Danish ultracyclist completes 5,000km Zwift ride inside shopping centre

Michael Knudsen undertook the challenge as he trains for next year's Race Across America

The Race Across America is one of the world’s toughest cycling events. Riding from one side of the United States to the other means pedalling 400km a day is the bare minimum needed to make it inside the 12-day time limit.

Training to undertake such a feat takes hard work, dedication and resilience. It also apparently involves practicing a run-through of the endurance event inside a shopping centre.

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This is at least according to Michael Knudsen, who spent 10 days completing 5,000km on Zwift inside a Danish shopping centre.

Knudsen slept next to his bike throughout his effort, and planned to not leave the Copenhagen shopping centre until he had reached 5,000km. The data of the first half of Michael’s ride shows he achieved 15,700m of elevation, burning 36,600 calories in the process.

The 31-year-old has an FTP of around 324 watts, putting him in the 4.6w/kg range according to Zwift Insider, and is a level 50 Zwift rider having ridden over 150 races.

The monster ride also set a new Zwift distance record, and Michael posted regular updates during his effort on Facebook, showing him getting up and on the bike at 5am to log vital kilometres.

He did venture outside once to get some fresh air once, saying he had otherwise “lived non-stop in dry aircon”, which Michael says had gave him a cold, with headaches and a snotty nose his symptoms.

Michael added he’d barely moved a centimetre during the 10-day ordeal, despite virtually travelling the width of America. “I’m sitting on my trainer. Going down to the bathroom. Going back to my trainer. It can make you go crazy,” he said.

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After reaching his goal within the 10-day limit, Michael said: “Over a year ago, I got the crazy idea to do something crazy in a large mainstream shopping centre to reach a far larger and different part of the population than what you typically achieve by doing these sorts of virtual cycling events.

“I just wanted to say a thousand thanks for the massive support I have received over the last 10 days. It’s been absolutely amazing.

“5000 miles is in the bank. You can’t complain about that! We’ve done the best we could, I love doing these crazy events and I love the way you guys take them in.”

His partner, Kathrin Fuhrer, who rode 850km with him, shared the reasons as to why Michael had undertaken the challenge. Not only did he want to get the word out about his Race Across America (RAAM) attempt next year, he also wanted to educate and engage with people who wanted to learn more about ultra-cycling and what it involves. Lastly, RAAM isn’t cheap, costs can rise to around $35,000, and Michael hopes to attract some sponsorship money with his effort.

Ultracycling isn’t a new endeavour for Michael, who has virtually ridden the height of Everest on Zwift, and also finished second in the 2018 Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme, a 9,105km race with 77,000 metres of altitude across eight time zones to be completed in 25 days.

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