It’s not every rider who wants to be part of a peloton, face a timekeeper or circle the boards. Some simply want to challenge themselves. Aussie Jack Thompson falls into that category, albeit he’s set records along the way:
- The Amazing Chase – The Tour de France in 10 Days; 21 stages, 3,500km and 52,000m of elevation gain.
- Portugal South to North Record; 715km, 10,200m elevation gain, 24hr 11min
- Guinness World Record; Most Kilometres Ridden in seven days – 3,505km
- Three ‘Everestings,’ Three Countries, Three Days; 880km, 26,768m of elevation gain across 71hrs including all transfers
- GP1200; 1,200km, 12,000m of elevation gain in 56 hours, Girona, Spain to Caramulo, Portugal
- Taiwan KOM x 4; Non Stop 720km, 13,600m of elevation gain in 56 hours
- The Beginning; 50,000km cycled in a 12 month period
For 2022 the game plan is to climb 1,000,000 metres and raise 1,000,000 Euros for mental health charities.
Best, ‘have a word’ with the 33 years-old from Perth, Western Australia we thought, he sounds a little extreme – just how we like our cyclists here at VeloVeritas – we caught up with him at his home in Girona, Catalonia.
How did it all this Ultra stuff begin, Jack?
“I grew up in a cycling family, I raced, wanted to be a professional but in 2010 I found myself in a bad place, I was into drugs and ended up in rehab.
“When I was over that my dad suggested I should get back on the bike, I was reluctant at first, young folks never want to listen to their parents.
“But I gave in, the bike gave me an extreme sense of focus, I was hooked. I didn’t want to race, I wanted to emulate my dad and explore on the bike.”
Tell us about your race career though.
“I did triathlon, that gave me immense focus with the three different disciplines, but I didn’t enjoy the pressure of having to perform on a given day.”
It strikes me that you’re a ‘natural’ for the Race Across America?
“Up until two years ago it wasn’t something I’d thought about but it does interest me, albeit I have plans for the next couple of years.
“You would need a good support team though and it’s a costly undertaking.”
A left field question – with all those kilometres, how does your main contact point with the bike bear up?
“I don’t use chamois cream but have never had any problems with saddle sores.
“Part of that is certainly down to the quality of the Velocio clothing I ride in, but I’ve spent a lot of time getting my position right, sitting symmetrically on the bike – and I work a lot on flexibility.”
Where do your ideas for rides come from?
“That’s down to my creative side!
“I go for things that are a challenge and would appeal to and showcase my sponsors.
“The Tour de France ride was something I thought about for three or four years, whilst the Portugal ride came about from a prospective promotion I was going to do with the Portuguese Tourist Board, that didn’t work out but I did the Portugal end-to-end ride.”
How did you set about obtaining your sponsors – Specialized, Wahoo, Super Sapiens, Velocio, Gu…
“I worked in construction management for a number of years and one of the things I learned is that both sides of a contract have to benefit.
“With that in mind I always try to deliver twice what I receive to my sponsors, it’s a professional relationship.
“I don’t have a manager, I do all the negotiations myself.”
How do you find time to do the ‘day to day’ stuff of life whilst riding all those kilometres?
“This year has been a real test, a strain and challenging to my relationship with my partner – but it’s only for one year and I’m spurred on to do it because I’m raising money for the charities.
“I’ve turned into a bit of a recluse, the emphasis is on spending time with my partner and recovery from my time on the bike.”
I’ve watched a couple of the short films about your adventures and you have a really dedicated support team.
“The main two in my team are very good friends of mine, Anthony Doyle, who’s originally from Ireland, who we call ‘Zippy’ and coaches me; and Miqui Rueda who’s from here in Catalonia.
“I know I can rely upon them in what can be tense, serious situations – but we have a lot of fun too.”
And ‘Zippy’ is the man in charge of your nutrition?
“Yes, he preps all my food, I go through a lot of calories; we use the Super Sapiens device which is really helpful but it’s not unknown for Zippy to get me off the bike and take me to McDonald’s for what he calls, ‘enforced eating!’
“The yardstick for carbs is said to be 90 grams per hour but I take on up to 150 grams per hour, one of my sponsors is Gu, they make gels and race food, they make the products in so many different flavours that I never get, ‘palate fatigue.’“
Specialized are your bike sponsor, you must go through a heck of a lot of tyres, chains and brake pads?
“I ride the Specialized Roubaix, I spend long days in the saddle and the ‘Future Shock’feature is great for comfort, I’ve had absolutely no issues with the bike.
“I ride Specialized tubeless and believe it or not, I’ve only had two puncture all year – I change my tyres before I absolutely need to but I don’t want to have blow-outs.
“I’ve snapped six chains this year and gone through around 40 sets of brake pads.”
Have you picked up on the ‘aero’ aspect yet?
“Not really but my big goal for 2024 is to go for the round the world record – and for that I’m going to do the wind tunnel thing.”
I watched the film about your riding the entire Tour de France parcours in 10 days; that was one huge physical and emotional investment.
“The support team was hugely important there but I’m very stubborn, once I set a goal nothing gets in my way.
“Having the film crew actually made it difficult logistically; if it’s just Zippy, Miqui and me then we can all sleep in the camper van but when you have a film crew then you’re looking for accommodation for six or seven people, that can be pretty stressful.”
How is this year’s project going: 1,000,000 metres elevation and €1,000,000 donated to mental health charities?
“The cycling aspect is going well, I’m on target at 860,000 metres plus elevation – but the fund raising is behind at €260,100 which is I find difficult.
“I can control the bike aspect but not the donations.”
[You can donate to Jack’s fund raising here. ed.]
I see you’re partial to a Leffe?
“Yes, but it’s actually Leffe Blonde 0.0% alcohol free, I don’t drink alcohol, it doesn’t agree with me but I do like that Leffe, it tastes great.”
Is there much on the JT ‘to do’ list?
“A lot! But in 2023 I need a break, the 1,000,000 metres is a philanthropic project but this has been a stressful year.
“However, when you look at the problems the world is facing, climate change, the logging in the Amazon – there are so many issues to draw folks attention to; so I think that 2024 is when I go for the round the world record.
“And then there’s my ‘most kilometres in seven days’ record – I actually stopped riding with 12 hours to go because I’d broken the old record at 3,505 kilometres.
“My team said that I might live to regret it – you live and learn. I might go for that again – but on a time trial bike and go for a crazy distance like 4,500 kilometres.
“And on a cooler parcours; it was crazy hot down near Seville when I broke it, 37/38 degrees every day…”
Not a man to do things by halves is Jack.
Find Jack online at his website.