“Never let age determine your limits. Only you determine your limits. The difference between success and failure is only determined by how you deal with the difficult moments in life.”
These are the words of Geert De Mulder, our Belgian rider who just broke the 24-hour ElliptiGO record. How did he do it? What did he think of the experience? And what’s his advice for you to pull it off successfully? Our ElliptiGO insider interview below tries to find out!
He’s 53, grew up in Flanders, Belgium, and like many of us, he’s had his fair share of obstacles to get to where he is now.
Geert lives in a cycling mecca in the middle of the Flemish Ardennes where many epic bike races take place, like De Ronde van Vlaanderen aka “The Tour of Flanders”, which he rode in last year with his ElliptiGO.
Geert was diagnosed with Asthma at the age of two. Around age eleven, he was moved to the Belgian coast for 13 months, away from his parents, to live in a community called Zeepreventorium at De Haan to try to “live with asthma.” That period defined his later life – Geert recognizes it as a time that made him hard and strong as a person. Now, even with medication, he has about 90% lung capacity of a ‘normal’ person.
Until he was 18, he used to play tennis from March to October, taking advantage of their backyard court up to 4 hours a day.
After that, he moved more and more towards running – running street races, winning occasionally in the 5K to 10K distance, the 800 and 1500 meters on the track, Cross Country, and then half marathons and marathons since 2012. Best time in the 800 was 2:07 and 4:24 in the 1500 around the age of 40.
For the Half Marathon, there was a 1 hr 17:35 PR, and a 2 hr 58 Marathon PR in 2016. Geert sums up his running background with – “Overall not too bad, but never good enough for the top. Oh, and I almost forgot, I moved to distance running after back surgery in 2008 in the lower back L5-S1.”
What brought you to ElliptiGO riding, and which models do you ride?
In 2016, I got an Achilles problem. A sports doctor, who went to the Olympic Games in Rio together with the Belgian marathon runners, told me about ElliptiGO bikes. I immediately bought the 8C model.
In early 2017, I slipped in the shower and got a knee injury and broke cartilage. They performed an “ice-picking” procedure on the knee. Post surgery , running would still be possible, but only 2 times a week versus 5 to 6 times. After that, I made the switch and pulled the ElliptiGO-card.
In the beginning, I tested the 8C and the 11R models. Due to the price difference, I decided on the 8C. Early into my training I realized I should have purchased the 11R because my training was going so well. By the end of 2019, I decided to upgrade to the 11R and sell my 8C bike.
Has the ElliptiGO helped you overcome any obstacles in life?
As a hardcore runner, I fell into a black hole after the diagnostics of my knee problem. As most avid runners know, when you run 5 to 6 days per week, it becomes a very big part of your life and it is hard to give that up. Thankfully ElliptiGO training felt so good and gave me the same satisfaction as running. I started creating new goals, like riding De Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2019 as the first one ever to ElliptiGO-climb all the cobble hills in Flanders.
Tell us about your 24 hr World Record ride! How far did you go?
The Flemish Ardennes, where I live, is a place where it’s hard to find a lap that doesn’t have too much altitude gain. ElliptiGO’s Belgian partner is based in Haacht, so we found a nice lap there, passing the fields of Rock Werchter every lap.
The official distance I rode (Per the Guinness Book of Records), is 560.3 kilometers (350.2 miles), in a time of about 23 hrs, 44 minutes.
We had set up a lap of exactly 7.276 kilometers (4.521 miles)- measured by an IAAF official – and I rode over 77 laps. GWR only accounts for fully completed laps. Unfortunately, with a shortage of only 1.3 KM, I couldn’t complete the 78th lap, or the distance would have been 567.6 KM. For official ElliptiGO purposes, the total distance clocked in at 566.3 KM (353.9 Miles).
What made you decide to go for the World Record?
I was looking for a new distance challenge after De Ronde van Vlaanderen last year – a 229 KM (142.3 mile) ride. I had also moved more and more toward long endurance training and races, it looked like something that could be possible.
How long did you train specifically for this event?
I trained for about 8 months, building up gradually over time. In the earlier months, I did a lot of elevation gain – as my intermediate goal was to ride Luik-Bastenaken-Luik (another one of the famous 5 classic world races), which gains 4000 altitude meters (13,123 ft) over 260 KM (161.6 miles). Due to Covid-19, that race was canceled and my entry ticket is valid for next year.
Anything you wish you would have done differently during the event?
Not really, my mindset was very strong.
My support group was awesome, my wife, Erika, and son Sander, the support of Polar, the training support by Tim De Vilder from Peaklevel, the calculated carbohydrates per hour (90 grams), the carbo fueling upfront, and the tapering.
