Bikingman Corsica 2024

Bikingman Corsica 2024

Bikingman is a series of ultra endurance races that always have the same principle. A parcours of 1000km with around 18000m of elevation. 120 hours maximum to finish the race.

I’m taking the regional train from Lyon via Marseille to Toulon where the ferry is leaving in the evening to cross over to Bastia on Corsica during the night. It is very easy to spot the other cyclists that are also traveling to the destination, bike-packing bags and road race stands out from the crowd.

Before the boat already I hang out with 2 guys that seem quite nice, the thing we have in common: We didn’t reserve a cabin and had all planned on sleeping on the floor. After noticing that we are the only ones we take the wise decision to still get a cabin, and as we are 3 this is even quite cheap.

The following day is relaxing, in the afternoon we go to the mandatory bike check and reshuffle our bags until we are happy with what to take on the road. I’m sleeping in a tent on the campsite but I’ll leave the tent and some other stuff during the race to be lighter, after all there’s gonna be a lot of climbing to come.

26/05/24 – Day 1
The race starts in wave of 10 riders since 11h20, I’m starting 11h38 exactly and off we go, the first 30km we go through Bastia, there is still a lot of traffic so we have to be careful before we go on less occupied roads.

We’re cycling to the north and doing a round to visit cape Corse. The kilometers fly by, the hard climbing will only come at the end of the day.

After the nice coastal roads we turn inward to climb a beautiful valley passing through Novella. It’s a tiny road that climbs slowly up a canyon.

It starts to get darker and fresher, is it a blessing? To not see the terrible climb to the Bocca di Battaglia. It’s a 13km climb with an average of 9,9%. I’m riding with 3 other guys, after the half we stop talking to each other, it is to difficult.

On the top waits the first Checkpoint with a nice dinner, even though it is hard to eat after such an effort, I’m putting down my sleeping matress 40m from the checkpoint to have 5 hours of undisturbed sleep.
2 o’clock in the night something bites me in the foot, I wake up with a rush on adrenaline but after putting my glasses on I can see nothing but some of the feathers of my sleeping bag lying all around, I’m walking a bit around the campsite and see a cat, but I start to doubt that it was the cat that approached me.
After closing the hole in the sleeping bag I sleep for another 3h.

27/05/24 – Day 2

I start the day on a nice long descent, it is pure joy to see the kilometers tick by without having to work, just looking around the green mountains. But always being careful because on Corsica cows, pigs and other animals walk freely on the road on their own.

After a short break in a bakery we start the long approach to the Col de Vergio (1,467 m). There is a long passage through a canyon that is breathtaking. The climb is not so difficult but for over 30km it only goes up.

Afterwards there is another long descent down to the village of Porto and another climb to the most beautiful mountain sight. There are a lot of cars so we are not the only ones that know about it.

After more ups and downs I finally arrive around 23h at the second checkpoint. Some nice rice with chicken and of I go to another refreshing 5h of sleep.

28/05/24 – Day 3

After a mini descent we start the day with a climb to the Col de Scalella (1,193 m). Pure joy again, life is still good at this point in the race, the legs are fresh, the saddle sore is still in it’s infancy and does’nt bother too much 😉

One nice climb after another, it is quite uneventful, at the late afternoon I’m starting to ride a bit next to Damien, the idea is to sleep somewhere outside before the next huge climb in the morning. We roll close to the coast and have some pizza, then around 23h we ask for some water in a bar, Damien asks if there is still a room available and after short reflection we decide it’s best to stay for the night in a hotel, the shower is amazing and the bed is comfy, dangerous because in the morning it is usually easier to get out of a sleeping bed than a comfortable bed.

29/05/24 – Day 4

For breakfast we have the Col de Vaccia (1,191 m). It’s a beautiful climb but at this point I have lost some skin on my ass and the pain starts to really burn like hell. The last 30 hours will be a mental challenge in the extremes. I meet some people on the climb and around 8 o’clock have a wonderful tuna salad on the top of the pass.

After some nice pasta at checkpoint 3 it goes on to the Col de Verde (1,289 m). Luckily it is quite clouded and the temperature stays quite low, on the descent there are a few raindrops that disapear rapidly again.

I have a small bite after a long nice descent and then just try to advance as much as possible to reduce the kilometers the next day. It starts to go up and down, not long climbs just annoying ones on very bad quality roads. I start to feel better and maybe could/should have ridden the last 87kms in the night but I sleep next to the road for 3h before waking up at 3 o’clock. No alarm needed, I feel quite awake an ready to finish this bikingman.

30/05/24 – Final Day

Unfortunately my ass didn’t recover at all this night, and I start the last hours of painfully slow cycling to the finish, it is still dark and I miss the view of quite of few magical villages along the crest of the mountain range I’m cycling on.

Luckily I meet again Jean Michel on the road, the last 3 days we crossed each others path for several times and we know each other from the Bikingman AURA 2022, the small talks and encouragements make it a bit easier to not focus on the pain, the bad quality roads don’t help at all in this regard.
Around 35km before the end there is a last brutal climb with gradients around 15% or sometimes more. On the steepest paths I walk a bit, it’s smart I guess because you are not really faster cycling than walking on these portions of the climb. I’m a bit disappointed that I don’t feel better at the end of this race, the last Bikingman my last day was a joy with full strength and no pain, this couldn’t be more different. But alas after 20km of pushing on the flat I finally arrive after 94h08 which is a time I didn’t expect at all, giving the little preparation I had before this event. I enjoyed a little cry before the finish, thanking my body that he has endured this folly in a relatively brilliant state (I can’t blame my skin for bad saddle choice)
Juhuuuuu 🙂

The next 2 days are a mix of siestas and large quantities of food. The fatigue that the body held back during the race is coming back with force.

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