Ulrich Bartholmoes’ Gravel Racing Nightmare

Ulrich Bartholmoes is no stranger to tough races. From The Transcontinental to Tour Divide, he has been through plenty of harsh conditions and is no stranger to “type 2” fun. But at Race Around Rwanda, Ulrich met his match with factors the ultra-distance racer doesn’t usually expect… Watch the film and read on to find out more from Ulrich himself about his experiences from the race. 

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Why did want to go and do the Race around Rwanda?

“Rwanda is a pretty special place for me, because it doesn’t come to mind necessarily as a cycling destination for the normal European. So this was really appealing and interesting to me and I use bikepacking races as a good reason for traveling and experiencing new cultures and new countries. It was my first time in East Africa, so I was really curious to see the landscape, and what the culture is. The other thing, is that the race around Rwanda is done with a different purpose. You don’t pay an entry fee, but you donate cycling stuff for local riders, so it had a bit more of a purpose to support local communities.”

What was the lowest point of the race for you?

“The lowest point was two or three days after arriving when I realised I was really sick and I was stuck in bed with 40° fever. I hadn’t had a high fever like that for 15 years or something, so this was a real low, to end up being sick like that before a race I had travelled like 14 hours to get to. It was terrible. This was low.”

Lining up at the start line at 4am, that’s normal for me, but in this case, it was really special because I didn't expect to make it there.

What was the highlight of the race?

“The highlight was that after being sick, I recovered to let’s say 80%. At least on the day before the race. I didn’t have a fever anymore. The cough got a bit better, so I decided to start. Lining up at the start line at 4am, that’s normal for me, but in this case, it was really special because I didn’t expect to make it there. This was definitely one of the highlights and then racing the full first day in this unknown country that was totally different. The landscape and the actual racing became more of a highlight than it normally is.”

What does the future hold for you?

“The future holds definitely more off-road racing, I’m currently in the process of planning next year and it will be again a wild mix of gravel, mountain biking, and probably some road, but I will stick to what I started this year, much more to off-road.”