Reflections on 2023: Sònia Colomo
As we creep towards the final months of 2023, we asked three riders from three different disciplines to open up about their year on the bike. From ultra-distance racing, months-long tours and single-day gravel racing, Apidura is proud to support the leading riders who represent every angle of our sport. After finding success at races like Badlands, PedalMa and Across Andes, Sònia Colomo knew she wanted to live her life fully by bike and has been touring through the American continent, Spain and Morocco since the start of 2022. Read on to find out what it takes to live full-time on the bike as well as Sonia’s highs and lows from 2023.
In January 2022, Sònia Colomo and her partner Eloi Miquel quit their jobs, sold their possessions and left behind their comfortable life in Catalonia to embark on a year-long bikepacking trip through South America, taking in some of the continent’s most remote areas. After a brief visit back home in March this year, Sonia and Eloi set off again to conquer the highest peaks in Andalusia, swiftly followed by a month-long tour in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Still not quite done with the adventure just yet, in July they embarked on their “Chasing Crowns” tour, linking the three best-know trails in the USA – The Great Divide, Colorado Trail and the Arizona Trail – from north to south, collectively known as “The Triple Crown”.
My goal of the year when it comes to riding is always the same: have fun and be happy on two wheels. That’s the reason behind leaving all I had back in Spain: to be able to ride and spend more time outdoors.
“2023 came with a lot of great moments and it’s hard to choose a favourite one. But one that I will remember forever is when I was pushing my bike in the snow to get to the Veleta summit in southern Spain. There’s a whole story for me behind this peak, and although it’s not part of the race anymore, it was on the first edition of Badlands and it was also my first ultra-cycling race ever. I needed to go back there and make it to the top.”
Cycle touring on this level requires a certain amount of grit and determination and despite the romantic notions that cycle touring may conjure, the hard days become a part of your everyday life. When a bicycle is your only means of transport, you have to find a way forward even when you don’t want to. Sonia recalls a particularly tough time in the Grand Canyon:
“My lowest moment was when I got injured doing the traverse through the Grand Canyon with my bicycle and all my bikepacking setup on my back. This was probably one of the worst moments of my entire trip but there was no way back, I was just at the bottom of the corridor and I had to get myself and all the gear out of there somehow. There was a lot of crying on this one.”
Earlier this year Sonia told us about how important preparation is, both physically and mentally, before embarking on any trip that will take you to far away places and out of your comfort zone. While it might become second nature the longer you do it, there’ll always be learning opportunities along the way.
“I think that the more I ride the more I learn, and there’s always ways to improve all these aspects so I’ll just keep learning and riding to be strong enough to do the adventures I want.
“I trained a lot before deciding to start this life on two wheels and I don’t really do any specific training right now anymore. However, I do try to be as prepared as I can for the adventures I want to start, not only physically but also mentally and in terms of being good at planning.”
But how does someone who has been to so amazing many places choose a favourite? Well, they can’t!
“I can’t really choose just one place. The high passes of the Colorado Trail could be a good choice but also the desert landscapes of Utah and the steppe in southern Argentina blew my mind.”
As you’re reading this, Sonia and Eloi have made it to the Mexican border after 3 months of some of the best trail riding the USA has to offer. Where will they go next? As is typical for bicycle tourers on this scale, they don’t really know yet. But what’s for certain is that this definitely isn’t the end of their adventures on two wheels.