x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 16 December 2017

Dubai athlete Marcus Smith attempts ultra-cycling record across four continents

The gym owner has his sights set on conquering all four legs of the BikingMan cycling series in 2018

Marcus Smith is aiming to become the first cyclist to successfully compete in four stages of the BikingMan cycling series.
Marcus Smith is aiming to become the first cyclist to successfully compete in four stages of the BikingMan cycling series.

Breaking a record is top of mind for Dubai-based athlete Marcus Smith. He plans to do that by becoming the first cyclist to successfully complete all four races of BikingMan, an ultra-cycling endurance event held across four continents.

Launched in 2015, the race brings together cyclists who love adventure and exploring cultures in less-than travelled places. The first leg kicks off in Muscat in February. The race then moves on to the Mediterranean island of Corsica in April, followed by Peru in July and the last one will be staged somewhere in Asia.

Each of the four stages average about 1,000 kilometres, so there’s a lot of training and preparation time that goes into BikingMan. But that's something the owner of InnerFight gym in Dubai is already well in to. Smith shares his training regime and tells us why he decided to participate in this race.

What made you sign up for BikingMan?

This is something totally new to me. The thought of doing four races on four continents in one year is just huge, especially with the distances and also the vertical climbing metres. This is a real challenge to me.

Preparation is key. How much mileage do you clock in the build-up?

I have training blocks. During the heavy weeks, I will ride anywhere up to 800km a week, which is about 20 hours on the bike, so almost the equivalent to one full day of the week spent cycling.

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The first of the four races will be in Oman. Will you be travelling to the country to practise?

As Oman is so close I am planning to go down in January and check out the course and see what I am in for. I’ll train on the course a bit, too.

How do you simulate some of the courses and terrain you'll encounter along the route?

We actually have some great places to train in the UAE. Aside from the world-class facility in Al Qudra, which is flat, there is Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, which I climbed six times back to back during the summer this year for training. There is also Jebel Jais in RAK, which I use for three-to-four-day training camps and then the mountains around the Kalba and Hatta areas are awesome. All of these terrains allow me to practise riding up mountains, and they are just so beautiful and quiet. I encourage everyone to visit at some stage.

What are you most looking forward to?

Ultra-racing and endurance sport is never the same, and that’s why it’s exciting. You learn so much about the human body and mind, lessons that I can share with people I meet in the hopes of making their lives better. On top of that, the scenery you get to take in on a bike and in the places where these races are held is breathtaking.

What are you most nervous about?

I don’t really get nervous. I guess the only thing that worries me is the thought of my mum and my wife worrying about me. They are incredibly supportive, so to think I am putting them through any stress when I do my challenges makes me a bit nervous. My dad has done a lot of things like this and is a huge inspiration to me, so I know he is cool with everything.

Marcus Smith is aiming to become the first cyclist to successfully compete in four stages of the BikingMan cycling series.
Marcus Smith is aiming to become the first cyclist to successfully compete in four stages of the BikingMan cycling series.

You're aiming to break a record, how do you ensure this happens?

Train correctly both physically and mentally, and control all the variables that are under my control. I don’t worry about things I cannot control and just keep turning the pedals.

This is predominantly a cycle race. What other exercise do you to practise to keep fit?

I do an hour of movement flow each morning, and for three days a week I work out at my gym in Dubai. That’s all I can do on top of spending 20 hours a week on a bike!

Any other races you're competing in before?

I have cycled a lot in the French and Italian mountains, and participated in some big sportive races, but these are only single-stage 200km races. Although challenging, they are very different from these ultra-events. I’ll be doing the Tough Mudder in December, too.

This is a self-supported race. So what are the essentials you pack in your bag for the duration of the race?

I keep spares for my bike just in case I have technical issues; a bit of food that I up on along the way; Volvic water to stay hydrated and have the needed minerals for athletes; a jacket for when it gets cold; and a very small sleeping bag just in case I need to sleep by the side of the road.

There are 99 other spots available for Oman. Why would you recommend interested cycling enthusiasts do this?

Because it will be an insane experience that will have a huge positive aspect on so many areas of your life. Explaining the things that ultra-cycling teaches you could be a two-day workshop. It is just mind-blowing.

To find out more about the Oman leg visit http://bikingman.com/en/bikingman-oman/