Interview with Axel Carion
Axel Carion somewhere in Slovenia
What is ultra-cycling?
It's a lifestyle, a spirit in which you try to push your limits on a bicycle. It's not the distance that counts, it's the challenge itself, which is to ride long distances, without stopping (day and night) and without any form of outside support. There are many ultracycling challenges out there, but I think that's what BikingMan is all about.
What is your main goal in traveling such long distances in such a short time?
To push my limits to the extreme to experience something beyond words, like thinking about the people you love or the things that really matter in your life.
When, how and why the BIKINGMAN was born?
In 2015, I quitted my job to attempt cycling across South America from Colombia (Cartagena) to Argentina (Ushuaia) with 2 other friends. My Koga World Traveler frame had carved on its top tube “BikingMan”, the name I gave him. When I came back after 154,000 meters of elevation gain and a brutal but magnificent life experience in South America, I decided to launch BIKINGMAN. I started with the first BIKINGMAN event: the IncaDivide, a 3,500 km ultracycling race that took place in 2017 in Ecuador and Peru.
"Pushing my limits to an extremity to experience something that goes beyond words".
How important is safety in cycling?
On a bike, on open roads and trails, we are very exposed and I have learned this after exploring many countries in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Safety is essential, as is our behavior towards other road users. We must "be the smart ones" as I say at every bikingman event and show the best behavior to other road users to ensure our safety as ultracyclists.
Why do cyclists choose looks over safety?
I don't. I always put safety above all else because I have had many accidents with bicycles and several unfortunate experiences with road users.
Name one of your many most enjoyable souvenirs, and what is the worst one you have encountered?
The best was definitely biking the Peruvian Great Divide road with my adventurer friend Jonas Deichmann in 2019. The worst was in Argentina in 2015, when I had to jump off my bike to avoid a passing truck on the Pan American Highway.
What improvements would you make to bikes?
I've been riding mostly gravel bikes since 2016 and I'm looking forward to seeing developments in bikepacking bags for long distance riding, clothing lines designed specifically for adventure racing and more!
What stops you from quitting when you no longer have the leg strength to reach the top of the mountain pass?
The simple thoughts of the people I love most who are waiting for me at home or watching me from the stars.
Why should a cyclist join your BIKINGMAN challenge?
To experience the BikingMan spirit that has been described over the past 5 years as a unique and memorable lifetime experience.
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