Ultracycling: challenge Omar Di Felice on Strava

When it comes to cycling, especially in the case of specialties such as the stopwatch, we are all led to consider elements such as time, rigor, and precision. Let's try to think if to all of this we added the emotional component, if cycling meant going beyond our limits, not only the physical but atmospheric and geographical. All of this can be summed up in a single word: ultracycling.

This cycling speciality could be one of the extreme sports, but above all it represents a different form of cycling where one runs for oneself but above all for the experience and the landscape that the race course offers. What really characterizes this specialty, in fact, is the emotional impact of racing and running becomes almost an adventure.

Compared to the traditional form of cycling the distances are longer, the minimum duration of an ultracycling race is 12 hours but there can also be races of 24 and 48 hours. In ultracycling you compete with road bikes, mountain bikes and hand bikes on both roads and closed circuits and there are different categories:

  • Solitaire (it can be with or without a support car): the car, also known as the flagship, has the task of refreshing the athlete and assisting him but also that of dictating the timing of breaks;
  • Teams (with support car): are composed of 2 to 8 athletes depending on the mileage of the race. They are relay teams with a free race strategy or there are no minimum or maximum limits to the changes.
Since 2015 the first National Ultracycling Championship was born in Italy, formed by the union of two races already on the calendar, namely Race across Italy and D+ Ultracycling Dolomitica. At European level we find the Race across the Alps, the Race Around Slovenia, the Race Around Austria and the TorTour de Suisse. The most important ultracycling test is the RAAM - Race across America, a 5000 km test that crosses the state from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific Ocean.
Ultracycling as a lifestyle
Among the national champions of ultracycling the most adventurous and winning is definitely Omar Di Felice, a Roman cycling enthusiast since childhood. Starting from a small amateur team in the area, where he exhibited from the start, in 2005 he reached numerous prestigious placings in the main national and international big funds such as the Granfondo Internazionale Alpen Brevet in Switzerland, and starting his career. He has always had within him a passion for ultracycling and long distances.

Even when I raced in the conventional categories of cycling I was looking for the most kilometres, the most uphill routes, the route that would allow me to almost "get lost" in the meanders of my boundless passion.

What is the ideal type of training for those who are facing extreme challenges?

At the base there must be the ability to stay in the saddle for many hours, so it’s important to gradually lengthen your exits to understand, at least, if it is within your armoury to do the long distances. Obviously the rest is possible by everyone’s individual attitudes. From a more qualitative point of view, however, the specific workouts to train strength and other qualities, are roughly the same as those that take place in traditional cycling.
After the victory of Dolomitics24, the 24 hours on the road in a mountain environment in Italy, in the next few weeks will be put to the test "challenging" all members of the Technogym Cycling Club on Strava.

Technogym Cycling Club on Strava

Strava is the social network for sportsmen, specifically cyclists and runners. It is available in both desktop and mobile versions with an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone. With Strava you can monitor your athletic activity, processing your training in detail. The app lets you track your bike and race routes, track speed and duration, and share them with your contacts.

From the encounter between Strava and MyCycling, the Technogym Cycling Club was created, the first group on Strava dedicated to cycling. MyCycling owners will be able to share their training sessions, which will show the characteristic reference kpi (power, as well as km and duration) and the entire Technogym look and feel.

How to take part in Omar Di Felice's challenges on Strava?

  • You must have a Strava account;
  • Join the Technogym Cycling Club (the official group can be recognised thanks to the orange check in the profile previews), searching in the "Search Club" area of the app;
  • Enter the "events" area of the group;
  • Choose the challenge and join it;
  • Make sure to post comments about your business in the comments area and share your experiences with other users.

A stroll through Italy: the "Italy Unlimited 3500 km" challenge begins

All is ready for the challenge on Strava, Italy is the location chosen for the first challenge entitled "Italy Unlimited". A minimum number of kilometres will be given to overcome the various stages of the digital challenge. In this adventure Omar has crossed the beautiful country, passing through all the regions of Italy and the symbolic places of culture, art and history and cycling without interruptions for 3500 km in 9 days non-stop and with over 50,000 metres of altitude difference.

I wanted something to celebrate Italy, my country, in the year of the hundredth lap of Italy. For this reason I said to myself: "why not try on the same distance as the tour but in no-stop mode?

The challenge began in Rome, his hometown, descending to southern Italy until Reggio Calabria, where Omar Di Felice embarked for Sicily and then Sardinia continuing his adventure on the islands. Returning to the peninsula he crossed northern Italy until returning to Rome, the arrival point of his adventure.
The route has been studied with one main mission: to arrive in each region, making at least one passage in each of them. Obviously it was necessary to sacrifice some places in order not to risk lengthening the challenge too much compared to the total 3380 km. The most difficult point was on Etna, a third of the way up. Omar's solution was on pure concentration on the task ahead, thus finding the strength within himself to go further. He proposed this in particular to Strava users because a challenge that contemplates the achievement of a given altitude difference is a bit of a symbol of his activity that always includes many mountains to climb.

Advice for the challenge: always head over shoulders and prepare gradually. The extreme must be faced with the right enthusiasm but also with the right conscience.

Cycling history through the most important peaks

The second challenge has been chosen, and this time the protagonists will be the legendary peaks. Omar's idea for this great challenge was to look for something that would combine his passion for adventure with his love of the great peaks where the history of cycling has been written. So the idea was born to cross them all, in non-stop mode, starting from the base of the Col du Tourmalet and, passing through the Pyrenees, Mont Ventoux and the Swiss and French Alps, arriving at the top of the Passo dello Stelvio.

