Interview with Simon Ruff
Simon Ruff, world ultra-cycling champion in 2011 and 2018, has set a new record for crossing Switzerland from east to west. He covered the 500 kilometres between Martina and Geneva in 15 hours and 52 minutes – equivalent to an average speed of 31.86 km/h.
Tell us about your day crossing Switzerland. How was your “race”? What emotions were you feeling?
It was actually more like my night crossing Switzerland. I deliberately chose to travel by night, as I really enjoy the calm, the atmosphere, the lack of traffic. It feels really special, and that gives me a boost.
I got a lift from seeing Biel, the completely different landscapes in west Switzerland and the first rays of sunlight. By then I knew it wouldn’t be long till I reached Chancy. Feeling positive allowed me to ratchet up the speed again.
It was a race against time. Getting to the finish line was very emotional, since friends and family were waiting for me. I’m also always amazed by the fantastic support from the roadside.
How do you prepare for a challenge like this?
Ultra-cycling is a niche discipline within cycling. There are no professional ultra-cyclists in Switzerland, we all do it as a hobby. But the training still takes a lot of time, 20 to 25 hours in peak weeks.
I do a lot of moderate-intensity training, and cover long distances at the weekends. During the week, I portion my training carefully so that I can combine it with family, work and study. You definitely need good time management and a very understanding family.
How did you manage to keep your energy topped up over the 500 kilometres?
I have a plan for what my hourly intake should be, which I try to stick to as far as possible. If I deviate from the plan, my team members let me know. Nutrition during a race is extremely important.
Most people couldn’t even imagine going 500 kilometres or 15 hours non-stop. What are your top three training tips to help cyclists improve their performance and learn to enjoy ultra-long distances?
I think a love and passion for cycling are the most important ingredients for success. If you then also set yourself a goal and keep it firmly in view, you’re already off to a great start.
Do you have any secret tips you could share?
Always follow through! For instance, if I’ve committed to completing a certain distance in training, I’ll make sure I actually do it.
Many thanks to Simon Ruff for the exciting answers.
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