Covering an almighty 7,600km from Grense Jakobselv in Norway down to Cabo St Vincent in Portugal, the European Divide Trail is the longest plotted, predominantly off-road bikepacking route out there currently. And Rawvelo ambassador Angus Young is heading out to attempt setting the FKT, fastest known time, for the route this month.
The epic route was mapped out by adventure ultra cyclist Andy Cox who connected a network of rides across Europe which he’d discovered during the pandemic. Cox is a true pioneer in bikepacking and adventure riding having set out from his then South Wales home in 2017 initially for two years of riding, having rented his home out to fund his travels, before deciding just to keep cycling after four years away - selling his house too. Rouleur interviewed Andy earlier this year - read more about the founder of the European Divide Trail here.
Taking in a very much ‘off the beaten track’ route across the European continent, the EDT was designed to avoid major travel destinations as much as possible, making the challenge more about logistics and finding places to refuel, hydrate and rest. As you’d expect given the distance, the route takes in a myriad of different landscapes and terrains. From the expansive Scandinavian forests and isolated lakes, to the French mountains and later the more arid, rocky lands of southern Spain and, eventually, Portugal.
Cox suggests riders start the trail in late May or early June (if beginning in Norway) or – if they kick off from Portugal and then head up north – from late March or early April, to give enough time to cover the distance before the seasons change, given it will take months to complete.
Angus will be aiming to complete the north to south in around 35 days!
Although no stranger to this kind of adventure riding, the EDT is definitely new ground for Angus. “The real challenge for me is the unknown,” he explains. “The route is so much longer than anything that I have ever done before and I have no idea how my body and mind are going to react to it. I'm going to do my best to pace myself conservatively and try to finish strong. This goes for speed on the bike but also how many hours sleep i'll be aiming for.”
Challenges so far this year include the Highland Trail 550, a self-supported mountain bike route through the Scottish Highlands, 550 miles in length with over 16,000m of climbing, as well as the Dales Divide in April - for which he set a new FKT.
“I think that looking after both my body and my bike from the outset are going to be critically important and to that end I'll be packing a fair bit heavier than I would for a shorter rest which should allow me to make the most of my recovery time and keep the wheels turning.”
The plan is to ride for around 16-hours a day, focusing on time in the saddle rather than distance covered as it's easy to get carried away trying to hit a set distance or reach a certain point. Rest comes in the form of wild camping interspersed with the occasional lodge or overnight cabin to recharge the batteries … physically and metaphorically.
One notable change Angus has made ahead of the EDT compared to other ultra endurance rides over the past few years? Bulking! Well, sort of. “Instead of trying to get lean in the build up to a race I've been deliberately putting on weight as there is no way that I will be able to eat enough to replace the number of calories I’m burning, which is up to 10,000Kcal a day. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't enjoying this part.”
Alongside all of the regular food that Angus will both take and pick up along the way, he’ll have the range of Rawvelo products at his disposal. We’ll also be watching his dot closely along the way, thanks to Follow My Challenge.You can see the route in its entirety over on Komoot here. Follow updates from Angus on Instagram here. We’ll also loop to keep you updated across our social media channels and email too along the way.