Earlier this year, before governments instigated lockdown measures across the world in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Camille McMillan was busy exploring the roads and tracks in the mountains near his home in the Ariège Pyrenees.
Planning his bike race, Further.
With events of the last few weeks keeping French residents confined to their homes, pathfinding for the race – outside at least – has been on pause.
Before the lockdown, Camille had been sending us the photo documentation of these recce’ing trips.
We wanted to find out more about his approach to routing the race.
How do you approach designing the route for Further?
I look at history, I look at the geography… I wish to understand where I live.
Further is a race that’s the result of my exploration.
What, in your opinion, are the features that make a great route for this type of racing?
A mix of everything.
Most importantly, I want a route that is pushing us to what we think we can do with a bicycle.
It’s about a journey with a bike.
I like the idea of going to a peak of a mountain as well.
Not many races go to peaks.
When they do they become quite Iconic.
Ventoux springs to mind.
Ventoux is a pretty boring climb, but it goes to a peak… so it’s actually interesting.
What makes a Further route unique?
I would not like people to think this is a MTB race or a Gravel race.
It’s definitely not a road race.
I like the idea that you’re never on the correct bike.
Down hill on the rough stuff you would want a MTB, but on the long tarmac climbs you would be destroyed by someone on a lighter machine.
Again, the hike-a-bike suits a lighter bike.
I would say Further is an Ultra Cyclocross.
It’s closer to the style of the ‘Three Peaks’ than the TCR or Silk Road Mountain Race.
Your race, at 500km, is an interesting length – still a significant distance, but ‘short’ for this type of racing. What is the thinking behind the length of the race?
It’s a brutal distance, it could be possible to do in one hit.
It’s the length of old bike races before television changed how races were run.
I wish to make Further a long weekend, open to people who can’t afford to train the amount of time needed to race other Ultra events.
It’s Further not Farther.
Will the route be different from last year? If so how?
I have a list and I have a map with routes drawn on.
I have things I did not use last year.
Last year the race started and finished out in the plains, which was okay, but I need the race to be in the mountains.
This year it’s starting on the edge of the mountains.
How much of the route is provided to the racers, vs letting them figure out their own way?
I give the racers GPX files, this year I will publish them in advance of the race… The sectors (think like Paris-Roubaix) have GPX routes.
Between the sectors the racers have to find their own route.
The sectors need to be done in sequence.
Last year I gave the racers the GPX a few days before the event.
I have been toying with the idea of giving out the GPX the day of the race.
It is an adventure race after all.
What feeling would you like to leave the riders with, who take on the route of Further?
Fuck me that was wonderful.
Further is due to take place at the end of August this year, subject to the ongoing public health guidance in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.