Considering I just barely missed the 100 Miles record in my first 6 hours by only a few kilometers, I think it all went quite well.
I am quite happy that I registered the event under Guinness World Records, which did provide very strict guidelines. No drafting, official distance measuring (I couldn’t just use Strava), registering the laps on 2 computers, registering 2 minutes of video proof per hour ridden, witness reports, etc.
It creates rules for other ElliptiGO riders setting new records, on an equal playing ground. GWR set the minimum to 400 KM (248.5 miles), but as I read on the ElliptiGO website that the earlier record was set at 516 KM (320.6 miles), I didn’t want to go for less.
In the end, I broke it by 44 KM (27.3 miles), creating the feeling that for the last 2 hours, I was simply riding for ‘bonus points.’ I use visualization as a technique – in my mind, the record was already broken before I even started. My average speed was 24KM/hr (14.9 miles/hr) including the stops.
Do you rely on anything special to get through long events? A secret Belgian beer perhaps?
No special beer, but I am a wine importer with Wijnhuis Oinos, so I get enough antioxidants by drinking red wine. I also used Herbalife CR7 from Christiano Ronaldo and Pro-Long from Herbalife in the race.
What were the most difficult moments during the 24 hours of riding?
There were two. It was a rather cold night, 9 degrees Celsius (48°F), and humidity was very high just before dawn. I was wishing for the sun to come up to give me an energy boost. Later, in the last 1.5 hours, it began to rain heavily with a very strong wind, however there was no stopping me.
Other than the World Record, what was the best outcome of this ride?
I always want my events to be for a good cause, giving back to others is very important to me. In this case, I collected over 60 signed sports shirts autographed by riders like Wout Van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Marianne Vos, basketball players like Ann Wauters, tennis players, and football people like Simon Mignolet, Vincent Kompany, etc.
With these signed shirts, we auctioned them off for charity. Although the auction has ended, anyone can still support the charity via wire, visit www.wereldrecord elliptigo.be and click the “Sponsors” tab, it would mean a lot to us.
Any words of wisdom for riders looking to try a long event like this themselves?
Watch the video footage to learn more about my specific training during these last 8 months. I do some things differently on the ElliptiGO bike compared to others.
Also, learn the science around what your body will need for a long event. Fuel yourself properly. You can’t run a marathon on just water, similarly you cannot execute a 24 hour ElliptiGO ride on only water. There are a lot of considerations in preparing for an event of this magnitude; 90 grams of carbohydrates, new tires, training, following a schedule, defining breaks upfront – I paused every 4 laps… Every percent you gain is a full 5km on such a distance. And it’s very important to surround yourself with only the best partners.
What do you like the best with ElliptiGO riding and training so far?
Being on Strava, seeing the personal records on segments and hills during the build-up. The ease with which I take these records, the way I can fly up hills with training. The finish at the end of 24 hours of riding, with the Belgian press present and all of my closest friends and family.
Eight months of training all came together in one specific moment. ”Unreal. How did I do this? What have I done?” Those kinds of thoughts… A great experience. And super how ElliptiGO suddenly got the attention that it deserves! I’m sure sales will go up here very soon and I’m pleased to be an ambassador for ElliptiGO.
The most important ElliptiGO riding lesson from Geert? -”Give it a try, never give up and no matter how hard you wanna go, just GO. As long as it gives you the satisfaction you were looking for.”
What’s next for 2021?
The first goal will be to ride Luik-Bastenaken-Luik with my entry ticket from this year. There is also a race, 1000 KM (621.4 miles) for Kom op tegen Kanker. This race is starting somewhere in France and has 4 stages of 250 KM (155 miles) with an average speed of around 27-28 KM/HR (17 miles/hr). You have to get 5500€ ($6,520) to start in this race, with all proceeds donated to cancer research. I have a few other goals, but those are still premature. You just might see my name again on the ElliptiGO records list.
What are you proudest of as an ElliptiGO rider?
I am proud of my mind shift I was able to make after my running career ended, my determination to achieve this record, and that I proved that age is just a number. Never let age determine your limits. Only you can determine your limits. The difference between success and failure is determined by how you deal and manage the difficult moments in life.
I could have stopped doing sports with my asthma, my back surgery, my knee injury, and sat on the couch with a big belly with beer and chips. Instead, I chose to fight back and create new goals, new challenges. Which I will probably do for the rest of my life.
ElliptiGO salutes you Geert! Congratulations on your World Record and for inspiring us all. May you GO in health for many more miles!
Contributed by Elinor Yee – A rider considering herself lucky for each day on her ElliptiGO, drawing inspiration from fellow riders conquering obstacles big & small.
Want to inspire Elinor? Contact ElliptiGO with nominations to Rider of the Month or share your own story. It may just be the next feature!