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Lachlan Morton: Suffering became normal on Alt Tour de France

Lachlan Morton completed the Alt Tour de France in Paris with days to spare on the peloton
Lachlan Morton completed the Alt Tour de France in Paris with days to spare on the peloton (Image credit: EF Education-Nippo)

Lachlan Morton is already thinking about future ultra-endurance challenges as he recovers in Paris from his 18-day, 5,510km Alt Tour de France and waits for the real Tour de France to arrive in the French capital, thinking how he challenged himself and “challenged the ways we use the bike to inspire people.”  

Racing the Tour de France to Paris unsupported has captured the imagination of fans around the world and helped raise close to £500,000 for the World Bicycle Relief charity.

Morton admitted to Cyclingnews that he is fatigued after going deeper and deeper during his 18-day ride but the support for his Alt Tour de France is easing his physical pain.

Morton reached Paris in the early hours of Tuesday morning and finished his ride at 5:30 a.m. (CEDT), covering the laps of the Champs Élysées. He celebrated with his wife Rachel and father by opening a bottle of champagne after riding 5,510 kilometres with 65,500 meters of elevation gain in just 18 days, riding solo and unsupported for 220 hours and often sleeping wild and sourcing his own food. 

“Normal life became a crazy experience, that in the end suffering became normal. So much so that it’s almost feels sad that’s it over,” Morton admits to Cyclingnews. “Now I’ve had a good night’s sleep in a real bed, I’m feeling much more human than I did when I finished the ride.

"Being over two weeks long is what made this one so tough. Each day I was pushing myself to the limit and then doing it day after day, after day. At the same time it made it such a special.

"Seeing how much money has been raised for World Bicycle Relief makes all my suffering very much worthwhile. I know I ride for a reason and people’s support and their donations have proved it. Bikes have changed my life, so to be able to share that and help other people change their lives via cycling is the tiniest thing I can do in life.” 

The Australian EF Education-Nippo rider has taken a road less travelled in pro cycling, mixing ultra-endurance events with WorldTour racing. Rather than results, UCI ranking points, his riding is measured by the inspiration he creates and the money he helps raise for charity. It has given him a unique place in the sport. 

“I’m very grateful to be able to ride in a way that defines me and how I really want to. It’s nice that people connect to it too,” he said. 

“There’s no huge agenda to it. I know what I do will never replace pro cycling but for me personally I have other ambitions outside of the racing and to have a team, sponsors and fans who are interested in that is a privileged position to be in and one i’m grateful for. 

“I’m not a super hard man, a lot of what I do involves finding ways to stay motivated and understanding what affects you and how you can turn around your mental outlook. I suppose that is much real life. When you enjoy it, the physical discomforts fall away. I’ve learnt to keep myself motivated and positive and present enough to really enjoy the experience. That makes the distance and the discomfort more manageable. I’m very aware of how lucky I am to do what I do."

Morton began his adventure in Brittany at the same time as the Tour de France, and accomplished his goal of reaching Paris ahead of the peloton in the race, making it on Tuesday with days to spare. He rode the same routes as the peloton, but also the all the transfer miles in between.

After riding through the Pyrenees and covering the numerous transfers, Morton rode the final 576km to Paris in one long ride, a distance greater than any stage in the history of the Tour de France.