An Introduction to Ultra-Cycling, Bikepacking, and Randonneuring, with Matt Roy, Nick Legan, and Jose Bermudez

What's it like to race for days? We step inside the fascinating world of ultra-distance events, including Tour Divide, RAAM, and Paris-Brest-Paris.

Matt Roy riding bikepacking randonneuring ultra-cycling
Photo: Courtesy Matt Roy

Are you ready to go long? Today we want to introduce you to the fascinating world of ultra-distance cycling.

While there isn’t a true definition of what “ultra” means, and some of our guests like to say it is a state of mind more than anything else, for the sake of this discussion we’re talking about multi-day bike-packing events; randonneuring events which range from 200 kilometers up to 1200 kilometers, as in the case of the granddaddy of them all, Paris-Brest-Paris; and ultra-cycling races like RAAM, the 12- and 24-hour Time Trial World Championships, cross-state records, and the list goes on.

What are these events? How do you prepare, physically and psychologically, for these feats? What’s it like to ride when sleep-deprived? What should you eat out there on the lonely road? That, and so much more on today’s show.

Our featured guest is Matt Roy, someone who has been competing at ultra events of all kinds for over a decade. Some of his accomplishments: Matt holds both the Maine north to south and west to east cross-state records, he holds the Saratoga 12-hour course record, he won the Trans-Atlantic Way pairs division in 2018, finished the Paris-Brest-Paris in 2019 and has completed more than 27,000 kilometers of brevets since 2007. His list of accomplishments goes on.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Matt also holds his Ph.D. in immunology from Harvard and now works in CRISPR and gene editing technology… a conversation for another episode.

Joining Matt on the show today is his friend and colleague Nick Legan, the road brand manager for Shimano, who is also an accomplished ultra-distance cyclist, having completed Tour Divide and the 12-hour Time Trial World Championships, among other races. He’s also a tech and gear guru, having formerly served as the tech editor of VeloNews magazine as well as a professional mechanic for WorldTour teams.

We also hear from Jose Bermudez, another accomplished ultra-distance cyclist. As he says, his modest claim to fame is that he’s the first, and still the only, person to have completed RAAM, the Tour Divide, and the TransAm, a self-supported bikepacking race across the U.S. He’s also raced the 350- and 1000-mile Iditarod events in winter. Not only does he race, he also coaches: Jose is a USA Cycling Level 2 coach. Irrelevant though still interesting is the fact that he is a professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University.

I’ll ask it again: Are you ready to go long? Let’s make you fast!

Matt Roy cycling
Matt Roy just loves to ride his bike.

Jose Bermudez at the Iditarod Trail Invitational 1000-mile event.

Episode Transcript

Chris Case  00:12

Hey everyone and welcome to Fast Talk your source for the science of cycling performance. I’m your host, Chris Case.


Chris Case  00:20

Are you ready to go long? Today we want to introduce you to the fascinating world of ultra-distance cycling.


Chris Case  00:27

While there isn’t a true definition of what “ultra” means, and some of our guests like to say it is a state of mind more than anything else, for the sake of this discussion we’re talking about multi-day bike-packing events; randonneuring events which range from 200 kilometers up to 1200 kilometers, as in the case of the granddaddy of them all, Paris-Brest-Paris; and ultra-cycling races like RAAM, the 12- and 24-hour Time Trial World Championships, cross-state records, and the list goes on.


Chris Case  00:57

What are these events? How do you prepare, physically and psychologically, for these feats? What’s it like to ride when sleep-deprived? What should you eat out there on the lonely road? That, and so much more on today’s show.


Chris Case  01:12

Our featured guest is Matt Roy, someone who has been competing at ultra events of all kinds for over a decade. Some of his accomplishments: Matt holds both the Maine north to south and west to east cross-state records, he holds the Saratoga 12-hour course record, he won the Trans-Atlantic Way pairs division in 2018, finished the Paris-Brest-Paris in 2019 and has completed more than 27,000 kilometers of brevets since 2007. His list of accomplishments goes on.


Chris Case  01:51

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Matt also holds his Ph.D. in immunology from Harvard and now works in CRISPR and gene editing technology… a conversation for another episode.


Chris Case  02:04

Joining Matt on the show today is his friend and colleague Nick Legan, the road brand manager for Shimano, who is also an accomplished ultra-distance cyclist, having completed Tour Divide and the 12-hour Time Trial World Championships, among other races. He’s also a tech and gear guru, having formerly served as the tech editor of VeloNews magazine as well as a professional mechanic for WorldTour teams.


Chris Case  02:26

We also hear from Jose Bermudez, another accomplished ultra-distance cyclist. As he says, his modest claim to fame is that he’s the first, and still the only, person to have completed RAAM, the Tour Divide, and the TransAm, a self-supported bikepacking race across the U.S. He’s also raced the 350- and 1000-mile Iditarod events in winter. Not only does he race, he also coaches: Jose is a USA Cycling Level 2 coach. Irrelevant though still interesting is the fact that he is a professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University.


Chris Case  03:04

I’ll ask it again: Are you ready to go long? Let’s make you fast!


Chris Case  03:12

Well, this is one of those episodes that maybe is a little bit out of our typical theme of science and physiology. It’s more of an introduction to a new world that we don’t touch upon here too much: Bikepacking, Ultra cycling, randonneuring and we’ve got a great guest today. His name’s Matt Roy. He’s got a lot of experience in all of these different disciplines. You may know him as, can I introduce you as Moe Bruno Roy’s mechanic of choice, Matt?


Matt Roy  03:49

Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Matt Roy’s path to ultra-distance cycling

Chris Case  03:51

So yeah. Tell us Matt, welcome to Fast Talk first of all, and tell us a little bit more about your background in this ultra distance, ultra endurance cycling world.


Matt Roy  04:03

Yeah, of course. And thanks so much for having me on the show guys. It’s a real pleasure. So I was sort of an accidental entrant to the ultra cycling world. And I was a, I would say, a mediocre cat three slash collegiate racer for a number of years. Um, you know, I’ve worked as a pro mechanic for the Saturn cycling team and had acquired lots of nice equipment and appreciation for the chess game that is cycling and started racing myself. And during my grad school days, I crashed in a crit and broke my hip, broke the ball off my femur, and it was a fairly complicated fracture and required repair with something called a dynamic hip screw. And the prognosis they gave me wasn’t super rosy. They said “Likely no bikes period. Cane for the rest of your life. Probable hip replacement within three to five years. Expect a vascular necrosis. And that wasn’t really going to fly with me. And pretty early on I was sitting at home- I had a walker, I was on a walker for five weeks and then crutches for- non weight bearing for another three and a half months. And not one to really feel sorry for myself, I was sitting at home and I saw some interview about ram event and I had heard about RAM and was curious about that kind of insanity that it would take to race your bike from Oceanside to I think it’s Delaware across the country. And I started looking into what ultra cycling was, recognizing that my favorite thing about racing was riding my bike, and the races that I always did the best in were the ones that were the longest, and started to make this connection.


Matt Roy  06:09

In that world of, and looking into ultra cycling, I discovered that the governing body for ulta in the US, the UMCA was also the keeper of cross state records. Main West to East, North to South, all of these records. And I thought that one way to rehab myself would be to set my sights on something kind of audacious and decided probably within a month of breaking my hip that I was going to set the main North to South ultra cycling record. And that’s the beginning of it.


Chris Case  06:43

You didn’t pick the shortest state, you picked something a little bit more challenging and remote, because you’re mad? Because why?


Matt Roy  06:51

There’s a few reasons: One is I wanted it to be New England. And I had some issues with the decided endpoints for Massachusetts. The decided endpoints for Massachusetts were North Adams to Boston. And really, any self respecting Masshole knows you have to go to P’Town to get to the end of the state.


Chris Case  07:18

Yeah, exactly.



And you know, that adds another 135 miles. So you know, I looked at all of the states where records had been established and none of the end points I felt were either challenging or satisfactory. So then I looked at Maine, largest state in New England. And I looked on the northernmost part of the map and the southernmost part of the map, and I drew a straight line and said, I can establish the record for Maine north to south, and no one will be able to question the northness, or the southerness of the end points. And I knew that it would be beautiful, I knew that it would be a challenge. And really, within a few months of this injury, I just set my sights on this. I effectively dropped out of grad school, I didn’t really drop out, I just didn’t do anything other than research my dissertation. And just set my sights on learning how to pedal a bike and get back to it. So I had my sights set on ultra to set this event. But I learned the ropes of ultra through randonneuring.

What is randonneuring?

Chris Case  08:31

Tell people a little bit more about this because it’s steeped in history, it’s got French origins, probably a little bit of a blackbox to a lot of people that aren’t familiar with it, tell it tell us more about that.



I think you’ve summed it up quite nicely actually is steeped into long French tradition. In fact, it started with this concept called on AUDAC, which is I think, audacious. And the first established event was in like the 1850s. And it was in Italy. And a set of riders were going to try to ride from Rome to Venice or something I don’t I don’t know what their exact route was. And that was the first established AUDAC. And that kind of merged into this idea of long distance events.


Matt Roy  09:21

And it has a long history. But in the US, we call them “brevis”, and they’re a series of non competitive distance events. I loosely call them accelerated touring, I think it’s a great way that you can see a lot of land and have someone designate a route for you. And these events are nicely organized in that they build upon each other. You start with a 200 k then you move to a 300 then a 400 then a 600 and they build up to a grand “brevis” which is a 1200 kilometer event.


