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Riding 600km solo, unsupported and ultra-light from Malaga to Mallorca: Part 1

Step out of the airport with your bike, assemble it, scrap the box and ride the last 600km to get back home. Here is Monika's story of a super tough yet liberating ultra-distance ride...

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The air is always what gets me; the moment when I step out of an airport, that first breath of the local air. This time, it was unexpectedly warm... I loved it! I'd just arrived in Malaga carrying a big carton with my bike inside. On my back: a string bag with bare essentials like a toothbrush, some warm clothes and an extra inner tube. That was all I had with me.

My goal? To ride back home... to Mallorca. This trip would consist of over 600km of riding to Denia, and then finally hopping on the ferry to complete the trip to home.

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The box I trashed at the airport

I had nothing planned along the way. I didn't plan the route nor any hotel stays or anything that requires me to be at a certain spot at a certain time, not even the ferry ticket! It's an amazing feeling to have no commitment.

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Everything I packed for the trip: a few clothes, chargers, passport, toothbrush and a powerbank

I assembled my bike at the airport and I started riding. I was a bit nervous and anxious, but was also full of excitement for this ride. What will happen along the road? Will I make it? I have done these type of adventure rides before. All by myself, unsupported and with nothing else other than bare essentials; but every time, I am asking myself the same questions. Before I always tried to find answers but now, I know they are rhetorical ones that I just need to leave unanswered. The future will give me the answers, it makes no sense to predict what's ahead. The purpose of this trip is exactly the opposite, to deal with moments as they come. That makes this trip such an incredible adventure and so exciting, I just have no idea what´s going to happen!

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My bike: Berria gravel frame with DT Swiss wheels and Shimano Dura-Ace/Ultegra components

The first day was easy, it was an easy route to follow and it was just about riding as many kilometres as possible (the next day would be the complete opposite). When I ride solo, I'm especially aware of my surroundings and make sure I don’t find myself in a questionable situation. One of my rules was not to ride in the dark so I wanted to be checked into a hotel before 6:30pm. As the hours passed, I got a good grasp of where my destination for today could be. Unless there were not a lot of hotel choices around, I usually decide last minute where I want to stop. After 130km, I made my first stop in a tiny village, La Mamola, at the Costa Tropical.

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This village literally consisted of one hotel and one restaurant, which happen to be owned by the same people. I checked in and started the post-ride routine. As I was riding with as little stuff as possible, there is some stuff to do after riding; washing my clothes was a priority, then taking a shower followed by grabbing dinner at that one and only restaurant around the block. My dinner, although I was alone, was never boring. I had to prepare for the next day. Although I might not create an exact route which roads to take, I try to remember town names that would guide me in the right direction; I also just love looking at maps! I fell asleep at 9:30pm.

I did not know yet that I better get a good night's sleep, because tomorrow would require a lot of patience, persistence and creativity as things would not be as smooth as today. Find out what happened soon in part 2... 

Monika Sattler (AKA RAD Monika) is a record-breaking road and gravel endurance cyclist who loves pushing her limits. In 2018 she became the first female to ride the complete Vuelta a Espana route, completing each stage on the same day just hours before the professionals. She loves solo, unsupported, ultra-light adventure rides to distant destinations, such as her 1100km Mallorca to Munich trip. When she's not riding, she uses her cycling experience to inspire others to embrace change, be bold and push through mental and physical barriers as a TEDx speaker. You can follow Monika on Instagram, and find out more on her website

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