21st July 2022
Daily Dose of Angus's European Divide Trail Challenge
STOP PRESS: HE DID IT! - 7600Km | 32 Days | 6Hrs | 28mins. Fastest Known Time for the European Divide Trail.
We’ve been dot watching Angus since he started his 7600km European Divide Trail ITT challenge on his Mason InSearchOf
Starting in Kirkenes in northern Norway to Cabo San Vincente in Portugal, crossing 8 countries in the process. Angus has been keeping us up-to-date on his epic ride so far…
Day 1: On Friday 15th July, Angus rode for 12 hours and smashed out an impressive 240 km on quiet roads before reaching a Finnish bog, with a lot of bike pushing and wet feet.
Day 2: On Saturday he made it into Muonio within the Swedish borders, the rain was relentless until the end of the day. Riding smooth gravel tracks, Angus covered 315km before camping up for the night by a lake where he was greeted by over-friendly mosquitos.
Day 3: Suffering from sore hands, sore behind, and sore feet, and his phone not charging properly humour wasn’t lost “If I suddenly go silent, that’s why I haven’t been eaten by a bear”. Luckily we heard from him later that day, once he rode to Jomokk for some food, the first resupply in 380km.
Day 4: He rode 305km or so today, 90% off-road. It was raining and at the sight of a bus stop he stopped riding half an hour earlier than planned “better to stop early and find some shelter, and then I can crack on a little bit earlier tomorrow.”
Day 5: You can plan and plan but bike-packing adventures will also have elements of unpredictability and extra challenges. Today, Angus hit a stick and snapped a nipple, luckily he had a spare and fixed it before pushing on. Dom shared some helpful advice “Avoid sticks from now on.” : ) He also managed to get his tyre back on tubeless after using just a hand pump.
I've done about 10km on it now and it hasn't broken yet, so that’s good. There’s a town about 50km away from here, where I might get a room for the night as I will probably get there around 9pm. It’s been a pretty tough day actually.
Day 6: At 12.55pm “All going well today so far, slept good and already 160km into the day” shared right before he had a pedal issue, and headed back 5km in the wrong direction to the nearest town to get it fixed. At 13.40pm, all fixed…
Day 7: On Thursday it was raining most of the day apart from a small break in the morning, topped off with some nasty sandy terrain, so progress was slow. The day ended with a night in a pod on a campsite to get a break from the rain and much deserved as a quarter of the route has been completed, way to go, Angus!
Day 8: There’s no slowing him down, as Angus shared an update while riding…“Climbed up to the highest point in the Scandanavian section, a whopping 750m. Just ticking along now, legs feel ok, a couple of little niggles starting to appear but other than that, all good.”
Day 9: On Saturday morning Angus found it pretty slow going, and stopped off at Charlottenberg for some food. We weren’t expecting this update, a photo of a giant moose across the trail in front of him, how incredible!
Day 10: After a sleep and refuelling at the buffet on the ferry, he made it to Denmark. He rode bike paths for an hour, getting ready for the next section which he was expecting to be challenging. His legs felt good coming off the boat and headed north with a tailwind. He’s averaged just under 300km a day so far, such impressive mileage.
Day 11: It's Monday 25th July and all was quiet from Angus today, so it was a dot watching day (map image from Tuesday 26th July). Live event tracking here.
Day 12: A bit of a slog through the Dunes in Denmark, but Angus has made it to Germany! “Germany is very exciting, I’ve done about 200km so far today, so I was going to plod on for another 5 hours, and then find somewhere to sleep, hopefully, a bus shelter as it’s raining on and off.”
Day 13: “Whilst pretty Hamburg came out short and after a wild goose chase I’m still without a new rear tyre. It’s still got a fair amount of time left on it so fingers crossed I can find an XC tyre I’m cologne or Hannover.”
Day 14: An incredible ride so far as Angus reaches the halfway point! Way to go! Today he lost his phone, realising 10km down the road that he may have left it inside a public toilet, unfortunately, it wasn’t there as he backtracked. With a new phone, and legs feeling good, he then took a fall, he got back on with his sights set on a town stop 100km away to head to a bike shop to sort a mechanical.