Matt Roy  09:56

And there’s some rules and how this is done. They are control points that you have to stop at usually every hundred K or so. You have a control card that you get signed at these checkpoints, you’re only allowed to receive service at these checkpoints. So if you had a support vehicle, they could only meet you at these checkpoints. You’re certainly permitted to stop at a store anywhere along the route. But the emphasis is on self sufficiency.


Matt Roy  10:23

And the sport has long roots in France and and really ties back to the kind of the the Tour de France equivalent of this, which is Paris Brest Paris. And many of you have probably heard about Paris Brest, Paris. But this is the longest running cycling event in the world. It was first run in 1891. And it was actually done as a 750 mile race. And that was done all the way through the 1960s. But around the 30s, they started having these amateur events where this concept of brevet started coming in and became more of the exclusive home to PBP is this brevet work where you have a time limit. The clock starts as soon as you begin and you have a time limit to achieve the prescribed route, collecting the control checkpoints along the way and finishing within the time limit.


Chris Case  11:18

To jump in here. You say that all of this is non competitive. So at PBP nowadays, no one actually wins? It’s all about getting your name in this big old book that I’ve heard about.


Matt Roy  11:30

Yes, that’s definitely true. But you can’t swing a leg over a bike and not be somewhat competitive. That’s at least a portion of this. And I actually think this is kind of the beauty of brevets, and it’s something I really enjoy about it is there’s a sort of equanimity to it, where we each are covering the course. And we choose how we cover the course. I like to try to set course records every time I do them. But no one cares, they list the results alphabetically. And there are sort of some lesser known awards based on speed and time,


Chris Case  12:11

Our listeners are pretty competitive people, so if they want to dabble in this world, they might be more drawn to something that feels like a race.


Matt Roy  12:19

Yeah. The two examples I’ll give are the Charlie MillerSociety, and the R60. So the Charlie Miller Society, Charlie Miller was the first American to ever race PBP. And he completed it on a single speed, 750 miles in 19, oh, something in 55 hours and 40 minutes. And anyone, any American, and the first to do so was in like, 1979, it could be off on that date. The first American to do so since Charlie Miller, and finishes under his time, is a member of the Charlie Miller society. So while you have a 90 hour time limit, there is a select group of Americans who have made it to PBP who achieve a Charlie Miller time.


Chris Case  13:11

And we should mention that PBP only runs every four years, correct? Nowadays.


Matt Roy  13:16

Correct, correct? Yep, every four years. So in 2019, I went, I didn’t necessarily have the most ideal preparation. I broke my hand five weeks before and was off the bike for two weeks. But you know, at least I was well rested. My goal is to get Charlie Miller. And it worked out great. And it’s 54 40 or something like that. Yeah, we smoked it. There’s a group of us who just ride hard, you know, we’re we’re riding 22 miles an hour, 23 miles an hour, most of the time, as a group, you know, taking polls, really efficient at the checkpoints – you have to be fast off the bike. That’s really the key to all of these events is being fast off the bike. There are remarkably strong people that come up to these events, who will dilly dally at the checkpoints and then you know, you see 10 minutes slip away. So for example, I did the first, I think I did the first 480 K, 440 K in 27 hours and I was off the bike for 15 minutes. And that’s where that time comes. You are efficient at the checkpoints. So that other discipline.


Matt Roy  14:28

The other award I mentioned is something called the R60. And I mentioned that there are these incremental brevets: 200, 300, 400, 600. Each of these have a time limit. Now R60 is a small group of people who have achieved the completion of in within 60% of the time. So for example, you would do a 600 K in under 24 hours. It’s a very small group, there’s probably 12 people on it and 13 people who knows about it. But that’s kind of the spirit of the sport is the names are listed alphabetically, the person who finished in 89 hours and 90 minutes to the same exact course that I didn’t 54 hours. And I love that. It has this, I think it’s harder to be on a bike for 90 hours, then do it for 54.


Chris Case  15:22

So if somebody hears this podcast and then says, “Man, that that really does sound like a cool gateway to ultra distance stuff. It’s well organized, got some history sounds really cool. I want to get into it.” How do they find events like this?


Matt Roy  15:40

It is the perfect way to get into long distance. You will – very good chance finding extremely experienced people in these events, people who have done, you know, five PBPs and somehow are still smashing it. And they’re incremental. I cannot emphasize the importance of that enough. If you can do 200 K, you can do 300 if you finish a 300 you can do four and they just really build on each other from an endurance standpoint, physiologically and mentally.


Matt Roy  16:10

But for the US, anyway, RUSA, R-U-S-A, is the place to go. And you can find where your local randonneuring group is and there are routes that are available for you to do and they’re called permanents so you can do them any time or you can find the series that you can join. It’s been a bit of a challenge during COVID times so we’ve had sort of virtual brevets series. Yeah, go to RUSA find a local series, go to the 200 and when when you see that the start is at 4am for the 300 or for the 400 and you don’t want to go then you’re not cut out for ultra. You have to be willing to get out of bed and start at 4am.


Trevor Connor  16:56

Before we move on. I mean, you brought up the whole history. The one thing that I think is worth mentioning is we think of this now as this unique discipline that’s a little separate from typical bike racing. If you went back 100 years in time, and talked about randonneuring they would just go well, that’s just bike racing. That’s much more of what it was back then. So I’m gonna butcher some of my history here. But, you know, for example, the first Tour de France was, I think four stages, and each stage was four or 500 miles.


Chris Case  17:27

Yeah, they were massive for sure


Trevor Connor  17:29

So it was basically just four randonneuring events in a row.


Matt Roy  17:32

Yeah. And there’s been a little – there was sort of this historic split like in the 50s. These events, they would be done in mass. So you would all ride in a big group and that’s the audax style where you would agree upon an average speed and the whole group would achieve that average speed. And brevets have kind of split off to achieve those same distances, but it’s up to you, you choose your minimum or maximum speed based on the time limit, and it’s more individual. But yeah, certainly I think that is the history of it.


Chris Case  18:04

Of note here when we talked before or last week, Matt, you mentioned something that I thought was really interesting about this event, the history of this event, and the different ways that different nationalities sort of deal with it. Basically, I’m getting at the fact that at PBP, when you did it all, the majority of the people on sort of, it’s not historic, but traditionally maybe lugged steel frames with heavier you know, racks and things like that, whereas the Americans and all the Europeans are riding their Lapierre, carbon Lapierre’s, with you know, like a bike packing bag on the back of it or something that’s a little more aero, Is that true?


Matt Roy  18:54

100% and I found it, I loved it, it cracked me up so much because the US randonneur scene there’s a lot of old timey you know, your Renee hirth crank and you’re drilled out brake levers and your bar cons and I don’t care what bike you’re at, and I just love that part of it. But when I when I lined up in Paris, everyone was on a carbon seat this wheel bikes with 25 seat tires. And you know, I was on a titanium seven with 32 for a little more cushion for my recently repaired hand. But yeah, don’t let the style of bike you see at local brevets scare you away from the beauty of the sport. Yeah, I love that diversity of it. But certainly you could probably tell the nationality of the rider based on the bike. Especially if was old timey. It was an American or a Japanese and they had a beautiful handbuilt, handpainted bike wiht a huge trunk bag on the back that had a spare crank because they probably need it. And you know, 12 speeds, none of which are even close to a ratio of worth going up the hill, right? But they do the same course they do the same 650 b wheels, 48 three tires. Yeah, yeah, go for it.

Nick Legan and ultra time trial events: nutrition, position, and equipment

Trevor Connor  20:21

Nick Legan, the road brand manager for Shimano, is an accomplished ultra distance cyclist having completed Tour Divide and the 12 hour time for our world championships, among other races. Here he is talking about 12 hour time trial events and how they require a very different approach.


Nick Legan  20:37

So it’s put on by Ram, the organization that does Race Across America. And it’s the 6,12, and 24 hour world Time Trial championships. So it’s not a UCI event, this is entirely different. The 24 hour serves as a qualifier for Ram. So if you hit a certain benchmark or certain distance, I should say in this 24 hours, you’re qualified for Ram. I don’t have a lot of interest in RAM, I have a lot of respect for Ram. But I got this 12 hour idea in my head and I’ve always loved road time trials. I grew up as a road cyclist first, and jumped into that one, again, not really knowing what I was doing. But I had been doing all these gravel events for 12 hours suddenly seemed short. So I was like, “Well, why not give that a go.” And then I was able to go back a second time and get on the podium, which was really, really satisfying. It is different. Cycling, likes to slice up the sport in a lot of different ways. And look at the differences instead of similarities. This is what we do as human beings. I saw it as this incredible opportunity to take a lot of those problems out of the equation and focus on what can I do, it’s a simpler problem to try to solve for versus tour divide. And so I was really focused on my nutrition and getting into an aggressive, or for me aggressive Time Trial position. And it’s a little more scientific, you can solve for a lot or you control a lot more.


Chris Case  22:05

It’s like the hour record times 12.


Nick Legan  22:08

Or the amateur hour x1.


Chris Case  22:09

Yes, exactly. So let’s dig into a little, a few of those elements, the nutrition side of things. And the equipment side of it. Yes. Let’s start first with nutrition. What did that involve? What does that look like on a 12 hour attempt for you?


Nick Legan  22:26

Well, for me, the first time I did it, the worst laps I had were when I had solid foods, actually. And again, this is just for me, I’m not advocating anyone go liquid diet, I’ve always had good success with gels and things like that… So the second time around, I don’t think I had a piece of solid food from the time I started until I finished. So it was all high calorie drinks, gels, things like that. And I was able to push and I never had a hunger flat, I never had the bonk, whatever you want to call it.


Chris Case  22:54

What was the distance difference between those two attempts for you?


