Gerald "Gerry" Eddlemon
Knoxville, TnOctober 30, 2020
Why should someone try ultracycling for the first time?
First: The shorter events of 100 miles or so are a lot of fun, and the longer events are an exploration into unknown territory geographically, physically, and spiritually; i.e., beautiful, interesting, and sometimes scary places; and into ones body, heart, and mind. Second: riding with and getting to know a lot of remarkable cyclists, some of whom will become fast friends.
Why do you compete in ultracycling?
- It’s an excellent anti-depressant far superior to drugs (this from someone who has known full well for most of his life what real depression is)
- It’s a great way to see the world at a nice pace (not at 70 mph from an interstate), from tough urban environments to wilderness teeming with wildlife (for example being stalked by a hungry grizzly on the north slope of Alaska) and botanical treasures.
- Competition can be a lot of fun (but it’s inherently difficult, else why would we want to do it?).
- After knee surgery due to decades of distance running and mountaineering, I discovered cycling as a far knee-kinder way to continue running, but on two wheels instead of feet.
- The opportunities to meet and sometimes get to bond with other ultramarathon cyclists and others willing to serve as crew or officials. I’ve gained some wonderful friendships around the world through ultramarathon cycling.
- Pioneering new crossing routes across states (e.g., Alaska) and countries and getting a record out of it can be most satisfying.
What is the single best lesson you have learned from ultracycling?
This is a tough question because I’ve learned so many different things about this sport and about myself since I took up plain old recreational cycling 15 years ago. One important lesson: I’ve learned that I can often ride much farther and sometimes faster than I ever thought possible for an aging athlete (now 75) despite not being particularly gifted as a cyclist. Another: long-distance athletes, whether cyclists, runners, speed hikers, or swimmers, are a special breed, not better than others, but different in some important ways, e.g., the willingness to help other ultracyclists before, after, and even in the heat of competition.
Meeting and making new friends while racing and going for records all over the world. Ultramarathon cyclists and those persons interested enough in it to crew or officiate are really special people well worth getting to know.
Winning the 2010 UMCA World Cup at age 65 (overall regardless of age) and 20 or more lesser championships.
First to 100 WUCA/UMCA records (now numbering 126 records)
Record crossings of around 30 or more US states, provinces, and countries including Alaska, Florida, New Zealand, and tiny Israel (and twice across its treeless Plain of Armageddon in 100+ deg. heat ;-).
Winning four open-class WUCA 6-Hour Challenges in the last five years.
Serving WUCA as member of Board of Directors and as vice president.