Lachlan Morton is bikepacking the entire Tour de France route, transfers included

The EF Education-Nippo rider is riding the Tour de France his own way: solo and unsupported, including all transfers.

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Lachlan Morton has a long history of doing things his own way.

As the spearhead of the EF Education-Nippo team’s ‘alternative racing’ program, the Australian rider has competed in major gravel events like Unbound Gravel, crossed countries in ultra-endurance races, tackled Cape Epic, and for a time held the Everesting world record

His newest challenge, though – they’re calling it the ‘Alt Tour’ – may be the most daunting yet. 

Morton at the Badlands ultra-endurance race in Spain, September 2020. Photo: Oliver Grenaa.

While his EF Education-Nippo teammates are riding the Tour de France – itself a ludicrously punishing event – Morton will be racing them to Paris. But he’ll be doing it solo and unsupported, carrying all his own gear in bikepacking bags, and riding all the transfers himself. No mechanic, no draft. 

A selection of the things you need if you’re Lachlan Morton and you’re riding the Tour de France, plus quite a bit more, by yourself.

What are the stats? 

Morton will set off after the peloton to ride the full Tour de France route, along with all the in-between bits that the race convoy whooshes between in buses and trains. That equates to an extra 2,400 kilometres of distance – a massive chunk of which comes from the 700+ km transfer up north to Paris for the final stage – and more than 15,000 metres of added vertical gain. 

In total, Morton will tackle 5,510 kilometres and 65,500 metres of climbing. He has 23 days to achieve this – there are a couple of days of catch-up while the Tour stops for its rest days – with Morton estimating that he’ll be in the saddle for 238 hours all told. 

Why?

“Because he’s Lachlan Morton, one of the peloton’s true originals” is probably the knee-jerk reaction, but there’s a bit more to it than that. 

The entire project is in aid of World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief is a charity that provides rugged bikes for people in need in the developing world, where a bicycle can be a powerful tool for poverty-reduction, shrinking distances and compressing time while improving access to education and opportunity. 

Rapha and EF Education First are each chipping in 500 bikes, but donations are welcomed. The ultimate goal of Morton’s ride is for thousands of Buffalo Bicycles to be delivered, helping mobilise communities across the world. 

Morton cheers his colleagues on, incognito, at the teams presentation.

Who says what about it?

As there always is when it comes to a big undertaking like this, a bunch of Key Stakeholders have provided some quotes.

Here are some selected highlights: 

“It’s a challenge that in many ways combines the two elements of cycling I have pursued the most: exploration and competition. Without intention I have essentially spent my whole life preparing for it. I know it’s going to be the most physically demanding ride I’ve undertaken but I anticipate the challenges of completing the route self supported to be equally difficult.”

Lachlan Morton, of ‘Lachlan Morton’ fame
Morton says the Alt Tour is something of a loving homage to the early days of the Tour de France, inspired by the inaugural 1903 edition.

“When I first heard about the Tour, I was 14 years old, and I remember thinking, ‘that’s not humanly possible.’ What Lachlan is trying to do might not be possible, and I’m in awe that he’s even attempting it. Whether or not he beats the Tour to Paris, at EF we believe that cycling, and daring to reach for the impossible, can help solve many of the world’s problems. And whatever the outcome, working with World Bicycle Relief means we can empower more people through the Power of Bicycles. And that’s an incredible thing to be a part of.”

Philip Hult, Chairman of EF Education First

How can you get involved?

In familiar ultra-endurance-race fashion, you can follow Morton’s progress across France on a dot-watching map here.  

You can (maybe even ‘should’) donate to World Bicycle Relief here.

And because it’s Rapha and EF, there’ll be a (doubtless emotional and beautifully produced) Rapha Gone Racing film of Morton’s journey released on rapha.cc in August. 

Listen to Lachlan talk about the effort in our Tour Daily podcast from stage 1:

Go well, Lachlan.

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