Nick Legan  22:59

I think it was 258 miles the second time, and I think I was in the 230s the first time. So that’s, it’s an appreciable difference. And part of that was my position, and maybe that the equipment I was using, but a lot of that was also I didn’t have those couple laps where I felt pretty lousy, I felt much better. And the heat was similar. So my strategy for heat adaptation and just yet cooling techniques was similar for both attempts. But my nutrition, honestly probably made the biggest difference. That and I just was able to spend a little bit more time before the event in that position, that very specific position.


Chris Case  23:39

So yeah, let’s talk about the position and the equipment used on this bike. How do you balance areo with comfort? Because I would imagine that’s the equation in some ways.


Nick Legan  23:49

One of those funny things, what’s interesting about that event is you can look at 6, 12, and 24 and you can look at the people who are fast in each of those distances. And it kind of tells the story right there: the shorter the distance, the more aggressive you can be with your position. For instance, the less you need to take on board from a nutritional standpoint, in this six hour, you don’t have to deal with lights, we start in the dark in the 12 hour, and you’re required to have a flashing light. And obviously, for the 24 hour, they’re out there a lot longer. So they’re dealing with a wider temperature range as well.


Nick Legan  24:21

So I was riding a full TT bike the whole time. I ran a power meter the whole time. I ran a disc wheel the whole time, skinsuit I mean, this is you know, pretty – and you see people just as much on recumbents. That’s another interesting element to this particular event. People on recumbents, you see people on like steel fixed gear bikes. So it’s a really broad range of people abilities and bikes. I was maybe at the slightly speedier end of things is in particular the second time I did it. But yeah, I mean, I was even playing with things like do I start with a full tail Time Trial helmet, long tail, and then switch to a road arrow helmet? And what’s the time cost of that? So I did some modeling using some online applications, things like that. You know, even things like using sunglasses that have photochromic lenses, but I didn’t have to change glasses throughout the attempt, or the route.


Chris Case  25:15

Do you have support during this? Somebody to hand you stuff as a go pass?


Nick Legan  25:20

Yeah. So at that one, you’re on an 18 mile lap for most of the time. And then in the last hour and a half of each of those distances, you switch to a shorter, I think it’s a four mile lap. And so each lap you can receive support, then the question becomes, should I stop? Or should I take that support? Because it might be faster just to blow through and not. I mean, stoppage is stoppage, it’s really, really – I think that’s what you learn with a lot of these longer events is that you don’t have to be fast if you can just not stop. And that sounds obvious. But when you start modeling it out –


Chris Case  25:56

Fast when you’re off the bike, fast when you’re off the bike, if you’re off the bike.


Nick Legan  26:00

Or just don’t be off the bike. I mean, I think if I went back into the six hour, I would just start with everything I was going to use for the entire ride, and recognize that I was going to go into chloric debt, I was gonna get dehydrated by the end of it, and not stop.


Chris Case  26:14

Could you get a new set bag, hand up on each hour?


Nick Legan  26:17

Sure, you still have to deal with that, right? So if I can go through that transition area or that support area at 22 miles an hour without stopping quote, unquote, versus slowing to even 12 or 15, well accelerate back out of that. And if the guy or the gal, man or the woman who I’m racing against decides not to do that. I’ve just put myself at a severe disadvantage. And I know that sounds tiny. But those differences, they get magnified every time you have to accelerate out of a corner every time you know, you’re doing it for a long time. Those things add up. And this is the funny – the interesting thing with just ultra in general is that small decisions can have big ramifications, because you’re out in the world for so long. Right? So areo matters, as much as we want to – it’s not always sexy to talk about. But if your jersey fits well, for instance, even if you’re going 12 miles an hour at a gravel race, it matters. It’s still, you know, because there are wind speeds –


Chris Case  27:16

Especially over the hours that you’re going to be out there. Yeah.


Nick Legan  27:18

Absolutely, and so it’s – I think a lot of people think about ultra as an excuse to, I shouldn’t say an excuse, but they just they approach the problem differently. And honestly, I think that a lot of the same solutions that work for worldtour actually are very applicable to people wherever they are in their efforts, especially if we’re talking about ultra because you’re just out there so long.


Chris Case  27:42

So for instance, in the 12 hour time trial, or out there in Tour Divide, are you able to just sort of tune out, shut off and be on autopilot?


Nick Legan  27:56

Sometimes, but I think if you’re really pushing- in the 12 hour, I would say no, I never shut off. I mean I’m the kind of person I like, I’m doing the mental math all the time. And I’m looking at – I’m hitting the lat button to get a sense of “Am I on pace? Am I behind pace?” And I have a grid taped to my handlebar to refer to to say this is what this looks like: 80 miles an hour, 20 miles an hour, etc. And am I eating enough? Am I pushing up the hill as hard as I should be? Am I looking at my power to pace etc. So it’s a lot of mental work in addition to physical.


Nick Legan  28:27

On Tour Divide, you can absolutely tune out a little bit more, especially when you’re someone like me, I’m not trying to break the record. I do want to, you mentioned enjoy, I do wnat to-


Chris Case  28:37

Take in that scenery.


Nick Legan  28:38

Oh yeah, I want the selfie, I want the photo with with the people I’m riding with. So it is a little more experiential as opposed to race. But you still need to stay switched on. You need to keep your head in the game and that’s to take care of yourself to take care of your bike to do the preventative maintenance whether that’s, not to get to nitty gritty here, but like whether that’s taking advantage of a restaurants bathroom, to clean yourself, you know for your saddle interface, or looping your chain, you know, staying on top, your tire pressure, things like that.


Chris Case  29:14

Before it gets out of hand. Especially when it comes to self care, like you don’t want to let that weird sensation under your butt go too long before you take care of it or whatever.



Or that numbness in your pinky spreading to your ring finger, it’s like well I need to address that by moving my habds on my handle bars a little bit more. I need to try some things, take a glove off, put a glove on. And so yeah, those things they add up I mean taking the time on Tour Divide we hit car washes, the do it yourself car wash and just blast that mud off. Get it clean again. So yeah, that preventative maintenance goes a long way and it seems like you’re wasting time, but these are things that they pay off in the long run. And again, this is all about the long run.

A deeper dive into RAAM races

Chris Case  30:05

We touched upon RAM, maybe we should go a little bit deeper into RAM that’s sort of the- when you say ultra cycling nowadays, I think most people think of RAM, these cross state records, some of these 12 and 24 hour TTs. This to me seems like the almost the antithesis of randonneuring. Do you want to dive into that just a little bit more?


Matt Roy  30:26

I think they’re complimentary. You see a lot of the, you know, the best ultra racers coming out to PBP and then you know, shooting for course records, obviously unofficial, because that’s not how PBP rolls ,or randonneuring rolls. I would say they’re complimentary and I used brevets as a way to prepare for ultra. But you know, ultra generally is competitive distance cycling and RAM, I would say is the best example of that. And I think you listed them quite quite nicely, for the US anyway, the UMCA, ultramarathon cycling association, manages some of these 12 and 24 hour races on essentially non drafting 12 and 24 hour time trials, and cross state records and race across the west, race across Oregon. And these are much different discipline in terms of logistic and preparation. So you have a full support staff and it’s required. For RAM, you have to have a follow up car with you at all times, you have to have an RV with the rest of your support staff. You can change bikes, you can change helmets, you can you know, you can come up with any version of it that you want with the goal of just being as fast as you can. For me the the beauty in that order sport, or like the 12 and 24 hour races, that’s sort of my 12 hour sort of my sweet spot and I’ve really enjoyed doing 12 hour races and the cross state records are just a lonely, lonely death. It’s just you and your support car, trying to get from one end of the state to another as fast as you can and hoping the weather conditions stay with you.

What makes a race “ultra”?

Chris Case  32:13

On the terminology. Here’s just so we’re clear on things. What makes a race ultra? Does it have to be a certain distance? Does it have to be across a number of days? Is a 200 mile bike race ultra? Or is it sort of just a loose terminology?


Matt Roy  32:33

I would not be the end all be all on this definition. I like to think of it as a state of mind. But yeah, 200 ish mile seems about reasonable. I think if you’re spending 12 hours on a bike, that’s a fairly altra lengthy day, an ultra event.


Chris Case  32:50

So then yeah, some of the most popular gravel races that have started up would fall into this category.


Matt Roy  32:56

Exactly. And even though, what used to be called Dirty Kanza, a 200 mile gravel race, I actually think the ultra version of that is the DK XL. I think that 350 mile race, that to me feels a little more ultra. And part of that is because there are fewer, a lot fewer people who are willing to subject themselves to that, which means a lot less drafting a lot less tactic in terms of preservation and sitting on wheels. That feels a little more ultra to me. But I like I said, I think it’s a bit of a state of mind, and you get to decide what’s ultra.


Chris Case  33:33

That being said, let’s talk about sort of the third big discipline here that we haven’t touched upon bike packing. And I know that you know, this takes on multi day events, this could be off road, it can be on road, tell us a little bit more about bike packing.


Matt Roy  33:49

This is my favorite discipline. I think it’s the most beautiful of the disciplines in that it  tends to be in these more remote places. And I’m sure some of the listeners have heard of some of the well established bike packing races: the Tour Divide the Trans-am or the trends across the US race. And these tend to be fully self supported. And you load your bike up and you sleep when you’re tired and you ride when you’re not. And the first person in the finish line wins and generally follows an established route. Though there are some races where you get to choose the route you just have to meet certain checkpoint requirements. So you have the navigation component to it. These are mixed terrain, a lot of offroad and I’ve only been able to do one bikepacking event and I think it was phenomenal. I did the Transatlantic Way in Ireland in 2018. And the experience of that was the synthesis of all of these events that I did. There are people who are going to ride for 48 hours straight and just shoot for the wind and sleep in a culvert with a space blanket. And meanwhile, Brad Smith, who was my partner in the teams event, we stayed at an inn every night and took showers and we still managed to win the team event. So you get to decide how you engage in that discipline. There is a couple on their honeymoon who did it, they took 14 days, the winner took four and a half. So there’s that self sufficiency component how you decide to pack your bike wasn’t what you decide to pack. It’s the most beautiful discipline of the three that we’ve talked about.