Well, they say that bad things happen in threes. These last couple of days have been a challenge for sure.
Firstly my hotel room didn't let me in as I was late to check in, next up I lost my phone, and finally, the bars snapped!
Day 16: After 210km of riding, it was time to take a rest from all the bushwacking (ouch) with a double pizza order!
Went through some amazing places but on the trail today, you’d just spend 20 minutes pushing through brambles.
Day 17: Sunday 31st July, and another border crossed, Bienvenue to France! With the next stage rumoured to be the most technical of them all, it was fuel time, with an enormous pizza!
Day 19: It’s been a tough day, with slow progress for Angus along the Vosges, a range of low mountains in Eastern France. With only a rear brake, he made it to a bike shop but they didn’t have any brake solution, the cycling community is one of a kind, and from a chat with the helpful bike shop owner and a couple of phone calls later, it’s onwards to another bike shop.
Day 21: As we dot-watched today, Angus was full steam ahead ticking off some impressive mileage, even the heat didn’t slow him down. Nice one Angus!
Day 22: “I’ve been pushing my bike for the last couple of hours, just up and down, 3 or 4 km climbs. Can’t really ride it.” Sounded like a tough day, but there was mention of passing the Haribo factory, which in a previous year of passing, he picked up 2KG of Haribo!
Day 23: Saturday 6th August - A lot of bushwacking, and hike a bike, with some virtually impassible terrain, but he made it to Perpignan, with excitement in his voice, as he starts to head towards Spain!
Day 24: It was warm and humid at around 36 degrees in the morning, with the sound of thunderstorms approaching, followed by an afternoon of heavy rain and thunder. Angus said that the trails were better than they were but there was plenty of elevation, 2500m in the first 100km of the day!! It looked like fuel time was quite the picnic, and what a way to celebrate three-quarters of the journey done than with a night in a hotel to dry out. Way to go Angus.
Nearly all off-road, maybe 20km on the road, managed to cover about 180km, because there was so much climbing, and a lot of pushing, around 4,500m of elevation.
Progress is slow and steady, it’s really warm now, 37/38 degrees, so I am just sweating buckets. I am still on track though, it’s just slow progress. I am carrying about 6L of water, I may end up going nocturnal if it gets any worse.
Day 27: With another lunch, to help keep storming through those km, Angus was pleased to share that he’d soon be enjoying some downhill time, well deserved too!
Day 28: Another milestone to be ticked off, less than 1000kms to go, and continuing to make good time, riding 260km.
Today was much hillier, another 4,000m, went up to 18/19% or so. Going to get some proper food in me tonight, the first time in a while actually. All looking on track in theory, for finishing on Tuesday or so.
Day 30: It may have been a day of rain, thunder, and hail but nothing seems to be able to slow him down, Angus hit yet another milestone, 90% of the route complete! And another huge stock up at the supermarket, refuelling from the day and ready for not being able to find any food tomorrow, as it will be Sunday.
Day 31: And it’s the homestretch as he’s made it to Portugal! Nearly there, Angus!
Day 32: A day of dot watching the final miles, and repeatedly checking our phones waiting for the next update, whilst we get to ready to celebrate this superhuman and his crossing the finish line.
Day 33: Update at 7.37 am on Tuesday 16th August “Just kept on plugging away through the night, really slow progress, lots of bushwacking, like carry your bike up steep banks through trees, it was like the hardest hike a bike I’ve ever done, like three points of contact to not fall over and fly backward. I ended up having an hour's sleep in the end. Suns up now, feeling fairly awake. 60km today, not flat by any means, I suppose it will take, 4 or 5 hours or so.
AND HE’S DONE IT, the European Divide Trail in the fastest known time.
7600Km, 32 days, 6hrs, 28mins.
We are totally in awe! Once Angus has had the time to digest this absolutely incredible achievement, we’ll be back with some post-ride thoughts.