Zach Cole’s Montana Bike Odyssey

What is the Montana Bike Odyssey?

1747 Total Miles

668 Miles of pavement

1019 Miles of gravel and dirt

50 miles of paved bike path

10 miles of single track

What does it to take to do something like this?

We checked in with Zach Cole (Avon Venture Sports) who came in 2nd place and completed it in under 13 days.

VS: How does a person ride 1747 miles in 12 days and 10 hours?
ZC: Races like these are 80% mental and 20% physical. Ample training on the bike is an obvious prerequisite but managing your emotional headspace is the real difference between success and failure. Finishing the course is primary. From there your high level demands are managing sleep, managing nutrition, managing setbacks, managing weather, and navigating the course. Any and all of these can be mini adventures of their own.

VS: What was your strategy?
ZC: My overall plan was built to hit or exceed a daily average for mileage. For me this was approximately 140 miles per day as my goal was to finish in about 12 days–which is what I thought my body could handle for a predominately gravel course. The trick here is that the terrain determines how quickly you achieve your mileage. More challenging terrain (bad roads, wet roads, heavy elevation gain, bad weather etc.) results in slower miles per hour. You overcome this issue by simply sleeping less and riding more. But easier said than done. Often you’ll be depending on riding through a town to resupply on food and water. It is not at all uncommon to reach that town in the middle of the night and options for food or water are non-existent. Ultimately, your strategy needs to be highly adaptable. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

VS: How do you handle that? Is there a contingency plan? Do you have a backup strategy?
ZC:  Calculating your next step becomes more difficult when you’ve only slept 3-4 hours for several days on end. Maybe you’re sleep deprived AND you’re resupply for food is 50 miles away AND you’re down to your last Snickers bar. Maybe you’re sleep deprived, the town store is closed, you’re down to your last snickers bar, AND every piece of clothing you have is soaked…and on top of all that, it’s starting to rain…again. But you wanted an adventure.

VS: What do you tell yourself to keep going?
ZC: If an adventure is what you want, an adventure you’ll get. Sometimes the choice is simple. Suck it up. Keep riding.  What other choice do you have?   Onward you go.

VS: How would you plan differently for next time?
ZC:  1) Enjoy being uncomfortable 2) Learn how to sleep less 3) Learn how to function on less water 4) Waste less time (resupply and do daily requirements more efficiently) 5) Study course more closely

VS: What is one thing you never want to do or eat ever again? 
ZC: Clif Bars

VS: What made it most memorable?
ZC: This…

VS Note: The previous record was 15 Days and while the person who took 1st holds the record, Zach was not far behind and these two crushed the previous record by a substantial amount.