Chris Case  35:39

And to be clear on these events that are so long that they take multiple days, no matter who you are the clock starts and stops when you finish, it’s not paused when you’re sleeping. Is that correct?


Matt Roy  35:54

No, yeah, the clock is continuous. So for many of these races you are required to have a spot tracker, spot satellite tracker. And these trackers, they start tracking you the moment the whistle blows, and they’ll track you as you’re riding, they’ll track you when you’re sleeping, and they’ll track you when you cross the finish line. And there’s this small cult of fanatics called dot watchers who will follow your spot track and sometimes they’ll come meet you out on the road and bring you a slice of pizza, which is kind of a miracle in the process.


Chris Case  36:34

Yeah, for anybody who wants to see this in action, they could check out the GB Douro film that was produced about Laughlin Morton, there were a lot of dot watchers that followed him, he was crushing it, they came out in the middle of the night, they played music for him, they rode with him. Some people rode with him for a while, went back home caught up with him again, probably in their car because he was moving so fast. And so on and so forth. So it is a phenomenon within the bikepacking world.


Matt Roy  37:07

Yeah, the strategies are really interesting. And in this event, too, and you can consider how you manage sleep. And the importance of that is that there are these guys who will not sleep. But the person who is sleeping three or four hours a night ends up only being about, you know, 10-15 miles behind them at any given point. You just need sleep to function. And that’s something as I’ve developed as an endurance athlete over the year. So I’m faster when I get a good two to three hours of sleep on me than if I just try to suffer through it. Maybe you guys are following Ted King right now on his race through Arkansas. And that poor dude has got puffy eye in a big way. And he just needs to get a little flop in and put his head down for 20 minutes, man, just go to sleep for 20 minutes.


What gear is needed for Tour Divide and other ultra races


Trevor Connor  38:00

Nick Legan is a tech and gear guru. He’s the former tech editor of VeloNews magazine, as well as a professional mechanic for World Tour teams. Here he is, again, talking about racing, the tour divide and the gear that’s needed.


Chris Case  38:14

So let’s talk about one particular event to start and that’s Tour Divide. You’ve done it-


Nick Legan  38:22

Too many times


Chris Case  38:22

You’ve done it too many times, your wife would say you’ve done it way too many times. You’ve started it several times. You finished it once now. But tell me about all of the things you learned through that process of attempting and attempting and attempting again, before we actually finish specifically when it comes to gear choice, equipment choice. I mean, that’s a big broad topic, but hopefully you can drill down to the key elements here.


Nick Legan  38:52

Yeah, absolutely. I think that if you just want some big takeaways instead of gear specifics, the big takeaways for me are that comfort is speed. That if you aren’t comfortable on your bike for many, many, many, too many hours, then you won’t be successful. And that reliability, often trumps lightweight or other aspects of performance. You need something that’s durable, your body needs to be durable. Your bike needs to be durable. The body bike interface needs to be durable, the tires, etc. need to be durable.


Chris Case  39:27

I should explain. For those who have never heard of Tour Divide before it is a race from Canada to Mexico, essentially. That’s the really simple version of it. And then it’s all off road. So we’re talking basically a mountain bike race here.


Nick Legan  39:45

More or less. Yeah, so it’s 2700 miles from the beautiful place of Bamp in Alberta, Canada, down to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells in New Mexico. It’s 2700 miles, I think it’s 200,000 thousand feet of climbing, it’s a lot of climbing, let me say that. And it’s predominantly off road. I would argue it was called the Great Divide Mountain Bike route when it was created. But that’s because I think when it was created over 20 years ago, that was the best tool for the job. It’s in some ways a glorified gravel event, there isn’t much single track. But a 29er tire is still the default tire size. So it’s really hard and it’s self supported. There’s no support vehicles, there’s you do it on your own. And if you’re really a purist about the real estate that – for instance, if you and I lined up together, we can’t even share resources or draft off of one another. So it’s very much an individual effort, even if there is some camaraderie involved.


Chris Case  40:46

Right. Maybe a silly question, but what are the absolute essentials for an event like this in terms of equipment?


Nick Legan  40:53

Determination. But in terms of gear I think you need some way to keep yourself warm and moving during daylight and into evening hours. Some people do very little sleep. And then some way to keep yourself somewhat safe when it comes to sleeping, when you’re going to take those brief respites from the trail. Beyond that, I think everything is debated whether you need battery powered lights, or Dynamo powered lights, or if you need water filtration, or you don’t need water filtration, a lot of that –


Chris Case  41:28

Stove, no stove?


Nick Legan  41:30

Most people racing it don’t bother with a stove


Chris Case  41:33

They just find food somewhere.


Nick Legan  41:34

Yep. And you eat everything ready made. So it’s a pretty cool experience. The record is under 14 days, my completion was just under 25 days. And I was not at the back of the pack. So it’s a broad spectrum of ability and results. But it creates a whole lot of questions that you need to answer in the lead up to in the preparation of but then also just on a day to day, hour to hour, almost minute to minute, sometimes Should I stop and put on my jacket if it’s looking like rain or… on and on. It’s this continual problem solving kind of undertaking.

To sleep or not to sleep, and humorous hallucination stories

Chris Case  41:59

One of the things we talked to Matt about was this idea of to sleep or not to sleep. I think that that’s probably a very personal thing. And also it goes along with your goals; If you’re really trying to go fast, you’re probably going to start getting into sleep deprivation and be okay with that going in. But if you’re sort of trying to balance things and enjoy it a little bit more, but not go so fast. You have to find what works for you. Maybe talk about that process a little bit and how you figured out if you could get away with some naps during the day, and then you need six hours a night or whatever it was.


Nick Legan  42:52

Well shout out to Matt first, we go way back and I’m excited to hear what he has to say on the matter when I listen to this podcast later. But you’re absolutely right, that sleep is a very personal thing. Some people who are really pushing at the front are doing some incredible things that I don’t think anyone in the right mind would suggest anyone else do. You have to take responsibility for those decisions and own them and try to again, not create – essentially not turn yourself into a liability for other people. I found that napping could be really, really helpful if I was just absolutely on the struggle bus that I could just lay down and have 10 minutes, 15 minutes. And it was in some cases amazing the result of that.


Nick Legan  43:36

It also depends on the length of the event. Tour Divide is long enough that I know that I need sleep. I can’t go, even if I had a great result and I went sub 20 days, I knew that I need sleep during some of those days on a pretty regular basis. If your event is, let’s say, 30 to 40 to 50 hours I think you can start playing that game a little bit more. So when I’ve done some gravel events that were 30 plus hours I didn’t sleep at all. So it depends on the event and your comfort level because things get weird when you don’t give the mind sleep. So your ability to make good decisions, your ability to be a human being in a world that’s still ongoing in a way so traffic etc. Things can get a little weird and sideways if you’re not careful.


Chris Case  44:25

Yes, Matt shared some stories and I’ve heard others talk about the hallucinations they deal with.


Nick Legan  44:32

Yeah, right. Strange things come out of the woods, it can get cookie


Chris Case  44:38

So this is not meant to pick on you in any way, but you attempted this Tour Divide several times before you actually completed it. I wonder if that was physical, or equipment, or both, or neither that took you out of the race the first few times?


Nick Legan  44:58

Well, quickly I’ll say that it was never equipment that took me out. I always was really lucky and fortunate to work with some companies that, and still do, that provide really incredible equipment and gear.


Nick Legan  45:13

Full disclosure, I think I attempted it three times before I was able to complete it on my fourth attempt. The first time, to be honest, I had no business being there. I just jumped in. I was too excited. I jumped in and I didn’t do the work. I should have gone and tried to tour sections of the route for instance, or I should have tried a little recon. I had done what formerly was called, now called Unbound, I had done Dirty Kansa 200 a few times and suddenly thought that it was a good idea to jump up from 200 miles to 2700 miles. I had some people kind of nudging me in that direction, whether it was really my best interest or not. But yeah, I had some overuse injuries and tendinitis that knocked me out and then it was kind of injury that knocked me out of two of those and then I’ll admit that my third attempt, I just lost it. I went northbound which Matthew Lee who’s the protagonist in the Ride the Divide documentary he joked with me that, you know, good luck on the “big lonely” because most people go southbound they start in Canada. You see a lot fewer people going northbound.


Nick Legan  46:18

And I was fit, I was ready, I had a great bike, I had no gear problems and I spent six and a half days essentially alone and just kind of lost it. And I got to the town of Salida. And I was like, “Why on earth would I ever leave this amazing place with all these beautiful conversational people?” I just was like, I have no desire to be back out there. So it was just this mental thing where I just, I lost the plot a little bit. I’m not saying I like hallucinated, it was nothing like that, it was just a motivation thing where I wasn’t where I wanted to be at all. And so I stopped and it was, man, I’m not saying I’m this super successful person, but I’m pretty accustomed to setting a goal and accomplishing it. And so Tour Divide represents something pretty pivotal in my life, which is grappling with failure. It’s tough mentally. I knew that I was fit enough to complete it. And I knew that my 25 day finish is not the fastest I can do. So I know, I can go back and you know, in a good year, go faster. But that’s powerful. There are a lot of lessons in there.


