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Ride into the uncertain – Unknown Race Lyon


Ride into the uncertain – Unknown Race Lyon

Road Cycling Collection by Jesko



67:06 h

698 mi

49,500 ft

There are now many bikepacking races all over the world. For some, you follow a set route, whilst others let you plan your own path between predefined checkpoints. The Unknown Race takes this concept a step further. The only thing known in advance is that the race starts and ends in Lyon. You have to visit several checkpoints along the way and the total distance is around 1,000 kilometres (621 mi). The catch? Nobody except the organisers knows where the checkpoints are. You only get the coordinates of the first one an hour before the start. Once at the checkpoint, you’re given the coordinates for the next checkpoint and so on. As with all self-supported races, participants are on their own and aren't allowed to accept any outside help. You can only use what’s equally available to everyone.

This brings a whole new component to the game because you have absolutely no idea what you’re getting yourself into. The possible radius around Lyon includes the Jura, the Alps, but also the Massif Central and even the Mediterranean coast. Are you going to snow-covered peaks or a sunny beach? What do you pack? How much risk will there be? What tyres are best? It's almost impossible to prepare a strategy for sleep and food because you don’t know where you’ll be and what the supply situation will be like. The only thing that is certain is that it'll be a great adventure. And that's exactly what convinced me to want to take part in the first edition of this race.

I decided on my Specialized Roubaix bike which is comfortable, with 32 millimetre wide tyres. I was almost certain that the checkpoints would be in places with no paved road. Nevertheless, most of the race would be on asphalt. Although I experienced serious mechanical problems on the way and had to push and even carry my bike at times, in the end, I was more than satisfied with the outcome of the race. Ups and downs are always part of a race like this. It's not just about covering long distances under your own steam. If you want to be successful, you have to improvise, be prepared for the unknown, and also be able to deal with setbacks. I’ve written down the story of my journey into the unknown in this Collection.

You can find out more about The Unknown Race at unknownrace.cc.

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The Unknown Race Lyon

683 mi

51,650 ft

51,650 ft

Last updated: July 21, 2023

Tours & Highlights

  • Day 1: lLyon to Aix-les-Bains – Unknown Race

    164 mi
    10.9 mph
    11,100 ft
    10,850 ft

    At six o'clock in the morning, my cell phone lights up and tells me the coordinates of the first checkpoint. The junction of two dirt roads on the Plateau des Glières, a remote ridge in the Savoyard Alps just under 160 kilometers from Lyon. My hotel is very close to the start line, so I have enough time

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    by Jesko

  • 22:07
    230 mi
    10.4 mph
    14,200 ft
    12,350 ft

    Ich hatte ursprünglich geplant, weit in die erste Nacht hinein zu fahren. Stattdessen versuche ich nun, das Beste aus der Zwangspause zu machen. Nach neun Stunden Schlaf verbringe ich beinahe zwei Stunden am Frühstücksbuffet und schaue wehmütig auf der GPS-Tracker-Seite den anderen Fahrern zu, wie sie

    by Jesko

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  • 18:34
    178 mi
    9.6 mph
    12,700 ft
    14,150 ft

    It is cold. The wind whistles through the wooden planks of the small hut. After ten minutes of sleep, I wake up shivering and squinting at the sun just breaking over the peaks of the Alps. My tiredness is gone. I have to go. I actually thought I was already up on the Massif Central, but the road continues

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    by Jesko

  • 11:26
    127 mi
    11.1 mph
    11,525 ft
    12,200 ft

    When the alarm clock rings after three hours, I don't really feel recovered. But a quick glance at the tracker is enough to wake you up. I've overtaken a few riders since Aix-les-Bains without realizing it and I'm back in the race quite well now. I keep going as fast as I can. The first thirty kilometers

    translated byView Original

    by Jesko

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    698 mi
  • Duration
    67:06 h
  • Elevation
    49,500 ft

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