We introduce you to Axel Carion, a French ultracyclist riding with Supernova Lights! Axel is the founder of the BikingMAN race series. He holds several ultracyclingworld records, for example the Guinness World Record for crossing South America in under 50 days.
How sensible is it to go on such trips spontaneously?
Deciding to go on an adventure is always a special moment of excitement and fear both reunited, even when it’s in your home country. The current context of travel constraints with COVID-19 is definitely adding more “spices” to the journey as you can’t really know and predict what tomorrow will be like. However, I do believe that it’s one of the major purpose of taking on a journey: jumping into the unknown and embracing the unpredictable to live an experience.
If you prepare for them, what is the most important thing?
When I’m preparing for an unsupported bikepacking experience of more than 5 days, the equipment is definitely my number one priority. Especially if I’ll face challenging weather conditions or cross remote areas or complete an expedition during COVID-19 measures! On multi-week bikepacking expeditions, every detail of the equipment I bring is very important as I can’t rely on anything else. I love that minimalist approach where I focus on what is stressful for my mind and body on these journeys. Then I try to bring the best equipment to lower that stress and focus on enjoying the experience. For example, I love riding under the rain or during the night because I know what equipment to bring so that I can enjoy the experience.
From winter into spring, weather changes without end. How do you keep your motivation?
I’ve been exploring countries by bike for 10 years (Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, Middle East) and travelling has always been my connection with cycling. In that sense, it’s always a great source of enjoyment for me to ride a bike as I’m never really “training” and getting bored. I have a “gold digger” approach where the key is to focus on exploring new roads, trails and countries and staying curious. With COVID-19 where travelling is complicated for a lot of people, I keep the motivation high by gathering friends and people on routes that I love the most to enjoy again the same rides by sharing the beauty of the best places I know with other people. Ride that same hill again and again alone will never taste like a ride shared with cycling mates on that same hill.
What role does the equipment play?
A major role as shared above. As I build more and more expeditions in very different conditions (weather, elevation, altitude, cultures), I always work to improve my “packing list” but perfection is not in this world. That’s the spirit of exploration cycling: there isn’t a perfect equipment, be prepared for the unpredictable.
What is particularly important to you in terms of lighting and what role does lighting play during the day?
When I use battery headlights, the most important thing to me is a good mix of luminosity and burn time. I’ve tested several battery headlights over thousands of miles and have mostly left them on for over 9 hours of riding. I’ve learned that a strong beam is useless if I can’t ride longer with it. That’s when I prefer to use the Eco mode, which allows the light to last 20 hours or more. I still vividly remember the days when I traversed the jungle in Laos with a battery headlamp. That was super stressful! When I use a battery headlamp, I always use a powerful light with a uniform beam and high build quality that will last as long as possible. Such as the headlights from Supernova.
Can you tell me what do you mean with beam and autonomy combination?
Power of the light and its battery life. Having the best long lastingbeam with a battery for me is more important than having a very powerful beam for a very short time.
What does autonomy means to you?
So you would prefer a Dynamo-light for long distance races and battery for short races?
That’s correct or to be more accurate I would stick to the dynamo light (if I’m searching for the most cost-effective solution as I own dynamo wheels) to avoid the hassle of charging the light on power walls for example.
Text: Axel Carion, Pictures: Axel Carion