Trevor Connor  47:27

Yeah, so I mean, you brought up something I really wanted to discuss, which is the whole sleep side of these type of events. I actually did a little research beforehand to see what if there even was any research on these altar type events, found several studies specifically on RAM. And to give you an example, one of the ones I downloaded title is “Challenges in maintaining emotion regulation, and asleep in an energy deprived state induced by the 4800 kilometer alter endurance bicycle race.”


Chris Case  47:59

That’s a great title that is a perfect, beautiful title.


Trevor Connor  48:03

And if you dive into it, they basically say, yeah, they lose all emotional control. They go through every single emotion. Sleep deprivation is a major issue. I know that at RAM there used to be this thing about not getting off your bike. I mean, this was an eight to 10 day event, and they would not get off their bike. Now there’s a requirement. Basically what the study says is that they would benefit from taking longer breaks and getting a little more sleep because there’s issues with efficiency, there’s issues with the latency because of what the events doing to them. So they just get off the bike and try to get an hour  of sleep. It’s not all that beneficial.


Matt Roy  48:43

Yeah, I’ve tried similar things of just plowing through and I tried to do a 1000K straight through, and I found myself on the coast of Oregon, weaving in the middle of the road at 3am, and I found myself into a coastal park, flipped over a picnic table and laid down on wet ground and finally got some sleep.


Chris Case  49:07

Well that was a happy ending. It could have ended much worse.


Matt Roy  49:11

Yeah, the stories of some of the hallucinations that these guys have… So one of the most famous RAM guys, this guy Yuri Brobeck, who unfortunately passed, and Yuri had these dreams of freedom fighters chasing after him with clasma costs or however you say it and his crew just let him believe that so he would keep riding. Oh, yeah, you’re definitely being chased by five horsemen right now, keep rolling, buddy.


Trevor Connor  49:40

I spoke to a guy who did RAM, I love this story, he was somewhere around Pennsylvania. So he was getting towards the other end of the whole event and said he was on this fairly straight flat highway. And he said this rabbit started hopping alongside him. And he said for about 20 minutes he had this really good conversation with the rabbit where the rabbit was talking with him, he was talking about the rabbit. But that’s not the strange part. So the strange part was, it wasn’t until two weeks after the event that I finally realized I had hallucinated that. For weeks, I was like, of course it’s normal to have a rabbit hop alongside you and talk with the rabbit.


Matt Roy  50:22

There’s a guy who founded D2R2, the famous dirt road event in Western Mass, this guy Sandy Wittlesey and he holds a record for Boston, Montreal, Boston, which is the PBP equivalent of the US when it was run, 1200 K. I think he did in 44 hours and change, some insane number. He had, you know, old cat eye halogen light with two c batteries, trying to peer his way through a rainy night and Vermont roads. And he told me how the guardrail turned into a giant snake. And he said, if it wasn’t a snake, he probably would have continued heading towards it. So it you know, his hallucination saved his life in that context.

Mental strategies for participating in ultra races

Chris Case  51:06

This makes me want to ask you, Matt, tell us some strategies, so that you don’t allow yourself to get to this point, because this really does sound dangerous, potentially life threatening, what have you learned over the years to stave off the urge to keep going.


Matt Roy  51:26

I would say there’s a few approaches. So I’ll just give you an idea on the mental strategy. And then maybe something about the sleep strategies.


Matt Roy  51:35

The mental strategy, I always thought about breaking things up incrementally. So I’ve given you this examples of 100K, 200K, 300, 400 example. So 100K, with stops, a lot of hills, takes four hours. Anybody can ride four hours. You get to the next control, you hit a reset button, that reset button is mental. You get full bottles, we get some fresh snacks, maybe a baguette, and you’re starting a brand new ride. And the only thing you need to do for the next four hours is get from that checkpoint to the next checkpoint. And each time you get to a checkpoint, it is a full reset. And if you can trick your brain into believing that then that’s half the battle.


Matt Roy  52:21

Trevor, you mentioned these sort of emotional highs and lows, and this whole spectrum. And actually, that’s part of the beauty of ultra cycling, and how you respond to those. It’s not possible to ride 12 hours, without having some emotional component. There’s going to be a moment where it’s terrible. And it’s how you address that moment to get to the other side of it that I think really brings the beauty to that sport. And for me, I’ve been able to compartmentalize it and say, I’m suffering, but I’m going to get to this checkpoint because that’s only 45 minutes away from now if I stay at this speed. And when I get to that checkpoint it’s a new ride. And I don’t have to worry about those ghosts from 20 minutes ago. So that little compartmentalization is the key for me. And I even break it up even smaller. If I’m on a long, long, miserable steep climb, then the next telephone pole is my goal and then one after that. And it might just be basic enough that those simple little things are enough distraction that I don’t think about the clock, or I don’t think about the fact that I’ve been up since 2am, or anything like that. So I feel like that’s probably the first big thing.


Chris Case  53:40

That’s called “chunking” in the psychological realm and that is a strategy that anybody could use really with any length of event, whether it’s just a climb and it’s really hurting and it’s only an hour in length, you can still break it up into small chunks like that. Same with the hour record on the track, you want to break that up into maybe eight minute segments or 10 minute segments and think of those as discrete pieces. And once you finish that you reset and take on the next challenge.


Matt Roy  54:16

Yeah, and there’s other little logistic things you can do; you can physically break your route up on your navigation device. For transatlantic way I set what were optimistic goals for days and I had each day broken up into two Garmin files. And I would look at distance remaining. And you know, it was always fairly palatable, “oh, I can read 118 miles, I can do that.” You get to the end of that file and you start a new one and it’s just less daunting. Please don’t beat yourself up with a number, just make it palatable and you can cheat yourself. You can cheat your psyche by breaking it into these palatable chunks. There’s all these little strategies.


Matt Roy  55:01

One thing I used to do for nutrition, which we can get into, is I would set a countdown timer on a watch. And every time it would go off, I set it for like 50 minutes, five- zero, and every 50 minutes, it would go off and I would eat. It’s just, “oh, there’s my dinner bell.” And it was just something I didn’t have to think about, just another little incremental component.


Trevor Connor  55:24

Imagine, you could speak more to this but, imagine another thing. I mean, when we talk, or when I’m coaching athlete and we’re talking about a two hour race, we want to do everything possible to make sure they don’t bonk. If you bonk in that race, you’re done. When you’re doing an event that’s 12 hours or longer bonking is pretty much an inevitability, probably a few times in some of these longer events. It’s actually learning how to push through it.


Matt Roy  55:49

Yeah, absolutely. And again, that’s me emphasizing the utility of these brevets building on each other, that’s a perfect opportunity to make those mistakes. You learn through your own errors in these and you can build up your skill set by making these mistakes. So I think my physiology is changing; as I’ve done this for 13 years now, I guess and long distance stuff that I feel like I need to maybe, it’s because I’m getting older too, but I’m eating a lot less than I used to. And I can ride into the front end of a bonk and know that and know that I can rescue it.


Matt Roy  56:35

Now, when you think about the kind of output I’m doing versus the kind of output someone’s doing for two hours, it’s scaled down quite a bit. We’re averaging I think PBP I averaged like 230 watts for you know, 40 – 44 hours of riding or something like that. I’m 145 pounds or so, so it’s not like Herculean by any means, it’s just a slow burn all day long. And you can feed that slow burn probably a little differently than you would do to a two hour race athlete.


Matt Roy  57:09

So I wanted to touch on the sleep part of it. And you know, through my years of doing this, and I think we could probably pull data together to demonstrate this, that you are not faster if you just stay awake the whole time. Unless you’re super jacked up on caffeine or who knows what, it’s not sustainable. And I have found myself way faster if I just get down for a little bit of sleep.


Matt Roy  57:37

So for the strategy of these events, you can deal with sleep a few different ways; one thing I’ve learned to do is add in caffeine gum to my palate. A lot of caffeinated drinks don’t really sit well with my stomach and caffeinated foods don’t do well, but the stupid gum, it gives you something to do – you’re kind of chewing and you’re awake and it’s minty and that little bit of caffeine seems to really help a little bit. So you know PBP, I rode 28 hours straight and there was a lot of adrenaline and excitement in that, but when I got the sleepies at dawn just as the sun was coming up, just had a couple chews of caffeine gum, and I can tolerate caffeine pretty well usually, and that was a good trick for me. But you know when I got to that checkpoint, and I’d been on the bike for 28 hours I made a decision to stop. I had remarkably good legs that weekend. I was with an Australian guy, super strong, who finished, he was the sixth finisher at PBP, and I knew if I had stuck with him, I would have finished with him. But I made a decision to stop. And I don’t regret that decision at all because I got in the back of our rented minivan with my wife and we fell asleep for four hours and I got back on my bike and I never got sleepy the rest of the event; turned out the last 400K, found a great group of guys to ride with, finished within my goal time. You know all of the issues I had leading up to it with my hand injury and some back stuff that I’ve been dealing with, you just don’t question it. Just lay down and go to sleep. And that’s something I’ve adjusted to and adopted through my years of doing this.


Chris Case  59:44

I would assume that over the years too, and it’s probably a personal choice, but you’ve identified the right length of nap for you. Some people might do well with 15 minutes. Some people might need an hour. There’s probably a point given the length of the event and all of that, maybe you don’t want to fall asleep for too long a period of time or else it’ll be somewhat detrimental. Is that all true?


