Parallels; Your Rides

Your rides have been submitted and the Parallels map is complete for 2020. Despite most events around the world being cancelled this summer and closed borders and limited resupply options, 202 of you were able to get out for a long ride. Here, we take a deeper dive into the map to see what you got up to over the summer solstice weekend.

Reading time:
Ulrich riding down a quiet road at sunset

 

When we first came up with the idea for parallels, we wanted to create an opportunity for riders to safely experience 24 hours of ultra-racing, without having to wake up and do it all over again the next day. We wanted to create a challenge that would push both experienced long-distance self-supported riders going for the longest line possible and newer riders looking for an achievable challenge.

We had no idea that 2020 would see a pandemic sweep across the globe and put an end to organized events and international travel for several months. Parallels quickly became an opportunity to encourage riders who have been cooped up indoors to get out for the longest ride local restrictions allowed and celebrate being outdoors on bikes.

This year wasn’t necessarily about going long, but some riders achieved incredible distances and no doubt gained a lot of insight into how to create an even longer ride next year.

The Crow

Riding from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to the Brandenburg gate in Berlin in just over 22 hours gave Job Hendrickx the longest straight line on the Parallels map. His impressive ride covered nearly 670km in total, with over 2,000m of elevation between 5.30 am on June 20th and 3.30 am on June 21st. It looks like Job faced some pretty challenging conditions and the stats from his ride are incredible, take a look here.

Job in front of the Brandenburg gate at the end of his Parallels ride

The Longest Ride

Björn Lenhard rode laps along the same short stretch of road, resulting in a low ‘as the crow flies’ distance while racking up a staggering 809.6km. He tells us that a summer of cancelled events meant he was “really looking for something like this” but that “sitting on a TT bike for 23 hours is not so easy”! His Parallel line might only be 46.6km, but Björn’s ride is definitely one of the most impressive this year.

 

Bjorn riding a Canyon Speedmax Time Trial bike during his parallels ride

Extra Credit

Ulrich Bartholmoes was planning a seriously long ride across Germany, but had to change his plans at the last minute (a theme common across many Parallels rides!). Facing trickier terrain, he missed his distance target, but decided to carry on riding until he reached Basel – and extending his already epic ride to almost 30 hours non-stop! His ‘extended’ ride was just shy of 770km, with almost 6,000m of climbing.

Ulrich's bike leans against a wall beside a lake in the afternoon sun

PARALLEL APPROACHES

While all of the rides submitted for Parallels followed the same rules and format, there were plenty of different approaches on display and it has been fascinating looking through all of the rides and seeing your creativity. It’s easy to get caught up in the longest rides, which are certainly impressive, but the Parallel lines tell plenty of other incredible stories. Stories like Claudia Kohl’s first ever 100km ride and commitment to attempt 200km next year. Here are some of the approaches we’ve particularly enjoyed uncovering:

The Strategists

Of course, distance ridden is only part of the Parallels story. The other part of the story is the strategy behind creating the route and organizing the logistics for such an epic self-supported undertaking. In the run-up to the event, we saw some really creative approaches and received a lot of questions about how to interpret the rules. Raphael Albrecht, a veteran of the Silk Road Mountain Race and Atlas Mountain Race wrote a great blog post exploring how to approach the Parallels challenge and the key considerations for riders.

Rapha cycling alongside a cornfield on the aerobars with bikepacking luggage on his bike

Hard Riders

We all know at least one of these riders. They don’t like to make life easy for themselves and ‘winning’ isn’t something they’re concerned about. They want adventure and embrace the challenge. Where most riders look for flat roads, they look for mountains, for views and for the ‘epic’.

Parallels brought out plenty of adventurers, but perhaps the most impressive was Chris Thomas, who tackled the Route de Grande Alps and completed an Everesting within his Parallels ride! Chris is no stranger to adventurous rides, having finished TCRNo7 in fifth place and ridden TCRNo6 using paper maps!

Chris Thomas stands behind his bike at the TCR

Locked Down Riders

Despite easing COVID-19 restrictions in many countries, plenty of riders had to compete with closed borders and strict rules about how far they could ride and for how long. Embracing the spirit of Parallels, while obeying local restrictions meant thinking creatively and accepting that this year might be more of a ‘trial run’ than a dream ride.

One of our favourite creative rides was James Robertson’s 7.8km ride in locked down Scotland – with added bonus laps! Daniel Jamang’s 120km ride from Guwahati to Jogighopa was another impressive ride, with over 300km ridden in total, despite strict lockdown conditions.

Tourists

Some riders were able to find open borders and have the freedom to see more of the world. Tourists like Scotti Lechuga, who covered three states from Arkansas to Illinois and Max Riese who covered four countries as he rode diagonally across the Alps. While careful route planning can help tourists cross more borders over a shorter distance, make no mistake these riders were travelling fast and light to cover as much ground as possible within the 24-hour time limit. With border crossings likely to be easier in 2021, we expect to see plenty more tourists joining the club next year.

Scotti holds up her bike computer showing her ride totals

Parallel Parallels

With the whole world to explore, you’d expect to see very little by way of overlapping routes, but a lot of riders seemed to share great ideas and ride very similar routes. Rimas and Jruis rode almost identical routes from Estonia to Lithuania – perhaps they were having their own race within Parallels? Maren and Markus were another pairing, riding the same route across Germany, separated only by time. A shared experience, despite riding solo.

The Artists

While Parallels was primarily a distance challenge, we also hoped that it would bring out your artistic side. A few of your rose to the challenge, but our favourite has to be Phil Stanley’s tribute to the NHS. His 292-kilometre ride resulted in 28 individual Parallels submissions that when added together become much more than the sum of their parts. We’d love to see even more artists joining the club next year!

Hopefully you’ve found this years’ rides as inspiring as we have and are already thinking about how you might approach Parallels in 2021. It’s unlikely that future editions will see such restrictive conditions around the world, so we’re expecting to see even more creativity next year!

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