Vegan Cyclist Wins 5,500 Kilometre Race

Vegan athlete Abdullah Zeinab has won the 2018 Indian Pacific Wheel Race, a gruelling 5,500 kilometre (3,400 miles) cycling event that Zeinab completed in just 14 days.

Speaking to Bicycling Australia, Zeinab said he ate a large meal before bed, a big breakfast the following day, and then snacked during his daily rides, which covered an average of nearly 400 kilometres per day. Between meals and rest, the 24-year-old athlete consumed high-calorie nuts and Gatorade to fuel his journey.

“After a few days everything tastes the same. Nuts taste like Gatorade and Gatorade tastes like Oreos, it all tastes the same – there’s no flavour,” said Zeinab, who added he ate at restaurants and slept in motels along the way instead of camping. He even made a stop at Australian fast food chain Hungry Jacks for a veggie burger, he noted “the tomato on that was so good and so fresh.”

Regarding his plant-based cycling-fuel, Zeinab commented: “You know it is hard to eat enough, but for example these two [375g each] packets of salted mixed nuts are high in calories and will get me the 178km to Adelaide.” He later mentioned he felt healthy throughout the race.

Last year, a shocking accident meant the Indian Pacific Wheel Race was cancelled. British ultra-cyclist Mike Hall was fatally hit by a car while competing in the event. Zeinab co-directed a 90-minute documentary about his late friend, and this year stopped for a minute of silence at the point of the race where Hall pedalled for the last time. The ultra-cycling event started up again this year, and commemorated the loss of Hall.

In recent years, a growing number of athletes have adopted a plant-based diet as awareness of its benefits increase. American professional soccer player and Olympian Alex Morgan recently tweeted, after eating solely vegan food for three months, she has “[w]ay more energy now! Don’t need as much sleep or coffee.”

Vegan surfer Tia Blanco won a major Puerto Rican competition last month and was crowned “the best pro surfer of the season.” Similarly, vegan weightlifter Kendrick Farris was titled one of 2017’s fittest athletes by reputable publication Sports Illustrated.

Image Credit: Nat Bromhead for Bicycling Australia