believe I know what to expect, from myself. I believe I know my ultra cycling strengths and weaknesses, to a certain extend. I have mentally prepared myself for above mentioned reasons for not doing it; loneliness, potential bad weather and PAIN.
I aim to go all in. Push myself harder than Oman. Enjoy the dot watching.
Race starts 29th April 2019 at 5am GMT+1