Matt Roy  1:00:09

I usually go into these events with a goal. And I’m sure you guys have these things too, you have your public goal, I want to finish x, y, and it’s usually a little more modest. And then you have this slightly obnoxious goal that you kind of keep to yourself. That’s how I go into the event. I always have the obnoxious goal in my head. And we’ll just adjust my pace and my sleep and my stops to meet that goal. So if I lay down and I know that I’ve been averaging the right speed, I’ve achieved this distance,and I’ll just say, “okay, you get two hours.” Then I’ll sleep two hours. If I get to that point, and I’m a little behind, then I’ll say, okay, “you get an hour.” So I haven’t done the experimentation in a way that I could answer that accurately, other than I say, I set a goal and I achieve it. And I’ll break my rests and my rides up into the framework so that I can achieve it.

How to train for ultra-distance events

Chris Case  1:01:11

Okay, so now, a listener out there says to himself, “Man, this sounds really great. I got to do one of these things, but I just ride two hours on Saturdays, maybe I’ll get a really long ride of six hours every other weekend….” Let’s talk about the training of how to prepare for these ultra distance events. Is it something that you can do with a minimal amount of time? Is it something only for veterans that have been riding a long time and they have a lot of miles to work from in their legs? What would you say to that?


Matt Roy  1:01:50

I think there’s probably a spectrum and it’s probably pretty personal. And there’s probably some physiological aspects to this. An analogy for randonneuring is watching a Big City Marathon, watch the Boston Marathon, and there’s a number of runners who are finishing in two hours and four minutes and there’s a number of runners who are running the same exact distance in eight and a half hours after they’ve pulled the banners down and the crowds are gone. You couldn’t tell that person at the end that they’re not cut out for long distance, right? Because they achieved it. So I think that you build physiologically each weekend, and you build that mental fortitude each time you do that. And 10% is a good way to start. If you can do 100 miles, you can do 110. And then you can maybe say I’m going to tack another 20 onto it and build that up. And each time you add that physiological component to it, you add a mental component to it. And then at some point, it doesn’t even matter. You’re just like, ah, alright, I just rode 180 miles today, I can do 240. No biggie. And once you’ve achieved that, the difference is meaningless. You can just keep rolling.


Chris Case  1:03:10

I got to add in here that you have a PhD in immunology, you work in gene editing, you’ve been through a PhD program, which I got to assume is a bit of a time consuming endeavor, all while taking on all this ultra distance stuff. So how did you find the time to do it? Does it entail 20 hours of training a week? Or can you get prepared appropriately with 10?


Matt Roy  1:03:36

You can and – I mean, you plan out a season, and these brevets, these 200, 300, 400, 600, these increments are months apart sometimes. And it’s how you use the time in between to prepare for them. So one big realization for me was doing some interval work to make sure I had top end, the more top end you have access to the easier those hills are. You know, there’s usually a lot of knuckleheads at the start of these things who think they can do it at 25 miles an hour, and you can let them if you can fit on their wheels, and then you’ve wasted zero energy, you need a little bit of top end. And then when they blow up, you’re fresh as a daisy. So I definitely have done more interval work than you would think you would need for being steady. And the goal of these is steady. You get to a hill, you maintain the same effort you did on the flat. In fact, you’re probably going easier than you think you need to on the hill. But it’s essentially – you guys all know the analogy of this like book of matches, right? And essentially, when you do a brevet you’ve lit the entire thing on fire and you’re just trying to let it burn as slowly as possible. There’s no top end burns on these things. But the more top end you have, you can get a little closer to that redline the whole time without really having a negative impact on you. So I definitely do pedaling dynamic work, I definitely do low RPM intervals, I definitely do high RPM intervals, I do sweet spot intervals and those all very much contribute to my overall speed on these events, they make it accessible. When you’re in these events, you know that you have that in your quiver when someone goes up the road, you know, you can get to it without being having a negative impact. So these events build on each other. Having put in the effort for these, the short, intense, some of the interval training, they complement it. So I think the addition of those two things really help you get there.


Trevor Connor  1:05:54

Let’s hear from Jose Bermudez, the only rider to complete RAM, the Tour Divide, and the Trans-am about what it takes to train for one of these events.


Jose Bermudez  1:06:04

I train with power, my athletes train with power, we look at roughly the same metrics, you know, I’m interested in raising people’s power threshold, I’m looking at their cumulative training load, their acute training load, you know, I want the ramp rates to go up -so all those metrics are kind of the same. But the work that we do with them in in ultra cycling training is very different.


Chris Case  1:06:29

How so? Give you some specifics there.


Jose Bermudez  1:06:32

Well so let me go a little bit more about what’s the same. So the major difference between ultra cycling events, you know, apart from maybe some excitement at the beginning, is that, on balance, you’re operating at a much lower level percentage of your functional threshold power. But of course, if you can make improvements in your functional threshold power, then operating at 60% of it or whatever is going to get you going faster and more efficiently, right? The major difference between training and racing with parent training and racing in regular road races or mountain bike races, is that I think it’s unwise to race with a power meter. Or let me put that a slightly different way, I think it’s unwise to race to a power meter. I’ve seen a lot of people DNF, because they’ve tried to keep to pre-assigned power numbers that they’ve either assigned themselves or a coach who maybe is thinking about the races as a slightly different thing as assigned to them. And what happens is that people blow up either physically or psychologically. And by psychological blow up, I mean, just give up because they can’t meet the numbers that they’ve assigned to themselves or that have been assigned to them. And part of what I try and train people to do is to use the power meter and training so that they have a better understanding of their physiological capabilities and their physiological capacities and limitations and how hard they can push themselves.


Chris Case  1:08:23

If you could give some specifics here on maybe just volume, is there a minimum that somebody needs per week or month that gets them to the level that they can tackle their first brevet at 200k? 300k? 400k? Do you think in those terms or not?


Jose Bermudez  1:08:43

I think in terms of what you want to do. So if you came to me and said, “I want to do the Tour Divide next summer.” And you said, “I’ve got no experience, but I’m a category three road racer, and an expert mountain biker,” (we used to call them expert mountain biker), I would probably sit down and try and work out whether you’ve realistically got the capacity to be competitive in that race, if you want to be competitive. But suppose that you were, then I would work backwards from the start of the Tour Divide, which is in Junem and think about – you’re going to want three weeks or so to taper, three or four weeks to taper before that. So somewhere in the sort of six week before the start of the race, you’d want to do your last kind of big thing. So maybe a three day backpacking race or a three day race pace kind of bike tour if you’re disciplined enough to do that solely on your own. And then working back from that in standard kind of training cycles, three weeks on, one week off, I’d want to build up to that making that three day event kind of work for you. And working on all the things that you would work on  as a road racer, as a cross country mountain biker, but just making sure that there’s an increase in long rides. Not that all your rides are long. You know it used to be the case that people train for things like Race Across America just by riding their bike for hundreds of miles every week. Smart people don’t do that anymore. It’s not efficient. It’s not a good use of time and doesn’t actually make you any faster.


Chris Case  1:10:34

So yeah, Matt was very clear to point out that he still does some work at high intensities. He does some specific interval work, which helps him with his top end, even though you might think that’s really not what he’s gonna want to tap into when he’s doing 450 mile bike race.


Jose Bermudez  1:10:57

Yeah, I mean, I’m interested to hear what what Matt was doing, but my training routine is all interval based. And it’s not, you know, mainly sweetspot intervals, it’s mainly threshold intervals. And there’s some real intensity in there. I think it’s good for people to do VO2 max intervals and partly, that’s for physiological reasons. I mean, I think it helps people raise their bodily adaptation, it helps them raise their threshold. But also, there’s a lot of suffering in these races. And it’s good to practice them. Suffering comes in lots of different varieties, and it’s good to practice lots of different types of it.


Chris Case  1:11:50

Yeah, excellent.


Jose Bermudez  1:11:51

I mean, for me, the longer the race, the less the importance of the physiological piece. And what I mean by that is if it’s a 25 miles time trial, I’m pretty sure that you could predict the results pretty accurately by doing a power test at the beginning. And if it’s a road race, say it’s a 50, 60, if it’s a criteria, you could also predict a pretty well, road race slightly less. But still, you can get a good read from what people’s power curve looks like, to how they’re going to do an events. When it gets passed 500 miles, none of that stuff really works well. And what makes for success is a complex spectrum of things. Certainly, you’ve got to be in really good shape. But you’ve also got to have a mental strength that not many people have, or being able to maintain kind of intensity of activity for literally weeks at a time. And being able to deal with all the physiological stuff that’s kind of inevitable: saddle sores and bronchitis and, you know, people get all that sort of stuff, I’ve had all that stuff. And you need to be efficient on your bike.There’s no point in hammering for six hours at 20 miles an hour, and then taking an hour off your bike. You’re much better off, taking the 10 minutes off your bike and taking a more controlled pace. And then you’ve got to be really good at working out. When to dial back and when to go hard and how you can catch up on someone who’s 200 miles ahead of you. How you can close those sorts of gaps. It’s easier to think about how to close a gap when you can see that person, when they turn a corner in front of you. It’s harder to think about relative pacing and strategy and how to do it when it’s a 200 mile gap.


Chris Case  1:14:09

If you could construct the perfect ultra distance cyclist in a lab, what would that specimen look like? Both physically and mentally?


Jose Bermudez  1:14:23

Ah, well, the first thing is that probably be about 10 pounds overweight. Because I think it’s really important to have a good cushion when you go into one of these long events – if you’re going to go hard. So someone might not look like the model of your classic road cyclists or even your sort of classic cross country mountain biker. Pretty high vo two max, would have a pretty higher lactate threshold would be good. A power curve that is stronger at the steady state threshold portion of it. That’s where I’d like to see people excel. Typically, you know, people who are better at this have a little bit older and used to dealing with long projects and setbacks. So someone who knows how to suffer. So I think a pretty good predictor is 24 hour mountain bike racing. That’s kind of hard.


