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What is an Ultra? How far is far enough? What's good for a beginner Ultra?

Recently there have been a few articles about what the best events for beginners to ultra distance and bikepacking are. Here we discuss what ultra is and how it is defined by you.


Bikepacking in the desert - Photo by Edoardo Frezet

Ultra-cycling is what you want it to be. Whether you go for distance or for time. If it is longer than you normally do then it's an ultra to you.


What is Ultra?


What is Ultra? The word Ultra comes from the Latin Beyond. Beyond - Surpass or to enter the Unknown.


These 2 words perfectly sum up what ultra is. It is to surpass what you would normally do and to enter the unknown.


An Ultramarathon has a defined definition of anything further than 26 miles and 385 yards. In cycling, we don't have a defined distance for what an ultra is. Meaning it can be anything you want it to be. If you surpass what you have done before then you can guarantee it's an ultra. Some may not define it as an ultra but it's an ultra to you. And that is what matters.


Entering the unknown is more difficult to pin down and define. This is unique to each person individually. We at All Pace Races think of it in terms of learning experiences. If you enter a race and go harder than ever before, where every fiber in your body aches and wants to give up, but you carry on. You learn you can push beyond your pain previous pain barrier. Or, if you go out cycling and get 2 punctures, a broken spoke, a snapped gear cable, and a rubbing brake. But you stay calm, get out the tools, and work out how to fix your problems, with no prior knowledge of brakes and spokes. Then you have entered a world of the unknown and learnt from it. The unknown is more common than you think. It happens every day. Making every day an Ultra in its own little way.


When deciding on a company name, many suggestions and ideas were thrown around. In the end, All Pace Races stuck. Not because it described it as a race but because it summed up the belief of the company. All Paces can race.


What's good for a beginner Ultra?


The simple answer is ANYTHING IS GOOD. If you have surpassed your expectations and pushed into the unknown then you have done it!!! But if you want some advice on what to look for and how to challenge yourself as a beginner. Then here are a few tips.


Have an Easy Exit - Select an event where it is easy to stop if you need to. If you are going beyond what you have done before then there is always a chance you may fail. Failing isn't a bad thing, it just can leave you a little stranded. So select an event where getting back to the start, or skipping to finish is easy. This may mean there is a broom wagon readily available, or lots of public transport, or you have a friend willing to follow you around in their car.


Do it Cheap to Start - It can be expensive to invest in all the gear, for event entry and traveling to the event. Do it cheaply to start with. You don't need to fly to another country. There will be events near you. You don't need all the expensive bags. Borrow them friends or find an event you don't need them. You may not like it. So don't spend the money.


Start Small - How far is far enough? As discussed above, it doesn't have to be super long. If cycling 100miles is something you have done many times, then try for 300miles. If 300miles is easy aim for 500. What isn't advisable is going from 50 to 1000 miles. It's a whole different ball game and needs a lot of thought and preparation put into it. Gradually increase is the key.




You Are Great


Remember you are great. Do the distance for you and not for someone else. Remember you don't always have to go longer than before. If you find a distance that is fun for you stick to it. You can enter the unknown in many ways and you will learn something new with each adventure.




If this has inspired you to give going long a go, but want to do it safely, then check out our races at this link. All Pace Races Events

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