Darin’s once in a lifetime Ultra Distance XC Race across spain
Darin Argyle, a Bikers Edge employee just finished up an incredible 500 mile ultra distance XC race across Spain. There were 300 people that signed up for the race and only 154 of them finished the race Darin included. Read on to find out about how he managed to push himself to be one of these incredible athletes that finished.
bike setup for an Ultra Distance XC Race
Darin’s Bike Setup
- Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Rival AXS
- Ergon Saddle
- Crank Brother Egg Beaters 3
- Panaracer Gravel King SK 700x43C
- Rock Bros Frame Bag
- Garmin Edge 840 Solar
- Lezyne 800 Lumen Light
- Camelbak Mule
Food for an Ultra Distance XC Race
We wanted to know what kept Darin fueled for such a long and testing ride. From the various homemade pastas, to the Lenny’s protein cookies, which were his favorite, he managed to stay on top of eating what helped keep him going. Some other snacks he brought along with him were plenty of Clif shot blocks, margarita flavor to be exact and some Probar protein bars, S’mores flavor. Along the way Darin was able to experience some local food like the homemade pasta and sausage in Aizpun, Goni and the life-saving dill pickles he found in Arguedas.
Day 1 – Urbassa, Spain
Left Vitoria July 30th 8:00 AM – First food stop was in a small village called Aizpun, Goni where we were able to get homemade pasta with sausage and a glass of cold water. It was a good break because it was around 85 degrees and we had pedaled 71 miles. Then hopped back on our bikes and continued pedaling.
First night we stayed in Larrasoaña, Spain. We finally found a spot behind a small home in the grass where we slept (or didn’t sleep) for a few hours. It was cold, wet, and all of our gear was wet. We laid down for a few hours but we didn’t sleep well so we decided to get back on our bikes around 2am and start out.
Day 2 – Irati Jungle, Spain
We packed our stuff up, dug our lights out, and continued on. At this point in the ride, we entered the Basque Mountain Range. It was lightly raining, so everything was muddy, slippery, steep, rocky, but very green and beautiful. Around mile 128 we stopped in a village called Burguette and bought a few snacks that were quickly devoured. After all day of pedaling and hiking our bikes through gravel roads, paved roads, and animals trails we reached a village called Lumbier (192 miles). After filling up with water and blowing up mattresses we tried to get shut eye in a park but only got a few hours rest. The next part of the section was the desert so we wanted to get an early start in order to ride the desert portion of the race because we knew it would be over 90 degrees and no village or water fill ups.
Day 3 – Bardenas reales, Spain
Getting up around 2:00 AM we started out. The desert included both mentally and physically grueling sections. There wasn’t a lot of elevation gain; rather, this day was filled with long, hot, technical miles. After about 80 miles we reached a town called Arguedas. This town was a much needed relief, where we were able to fuel up and water up and get food. On this particular spot I bought a jar of dill pickles and devoured the whole jar of pickles and the juice. After going over the map doing some research my friend wanted to stay in a hotel to actually get a good nights rest. This would be a push because it was about 50 miles to the village.
We started out it was a lot of climbing involved. In this particular section it was still hot a lot of elevation, We stopped at a water well and our Garmin didn’t detect we were on the wrong path going down. After about 6 miles and 1600′ of elevation descent the Garmin detected that we were going the wrong way. After all those miles we had to back track back up the 6 miles and 1600′ of elevation. That was a rough part of the day. There were a couple of sandy areas and also we ran into a lot of bugs that were in your face annoying. About 9:15PM we rolled into Muro de Aquas (317 miles) which was a beautiful sight! We had a place to lodge and luckily there was a bar open that had more pasta for us to eat. We had our first shower and a bed to sleep in.
Day 4 – Sierra de la demanda, spain
Woke up around 5:30 AM and it was a hard start after having a nice bed to sleep in. More grueling climbs, hot weather, bugs, hike a bike sections, smooth road, nice gravel road we pushed on. We reached a village called Ortigosa De Cameros which was about 68 miles from our last village. We did some research and if we could push another 21 miles we could reach the village of Monasterio De Valvanera which had another nice place to sleep, and this would put us in a great position to hit the biggest and longest climb of the race for early the next morning.
Day 5 – Monasterio De la valvanera, spain
5:00AM get our bikes/gear together and it is dark and raining outside. The climb started right out of the gate and we had around 4000′ of climbing in 14 miles, the steepest of the grades being 24%. It was raining and a little on the chilly side. As we climbed higher and higher we reached up into the clouds. The sun started breaking the mist and clouds as we reached the top of the climb.
Excited for the ride down we started rolling down the gravel road and the gps took us on to a muddy, rocky, technical single track. Beautiful but frustrated because we weren’t able to cruise fast to get our miles in. After 10 miles of difficult descending we reached rideable gravel and paved roads and after 40 miles we reached the town of Labastida at 3:00 PM where we were able to refuel and gather our thoughts. After researching the map and our location we were only around 48 miles to the finish line!
We could finish the race and not spend another night on the road if we pushed and get the hell off of our bikes! After an easy 39 miles of gravel/pavement we hit single track that was very rocky, steep, and technical. Tired and exhausted we pushed the bikes up until we had 1/2 mile of pavement. About 9:15 PM we crossed the finish line, finishing a day earlier than we had hoped to do.
There were 300 people that were signed up from around the world, 5 of them being for the US. 154 finished the race. Darin Argyle was the only one from the US to finish the race. 109 hours and 16 minutes to complete 510 miles with 56,000′ of climbing. The breakdown of mileage was 200 pavement, 280 gravel road, and 23 single track/bushwhack/hike-a-bike.
Those gravel miles were some of the hardest gravel trails I have seen even on a mountain bike, and some of the single track consisted of hiking trails that you drug your bike up the trail just to get to the next section that might be rideable. Some of the “trails” did not consist of a trail but just pushing/dragging your bike just trying to following the gps to show you the next section that you would encounter.
Final Thoughts after aN Ultra Distance XC Race
This 500 mile race across Spain was the most difficult race I have ever signed up for. I knew that it was going to be difficult not only physically but mentally too. I never had any doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to finish this race. There were days that everything hurt, I was thirsty, hungry, tired, sick of the bugs, homesick, stinky, cold, hot, but I knew that I had to just put my head down and keep pedaling, and that through all of this there would be a reward unexplainable that would somehow make it all worth it.
Want to do an Ultra Distance XC Race across spain?
You can check out the race and all of the details here to find out more: Basajuan Transiberica