The Mulhacén XC Lockdown Challenge


11 April 2020

Mulhacén, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, is mainland Spain's highest peak, at 3479 metres.

In the grounds of the Pure Mountains farmhouse, we have a cross country (XC) course, that has a total 31 metres of elevation.

One Saturday in April 2020, during the coronavirus lockdown when we could only exercise outdoors on our own land, Pure Mountains' Tim Kirkus 'climbed' Mulhacén, by bike, on the XC course.

The 112 laps took 12 hours, more or less non-stop.

Thanks to generous donations from friends and clients, Tim raised around €1000 for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders to help fight COVID-19.

Here is Tim's first-hand account of the experience.


"That was an extremely hard ride, but really satisfying in the end.

Our course here at the farmhouse is relatively flat, so to accumulate the 3479m of Mulhacén was going to mean many, many laps. It was about 120 in the end though I lost count. It took almost exactly 12 hours.

Time is a bizarrely elastic thing when you ride for 12 hours. For the first few hours, you feel fine. Physically, everything works and there's no real pain and mentally you're still ok and are clear about why you're out there. Those hours pass pretty quickly.

Then, around hour 3, the voices start; "This is going to take 12 hours. That's an inconceivably long time and four times what you've done already. I don't know about this." Time slows right down.

Then, after a bit of food, some live social media posting from Jenny, and a few laps with the dogs, everything rights itself again.

And the the next few hours pass in a kind of trance, not thinking much, being in the moment, that kind of thing.

Then the hammer falls.

Hours 8 to 9 were gruesome. Pain everywhere, a sense of desperation and I was constantly thinking of stopping. There was a real sense of looking for a way out and teetering on the edge of capitulation. Those minutes crawled by.

A glass of lemonade and some Ibuprofen fixed that.

I started to visualise being on the way down for the final hours, accelerating towards the finish. Ironically these were the slowest lap times, but I was starting to hallucinate and knew I would crash unless I slowed right down. The time passed very quickly and there was no question of stopping now.

And then it was over.

Quite the day on a bike!

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders."


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