VIENTIANE, 28 January 2019: The world’s top ultracyclers will descend on Laos, 20 to 24 May, for Round 3 of the 2019 BikingMan World Championship on a course covering 780-km paved-and-gravel roads over the country’s challenging forested mountain ridges in northeast Laos.
The BikingMan series follows an unassisted ultracycling format. Riders must find their own food, water, accommodation, and way ahead. No support vehicles follow them. Only two checkpoints log them in, though GPS monitors their progress and roadside marshals standby for rider safety and security.
Local riders are encouraged to compete. “The BikingMan series is mainly targeted at building awareness in…cycling-enthusiastic regions to boost the local market and attract locals,” said BikingMan founder Axel Carion. “Hence my goal is to attract local athletes and not just “international people.”
He added, “A BikingMan race is a total challenge, where all riders, even the experienced, have to go beyond their limits and manage their efforts to reach the finish line.” And the Lao course fits BikingMan’s vision of “Explore, Endure, Empower”.
The first leg kicks off from the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang and heads north along the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers. Axel said the rolling hills present a good “warm up” before a few short, steep climbs through Muang Xay. The road then gradually descends south through Oudomxay to the first checkpoint at Pakbeng.
Leg 2, heads east across northern Sayabouly’s mountains. The terrain levels off as the circuit cuts north. However, a sharp right turn onto a rough road leads to the monstrous “Kasi Climb” in Vientiane Province. The ascent leaps about .9 km in elevation to 1,238 metres in around 25 km.
This stretch “was definitely a life-changing experience,” Axel said after a reconnaissance run. “As we were exploring on the bumpy tarmac…we took the gravel experience to the next level and literally explored the jungle.”
The final leg to Luang Prabang starts with a sharp descent, before slamming into Route 13’s mountain range with summits reaching 1,400 metres. A steep descent after the final peak ends with a relatively smooth spin to the finish line.
Meanwhile, bikepackers and motobikers are already exploring sections of the circuit, and Lao tour operators are eying the routes and the country’s potential for adventure travel experiences.
“I believe the event will have a broad repercussion on the promotion of Laos tourism and not just on the cycling segment,” said Sanctuary Hotels and Resorts sales & marketing manager Melissa Woolley on behalf of the official race village and host of Checkpoint 1
“Laos may be recognised as a land where sporting events can be undertaken and the spot to combine ultimate activities with discoveries and adventures,” she said.
We Are Lao managing director John Morris Williams stated, “The impact for Luang Prabang and Lao tourism will be huge. This is a top event for the country’s calendar.”
We Are Lao is supporting the event as a media sponsor.
The 2019 BikingMan World Champion is adding Laos and Portugal to its growing series, and the future appears bright.
“I have four to five other locations on the radar, with 2018’s finishers working on different race courses,” said Axel.
“In the long term, we want races to be run locally by a company,” he said, which is already happening in Laos.
BikingMan Laos falls under the umbrella of locally owned Green Discovery Laos (GDL), the country’s leading eco-adventure company founded by Inthy Deuansavanh nearly 20 years ago.
Inthy is no stranger to organising and entering extreme events, having competed in ironman competitions and ran up front at the 1,659-km South 2 North Charity Marathon held in in Laos during October 2018.
Inthy will likely show up at the starting line at the first BikingMan Laos, as may Axel, who entered the Guinness World Record Book with Andreas Fabricius for “The Fastest time to cycle the length of South America (Cartagena to Ushuaia) by a team of two in 49 days, 23 hours and 43 minutes.”
Media contact: Bernie Rosenbloom We Are Lao www.wearelao.com