Interview 013: Jonas Deichman | From Bike Tourer to Ultra-Endurance Record Holder

Having already earned two world records as an ultra-distance cyclist, Jonas Deichman is not your everyday bike tourer. He tours using endurance road bikes with an ultralight set-up, averaging over 200km per day. But this was not always the case. As with most adventurers, Jonas comes from humble beginnings. 

Growing up, Jonas used to compete in road-racing, but as with most youths, this ended when other things, like university, needed attention. However, his love of the bike did not end there, and while attending Jonkoping University in Sweden he decided to organize his course load so as to allow him some extra semesters off so that he could go cycling. In this way, by the time he had graduated university, he had already spent a total of 18 months cycling around the world.

I saw that some people have done these distances in a similar time and I simply thought if someone could do it, I could do it too.

Somewhere along the way, Jonas heard about a person that had cycled across Eurasia and set a world record. He thought to himself that if someone else can do it, why can’t I. Ultimately, this led Jonas to setting his first two world records as the fastest person to cycle across Europe and also Eurasia. But things were not always easy for Jonas and he learned the hard way that a traditional road-bike is not ideal for a 14,331km ride to the far east of Russia, as the geometry is not relaxed enough and can cause a lot of pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. Also, with the frame breaking in the Czech Republic and having to run more than 30km to the next town, Jonas had to settle on whatever he could find. 

It’s always a conflict between comfort and speed, and in my case comfort unfortunately loses most of the time… 
If there’s something I don’t use for three or four days I’m probably not going to need it.

By the time, one year later, when Jonas decided to attempt a new world record cycling from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina, Jonas had learned what gear is necessary in order to effective push the body to its limits on a daily basis while maintaining the ability to do it day after day. Tricks like carrying just enough water to get him to the next town and not carrying food if it was readily available, like in South and Central America, Jonas was able to beat the previous world record by a whopping 28 days, completing the 23,000km journey in 97 days, 21 hours and 10 minutes. From getting to see the Northern Lights in the Yukon, Canada to cycling the Paso de Jama in Chile and managing to not get murdered when he got stranded in the suburbs of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

I’m always an optimist so I always tell myself tomorrow is going to be better and I could do that in Patagonia, but I couldn’t do that in Peru because I know it’s 3000k to Chile and the wind won’t change.

In preparation for the world record attempt at cycling from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa, Jonas decided to join the Biking Man ultra-distance bike race, a series of six races help in remote and challenging locations around the world. One thing that struck me about Jonas is the never give up attitude he carries with him, such as was the case during Biking Man Laos, when his bottom bracket broke. Since he was unable to get it fixed, he started to run up the mountains and coast down them for the last 180km of the race.

In June 2019, two months before Biking Man Peru, Jonas and his brother decided to ride 100,000 metres of elevation in the Swiss Alps over a distance of 3,686km. This was more than twice the amount of elevation of the toughest Tour de France ever raced. They managed it in only 22 days.

 Whatever you wanna do, just start now.

As of July 8th, 2019, Jonas and his partner has departed from Nordkapp on their Curve endurance road-bikes. Carrying minimal baggage in their Ortlieb bags, they are attempting to set a pairs world-record, hoping to cover the 18,000km distance to Cape Town, South Africa in just 75 days. Their planned route will take them through some geopolitical hotspots such as Iraq and Sudan, Egypt where they are almost guaranteed to have trouble with the police, the Sahara desert where temperatures can easily reach over 50 degrees celsius during the day, and into a continent where bike repair shops are almost non-existent and diseases like malaria and dengue are a constant threat. 

Cheers Jonas. Keep on pedalling.


Follow Jonas on his adventures at:

Show Notes

~ 30 sec       Intro of Jonas Deichman
~ 2m 30s     Doing a world-tour part-time as a university student, budgeting, and what he learned from his first world tour that helped him with his world records
~ 6 min        Daily riding distance, rest days, what made him think he could set a world record
~ 7m 30s      How Jonas prepared for his Eurasia world record ride, and then for the Pan-American, average daily distance, 
~ 9 min        Discussing his two world-records, difficulties he faced with his bike and weather, the condition of Russian roads and what it’s like to ride there, and tips for successful riding in Russia
~ 14 min      Best part of riding across Eurasia, keeping himself motivated on a daily basis
~ 16 min      Discussing the bikes he used for the Eurasia ride, Pan-Americana Solo, and his upcoming Cape-to-Cape
~ 17m 45s   What kit he takes with him, how he balances the needs and wants, his luggage weight, and how much water he carries
~ 21 min      Issues with mud on the Dalton Highway, what tires he uses,  
~ 23m 40s   Highlights of the Pan-American ride
~ 26 min      Dangerous situations while on the trip
~ 29 min      The headwinds of Patagonia and tips for making progress and why the wind was worse in Peru
~ 32m 45s   Bypassing the Darien Gap
~ 34m 20s    Cape-to-Cape world-record attempt and why he is riding with a partner
~ 37m 30s    Bikes and gear, dealing with the heat of riding in Sudan
~ 40m 45s    Challenges and benefits of riding with a partner
~ 46 min      Politics and the challenge of deciding on a particular route
~ 51 min      Anticipated daily distances through Europe and Africa, most important piece of equipment
~ 53 min      Someone that has had a huge influence on who he is today and what advice he would give others
~ 57 min      What’s next for Jonas Deichman and his ultimate goal
~ 60 min       Difference between supported and unsupported race speeds, growing strength of female ultra-endurance cyclists
~ 62 min      Working as a motivational speaker
~ 63m 30s    Next week on BTA, Matt and Becky

About the Author
Traveller. Cyclist. Expat. Over 15 years experience living abroad in six different countries. I've travelled to over 40+ countries and met countless travellers, cyclists, and other expats. As a passionate cyclist I've had opportunities to bike tour in some truly amazing places. While definitely not an expert at bike touring, I'm passionate about sharing bike touring stories and helping others learn hacks, tricks, and techniques to improve their touring experience. I look forward to you joining me on this journey of learning about and becoming a better bike tourist.

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