By Henrik Ortved (Rawbite Ambassador) and Nikolaj Lehmann (Rawbite co-founder)
It did not take long after BSE2018 (https://www.rawbite.com/eu/stories/the-bordershop-edition-2018-bse2018) before we start thinking about the next possible stunt on a Halfbike. And of course a new crazy idea quickly emerged.
This one, though, felt really far out, and so for now we keep it for our selves. But like with every thing that feels too big in the first place, you reverse-engineer it, i.e. you decrease the amount of challenge in a backward stepwise process, until you come to something that is challenging, but not far out. Unless you are the type that relies solely on hope and luck, it is not wise to embark on a project that feels far out. Insecurity is already the default setting of life - no need to add more.
So our reverse engineering led us to the following: A Halfbike ride of about 100 km per day for 3 days in a row - hence “The 300”.
Until now we had only made one day rides, so we did not know how the body will react to accumulated work on a Halfbike. Usually after a ride of 100+ km, which typically takes about 6,5-7 hours, the body is pretty tired in the evening, but there is no soreness. This is unlike an ultra run, where beside tiredness, the legs are usually quite stiff and sore.
Physically, The 300 appeared challenging, but not so much on the mental level. So we agreed on taking the same path all 3 days, with the purpose of reducing entertainment level. In this way, knowing what lies ahead put more challenge on the mental level, especially when fatigue sets in. This is a good mindset workout, and like Henrik used to say, “doing ultras basically is 90% mental and 10% mental”.
We could not wish for a better first day; Very little wind, 20 degrees and partly cloudy. We simply pounded it off in no time, making it our fastest long-duration ride ever: 102 km with an average speed of 18 km/h. A great start for The 300.
The 300 - End of day 1. Time: 6:22, distance: 103 km
Like the 2 sides of a coin, day 2 was the opposite side of day 1. Rain and wind flat out all day. We were soaked already after about one hour, and knew we would have to endure that for many hours more. With the lack of entertainment from knowing the path ahead, the wet and unpleasant feeling of being soaked, the long period of silence with inner bitterness, and the earlier onset of fatigue from accumulated mileage, it was the ultimate exercise in being with what is. You cannot argue with such conditions, and so it is game over as soon as you try to fight it. This is raw meditation, and meditation is not necessarily meant to be pretty. The ugly ones often contain the greatest gifts. It is said that the lotus flower grows out of shit, or as we like to say: the best pads on the shoulder come with some slap in the face. However near the end we decide to cut it shorter, and compensate for the missing mileage next day – there is only so much you can endure. 95 km that day, and it took 20 min longer than the day before.
The 300 - End of a very wet day 2. Time: 6:40, distance: 95 km
We knew we had to take an extra detour to make up for the missing mileage from day 2. Luckily the weather forecast said no rain this day, and our bodies felt quite good, so we sat off with optimism. However, never trust the weather forecast. After only 1 hour’s ride, a massive rain that lasted at least 30 min hit us, and we were soaked again. But that is where the hidden gift, the lotus flower from yesterday’s effort showed up. Now, we did not mind, and felt okay with it. To paraphrase Mark Twain: “Circumstance is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it does not matter”. And so the rest of the day went smoothly. The weather kept dry and our clothes dried up slowly (except the shoes). We took the necessary detour, had great conversations and even took a 1 km sprint contest on the last hill before arriving home. We did 105 km in about 7 hours, which is much slower than day 1, but our bodies felt well all day.
The 300 - End of day 3. Time: 7:04, distance: 105 km
The 300 brought us some good insight on how it is to ride several long rides in a row. First of all, bad days happen. Though it should not come as a surprise, somehow it does anyway, which is in it self surprising. But it also sparks the remembrance of the “Why do we fall?” question to young Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. It reminds us that bad days are here to make the good days even better.
Secondly, though the body was tired in the evening after each ride, it responded quite well to accumulated mileage. It is nice to be able to get a serious workout, and just be ready to do the same again next day. But this was “only” for 3 days in a row and 300 km.
The rumor has it that this is an unofficial world record!
Now What’s Next?...
Henrik Ortved, RAWBITE - Halfbike Ambassador.
Nikolaj Lehmann: RAWBITE - Co-founder - Halfbike Ambassador.