Lachlan Morton has been running in the rain in North London. He’s in the Big Smoke for Rouleur Live 2022, one of a huge number of commercial appearances that have been on his schedule during the two weeks he’s had off riding his bike at the end of a busy season. Morton doesn’t like to be inside, and he doesn’t like not being active. No bikes? Running it is.
Having two weeks off cycling isn’t something that the 30-year-old has done the past few years, but this year he says that he needs it. “Mentally and physically, I’ve just done a lot. Even during the two weeks off the bike I had around 12 hours at home the whole time, so it’s going to feel like a rest to just get home and ride,” he says with a wry smile.
For a long time, cycling was Morton’s whole life. He grew up with the dream of being a professional rider, and he made it, signing his first WorldTour contract in 2012. From then, it was about getting the results to stay there. Train, race, repeat. It’s what you have to do to stay competitive at the highest level of elite sport. For Morton, it became a battle.
“I always struggled with the purpose of it because it is a very selfish pursuit in a lot of ways. Also with the monotony. You weirdly spend a lot of time indoors,” he says, “There’s a lot of things mentally I’m not cut out for and I’m aware of that now. My life’s been a lot easier since I’ve just been honest with myself and said: actually, I don’t think I can do that.”
When the Australian rider came to this realisation in 2020, life changed. It didn’t mean the end of the road for Morton’s career on a bicycle, but instead the start of a different, untrodden path on two wheels and one that has come to be much more important to the EF Education-EasyPost athlete than even he could have expected.
As his road racing calendar got smaller and smaller, Morton started ultra-endurance riding and racing, on and off-road, taking on crazy challenges to raise money for charity. This year, for example, in response to the war in Ukraine, Morton rode 1,063km in two days from Munich to the Poland/Ukraine border, raising over $200,000 for the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund along the way.
“I did that ride a few weeks after the war started. It was the start of the racing season and then this significant war broke out right next to Europe. It felt pretty trivial to be like, I’m going to go to training when there’s such…