Vélo Mag – Vélo Mag: Axel Carion, the “shaman” launches a BikingMan France

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BikingMan is an ultra-cycling racing series that takes place all over the world. In 2021, the circuit will be enriched with a hexagonal event, a project that saw the light of day in the excessiveness and the personal exaltation of Axel Carion, “cycling shaman”. The BikingMan is a series of events which, via a points system, is intended to be an ultra-cycling world championship. In 2020, six rounds were on the program: Oman, Portugal, Corsica, Brazil, Peru and Laos, all places that promised the competitors varied conditions and universes. Of course, the Covid has turned the program upside down. The Omani event took place before the crisis, but Brazil, Peru, Laos were canceled. On the other hand, the Portuguese adventure is maintained on September 21, and the “Corsica” has been saved, postponed to October 26. Having faith in a better tomorrow, the Biking Man adds for 2021 a hexagonal event: on June 21 the BikingMan France will be born. The news spread like wildfire in a week, more than 300 pre-registered, attracted by the 1,000 km and 20,000 m of D + between Préalpes d’Azur, Verdon, Ventoux, Cime de la Bonette, etc. With the exception of the 1,600 km long “Incadivide”, the format of the events is relatively fixed, which always revolves around 1,000 km. The distance may seem relatively modest compared to what other iconic ultra-cycling events offer: around 4,000 km for the Transcontinental Race or the North Cape, nearly 5,000 km for the RAAM and 6,700 for the Trans Am, the list is not exhaustive.

But if Axel Carion, the creator of BikingMan does not want “ do a penis contest and play the one who will organize the longest ”, It is, in addition to the pragmatic reasons of organization and security, because it wants to fully assume the competitive dimension. His trials, indeed, are races, and he rejects any ambivalence on this subject. “ I believe our format is good, he explains. A thousand limits that allows you to reach your last entrenchments, that is to say to go through all the emotions linked to effort, lack of sleep and the ghosts of the night, loneliness, the power of dawn and landscape. But it also limits the risks, because ultra-cycling is a dangerous practice, it should not be denied. »

Yet our man has not always been so reasonable. To get there, he did “crazy stuff”. Let us pass quickly on the childhood of a subject which, as they say, does not hold in place. Who dreams of becoming an aviator or a watchmaker. Who spends whole days (“ literally, he insists : from dawn to dusk ») Roller skates. Who organizes moped races in a wood that he now evokes as the sacred place of a first initiation rite. Or who, a little later, will be the type to climb church steeples, before his studies send him, as part of a university exchange, to Hawaii where, obviously, he ends up on a surfboard. Restless, therefore, Axel Carion. And yet in the mold, that of a business school, it could not be better. Handsome kid with whom everything smiles and who, dedicated to becoming a business leader, climbs the ranks. Who ends up at 25 with “ good income, a nice car and a nice friend “. It was in 2011 that the golden boy fell into a trap. A meal, during which two friends, whom he esteems and admires, challenge him to accompany them. Oh, it’s not about “ than a 1200 km cycling expedition, ten days through Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine. »Axel lets himself be advised on the purchase of the bicycle and the panniers, and he leaves without having ever ridden a bicycle. On a 40 kg frame. And he shits. But comes back with wonderful memories. Hospitality above all. Like that of this woman, who opens her door to them while they are soaked, filthy. Who prepares a meal for them in a house without running water or electricity, and who offers them the only bed in the house, while she, her husband and her children, sleep on the floor. “JI came home on a Sunday evening. On Monday morning, before going to work, I started to cry in the shower, without knowing why. I loved my job, eh. I told my boss that I had just had the best vacation ever. He repeated the experience several times, with the same two friends, Stéphane and Michel. Eastern Europe, the Moroccan Atlas. In 2014, he’s not leaving: he’s getting ready. A real expedition this time. Because he wants more than a vacation. “ I just wanted to go, far enough and long enough, not to be quite sure I would come back. I didn’t want a simple break, I was planning my escape. With travel, there is an effect comparable to what is called the ” black hole “ in diving: you are sucked. »

As a result, it crosses South America, covers 13,500 km and 154,000 m of D +, frequenting the Cordillera and its passes over 5,000 m. Putting yourself in danger, in no man’s land where an insufficient supply of water can cost you your life. Bivouacking or sleeping with the locals, revisiting the clichés one by one and experiencing the wonderful power of the bicycle. “ On foot you can pass for a vagabond, be more or less frowned upon. When you show up on your bike, the doors open, so do the hearts. And when you decide to never turn down an offer, amazing stuff happens. You come from far away and you are directly parachuted into the intimacy of people who tell you everything, absolutely everything. I found the happiness of the exchanges, and that of satisfying the archaic needs, I came out of it grown. Too often, social pressure inhibits us, and we give up on risks that are unlikely to happen. We were not kidnapped by the cartels or the FARC. Back in the fold after eight months, it goes without saying that fitting in is not an option. It was then that he took it into his head to make others experience this radical transformation that he had just experienced. And that he organizes the first BikingMan: from Quito in Ecuador, to Cusco in Peru. 3,500 km and 70,000 m of D +, a time limit of 26 days. Big piece, certainly, but still going. But in autonomy, through the jungle, with border posts manned by soldiers, the climate is stifling. “ I said to myself: I’m going to organize the craziest race on the planet. If I have one registered, it’s good. I had seventeen, sixteen men and one woman. Crazy profiles, not necessarily seasoned people, some had never slept outside. It was the all-risk agency. To send them on a journey in total autonomy, it was just crazy. We worried all the time. There was this Japanese competitor, Yoshi, who rode a racing bike. It must have had 28 tires! But she arrived, and when she was greeted by the other five finishers, the emotion was strong. A crowd is created around us Me, I question him, camera in hand. She talks to me, she tells me ” Do you know why I got to finish? “ and there, hold on tight, she takes out a funeral urn, with her father’s ashes, which she had come to scatter! You never know what’s going on in people’s heads. Now, the BikingMan circuit has therefore returned to a more reasonable format. But it’s not quite sure that Axel Carion is reducing himself to the savvy organizer he is, after all, by training. He continues to explore improbable corners of the world on his bicycle, for his personal needs. A bit mystical, we gave him a nickname that he readily endorses, that of “cycling shaman”. Shamanism is about something like “ the magical transmission through a test of a content of knowing that a whole life would not be enough to learn “. Notice to amateurs.

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