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ASSOS ambassadors aren’t selected based on their palmares or their performances alone. An extension of our Sponsor Yourself and Suffer In Comfort mindset, they’re committed cyclists, community builders, continual-ride-inspiration givers, and all-round great people. Jack Thompson is no different. Over the past 12 months he’s ridden more than 50,000 km and right now he’s leading a 2,800 km adventure across the Nullabor Plain to the start of the Tour Down Under. We’re happy to introduce Jack Thompson, here is his story:
Life is for living…I spent eight long years on a rat wheel, working hard at a computer screen, arguing with builders and consultants in order to obtain the right result for my clients and although hitting goals and reaching targets from a work perspective, I was never satisfied. Life was boring; the only satisfaction I was experiencing each day was during the three hours I was spending on my bike before work. Life as it was, wasn’t sustainable; I had to do something about it.
Fast forward 18 months and I am now living my dream as a Professional Ultra Endurance Adventure Cyclist, based in Perth, Western Australia. I’m up at 4.30am every day, wide eyed and ready to spend upwards of 8 hours on the bike. I’m training harder than ever before and yet my energy levels are through the roof. My motivation is at an all-time high and I honestly feel like I am getting the most out of each and every day. I love what I’m doing.
My career as a cyclist has been a little unconventional. During my early years and whilst at school, I raced triathlons competitively, before taking a break from ‘bike sports’ to concentrate on university. Four years later, with a degree in Construction Management & Economics under my belt, I moved straight into the workforce and started cycling once more. I began to race competitively and took a season out of work to go and race in Belgium. This led me to Girona, Spain, where I completed a big block of training. However, upon returning I discovered that I had ‘overtrained’ and fell into a deep, dark hole. I had no energy and as a result, was no longer motivated to ride. I spent a good six months on the sidelines letting my body recover. During this period my bike collected dust as I watched my hard-earned fitness slip away.
When I commenced cycling again, following my enforced six-month hiatus, I no longer had a desire to race. My focus shifted towards adventure and I found myself exploring for hours at a time on my bike. I no longer had any pressure to perform and as such, I could ride at my own tempo for as long as I pleased.
From an early age I have suffered badly from an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and what I’ve found, is that when I commit to something, I always commit 150%. Growing up, this caused me a lot of grief and I suffered badly with depression for a number of years. The ability to ride for long periods of time with no set time frames or training zones, allowed me to harness–what most would deem a ‘disability’–to my advantage. I’m incredibly competitive and love to push myself. My rides were growing longer and longer and I was now riding for upwards of 15hours some days, just because I could. These kilometres were now feeding my obsessive desires, allowing me to push myself harder and longer than most.
I entered my first proper ‘Ultra-Event’ in 2016, the 4th edition of the Transcontinental Race (TCR), which consisted of riding across Europe. All was going to plan as I was sat in the top 20 and feeling fresh. Unfortunately, I was struck down with food poisoning, which forced me to spend two days off the bike, bunkered down in Switzerland recovering and unable to eat. Unfazed and determined to finish the race strongly, I completed the final 946km stretch from Serbia, across Bulgaria and into Turkey, non-stop and managed to claw my way back to a top-30 position.
Following my return from the TCR, on my first day back at work, I decided to throw in the towel. I’d had enough of the office monotony and the TCR had opened my eyes to what was possible on a bike.
In the last twelve months, I have logged in excess of 50,000km and completed the following adventures, all on my bike:
- Perth to Adelaide for the 2017 Tour Down Under (2,800km in 7 days — Unsupported.) At the TDU I held an adventure cycling seminar about all things Adventure Cycling, to a group of 80 budding adventure cyclists.
- Five-day Taiwan Expedition (1,600km and 28,000m elevation across 5 days)
- Nine-day Chinese Himalayan Expedition from central China (Chengdu) to Northern Laos (1,829km and 90,000m elevation)
- Japan North to South Adventure (3,300km and 35,000m elevation)
Although I loved the Transcontinental Race and the competitive side of Ultra-Racing, my real passion lies within the realm of adventure and I enjoy nothing more than pushing both my mind and body to the absolute limits in the most remote parts of the world. When I’m doing this, I feel alive. It’s a sensation that I’ve never experienced before and one that I will never stop pursuing.
This brings me to a new chapter in terms of my progression within the sport of adventure cycling. Not only do I love pursuing my own adventures, I want to share this love for adventure with others. As such I have set up a series of worldwide adventures, where I guide guests to places they never dreamed of riding.
The inaugural Nullabor Epic
The first of these Adventures kicks off on the 1st January 2018. Departing from Perth, Western Australia, I will guide a group of avid adventurers across the Nullabor Plain, en route for Adelaide, where we will watch the 2018 edition of the Tour Down Under. The inaugural ‘Nullabor Epic’ will take place over 14 days and will see riders complete an unsupported adventure of 2,800km across some of the most remote landscapes that Australia has to offer. It will be hot, it will be hard, but it will be great fun, and the camaraderie between riders on trips such as this is one of the most enjoyable aspects. Sharing stories from the road, over an ice-cold beer at the end of the day, is a brilliant way to cap off a long, hard day in the saddle.
What makes this trip even more significant is the fact that it will mark my father’s (BT) final stretch of his round-the-world circumnavigation by bike. Upon retirement, BT decided that he’d conquer the globe on two wheels. An accomplished cyclist in his own right, each year BT completes a segment of the globe, the longest of which was the Silk Route, from Beijing to Istanbul, a 12-week journey from the Eastern Shores of China and along the ancient trade route into Turkey. Much of my inspiration has come from watching him complete these trips and I’m looking forward to sharing this final stretch with him. Trips such as these with your ‘old man’ are unforgettable and I will look back on these years and the adventures that we’ve completed together, for the rest of my life.
A sucker for punishment, this year I’ll be riding the entirety of the 2,800km ‘Nullabor Epic,’ with an AIRhub. For those that aren’t familiar with an AIRhub, essentially, it’s a front wheel that generates resistance and is a common training tool within the pro peloton. For every kilometre per hour that I’m travelling, the AIRhub will generate an additional 2 watts of resistance and so in essence, at 30kph, I will be working against an additional 60 watts of resistance. Why? Because I love to punish myself!
I feel incredibly privileged to have been welcomed into the ASSOS team and I look forward to sharing my 2018 Adventures with you!
You can follow Jack’s Nullabor Epic via our instagram, where he is sending us daily reports.