Chris Case  1:15:33

For some people, it’s probably next to impossible. But in the grand context of what we’re talking about –


Jose Bermudez  1:15:38

I think it’s good training.


Chris Case  1:15:39

Yeah, yeah. There’s not many that many of them left.


Jose Bermudez  1:15:45

There’s not that many of them left. Fortunately, there’s one or there was at least until last year, one not very far from where I used to live in Austin, and near where I live in College Station. But there are a few. And what I like about them is that it’s high intensity, but it’s long enough so that you really have to think about pacing and nutrition. And you just have to think about that kind of complicated piece of how you close and how you close a big gap.


Chris Case  1:16:14

Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  1:16:17

So I found another study, again, on RAM, I don’t know why they keep picking on RAM, but that is most of the ones that I found, that looked at the training style of riders. So they found – this wasn’t in an individual, they found a team so there’s a four person team or they trade off. So each one does about 1200 kilometers. And looked at how they trained. Now this particular team got second, so they seemed like they were they were pretty strong. Their training style was pure metal. And most of the studies actually talked about “should they have been more polarized versus pure metal?” So if you use the three zone model, they were about 63% of their time was in zone 120, 8% of their time was in zone two, so a fair amount of sweetspot work, and about 9% was in zone three, so they were doing interval work. I do agree with this. Overall, if you take all their training time they were pyramidical, they were basically like a pretty typical cyclist.


Matt Roy  1:17:14

Yep, yep. Yeah, for me, I found that the more I’ve worked on some more of those little top end things for a shorter amount of time, the more fun the events got because you have that you have that set of tools. And once you get the confidence for the distance, now it’s just honing your craft. And for me, I don’t need to achieve anything else. I’ve done great stuff in these disciplines. They’re super fun to me. And now that I am getting a little older and adding these other components to it just makes it fun. Just feeling the rip up of something, even though you know you shouldn’t, and knowing you have that tool on your chest, that just adds more fun to it.


Chris Case  1:17:57

Matt, I know that you are a bike commuter as well, you ride to and from work in Boston, or you did before the pandemic. I wonder if you have found any advantages to doing that less and doing longer rides.


Matt Roy  1:18:17

It’s been an interesting experiment not commuting. And I have to confess that my commute was where I listen to Fast Talk, so I am a couple months behind. It was the perfect way to commute because you guys were always emphasizing the importance of rest. I would always make sure I would stopped pedaling on this commute. But the anecdotal evidence I have is that in the absence of my commute, I’ve gotten stronger because I’m not riding seven days a week. I think full time commuters kind of judge their miles that they commute as these junk miles and that’s garbage man. It’s still time on the bike, and not having that, I’ve been getting almost seven hours of sleep a night, which is a big step up for me. And I’m not riding seven days a week I’m doing more focus things more actual training. But you know, as soon as we open back up, I’m going to go back to commuting seven days a week. I am not getting in a car to go to work. So I’ll pay that price.


Trevor Connor  1:19:28

How long is your commute?


Matt Roy  1:19:30

Nine miles each way, like 45 minutes.


How to overcome palate fatigue, caloric deficiency, sleep deprivation, and other key tips for ultra racing


Chris Case  1:19:35

So Matt one other question here about the nutrition that I think I’d like you to speak to and that is if you get to a gas station in the middle of nowhere and they don’t have your favorite Clif Bar that you’re looking for, but you’re really craving funyuns should you go with the funyuns?


Matt Roy  1:19:57

Yeah, I have definitely learned that you do not know what you’re craving, your body knows better than you do. Now I’m gonna throw in a caveat here that a I have a pretty iron stomach and have been a long time vegetarian so that hot dog that you see rolling on the thing in the 711-


Chris Case  1:20:17

No one should ever touched that thing.


Matt Roy  1:20:20

It never crosses my mind is being a palatable item. So my I would say my risk level is a little bit lower in general. But I have a weak spot for the cheapest sour cream and onion chips, and the one that has MSG – bring it on. It’s just what I crave on the ride. So I’ve definitely learned to go with what I’m hungry for. But I try to eat as much real food as possible. So in addition to being my wife’s mechanic during her racing, she, in her previous career was a soigneur for Pro Cycling teams. And she is now my personal soigneur for these events. So I get handmade sandwiches in the middle of these events and I get to eat real food. And that is a remarkable benefit, because it’s not just one bar after the other.


Matt Roy  1:21:18

And that reminds me that there’s a lot of sugar in your life when you do these ultra events. And there’s not really any way around it. I found the things that work for me, so I’m a full scratch convert; I can drink scratch, without ever really having it negatively affect my stomach, it always hydrates me well, I don’t care if it’s hot, I don’t care if it’s cold, it always does the same thing for me, doesn’t matter what the flavor, it’s palatable, it’s fine. I’ve tried other things, this is the one that’s always worked best. In terms of bars, I try to mix it up, and there’s some bars that I ate exclusively that I can’t even look at now. But the things that have the fewest ingredients are the things that seem to continue to work the best for me. Especially if they’re are ingredients you can pronounce, I find that to be a good guide. But real food is a big component to it. And that’s quite helpful to me. And the other thing is you get palate fatigue. And this is a real thing; it’s that at some point, and this circles back to Trevor’s comment about bonking, at some point, you do not want to chew anything, you don’t want to open a wrapper, you don’t want to look at any food, you’re just tired of eating. And that’s going to be a big mental piece and how you get over that is kind of where cravings come in. So that pickle thats in saran wrap at the store – Just eat it, it’ll be fine.


Chris Case  1:22:49

Yeah, I remember, you know, I don’t have very much experience with ultra distance stuff but I have done what used to be DK a couple times. And I remember the last time I did it getting to that final aid station, my dad was there. A couple other people that I knew were there and they had a whole you know, there was a spread of different things. But the bag of chips and the root beer or something, the two things that I knew were gonna make me burp for the last 125 miles or whatever it was, or not 125 lasst 50 miles, that’s exactly what I needed at that moment. So I just went with it, and I suffered the consequences. But hey, for 10 minutes or five minutes at that aid station. It was heaven.


Matt Roy  1:23:35

It was perfect. Yeah, another little pro tip is pack a toothbrush. You know, your teeth become, and this is a very non palatable description, but your teeth feel hairy after a while from so much sugar. And just being able to brush your teeth at some point is really nice. For the bikepacking stuff I love brushing my teeth like partway through the day. And it also helps that palate fatigue, that’s another way to chunk it, you give yourself a clean slate.


Trevor Connor  1:24:11

So I’m trying to find it and I unfortunately can’t, but one of these studies about ram did talk about the caloric deficit that the average cyclist sees over the course of the event and it was actually quite amazing considering as you said, you’re trying to make sure you eat as much as possible you get tired of eating. I’d like to say the caloric deficit over the course of the event is like 14,000 calories.


Matt Roy  1:24:35

Yeah, there’s no way you’re going to you’re going to be able to fill the void and you know how you know your body deals with that, it’s probably going to adapt over time. One thing that used to happen to me is a day or two after a long distance event I would gain or retain 5, 6, 7 pounds and it’s as if my body was in some sort of preservation mode. And it was saying alright, we’re gonna just hold on to fluids. And around the second or third day, after an event, I had to be within about five feet of a bathroom because I could not, your body just finally gets rid of all that fluid. And I, you know, as I’ve gotten, maybe more experienced or older, the amount of things I take on board has reproduced, maybe I’m more efficient. And now I don’t have that same experience that you can never replace, during the event what you lose, and you’ll get sick, it’s just the body can’t process it.


Matt Roy  1:25:49

You guys have probably all eaten too much on a ride, you did a coffee shop ride with your friends and that sandwich looks too good and you get back on your bike and there’s a bowling ball in your gut. And you’re supposed to pedal your bike. After that you’re supposed to be able to digest it and pedal a bike. So that’s where its simplicity of food kind of comes in. As you know, don’t eat too much, but keep it keep what you do eat fairly simple. Let your body do its natural processes, but recognize that you’re asking it to do a lot. You’re asking it to pedal for the 12th hour on the same day and digest an ungodly ingredient list of food.


Trevor Connor  1:26:32

Doing an ultra takes more than just training. Here’s Jose Bermudez talking about the other critical factors such as nutrition, sleep and gear.


Jose Bermudez  1:26:41

I think it’s good to have a lot of miles in the legs. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people – so the Tour Divide is an interesting example. There’s a film about the Tour Divide, a lot of people have seen it, they think I’ll have a go at that. And they don’t really understand the realities of racing your bike for a long period of time, it’s 2700 miles. I mean, the record is 14 days, I did it in 2016. And like a top 10 finish, I think I finished it in 18 days. Anything less than 25 is reasonably brisk. But a lot of people, you know, they’ve never ridden a bike for more than 100 miles. And to finish in 18 days, I had to ride for 155 miles a day for 18 days sleeping by the side of the road and carrying stuff. That’s a different kind of level of commitment and intensity. And you can’t do it unless you’re really comfortable on your bike, unless you know your body, unless you know your equipment, unless you can fix your bike, unless you figured out your nutrition plan. And that’s not starter level type stuff. The nutrition piece is probably the biggest piece, I think in ultra cycling.


Chris Case  1:27:54

Yeah, go into that if you wouldn’t mind. I completely hear what you’re saying. We’ve heard it from Matt, we’ve heard it from Nick before. How does one figure out what works best for them?


Jose Bermudez  1:28:08



Chris Case  1:28:10

Yeah, simple, right?


