Race Across Australia
Ultra cyclist Christoph Strasser broke the world record for the 3950 km (2454 mi) long ride across the Australian continent. After six days, ten hours and 58 minutes of cycling, Strasser reached the Sydney Opera House on January 16th, 2017.
The highlights of the race are summarized below:
Preparation: The first challenges in Perth
The eight person team from Austria traveled to Perth a few days before the race.
The team prepared for the goal of completing the 3950 km (2454 mi) long cycle in less than one week, while keeping the prospect of a cold beer in Sydney in their sights.
Through intensive training and the necessary acclimatisation, Christoph equipped himself for the race ahead. The professional cyclist’s greatest challenges included the rapid and unforeseeable weather changes, the monotony of certain sections of the route, and the prospect of a maximum of one hour of sleep per day.
The starting signal
Despite the 36o C (97o F) heat, the race began on January 1st, 2017 in good spirits and accompanied by the sound of traditional Australian and Austrian accordion music. Thanks to a water spraying system on Christoph’s handlebars, not even the temperatures soaring to 39 o C (102o F) could diminish his excitement and drive.
Christoph completed the first 500 km (311 mi) at five o’clock in the morning on the same day. His average speed was 30 km/h (19 mph).
Throughout the course of the race, the three-time “Race Across America” winner had to battle with not only the drastic temperature changes between 10 o C (50o F) and 40 o C (105o F), but also hard rains, alternating winds and traffic.
Getting Up Close and Personal with Kangaroos
A the end of his first short breather after a 36 hour ride, Strasser crossed the Mandura Pass in the rain and reached the flat and arid Nullarbor Plain. Surprises included a 45 minute time difference, seeing the first living kangaroos along the route, as well as many vultures.
After 48 hours and 1350 km (839 mi), Christoph was able to enjoy his first one hour sleeping break. Nonetheless, the first symptoms of the sleep deprivation began to appear shortly after he resumed riding. Luckily, his team knew the right exercises to fight these symptoms.
Hello Halfway Point
At the end of day three, Strasser reached the halfway point, Ceduna, and celebrated a successfully completed 1980 km (1230 mi) with his team.
After a motivated start on Saturday morning, the professional cyclist had to battle strong headwinds in the afternoon, and suffered his first injuries due to wear and tear from the rough terrain. In order to conquer the 500 Meter (1640 feet) high Mount Lofty he switched from his time trial bike to the ‘Roubaix’ bike. After 96 hours, Strasser reached the 2585 km (1606 mi) mark.
Battle with Insomnia
Insomnia severely afflicted Christoph over the next stretch. Even the short sleeping breaks did little to hinder the exhaustion. Disorientation and hallucinations due to extreme physical exertion and sleep deprivation tested the cyclist’s toughness. To counteract these symptoms, his team motivated him with encouraging guestbook entries as well as Facebook posts from his fans. At the end of the fifth day the goal of Sydney appeared to be in reach at a mere 855 km (531 mi).
The Home Stretch
On Monday, January 1st, 2017 Christoph gathered his last bit of strength. Although the sleep deprivation did have an effect on Christoph's mental attitude, it barely affected his physical performance during the entire race. Due to good road conditions he was able to increase his speed limit and looked ahead with new motivation. By all estimations, he was on pace to break the record. Over the final stretch, Christoph focused solely on making his goal a reality.
The Goal and a New Record Have Been Reached!
The time had finally come. Christoph Strasser broke the world record on January 1st, 2017 at four o’clock in the morning, reaching the Sydney Opera House after 6d 10h 58m.
With this world-class performance Christoph Strasser proved his exceptional ability and his incredible ambition once again, adding the victory in Australia to his long list of successes.
A Well Earned Break
Christoph has certainly earned a break following this energy-sapping week and his world record performance. After enjoying the highlights of Sydney, Christoph returns to his home, Austria, to catch up on the many hours of sleep he lost during the race.
But as they say – if you snooze you lose. After a short two week recovery break, the cyclist plans to start training again. Christoph already has his new goal in his sights: to prepare for the coming Race Across America in June 2017.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish Christoph continued success in the future and thank him for his long-term cooperation with owayo.
Pictures: ©Manuel Hausdorfer/lime-art.at