Michael Knudsen is not your typical cyclist.

At first glance he may just look like another strong rider: 31 years old, 71kg, with an FTP around 324 watts putting him in the ~4.6w/kg range (see ZwiftPower profile). He’s a level 50 Zwifter with over 150 Zwift races under his belt.

But look a little closer and you’ll find this Copenhagen resident isn’t just another strong rider. He’s an ultra cyclist, putting in massively long rides, including vEveresting on Zwift. And he’s not just another ultra cyclist–he’s an exceptionally gifted one, finishing 2nd in the ridiculously grueling 2018 Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme (“You cannot train for 9100km,” Michael said, “It will always be in your brain–this was for sure the mentally hardest race I have ever done.“)

And right now, Michael is set up on Zwift at the massive Field’s shopping mall in Copenhagen, with the goal of riding the Race Across America (RAAM) distance of 5000km within 10 days.

He’s got about 850km to go, and figures he will finish around 10am local time Thursday–right on schedule.

Reasons

Why is he doing it? Here’s what his partner Kathrin Fuhrer said on Facebook:

Fluid in the legs? 9 days of zwift. + 4000 km
  • This is our passion, cycling and crazy stuff is just us
  • We want to get the word out for “the real” Race across America next year 2020 where Michael will take part
  • We want to motivate people to ride with us and engage them to ride their longest ride ever as well as learn a bit more about ultracycling and what is needed for it
  • To achieve this goal going to America for RAAM next year, we need to collect some sponsor money as the whole thing will cost around $35,000USD

Challenges

I asked Michael what the toughest parts of his epic Zwift have been so far. Here’s what he had to say:

Knudsen’s Garmin at the time of this post

Toughest part has been being in the mall on the trainer. Fixed cycling position for 240 hours. Living in air-conditioned air and getting dry blood in the nose due to the dry air.

All the uncontrolled elements in a big mall. Like music at night. Long walk to toilet. Sometimes up on 2nd floor. Shower in gym on 3rd floor.

Not seeing the sky or breathing fresh air for 10 straight days. Not sleeping in your own bed.
Constantly having thousands of people around you.

It’s difficult to fathom how mentally demanding it is to sit still on a trainer in a mall for 10 days, only walking the route from the toilet and back to the bike.

Not seeing the sky at all also plays a little with you over time.

But it hasn’t been all bad, of course. Michael also said:

Other than that it has been an amazing event and the Zwift riders from all over the world have been outstanding. Really incredible. I basically never ride alone.

Pushing Limits

Obviously, a ride like this pushes a person’s limits to the edge. But what Michael didn’t mention above is that his rides are also pushing Zwift’s limits, with the app struggling when rides get over 1000km in length, according to one Facebook comment I saw from Michael.

Just try to look at the details of his first activity in Zwift Companion… here’s what you’ll get:

Ride with Michael

Zwifters have joined Michael on every bit of his RAAM ride, lending him a wheel and chatting to keep him company. You can join him as well! Just look him up on Zwift Companion, follow him, then choose to “Ride With” him in Watopia.

If nothing else, give him a ride on!

Watch His Ride

Zwift Multi Streamers has been featuring Michael’s ride group on and off during the attempt, so check their Facebook page for a live feed.