The route has therefore joined some of the most important peaks in the history of cycling where epic pages have been written during Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta of Spain. The starting point and the arrival point are two of the symbolic climbs: the Col du Tourmalet and the Passo dello Stelvio, a very popular place in Omar when it comes to cycling and the mountains.

The most difficult moment came after 1000 km, on the Col du Lautaret. Unable to remain seated on the saddle, it was necessary to have First Aid. The doctors prevented Omar from pedalling because of an abscess and infection that affected any chance of remaining on the saddle. At that point the idea was born that made his adventure really extreme: pedalling all the last climbs completely standing on the pedals.

Without a doubt, the route offers itself to many who want to discover the beauties maybe in stages to fully enjoy every step climbed. For those who want to try a long no-stop, however, I can only wish "good luck".

Is there a particular anecdote that you would like to tell us about this enterprise and your most beautiful memory?
After being in first aid and with morale on the ground, I and the team took a few hours to reflect on Megeve, in the shadow of Mont Blanc. When everyone was ready to go home and stop the adventure I launched my idea: "I will pedal the remaining 12 climbs up the pedals. Those who don't hear it can safely return home, but this is my adventure and I'm determined to complete it. Some of them looked on in amazement but, in the end, no one pulled back and it was a unique emotion for each of us. It was the greatest suffering of my life but it gave me the greatest emotions.
The arrival at the top of the Stelvio with all my team to incite me and a lot of people from Bormio to wait for me, was something unique. Emotion came after believing that it would be impossible, pedalling standing on the pedals and with a constant fever to accompany my gear.

 Transiberica Bike Race, the new Omar Di Felice’s challenge

For his third challenge on Strava, Omar di Felice proposes the Transiberica Bike race, where he has recently finished second. It has not been just a race, but the story of a fantastic experience that took 11 days, 10 hours and 45 minutes of cycling through Spain, France, Andorra and Portugal. There were many unforeseen events on the road: from the rain and the cold of the Pyrenees to the heat of southern Spain, Omar could only count on his own strengths.

The most difficult moment was when a strong allergic attack forced him to stop for a long time during the course and to undergo medical intervention. It was hard to decide whether to restart because there were still 1800 km to go, but despite this unforeseen event, he ended the race in the best possible way.

Back to Arctic: from the Lofoten Islands to the Arctic

A challenge with winter colours, the one chosen by Omar Di Felice is called Back to Arctic. After an initial very difficult adventure at the North Cape, where he was completely unprepared technically and mentally, Omar decides to face the Arctic again for an adventure. This time the challenge is even longer and more difficult, starting from the Lofoten Islands and demands cycling over 1000 km to the northernmost point in the heart of the Arctic winter. The route includes a long road, one of the most spectacular in Europe, that along the fjords leaves the Lofoten Islands and goes northwards. Travelling along it in winter has a unique charm, with the colours of the Northern Lights colouring the skies.
During this enterprise Omar had a car as support that took care of aspects related to food and intervening in moments when the cold (with peaks down to -32C) risked leading to freezing fingers on one hand: Omar recalls that during the last km the temperature continued to fall below -30 degrees and his fingers risked freezing. The intervention of the flagship in tow allowed him to stop for a short time before leaving for the final stretch.

Each adventure offers unique memories and emotions. Of course, if I have to choose one, for this adventure, the last kilometre before the barrier will remain, when I realised that, despite the great difficulties, I had managed to reach the end.

What would you recommend to those who would like to recreate your challenge (even partially)?
Cycling in the Arctic requires a riding technique but, above all, a resilient attitude and someone who is used to the cold: my mission to pedal like a normal cyclist (with standard clothing, without the clothing that mountaineers usually use for this type of expedition) puts a strain on the body. Getting to the North Cape is a unique experience, doing it in winter is for the few, you must always remember that the risks are many and should never be faced with such an expedition without a degree of knowledge and adequate preparation.

From Paris to Rome: a nonstop adventure

The last challenge of Omar Di Felice on Strava is about an adventure that began like something to celebrate his city of birth, Rome, and the nation of his main sponsor, Mavic. Hence the idea of uniting Paris and Rome in a very long nonstop ride, obviously during winter.
The route was a mix between the most direct journey and some of Omar’s dearest landmarks. He wanted to cross the Alps in winter, from there to climb to Lautaret and Montgenèvre and then to pass in a symbolic place like the Basilica of Superga.

The climb to the Colle di Superga from its hardest side, in the middle of the night, was exciting given the many fans who came to ride a few kilometres with me, boosting my spirit all the way to the summit.

What was the most difficult moment and how did you deal with it?
The first 24 hours, under icy rain, were devastating: after having finished all the spare dry clothes and being completely hypothermic, I asked myself several times if I would have been able to complete the adventure. It was only thanks to the willpower and moral support of my team that I managed to get to Rome 72 hours after the start (1600 km total).

Joining by bike two cities such as Paris and Rome is certainly a great challenge that, if undertaken with due times and more comfortable stages, can represent a journey through some of the most beautiful places and regions of both France and our country.

How does MYCYCLING help with the preparation?
MYCYCLING and, more generally, indoor bike training, helps when performing specific exercises or when the weather conditions do not allow you to go onto the road. On the other hand, the repetitiveness of the movements confronts the individual's ability to face fatigue by concentrating on it. This is perhaps the most valuable training aspect for those who, like me, find themselves facing long challenges only with themselves.

Un post condiviso da Technogym (@technogym) in data:

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