Jose Bermudez  1:28:11

It’s really simple. You do a lot of races, you do a lot of long training rides, and you work in different conditions.


Chris Case  1:28:18

Because this is a very personal thing to some might have to go completely Whole Foods all the time because they cannot tolerate gels. Some people might do well in the very opposite direction of that.


Jose Bermudez  1:28:31

Well, there are a couple of different things to think about. I mean, one is conditions. And I and I think a lot of people that I coach, that I’ve raced with have real difficulty finding stuff palatable when it gets hot. And by hot I mean – if you do something like the Race Across America, which I’ve done, you’re crossing the desert near Borrego Springs, and it was 120 degrees when I went through it in 2015. Going through that kind of temperature non stop for 48 hours, which is what it takes to get to get across from Oceanside to Congress, Arizona, it’s pretty hard to feel yourself. And what a lot of people do is they find something that works really well for them for a century ride and think that that’s going to work for 1000 miles. And you’d be surprised at how that stuff that tastes really good after four hours tastes completely unpalatable after 48.


Chris Case  1:29:34

Yeah, I hear what you’re saying there too. Yeah, I can only imagine.


Jose Bermudez  1:29:40

So, what I encourage people to do is to when they go out for training rides, maybe not a super long training ride, 10-12 hours, something like that, to use that opportunity to experiment with different types of stuff and see what works when it’s cold. See what works when it’s hot.


Jose Bermudez  1:30:00

The cold raises another different set of issues. I mean, I’ve raced in Alaska in winter, and then you have problems with – you think your chocolate bar tastes pretty good, but it’s frozen solid. You know the cheese that tastes really good at room temperature is frozen solid. It’s a block in your bag. So you got to defrost things in your armpit. I mean, there’s a lot of things to think about here.


Chris Case  1:30:25

What tastes best after being defrosted in one’s armpit?


Jose Bermudez  1:30:31

I prefer the stuff that doesn’t have to be defrosted.


Chris Case  1:30:36

And what would that be?


Jose Bermudez  1:30:37

Call me old fashioned in that respect? So I like nuts. I like nuts. I like chocolate coated nuts, you know, like m&ms and stuff like that. I personally do better with savory things than them sweet things. So, pretzels, trail mix, all that stuff that doesn’t freeze. And there are various types of freeze dried meals, but of course, if you’ve got a freeze dried meal, you’ve got to boil water, and if you’ve got to boil water, you’ve got to carry fuel, you’ve got to melt snow and do all that kind of stuff. Again, you know, this is very much an individual thing. And this is part of training is being able, intentionally, to push your limits, to see what works best for you. But I find that most people do better with slightly longer sleep breaks.


Chris Case  1:31:41

And by slightly longer, what do you mean by that?


Jose Bermudez  1:31:46

Three to four hours.


Chris Case  1:31:46

Three to four hours, okay.


Jose Bermudez  1:31:48

For something like the Tour Divide, if you want to be really competitive and really efficient, you should probably be looking to sleep a little bit more than that. Maybe in the four to five hour range. If you’re doing something like Race Across America, you want to be more in the sort of one to two and a half hour range. Because one of the variables here is whether you’ve got other stuff, doing stuff, other people doing stuff for you. So when you do the Race Across America, you do nothing except ride your bike. You’ve got people there, who will change your bike, who will lift you off your bike and put you back on your bike, they’ll feed you, they’ll do everything. That actually makes it much harder. Because there’s nothing to do except ride your bike. But it also means that you can push the envelope on sleep because you don’t have to think so much. And  you can shut down a whole lot of mental systems, and you’re just following a white light on the side of the road. It’s pretty intense. But if you’re doing something where you’ve got to plan, you’ve got to find a route, you’ve got to resupply, you’ve got to deal with, with open roads without a follow vehicle, or you’re dealing with trails, or you’ve got snow and possibility of falling through holes in the ice and stuff like that, the stakes are a little bit higher, in some ways. And it’s best, I think, just around the margin of safety with sleep.


Chris Case  1:33:29



Jose Bermudez  1:33:30

Lack of sleep does bad things to you.


Chris Case  1:33:32

Yeah, so I’ve heard. I’m not one for sleep deprivation. So I haven’t experienced the hallucinations that I’ve only heard about and have been glad I haven’t experienced firsthand.


Jose Bermudez  1:33:45

Well, one problem is that it affects your judgment. And again, if you’ve got a support crew, you’ve got people there whose job it is to basically to call it when you’re when you’re falling asleep on the road. If you’re out there on your own, you know if you do something like the trans-am, which goes from Astoria in Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia, 4300 miles, and it’s all on roads, and some of them are pretty busy. You know, if you’re in a sleep deprived fog on that you can die and people do. Yeah, every year. In fact, I won’t train people anymore for that race. I think it’s just too dangerous.


Chris Case  1:34:27

What other aspects here Jose, do you think are really key to success or even enjoyment at these ultra distance events?


Jose Bermudez  1:34:38

Well, for self supported events, you know, being handy with your bike is really important. I don’t just mean being able to change a flat, I mean, being able to know what stuff to take with you so that you can fix pretty much anything since pretty much anything can happen.


Jose Bermudez  1:34:58

And that leads to another piece, which I think is also really important, which is being able to pack smart. Because there’s a big trade off, of course between speed and weight. But if you go too light, particularly if you’re unsupported and a long way from bike shops or from any kind of civilization, you need to be completely self contained. I mean, you don’t want to be out on your own in the winter in Alaska, when it’s minus 40 degrees, and realize that you left a crucial piece of equipment at home. But on the other hand, you can’t ride around with 100 pound bike either. I mean, I know that because I’ve tried it.


Chris Case  1:35:42

Yeah, so you’ve got to be organized, you’ve probably got to make lists, you’ve got to check them twice, and three times and know how to use everything that you bring.


Jose Bermudez  1:35:51

You’ve got to know how to use everything that you bring, and you’ve got to know how to make things do more than one job. Right?


Chris Case  1:35:57

Right, be efficient.


Jose Bermudez  1:35:59

And you’ve got to learn, and you’ve got to learn this in practice. Making a list is not enough, looking on the internet and seeing what I took on my last race or what Mike Call took before he died is just not going to help you. That stuff needs to be an extension of your personality.


Chris Case  1:36:21

Matt, you’ve listened to Fast Talk before, you’ve mentioned that fact, you know how we like to end our shows, with some take home messages. What would you say is the biggest take home message about all of this that we’ve spoken about today? The Ultra distance, randonneuring, bikepacking Ultra cycling, what are your key elements here?


Matt Roy  1:36:41

So I would say the most central part of this is that we enjoy riding our bikes, and I love being outside. And now I get to be outside for days at a time and hours at a time. And how I got there is through incremental building over the years; making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, but really, I get to be outside pedaling. And that’s all you have to do is just pedal your bike and pedal it some more. I just think there’s just so many different ways to experience two wheels. And I just feel a lot of gratitude that I was able to go from this metal hip to being able to do these kind of things. And, you know, as sappy as it sounds, I really feel like every pedal stroke is a gift, this wasn’t a plan. And now I get to see how many different places and how many different ways I can pedal. So it’s cool to be able to share this. I mean, I’ve gotten to sit in the follow car and change wheels, and at other races I got to be Canal’s mechanicin Colorado for BMT and got to see all sides of it. And now I get to write my own stories. And if I can excite a few more people to do something similar, I’m happy to do that.


Chris Case  1:38:04

Trevor, what do you got?


Trevor Connor  1:38:07

Continuing with that, my message is: there’s a whole lot of different ways of riding your bike. And there is a way for everybody. And that’s one of the things I like about this type of event. You look at this compared to a 45 minute crit and you are getting about as polar opposite of an event as you can get. Reading the statistics about RAM, I mean, even the people who are winning, or even then like PBP, you’re riding that at your aerobic threshold or below, you’re not at that, you know, tongue hanging out race intensity, this just requires very different energy systems, it requires a very different type of toughness, that can be really appealing to some people who don’t find that shorter, high intensity event, particularly appealing. And I think here, what we’ve really touched on is the challenge is all that balance, balancing energy, balancing sleep, keeping yourself going, the whole mental side of this is starting to get to me. The emotions are going all over the place. And I’ve still got a couple more days to ride. So to me, that’s quite exciting. Sounds quite fun, Chris.


Chris Case  1:39:16

Yeah, I mean, I think the adventure of all of this is what I love about hearing these stories. You know, we didn’t really talk about Tour Divide, but something like that is something that sure some people race it, other people are just out there enjoying it, but they’re learning a lot about themselves along the way, figuring stuff out about their capabilities or just having a good long think about life and the world. It allows for that on these events. So yeah, there’s a lot of different entry points, a lot of different ways to get into what we have talked about generally, which is this ultra endurance, ultra distance type stuff. There’s the stuff like RAM, which seems like it’s pretty competitive and very racy. And then you’ve got randonneuring, which if you want to feel like you’ve traveled back in time 100 years, that’s for you. And if you want adventure and you’re self sufficient and you want to challenge yourself in a different way, and combine backpacking with bike riding, then you’ve got bike packing races. So I love the fact that it’s all ultra, but it’s very diverse at the same time.


Matt Roy  1:40:30

Thanks. I appreciate you bringing me on and it’s been an honor to be able to have a schmo who are capable of greatness threshold.


Chris Case  1:40:41

That was another episode of FastTtalk. As always, we’d love your feedback. Email us at or record a voice memo on your phone and send it our way. Subscribe Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Matt Roy, Nick Legan, Jose Bermudez, Coach Trevor Connor and Chris Case, thanks for listening.