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Lachlan Morton just raced 719km in 43.5 hours across mountains and deserts

The Education-First rider just won the Badlands Ultracycling race

Joe Robinson
9 Sep 2020

While many of the professional peloton continues to race in a 'social bubble' at the Tour de France, Education First's Lachlan Morton just raced 719km across the gravel of south Spain in just 43.5 hours.

The poster boy of Education-First's 'Alternative Calendar', Morton took on the Transiberica Ultracycling 'Badlands' race starting in the Andalusian city of Granada, winning in record time. 

In the simple 'first one to the finish wins' race, Morton managed to navigate 719km of barren southern Spanish terrain, through deserts and mountainous terrain, 85 per cent of it off-road, in less than two days, stopping for only 19 minutes in the process.

Morton was one of 121 riders taking part, split into solo and duo categories, who left Granada heading towards the Sierra Nevada mountains. Crossing a trio of peaks, the Col of La Argumosa, Collado Alguacil, and Collado Bermeja, the race then traversed the Granada desert.

After an ascent of the 2,168m high Calar Alto Observatory, Morton then rode through the Tabernas Desert and then the Sierra de Alhamilla mountain range. Then things got harder: Morton then had to scale 4,000m of ascent in just 100km as he reached the top of the Pico de Veleta, Europe's highest road at 3,202m.

Organisers were predicting the 719km route that covered 15,000m of ascent would be finished by the fastest riders in around four days so Morton's time of 43 hours and 30 minutes was really quite something.

For Morton, however, the goal was not so much winning but rather learning about what your body and mind are capable of.

'I think you always learn about yourself when in these tough settings. Your world is simplified down to you and your bike. It’s never the same, so I’m looking forward to what challenges pop up… The route captured my imagination,' Morton said on completion of the race.

'It heightens everything. Your emotional brain gets amped up. To be able to compete in such a unique setting is such a privilege. The high point is over 3000 meters. It covers the only official desert in Europe and also has beach sections. It’s a part of Spain I’m not really familiar with. Also, mentally I’m craving some variety right now.'

'There are some very capable ultra guys competing. But it is largely yourself you have to overcome in these long events.'